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We've put together some of the local area information for you but you can visit Massachusetts Town Profiles to find information on all of the cities and towns in Massachusetts.

Needham, MA - Norfolk County
Official Town Website
School Information
The Town of Needham is located on rocky uplands within a loop of the Charles River, almost isolated from the surrounding countryside. Though the area was used for some grazing by Dedham residents and some land grants were made, the river served as an effective barrier and the town was slow to develop. Early settlers relied primarily on agriculture and grazing plus some winter lumbering with orchards and tanneries as supplements. Saw mills and grist mills were opened by a number of settlers along the Charles through the 18th century. Extension of the railroad and land speculation encouraged settlement, and the town saw the growth of industrial employment and production at the same time during the mid-19th century. Needham manufacturers made knit goods, underwear, hats, shoes and silk, although attempts to cultivate silk worms were short-lived. Land speculation, housing development and knitted underwear continued to be the foundation of Needham's economy into the 20th century, with the famous William Carter Corporation prominent in the children's knitwear industry. The construction of Route 128 in 1931 opened portions of the town to development as part of the hi-tech highway in the post-World War II electronic industrial boom. Modern Needham remains a pleasant heavily suburban community with good access to Boston for commuters and a significant number of local job slots.

Newton, MA - Middlesex County
Official Town Website
School Information

Newton, known as the Garden City, is located six miles west of Boston. It lies within the so-called Boston Basin, a tiny structure of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Originally a part of Cambridge, Newton was settled in 1630 and incorporated in 1688 with the first settlement in Newton Corner. The Boston and Worcester Railroads established depots at what later became Newtonville and Auburndale in 1834. Newton is bounded on three sides by the Charles River and is a diverse community comprised of 14 villages, each with a unique character. The villages of Newton - listed alphabetically - are: Auburndale, Chestnut Hill, Four Corners, Newton Centre, Newton Corner, Newton Highlands, Newton ower Falls, Newton Upper Falls, Newtonville, Nonantum, Oak Hill, Thomsonville, Waban and West Newton. Newton is a vibrant community that is desirable as a place to live and work due to its proximity to Boston, nearness to various highway and public transportation systems, attractive neighborhoods and high property values, well-run municipal government, and a strong, nationally-recognized school system. Newton has well maintained parks, bicycle and fitness trails, golf courses, a public pool and lake. From July through October there is an outdoor Farmer's Market. Newton has a new, state-of-the-art, award-winning Library, and is home to the Jackson Homestead Museum, one of 712 nationally-accredited museums (out of 6,200 museums country-wide). Among the myriad arts and cultural organizations and activities, Newton has a Symphony Orchestra, resident theatre groups and an Arts in the Parks Program. Newton has been designated 1 of 3 cities nationwide to participate in a pilot tree bank, planting 6,800 seedlings. Newton has an extensive Institutional Network (I-Net) communications system which connects 63 municipal and institutional buildings, including all public schools. Newton was the recipient of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Heinz Foundation awards for being the first city in the Commonwealth to administer a mandatory curbside recycling program. 90% of residents recycle, reducing incinerated tonnage by 33%.

Brookline, MA - Norfolk County
Official Town Website
School Information
Brookline is a jewel of a suburb. Cheek to jowl with Boston - it has managed to maintain its own identity - a unique mixture of busy streets and rolling countryside, upscale shops and village pubs, gracious apartment buildings and large estates, and home for legions of academic and scientific professionals, who work at the nearby medical centers in Boston. Brookline has staunchly refused to be absorbed by Boston, which surrounds it like a horseshoe. A community of 6.6 square miles and almost 55,000 people. Brookline has kept its town meeting form of government since 1705, when this "Muddy River" farmland of Boston became incorporated and named for the brooks that formed its boundaries. Among its many unusual resources, Brookline has its own working farm (with farm stand), the oldest country club in the nation, a town golf course, the home in which John F. Kennedy was born, a magnificent park on a hillside overlooking Boston with a wonderful open air skating rink and marvelous transportation museum, and numerous neighborhood parks and playgrounds scattered throughout the Town. Its major retail centers, like Coolidge Corner and Brookline Village, are bustling pedestrian-oriented shopping areas with a variety of shops - antique stores, coffee shops, bookstores, fresh fruit and vegetable markets, delicatessens and restaurants. Along with offering both a city atmosphere and a feeling of being in the country, there is a wonderful mix of people in Brookline: elderly, minorities, immigrants from many lands, young families and college students. It is said that the student body at Brookline High School -- a nationally renowned institution -- includes students from more than 50 different countries. Although predominantly residential, Brookline is anxious to attract new commercial development, and in just the last two years, the Town has amended its zoning to encourage new growth along its major thoroughfares.

