Until after the Revolutionary War, Somerville was a section of Charlestown often known as “beyond the neck” referring to the narrow spit of land between the Mystic and Charles Rivers that joined the two areas at that time. In 1639, eleven years after they first settled here, English settlers formally bought the land from the Pawtucket tribe. For years, farming was the main occupation, with brick making the primary industry. The advent of the railroad forever changed the landscape of the town as many new people moved to town and farms became streets of houses.
By the time Somerville became a city in 1872, early waves of immigrants from Canada, Ireland and Great Britain had helped increase the population to 14,000. Throughout the centuries Somerville has seen many waves of immigrants, continuing the trend of population explosions and contributing to the racial and ethnic diversity. By 1930, Somerville was the most densely populated city in the United States. Two and three family homes were tucked closely together, creating tight neighborhoods of working class families who supplied labor for industries, including heavy industry, warehouse, and meat packing. The range of new groups coming to Somerville after 1960 expanded, shifting the racial profile of the city including immigrants from Haiti, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, China, Colombia, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.
Read more about Somerville here.