East Arlington, Massachusetts

Arlington, Massachusetts

Arlington is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, six miles (10 km) northwest of Boston. The population was 42,389 at the 2000 census.


The Town of Arlington was originally settled by European colonists in 1635 as a village within the boundary of Cambridge, Massachusetts under the name Menotomy, an Algonquian word meaning "swift running water". A larger area, including land that was later to become the town of Belmont, and outwards to the shore of the Mystic River, which had previously been part of Charlestown, was incorporated on February 27, 1807 as West Cambridge. In 1867 the name "Arlington" was chosen in honor of those buried in Arlington National Cemetery; the name change took effect that April 30.

The Massachusett tribe, part of the Algonquian group of Native Americans, lived around the Mystic Lakes, the Mystic River and Alewife Brook. By the time Europeans arrived, the local Indians had been devastated by disease; also, the tribal chief, Nanepashemet, had been killed by a rival tribe in about 1618 . Nanepashemet's widow, known to history only as "Squaw Sachem", sold the land of her tribe to the colonists for ten pounds, with provisions that she and her tribe could remain on her homestead land around the Mystic Lakes and continue hunting and farming. She also was to be given a new winter coat of wool each year for the rest of her life. She is thought to have lived until about 1650 .

Through the town also flows the stream called Mill Brook, which historically figured largely into Arlington's economy. In 1637 Captain George Cooke built the first mill in this area. Subsequently, seven mills were built along the stream, including the Old Schwamb Mill, which survives to this day. The Schwamb Mill has been a working mill since 1650, making it the longest working mill in the country.

Paul Revere's famous midnight ride to alert colonists took him through Menotomy, now known as Arlington. Later on that first day of the American Revolution, more blood was shed in Menotomy than in the battles of Lexington and Concord combined. Minutemen from surrounding towns converged on Menotomy to ambush the British on their retreat from Concord and Lexington. All in all, 25 colonials were killed in Menotomy (half of all Americans killed in the day's battles), as well as 40 British troops (more than half their fatalities).

The Jason Russell House, a yellow colonial, is today a museum which remembers those twelve Americans, including Russell himself, who were killed in and around this pictured dwelling on April 19, 1775. Bullet holes are visible in the interior walls to this day.

In its early years, Arlington was a thriving farming community and had its own lettuce that was quite popular.

Arlington had a large ice industry on Spy Pond from the mid-1800s until the last ice house burned down in 1930; much of its ice was sent to the Caribbean and India by "Ice King" Frederic Tudor.

In 1979, the first spreadsheet software program, VisiCalc, was developed by Bob Frankston and Dan Bricklin in the attic of the Arlington apartment rented by Bob Frankston.

Arlington was the site of the accident which claimed the life of American cyclist Nicole Reinhart, a two-time Pan American Games winner. She was killed on September 17, 2000 when she was thrown from her bicycle during a cycling tournament.


Arlington covers 3,517.5 acres (14 km²), or 5.5 square miles, of which 286.2 acres (1.2 km²) are covered by water. There are 210.52 acres (0.9 km²) of parkland. Elevation ranges from 4 feet (1.2 m) above sea level (along Alewife Brook) to 377 feet (114.9 m) near Park Avenue and Eastern Avenue.

Arlington borders on the Mystic Lakes, Mystic River, and Alewife Brook. Within its borders are Spy Pond, the Arlington Reservoir, Mill Brook, and Hills Pond.

Adjacent towns

Arlington is located in Eastern Massachusetts and is bordered by six towns: Winchester to the north, Medford to the northeast, Somerville to the east, Cambridge to the southeast, Belmont to the south, and Lexington to the west.


Arlington currently has approximately 42,000 residents. Based on the U.S. censuses, Arlington's population has been declining by an average of 7% per decade since 1970. (1970: 52,720; 2000: 42,389).

As of the census of 2000, there were 42,389 people, 19,011 households, and 10,779 families residing in the town. The population density was 8,179.6 people per square mile (3,159.6/km²). There were 19,411 housing units at an average density of 3,745.6/sq mi (1,446.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 90.97% White, 1.70% African American, 0.13% Native American, 4.97% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.66% from other races, and 1.56% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.86% of the population.

There were 19,011 households out of which 23.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.4% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.2% were unmarried partners, and 43.3% were non-families. 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the town the population was spread out with 18.4% under the age of 18, 5.1% from 18 to 24, 36.0% from 25 to 44, 23.7% from 45 to 64, and 16.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 86.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $64,344, and the median income for a family was $78,741. Males had a median income of $52,352 versus $40,445 for females. The per capita income for the town was $34,399. About 2.4% of families and 4.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.0% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.


Arlington's executive branch consists of an elected five-member Board of Selectmen. The day-to-day operations are handled by a Town Manager hired by the Board of Selectmen. The legislative branch is made up of 252 Town Meeting Members, elected from the 21 precincts. The Town of Arlington has enough citizens to become the City of Arlington, but has not done so, in part because it would lose its ability to hold Town Meetings. These meetings can often last for at least a month, being held two nights a week until the issues are settled.

Brian F. Sullivan is the current Town Manager.

The current members of the Board of Selectmen are Clarissa Rowe (Chair), John W. Hurd (Vice Chair), Annie LaCourt, Diane Mahon, and Kevin F. Greeley.


Public schools

Arlington has a public school system with nine schools. The seven elementary schools (K-5) are Brackett, Bishop, Thompson, Hardy, Peirce, Stratton, and Dallin. There is also a single middle school (grades 6-8), Ottoson, and the eponymous Arlington High School, which includes grades 9-12. In addition, Arlington is in the district served by the Minuteman Regional High School, located in Lexington, one of the top vocational-technical schools in Massachusetts.

The current members of the School Committee are Denise M. Burns (Chair), Joseph E. Curran (Vice Chair), Joseph A. Curro, Jr., Leba Heigham, Sue Sheffler, Ronald L. Spangler, and Jeff Thielman.

Private schools

There are two Catholic schools, Arlington Catholic High School, and an elementary/middle school, called St. Agnes. In addition, there are two secular elementary schools, Lesley Ellis and the recent addition of Alivia Elementary School.

Parks and historical sites

  • Robbins Library contains the oldest continuously operated free children's library in the country.
  • The Jason Russell House contains a museum that displays, among other items, a mastodon tusk found in Spy Pond in the late 1950s by a fisherman who originally thought he had brought up a tree branch.
  • The Prince Hall Mystic Cemetery, the only black Freemason Cemetery in the country.
  • Spy Pond Park provides access to the northeast shore of Spy Pond.
  • Menotomy Rocks Park encompasses Hills Pond and has trails through the surrounding forested land.
  • The Great Meadow comprises both swamp and forest right outside the border of Arlington. While the Great Meadow lies within the borders of Lexington, the park is owned and maintained by the Town of Arlington.
  • The Minuteman Bikeway, a popular rail-trail built in 1992, passes through various Arlington neighborhoods, including Arlington Center.
  • The water tower at Park Circle is an exact copy of the ancient Greek Arsinoeon of Samothrace.
  • The Uncle Sam Memorial Statue commemorates native son Samuel Wilson, who was perhaps the original Uncle Sam.
  • The Cyrus E. Dallin Museum is a site dedicated to the artwork and sculpture of noted artist Cyrus E. Dallin.

See also

Notable residents

Arlington in popular culture

Organizations based in Arlington

Sister cities


External links

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