Wellesley, MA - Norfolk County
Official Town Website
School Information
The Town of Wellesley is a predominantly residential community, located approximately 13 miles west of Boston. Its geographic location and its visual characteristics make it a highly desirable suburb for people who work in Boston. Wellesley although a residential community, is also an employment center, having several attractive office parks located primarily on its eastern border. The town is also a college community, having within its boundaries Wellesley College and Babson College, two private educational institutions, as well as Massachusetts Bay Community College. Wellesley is equidistant from the north shore and south shore recreational facilities with access provided by Route 128/Route 95, a circumferential highway which skirts its eastern border. It is a gateway access to the western part of the state through access to the Massachusetts turnpike located just over Wellesley's northern border. The town derives approximately 85% of its tax revenue from a residential tax base with 15% derived from non-residential uses. Wellesley has been a leader in environmental issues and the town's attractiveness is ample evidence of that philosophy.

West Roxbury, MA
School Information
Originally part of the town of Roxbury, West Roxbury formed its own government in 1851 and was annexed by Boston in 1874. Bordered by Roslindale and Hyde Park, West Roxbury’s main thoroughfare is Centre Street, lined with local restaurants and commercial establishments. Today, the neighborhood’s tree-lined streets and mostly single family homes give it a suburban feel in an urban setting. Life in the neighborhood centers around political and civic activism as well as local parishes and youth athletic leagues.

Roslindale, MA
School Information
Roslindale, sometimes referred to as "Rosinopoulos" by residents for its large Greek population, began as a classic street car suburb. Today, one of the most unique characteristics of the area is the sheer number of people from all races, backgrounds and countries who call Roslindale home. Roslindale Square, the heart of the neighborhood, is the subject of a National Trust for Historic Preservation Main Street award. It is considered to be an example of the value of historic and aesthetic preservation in economic revitalization.

Dedham, MA - Norfolk County
Official Town Website
School Information
Dedham is an historic suburban industrial town on the principal southern corridor of metropolitan Boston, and is the site of the earliest surviving framed house in New England, the handsome 1737 Fairbanks House. The 10.7 square mile community received its grant as a town from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636, placing it among the oldest communities in the state. Its colonial agricultural economy was expanded by industry only after the town, in 1639, built one of the earliest water power canals connecting the Charles River with a tributary of the Neponset River and creating sufficient water power for grist and fulling mills. The character and future of the community changed drastically when it became the county seat for Norfolk County and the court house was built in 1796. As local historians pointed out, this brought in lawyers and officials, trained, educated and ambitious men who changed the face of the community by investing in and supporting industrial development. Woolen mills were developed in Dedham and innovations such as power broadlooms were introduced. By 1830 there were two woolen mills, two cotton mills, four sawmills and five factories staffed by Irish and German immigrants who made up 27% of the Dedham population. Everything from pianos to furniture was made in Dedham, including famous Dedham crackleware pottery. The town shows a rich and diverse architectural face to the world, with its monumental granite court house of Greek Revival design, its Victorian prison, its limestone Neoclassical Registry of Deeds, Romanesque Revival public library and Renaissance and Georgian Revival schools. In addition, Dedham has a remarkably well preserved town center, with many handsome, historic houses of which the community is very proud.

