The City of Newton in Middlesex County, Massachusetts,
is an important residential suburb of Boston, which abuts it on the east. According to the 2000 census, the population of Newton was 83,829, making it the tenth largest city in the state.
Newton does not have a single town center, but is rather a patchwork of 13 "villages", many boasting small "downtown" areas of their own. The 13 villages are: Auburndale, Chestnut Hill, Newton Centre, Newton Corner, Newton Highlands, Newton Lower Falls, Newton Upper Falls (both on the Charles River, and both once small industrial sites), Newtonville, Nonantum (also called "The Lake"), Oak Hill, Thompsonville, Waban, and West Newton. Oak Hill Park is a place within the village of Oak Hill that itself is shown as a village on some city maps. Although most of the villages have a post office, they have no legal definition and no firmly defined borders. This village based system often causes some confusion with regard to addresses and first time visitors.
See The Thirteen Villages of Newton
Newton was settled in 1630 as part of Newetowne
, which was renamed Cambridge in 1638. It was incorporated as a separate town
, known as Cambridge Village
, in 1688. It was renamed Newtown
in 1691 and finally Newton
in 1766. It became a city
in 1873. Newton is known as The Garden City
in Reflections in Bullough's Pond, Newton historian Diana Muir describes the early industries that developed in the late 1700s and early 1800s in a series of mills built to take advantage of the water power available at Newton Upper Falls and Newton Lower Falls. Snuff, chocolate, glue, paper and other products were produced in these small mills but, according to Muir, the water power available in Newton was not sufficient to turn Newton into a manufacturing city.
Newton, according to Muir, did become one of America's earliest commuter suburbs. The Boston and Worcester, one of America's earliest railroads, reached West Newton in 1834. Gracious homes sprang up almost instantly on erstwhile farmland on West Newton hill, as men wealthy enough to afford a country seat, but whose business demanded that they be in their downtown Boston offices during the business day, took advantage of the new commuting opportunity offered by the railroad. Muir points out that these early communters needed sufficient wealth to employ a groom and keep horses, to drive them from their hilltop homes to the station.
Further suburbanization came in waves. One wave began with the streetcar lines that made many parts of Newton accessible for commuters in the late nineteenth century, the next wave came in the 1920s when automobiles became affordable to a growing upper middle class. Even then, however, Oak Hill continued to be farmed, mostly market gardening, until the prosperity of the 1950s made all of Newton into a commuter suburb.
The city has two symphony orchestras, the New Philharmonia Orchestra of Massachusetts and the Newton Symphony Orchestra.
The Newton Free Library possesses more than 500,000 volumes of print materials (2004), as well as art, both original and prints, sound recordings and videos: the largest collection in the Minuteman Library Network.
Each April on Patriots Day, the Boston Marathon is run through the city, entering from Wellesley on Route 16 (Washington Street) where runners encounter the first of the four infamous Newton Hills. It then turns right onto Route 30 (Commonwealth Avenue) for the long haul into Boston. There are two more hills before reaching Centre Street, and then the fourth and most infamous of all, Heartbreak Hill, rises shortly after Centre Street. Residents and visitors line the race route along Washington Street and Commonwealth Avenue to cheer the runners.
Newton is in Middlesex County
, at (42.337713, -71.209936). The city is bordered by Waltham
on the north, Needham
and the West Roxbury
neighborhood of Boston
on the south, Wellesley
on the west, and Brookline
and the Brighton
neighborhood of Boston on the east.
From Watertown to Waltham to Needham and Dedham, Newton is bounded by the Charles River. The Yankee Division Highway, designated Interstate 95 but known to the locals as Route 128, follows the Charles from Waltham to Dedham, creating a de facto land barrier. The portion of Needham which lies east of 128 and west of the Charles, known as the Needham Industrial Park has become part of a Newton commercial zone and contributes to its heavy traffic, though the tax revenue goes to Needham.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which is land and (0.82%) is water.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 83,829 people, 31,201 households, and 20,499 families residing in the city. The population density
was 4,643.6 people per square mile (1,793.2/km²). There were 32,112 housing units at an average density of 1,778.8/sq mi (686.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.07% White
, 7.68% Asian
, 1.97% African American
, 0.07% Native American
, 0.03% Pacific Islander
, 0.71% from other races
, and 1.46% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 2.52% of the population. Newton, along with neighboring Brookline, is known for its considerable Jewish and Asian populations.
