Brief History of Boston Abridged
We discovered the brief history of Boston summarized.
17th century boston
Boston was founded in 1630 by English Puritans fleeing religious persecution. On March 29, 1630, a fleet of 11 ships carrying 700 people sailed from England to Massachusetts. They were led by John Winthrop (1588-1649).
At first people settled in Charlestown, which had been founded the year before. However, fresh water was short, so most of the new settlers moved across the river to a peninsula called the Trimountaine. In 1630, the new settlement was named Boston after Boston, in England, from which many of the settlers came.
The Puritans hoped to create a “city on a hill,” that is, a shining example of a godly society for all the world to see. Instead, they created a society just as intolerant as the one they had left behind. The Puritans came to America fleeing religious persecution, but they in turn persecuted the Quakers, whom they called a “cursed sect.”
A Baptist named Obadiah Holmes was publicly flogged in Boston in July 1651. In October 1659 two Quakers named William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson were hanged in Boston. Another Quaker named Mary Dyer was hanged in the Boston Common on June 1, 1660.
However, the new settlement flourished. In 1631 the first sailing ship built in America was launched from Boston and soon the shipbuilding industry prospered. There was also a flourishing whaling industry and a fishing industry.
In 1635, the first public school in the United States, the Boston Latin School, opened. A College was founded in Boston in 1636. In 1639 it was named Harvard after a benefactor.
King’s Chapel Cemetery is the oldest in Boston. Dates to 1630. Copp’s Hill Cemetery dates to 1659. Copp’s Hill is named after William Copp who owned much of the land in the area and sold it as a burial ground. The old barn graveyard dates back to 1660. It takes its name from a barn that once stood nearby. The central cemetery dates from 1756.
In 1676 the first coffeehouse was opened in Boston. In it, merchants and professionals could meet and chat over a cup of coffee.
By then Boston was a flourishing city with a population of about 4,000. It would seem tiny to us, but cities were very small in those days.
The population increase occurred despite smallpox outbreaks. This terrible disease killed many people every time it struck. Even if you survived, you could be blinded or disfigured by the pockmarks. There were smallpox epidemics in Boston in 1640, 1660, 1677-1680, and in 1690.
In 1684 the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was revoked, ending Puritan rule and independence from the crown.
In 1690 the first American newspaper Publick Occurrences: Both Foreign and Domestick were published in Boston.
18th century Boston
Boston continued to grow. That was despite the smallpox outbreak in 1702 and 1721. By 1730 Boston had a population of over 13,000.
Additionally, Bostonian industries prospered. Long Wharf was built in 1710. Boston Light was built in 1717.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston in 1706.
However, while Boston’s industries flourished, the first workhouse in Boston opened in 1735.
Meanwhile, the Old State House was built in 1713 and the Old North Church was built in 1723. (Its official name is Christ Episcopal Church.) The Old South Meeting House was built in 1729. Faneuil Hall was built in 1742. It was expanded in 1806 and 1898.
At the end of the 18th century, tensions increased between the British and the colonists. In 1768, British soldiers were stationed in Boston. On March 5, 1770 came the Boston Massacre. There are different versions of what exactly happened. However, at night a group of soldiers stationed by the Boston Custom House.
The local people started making fun of them and throwing snowballs. According to witnesses, someone threw a wooden stick at a soldier named Hugh Montgomery and knocked him down. Montgomery then fired into the crowd. According to some witnesses, someone yelled ‘fire! The other soldiers fired.
In total 5 settlers died and 6 were wounded. Then 8 soldiers were tried. Six were acquitted, but two were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and branded on their thumbs with red-hot irons.
Then, in 1773, the British East India Company shipped tea to the American colonies to sell. Three ships were sent to Boston with 298 cases of tea. However, Boston was a center of resistance to the British. On December 16, 1773, men dressed as Native Americans boarded the ships and dumped the tea into the sea.
After the Battle of Lexington, the Americans surrounded the British troops in Boston. On June 17, 1775, the British attempted to lift the siege. They sent troops up the Charles River and attacked the Americans at Breed’s Hill. Two attacks were repulsed, but after the third the Americans withdrew. However, the British withdrew from Boston in 1776.
In the late 18th century, Boston continued to prosper and grow. The Harrison Gray Otis House was built in 1796. It was designed by the famous architect Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844). He also designed the Massachusetts State House, which was built in 1798. (Although many additions were made later.) Bulfinch also designed St. Stephen’s Church which was built in 1804.
19th century Boston
In the 19th century Boston continued to grow. By 1820 the population of Boston was about 43,000. As Boston grew, large amounts of land were reclaimed by landfills.
Several famous buildings were built in Boston in the 19th century. The African Meeting House was dedicated in 1806. Park Street Church was dedicated in 1810. St. Paul’s Cathedral was dedicated in 1820. Boston Custom House was built in 1847. Its tower was added in 1915. Trinity Church was built in 1877. It was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson.
During the 19th century, amenities in Boston improved. The Boston Athenaeum was founded in 1807. In 1822 Boston officially became a city. Quincy Market is named after Josiah Quincy, who was mayor when it was built in 1826.
The Boston Public Library, the oldest free library in the United States, was founded in 1852. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded in 1861, and Boston College opened in 1863. The first Baptist church was built in 1872. The The Museum of Fine Arts opened its doors in 1876, but moved to its current location in 1909.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1881 and the first American subway, the ‘T’, opened in 1897.
However, on November 9, 1872, a fire started in a dry goods store in Boston and soon spread. The Great Boston Fire destroyed 776 buildings and caused millions of dollars worth of damage. The fire also killed 33 people.
From 1846 a large number of Irish immigrants came to Boston fleeing a potato famine in their homeland. Boston’s first Irish mayor, Hugh O’Brien, was elected in 1884. Chinese immigrants arrived in Boston in the late 19th century. Also a large number of Jews from Eastern Europe immigrated to Boston fleeing persecution.
20th century Boston
In the early 20th century, Boston continued to develop. The Colonial Theater opened in 1900. The Shubert Theater opened in 1910. Fenway Park opened in 1912. The Metropolitan Theater opened in 1925. In 1983 it became the Wang Center for the Performing Arts.
In 1940 a statue of Paul Revere was unveiled in Boston.
In the late 20th century, several famous buildings were built in Boston. The Prudential Tower was built in 1964. John Hancock Tower was built in 1976 and the Federal Reserve Bank building was built in 1977. The Massachusetts State Transportation Building was erected in 1983. Massachusetts General Hospital was built in 1992.
In the mid-20th century, Boston’s economy declined. At the same time, people may migrate from the city center. However, at the end of the 20th century it was revived thanks to finance, high-tech industries and tourism. The New England Aquarium was built in 1969. The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum opened in 1993.
The Paul Revere House, where the famous man lived from 1770 to 1800, is also open to the public. So is the USS Constitution, which was launched in Boston in 1797. (It earned the nickname ‘old iron sides’ because it withstood British cannon fire during the War of 1812.)
21st century Boston
In the 21st century Boston continues to thrive. Millennium Place Building was built in 2001. In 2017 the population of Boston was 685,000.
Share the short history of Boston in a nutshell.