Jamaica Plain, MA
Official Town Website
School Information
Yes, Jamaica Plain is a part of the City of Boston; no, it is not its own town. Diversity is the strength of “JP,” to which it is lovingly referred by residents. Every ethnicity, socio-economic stratum, and sexual orientation is well represented in this neighborhood sandwiched primarily between Roxbury and Brookline (Brookline is its own town). The rich diversity in JP has created a strong character of social awareness and tolerance among neighbors and residents.

Westwood, MA - Norfolk County
Official Town Website
School Information
Westwood is an established community of 13,000 located 12 miles southwest of Boston. Situated at the junction of Routes 95/128 and 93, Westwood provides an excellent location for its residents and its businesses. Westwood provides the further convenience of having two commuter rail lines, full MBTA bus service an Routes 1, 1A and 109 traversing the Town. Westwood is recognized for the quality of its schools. Students consistently score in the top percentiles on national tests, and the overwhelming majority of students graduating from the High School go on to higher education. The Town also encourages and maintains many recreational areas and facilities, including numerous conservation areas, playgrounds, ballfields and an indoor pool facility. The Town has two libraries, a senior center and numerous community-sponsored events for the Town's residents. Westwood currently has 75 retail and over 130 commercial/industrial businesses located within the Town. Westwood's town services are excellent, with water from the Dedham-Westwood Water District, sewer service from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, electricity from Boston Edison and natural gas from Algonquin Gas.

Watertown, MA - Middlesex County
Official Town Website
School Information
Founded in 1630, Watertown was the first inland settlement in Massachusetts and initially encompassed the present communities of Weston, Waltham and large sections of Lincoln, Belmont, and Cambridge --thus becoming one of the largest American settlements of its time. Settled by Englishmen who had set sail on the Arbella, and were led by Sir Richard Saltonstall, Watertown quickly grew to be an important center for trade, commerce, and industry. Over the years this community has played an important role in Massachusetts history, once serving as the temporary seat of government during the Revolutionary War. It was here that Paul Revere, who once resided in Watertown, printed the first paper money for the Province of Massachusetts. At the Old Bemis Mills located here canvas sails were woven for the U.S.S. Constitution. Manufacturing industries included that of the renowned Stanley Steamers as well as the old black Crawford Stoves. And just around the bend of Mt.Auburn Street outside Watertown Square the Mugar family opened what was to be the first of many stores in the famous Star Market chain. Today Watertown is rich in ethnic diversity and culture, boasts a high level of citizen involvement and many amenities such as shopping malls, swimming pools, country and tennis clubs, skating rinks, eleven fine parks and public transportation providing easy access to Boston and surrounding communities. Watertown is within twenty minutes travel to all major highways in eastern Massachusetts, including the Massachusetts Turnpike, Routes 128, 95, 93, 2, 16 and 20. In addition, it is serviced by rail lines and commuter bus lines, and has easy access to Logan International Airport in Boston.

Canton, MA - Norfolk County
Official Town Website
School Information

The Town of Canton is a primarily residential community conveniently situated 18 miles southwest of Boston. The town enjoys a prime location with easy and direct access to the state's major highways including Routes 128, I-95 and 24, and is served by major commuter and passenger rail. The town has a rich and varied industrial heritage, serving as the location of Paul Revere's copper rolling mills in post-Colonial times, and as the site of rubber, chemical and woolen manufacturing in more recent days. Present commercial and industrial enterprises play a key role in the town's fiscal stability and are considered a major asset of the community. The prime commercial area is well located so as to allow direct highway access without affecting the community's small town charm. Canton provides a high level of municipal services to its residents, including an excellent library, school system and recreation programs. Many of the town's lakes, ponds and wetlands have been protected and preserved for present enjoyment and future generations. Among the protected areas are the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Reservation, an 82 acre estate that blends open fields, woodlands and gardens in the shadow of Great Blue Hill, and Pequitside Farm, a town-owned 38 acre conservation and recreation area which offers hiking, picnicking and cross country skiing. Residents feel that the natural beauty of these areas combined with the numerous town sponsored spring and summer recreation programs make a very special statement of what Canton is like.