There were 31,201 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.2% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city the population was spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.7 males.
According to a 2006 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $101,001, and the median income for a family was $121,496. Males had a median income of $65,565 versus $46,885 for females. The per capita income for the city was $45,708. About 2.1% of families and 4.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.8% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.
Based on statistics reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Newton was the nation's safest city during 1999, 2004 and 2005, and the fourth safest city in the nation in 2006. The designation is based on crime statistics in six categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and auto theft.
Newton has an elected strong mayor-council
form of government. The council is called the Board of Aldermen. The elected officials are:
- Mayor: David B. Cohen, who is the city's chief executive officer and appoints the Chief Administrative Officer, who is Sanford M. Pooler.
- The Board of Aldermen, Newton's legislative branch of municipal government, is made up of 24 members - sixteen at-large Aldermen and eight Ward Aldermen. Aldermen are elected every two years.
Note: The first listed person in each ward is the ward alderman, while the other two are elected at large.
- Ward One: Scott F. Lennon, Carleton P. Merrill and Ben Weisbuch;
- Ward Two: Stephen M. Linsky, Marcia T. Johnson and Susan Albright;
- Ward Three: Anthony Salvucci, Ted Hess-Mahan and Leslie Burg;
- Ward Four: Jay Harney, Leonard J. Gentile and Amy Mah Sangiolo;
- Ward Five: Bill Brandel, Brian E. Yates and Paul Edward Coletti;
- Ward Six: George E. Mansfield, Kenneth R.L. Parker and Victoria L. Danberg;
- Ward Seven: R. Lisle Baker, Sydra Schnipper and Verne Vance; and
- Ward Eight: Cheryl Lappin, Mitchell L. Fischman and Richard Lipof.
Mismanagement of Middlesex County's public hospital in the mid 1990s left the county on the brink of insolvency, and in 1997 the Massachusetts legislature stepped in by assuming all assets and obligations of the county. The government of Middlesex County was officially abolished on July 11, 1997. The sheriff and some other regional officials with specific duties are still elected locally to perform duties within the county region, but there is no county council or commission. However, communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services.
These are the remaining elected officers for Middlesex County:
- Clerk of Courts: Michael A. Sullivan
- County Treasurer: Position Eliminated
- District Attorney: Gerard T. Leone, Jr.
- Register of Deeds: Richard P. Howe, Jr. (North at Lowell), Eugene C. Brune (South at Cambridge)
- Register of Probate: John R. Buonomo
- County Sheriff: James DiPaola
House of Representatives
- Kay Khan, Democrat of Newton: Eleventh Middlesex District, which covers Precincts 2 and 3 of ward 1, precincts 1, 2 and 3 of ward 2, precincts 1, 2 and 3 of ward 3, Ward 4, precinct 4 of ward 5, and precinct 2 of ward 7, of Newton; and
- Ruth B. Balser, Democrat of Newton: Twelfth Middlesex District, which covers Precincts 1, 2 and 3 of ward 5, Ward 6, precincts 1, 3 and 4 of ward 7, and Ward 8, of Newton.
- Cynthia Stone Creem, Democrat of Newton, 1st Middlesex District and Norfolk, since1998.
- Beth-El Pre-School, 561 Ward St.
- Burr Cooperative Nursery School , 64 Hancock St., Auburndale
- Cabot School , 229 Cabot St., Newtonville
- The Teddy Bear Club Preschool, 1466 Commonwealth Ave, West Newton.
- JCC Early Learning Centers , 333 Nahanton St. & 125 Wells Ave.
