NEWTON has a well earned reputation as “the garden city. But physical beauty is only a small part of it’s allure. Rich is historic ethnic, and cultural makeup, Newton’s heterogeneous population blend gives the city a marvelous character and dynamic personality.
Settled in 1630, Newton was originally incorporated as a town in 1688. Later, in 1873, Newton became a city.
Newton is a wonderful place for those who love diversity. This is a city of villages. Each of the thirteen villages has its own unique character, culture, and style. Consistently posting one of the highest bond ratings in the state, Newton residents are proud of their city’s reputation of stability. With excellent city services and an extensive Recreation department, people her enjoy convenient and comfortable living. Newton’s perfect location, close to Boston and all of the surrounding major roads and highways makes shopping and commuting a breeze.
It is no surprise that Newton’s schools are consistently ranked among the best in the nation. Education is a high priority in this community largely made up of well-educated adults. Subsequently, many Newton high school graduates continue their education at some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and institutions.
With over 650 acres of parklands, a broad variety of recreational facilities and numerous historic and cultural activities there’s always something interesting to do. Try hiking at Nahanton Park., swimming at Crystal Lake and YMCA, and boating and canoeing on the Charles River. Or enjoy a visit to the home of Mary Baker Eddy, the Newton Symphony Orchestra, and the Jackson Homestead for a bit of Old New England culture and history. Newton is especially proud of the Homestead, an1809 Federal-style home that was ones a stop on the Underground Railroad. Today it houses manuscripts, antiques, and various city memorabilia presented at four major annual exhibits.
Newton is a place people love to call home. Before long, you’re sure to concur with the many long-time residents who will readily tell you that they could not imagine living anywhere else.
Recreation comes in many forms here in Newton.
- Nahanton Park’s 55 natural acres alongside the Charles River offer a retreat for passive recreation, education and tranquility. Walking, jogging, canoeing and fishing are among the most popular activities. The nature Center offers nature conservation and ecology information and the outdoor Adventure Program of children in grades 2-6.
- Newton North Indoor Recreational Complex offers indoor sports and recreation, swimming and lessons, and more.
- Gath Pool and Crystal Lake offer swimming and lessons.
- Newton Commonwealth Golf Course is an 18 hole course open year around.
- The Parks and Recreation Department offers a myriad of programs for all ages, from tots to senior citizens. Contact them at 552-7120.
- Numerous other activities are available at the 71 tennis courts, 3 ice skating ponds and 2 summer camps. There are also preschool summer programs, 6 neighborhood centers and special needs and ‘Over 55’ programs.
- Fully 10% of Newton’s open space is conservation land, much of which is available for passive recreational enjoyment.
- The Farmers Market, open July thru October, is one of the best in the state. Among the many cultural programs and experiences in Newton are the following.
- Art In The Park, sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department in cooperation with the Newton Pride Committee and the Mayor’s Office for Cultural Affairs, offers programs year round. There are Children’s Enrichment Programs, School Vacation Programs, Friday Afternoon at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Concert Trips, craft courses and Festivals, as well as Band Concerts, Fireworks and an Open Air Market.
- The Newton Pride committee sponsors holiday and seasonal celebrations and beautification programs.
- The Newton Cultural Arts Council, using Megabucks money, awards grants to individuals and groups for projects that benefit the community.
- All Newton Music School promotes quality musical education for all.
- Newton Symphony Orchestra offers a concert series with pre-concert lectures and other special events.
- The New Art Center provides exhibitions program and a broad selection of courses in the visual and performing arts.
- The New Repertory Theatre presents five or more plays a season and offers classes and workshops.
The village of Lower Falls developed early in Newton’s history due primarily to the late 1600’s major roads that passed through here- and to the powerful Charles River. The fist gristmill operated before 1700 and many more mills appeared along the river over the next 100 years. One, the paper mill building at the Lower Falls, remains popular and busy place today.
In 1816 Newton’s first Post Office opened here to service the inns, stores, mills and growing population. There was a daily stage coach to Boston, and beginning in 1840, a new railroad spur.
Today the Lower Falls boasts a broad selection of restaurants, shops and commercial businesses.
In 1834 Auburndale, like Newtonville, was only a flagging stop on the new Boston and Worchester Railroad, and then only at the persuasive urging of Reverend Charles deMaresque Pigeon. Despite being just two miles from the station stop at West Newton, this flagging stop inspired dramatic real estate activity and residential growth. The area often lightheartedly referred to as ’Saint Rest’, due to many clergyman who lived here, but Reverend Pigeon’s original “Auburn Dale” name prevailed. Many years later, of course, Auburndale became renowned for Riverside and Norumbega Park along the banks of the Charles.