Dover, MA - Norfolk County
Official Town Website
School Information
The Town of Dover is an affluent suburban community set between the western and southwestern axis of metropolitan Boston expansion. Incorporated in 1784, Dover relied on agriculture and grazing as the basis for its colonial economy although the ruggedness of its terrain plus the relative lack of water power limited its early growth. The damming of the Charles River in the late 18th century provided some power and allowed the development of mills which made nails and rolled iron, but the future of the community was not industrial. By the late 19th century, Dover was a firmly suburban community some of whose residents had assembled large country estates. Wealthy Bostonians created at least 18 estates between 1901 and 1914 alone, some of them as large as 300-400 acres. Modern Dover is a residential community still retaining much semi-rural character although there has been some development and subdividing of estate lands.
 

Norwood, MA - Norfolk County
Official Town Website
School Information
The earliest European settlers of what eventually became the Town of Norwood arrived from Dedham in the late 17th century. The attraction was the swift moving Neponset River in present day South Norwood near the East Walpole line. The Neponset River was to become the driving force for the Town's development throughout the next two centuries. Known officially as the second parish of Dedham, most inhabitants referred to their village by its Indian name, Tiot. The population grew through the 18th century, and names such as Tiot, Morse Village, and Ellis distinguished the various population centers within South Dedham. On February 13, 1872 Norwood became a town of Norfolk County when the Act of Incorporation was approved by the General Court. At that time, 1,825 people, almost exclusively Anglo/Saxon Protestant, lived within its area of 10.48 square miles. Spurred by its status as a separate town, Norwood was launched into a growth pattern. Between the years 1872 and 1922, industry replaced agriculture as the economic base of the community. Many of Norwood's industries were world-famous for their products. Several of these old industries have since dissolved or moved out but others have survived and prospered. Attracted by the rise of new industry, various foreign-born people moved into the Town and the population increased to over 12,600. The influx and assimilation of immigrants has placed Norwood among the most culturally diverse towns of its size and type in New England. Economic and physical expansion culminated in the "Town Manager" for of government in 1914 as a more effective way to administer the growing town. Industrial development continued in Norwood through the mid-20th century. After World War II a gradual shift to high tech occurred in Norwood. Major corporations have found Norwood's proximity to Boston and access to major east coast population centers to be attractive for business. The Town is now considered one of the more important manufacturing, suburban-residential, and wholesale and retail trade centers south of Boston.

Natick, MA - Middlesex County
Official Town Website
School Information
The Town of Natick is a suburban industrial center located on the upper basin of the Charles and Concord Rivers with an extensive complex of ponds. The town was from earliest Colonial days a prime target for development, possessing as it did good agricultural land, fish runs and water power. Established in 1650 on the Charles River, Natick had the first and the largest Indian praying town in the colonies, one that became a model for all other attempts to inculcate European standards into Indians. John Eliot, the great missionary, secured a charter of 6,000 acres for the Indians and converted them to Christianity. Unfortunately, Natick's Indian population was forcibly resettled on Deer Island during the King Philip's war and essentially never returned. In Colonial days, Natick was an agricultural community with some orchards and some lumbering. Grist and sawmills were established and Indian ownership and control gave way to white dominance between 1676 and 1776. Local tradition claims that several loads of Natick men shipped out to the California gold rush in 1849 and 1850, returning with enough capital to start independent businesses in the town. The shoe industry dominated the community by the early 19th century, with the first shoe sole manufacturer established in 1827 and shoes shipped to the southern and western markets by 1830. The town's products, including baseballs manufactured in Natick, were shipped to Boston on the Boston and Worcester Railroad. The town saw rapid growth including an Irish, English, Nova Scotian, Italian and Armenian immigrant population which came to take jobs in the shoe plants and by the 1880's, Natick was the third largest shoe production community in the country. In modern times, Natick has become an industrial Boston-oriented suburban community with heavy strip development on Route 9.


 

Massachusetts Town Profiles | Massachusetts Schools | MCAS Scores

 

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