- The Children's Cooperative Nursery School, 848 Beacon St.
- Temple Shalom Nursery School, 175 Temple St.
- Walnut PK Montessori School , 47 Walnut Park
- Auburndale Community Nursery School, 230 Central St.
- Rockwell Nursery School at Lasell College , 70 Studio Road
- Newton Community Service Center, 492 Waltham Street
- Preschool Experience, Centre Street
- Upper Falls Nursery School, 45 Pettee St, Newton Upper Falls
- Bilingual Beginnings at Pine Village Preschool www.pinevillagepreschool.com 1326 Washington Street, West Newton
- West Newton Children's Center (wnchildrenscenter.com) Washington ST, West Newton
Primary and secondary education
Colleges and universities located in Newton include:
- Andover Newton Theological School, 210 Herrick Rd, Newton Centre
- Boston College 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill (The Upper, Middle, and Newton campuses are in Newton, while the Lower campus is in Boston).
- Boston College Law School, Centre Street, Newton Corner.
- Hebrew College, 160 Herrick Rd, Newton Centre
- Mount Ida College, 777 Dedham St, Newton Centre
- Lasell College, 1844 Commonwealth Avenue, Auburndale
Newton Junior College
Newton Junior College, operated by the Newton Public Schools, opened in 1946 to serve the needs of returning veterans
who otherwise would not have been able to continue their education due to the overcrowding of colleges and universities at that time. It used the facilities of Newton High School (now Newton North High School
) until its own adjacent campus was built. It closed in 1976 due to declining enrollment and increased costs. The availability of such places as UMass Boston
contributed to its demise. According to the city, its former campus is now "Washington Park," a 25 unit multi-family development.
Other former colleges include Aquinas College, Newton
(1961-1999), Mount Alvernia College
(1959-1973) and Newton College of the Sacred Heart
Houses of worship
The city's community newspaper is The Newton Tab
, now published by the Community Newspaper Company
. It is delivered free to residents.
Residents of Newton have free access to a state-of-the-art television production and media access center, NewTV
, now located in new facilities in the University Business Center in Newton Highlands.
Newton is best known as a bedroom community
for commuters to Boston, in spite of considerable commercial and manufacturing activity of its own.
It is well-served by three modes of mass transit run by the MBTA; light rail, commuter rail, and bus service. The Green Line "D" Branch, (also known as the Riverside branch) is a light rail line running through the center of the city which makes very frequent trips to downtown Boston, ranging from 10 to 30 minutes away. The Green Line "B" Branch ends close to Boston College on Commonwealth Avenue. The commuter rail, serving the northern villages of Newton that are proximate to Waltham, offers less frequent service to Boston. It runs from every half-an-hour during peak times to every couple of hours otherwise. The northern villages are also served by frequent express buses that head to downtown Boston via the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Newton Centre, which is centered around the Newton Center MBTA Station has been lauded as an example of transit-oriented development.
The Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate 90), which basically follows the old Boston and Albany Railroad main line right-of-way, runs east and west through Newton, while Route 128 (Interstate 95) slices through the extreme western part of the city in the Lower Falls area. Route 30 (Commonwealth Avenue), route 16 (Watertown Street west to West Newton, where it follows Washington Street west) and route 9 (Worcester Turnpike or Boylston Street) also run east and west through the city. Another major Boston (and Brookline) street, Beacon Street, runs west from the Boston city line to Washington Street west of the hospital, where it terminates at Washington Street.
There are no major north-south roads through Newton: every north-south street in Newton terminates within Newton at one end or the other. The only possible exception is Needham Street, which is north-south at the border between Newton and Needham, but it turns east and becomes Dedham Street, and when it reaches the Boston border, it goes south-east.
There are some north-south streets that are important to intra-Newton traveling. Centre Street runs south from the Watertown town line to Newton Highlands, where it becomes Winchester Street and terminates at Nahanton Street. Walnut Street runs south from Newtonville, where it starts at Crafts Street, down to Newton Highlands, where it ends at Dedham Street.