The famous Fig Newton was named after the city, was first baked in 1891 by Cambridge Kennedy Biscuit Works, whose manager named new products after local cities and towns. Of all his community creations- only the Fig Newton remains.
The North street bridge, built in 1761, joined Newton and Waltham. This bridge along with a riverside road joining main roads to other communities met at the center of a new village called West Newton Square. A meeting house, church and tavern soon were followed by more and larger facilities to accommodate the burgeoning business brought by the busy stagecoach, and then by the railroad. Naturally this area in the north side of town grew rapidly to the point that, in 1849, it justified the relocation of the Town House form Newton Centre to busy West Newton village.
Shortly after 1633 when the land area that is now Newton was transferred from Watertown to Cambridge, families’ moves to this area and a small community began to form. This was to be Newton’s first village settlement. In the early 1700’s the hamlet was referred to as “Angier’s corner”, named after Oakes Angier Tavern, a long standing and popular landmark.
Later the stagecoach passed through, and beginning in 1834, the Boston and Worchester Railroad stopped here. In 144, when commuter service began, the local station was named ‘Newton Corner’, which later became the name given to the village.
*Newton Corner, Newton’s first village boasts the most and oldest collection of 19th and 20th century homes.
*In 1634 any one caught using tobacco in public was held “under pain of eleven shillings.”
Before the Boston and Worcester Railroad openend in 1834 there were only two buildings here, the old Hull mansion and John Bullough’s grist mill store-house. But that changed rapidly. Despite the fact athat trains stopped at “hull’s Crossing” as it became known) only when ‘flagged’. Development began in earnest.
By 1847 Newtonville,. Newton’s first ‘railroad village’, was a thriving residential community.
David Bemis’ paper mill opened in 1778. Soon other factories were built in the area and by the mid- 1800”s several other industries had sprung up. Residents adopted the name ‘Nonantum’ an Indian name meaning ‘place of rejoicing’) fore one of these businesses, the Nonantum Worsted Company.
Thus the village of Nonantum that we know now, replaces an earlier village by the same name near Newton Center.
The Newton Centre area was already home to many families by the time the town of Newton was established in 1688. by 1721, to meet the needs of residents in the area, a new meeting house was built at the corner of Centre and Homer Streets, followed by a school, training field, pound etc. With the establishment of the Town House the village became known as the “Centre”.
Less than 30 years later though, partially due to the physical obstacles that isolated it from the area’s other developing population, the Town House, amid bitter debates, was moved to West Newton. Despite this movement and despite not being geographically located in the center of town, Newton Center has proudly retained its name.
*The grass median strip on Commonwealth Avenue had trolley tracks for the electronic trolley’s that at that time went as far west as Norumbega Park.
*One of New England’s most famous hills is Heartbreak Hill of Boston marathon fame.
Surprisingly in 1852 the Oak Hill railroad station was built (at the site of out present Newton Highlands T stop) despite a sparse population and seemingly small need. Passenger service was erratic for years. The tracks were used primarily to haul gravel to fill in Boston’s Back Bay, until the railroad was upgraded in 1870.
Gradually development began and the name ‘Newton Highlands’ was chosen for the emerging village. ‘Four Corners’, sometimes thought to be a village of its own, is locating at the corner of Beacon Street and Walnut Street, where Newton Highlands borders Newton Centre.
Once in the miod-1800’s Waban consisted of just four large farms. However, when upgraded commuter rail lines were extended community began in earnest. Today Waban’s fine homes and neighborhoods reflect the beauty and style of this development growth that began more than 100 years ago. One of Newton’s most attractive and desirable villages, Waban is quality residential living at its best.
Newton’s first use of the Charles River as a source of power took place here in 1688 with the construction of a saw mill. After the revolutionary War textile mills, iron works and machine works and machine works flourished along the river. By 1820 Upper Falls was emerging as a typical self-sufficient New England mill village where worker’s quarters abutted the mills and the more the affluent residents lived on the hillside above.
Today the beautiful meandering Charles River, forming the long southern border of Upper Falls, brings scenic pleasure and recreational enjoyment to village residents.
In 1821 the Hammond family sold 165 acres, located partly in Newton and partly in Brookline, to an un-married retired sea-caption named Joseph Lee. Upon his death he left this “farmland” to his nieces and nephews whose interests were in Boston and who paid little attention to this remote and inaccessible property. And so it sat-until the 1850’s- when construction of Beacon Street and the Charles River Railroad made the land both accessible and attractive. They built their own home on the land and began development of a new community “Chestnut Hill”.
Oak Hill was slow to development as a community. Despite its accessible location, wetlands kept farms scattered and widespread, discouraging the development of a community village. As a result neither stagecoach nor railroad were routed there and roads slight. It wasn’t until the introduction of automobile early this century that soil was drained and Oak Hill began to blossom as a thriving village unto its own.