Points of interest
- Crystal Lake is a 33 acre natural lake located in Newton Centre. Its shores, mostly lined with private homes, also host two small parks and a town beach and bath house. The name Crystal Lake was given to the pond by a nineteenth century commercial ice harvester that sold ice cut from the pond in winter. It had previously been called Baptist Pond.
- The Jackson Homestead, now the Newton History Museum at the Jackson Homestead, is best known for its history as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It was built in 1809 as a farmhouse designed in the Federal style, and is now a museum with paintings, costumes, photographs, manuscripts, maps and historical artifacts.
- Heartbreak Hill, notably challenging stretch of the Boston Marathon, on Commonwealth Avenue between Centre Street and Boston College.
- Newton is home to many exclusive golf courses such as Woodland Country Club, Charles River Country Club, and Brae Burn Country Club, which held the United States Open in 1919.
- Echo Bridge is a notable 19th-century masonry arch bridge with views of the river and Hemlock Gorge in Newton Upper Falls just off Route 9.
- Norumbega Park was located in Auburndale on the Charles River. Opening in 1897 as a trolley park, it was a popular amusement park through the 1950s before closing in 1963. Its Totem Pole Ballroom became a well-known dancing and entertainment venue for big bands touring during the 1940s. The park is now a popular dog-walking site with hills, meadows, woods, and access to the river.
- Chestnut Hill Reservoir is a very popular park with residents of Newton, Brookline, and the Brighton section of Boston. Although completely within the Boston city limits, it is directly contiguous to the Newton city limits. Designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, the designer of Central Park in New York City and the Emerald Necklace in Boston, the park offers beautiful views of the Boston skyline, and is framed by stately homes and the campus of Boston College. The reservoir is no longer used to supply water to Boston.
- Bullough's Pond is an old mill pond transformed into a landscape feature when Newton became a suburban community in the late nineteenth century. It has been the subject of two books, Reflections in Bullough's Pond: Economy and Ecosystem in New England, by Diana Muir, and Once Around Bullough's Pond: A Native American Epic, by Douglas Worth. It has long been maintained by the city as an ice skating venue. A scene from the 2008 remake of The Women was filmed there.
- The Baptist Church in Newton Center was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in Richardson romanesque style.
- The WHDH-TV tower is one of the tallest free-standing lattice towers in USA.
There are several cemeteries in Newton, three of which are owned by the City of Newton, while the rest are privately owned, as follows:
- East Parish Burying Ground, called Centre Street Cemetery by the city, dates from 1664
- Newton Cemetery, 791 Walnut Street, Newton Centre, private, 155 acres, dates from 1855
- West Parish Burying Ground (River Street Cemetery), West Newton, public
- St. Mary's Episcopal Church and Cemetery, 258 Concord Avenue, Newton Lower Falls, private
- South Burying Ground called Winchester Street Cemetery or Evergreen Cemetery by the city, public
Notable grave sites
- East Parish Burying Ground
- Newton Cemetery
- William Emerson Barrett, politician, U.S. congressman
- William Claflin, politician, Massachusetts governor and U.S. congressman
- Louis K. Liggett, drug store magnate
- Samuel Leland Powers, politician, U. S. Congressman
- Alexander Hamilton Rice, politician, Massachusetts governor, U.S. congressman and Boston mayor
- Morrie Schwartz, educator, Brandeis philosophy professor
- Samuel Francis Smith, Baptist minister, author of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee"
- Francis Edgar Stanley, auto maker (the Stanley Steamer)
- St. Mary's Episcopal Church and Cemetery
- The Fig Newton cookie is named after the city. In 1991, Newton and Nabisco hosted a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Fig Newton. A 100-inch Fig Newton was served and Juice Newton performed.
- The only Melkite Greek Catholic eparchy in America, the Eparchy of Newton, is named for Newton although its cathedral, headquarters and exarchial residence are located in the Roslindale section of Boston.
Newton in theater and film
Newton in literature