Founded over 350 years ago, Arlington remains proud of its history, even as it has grown into a thoroughly modern community. The birthplace of Uncle Sam, the location of the first public children's library, and the site of most of the fighting when the British marched through it returning from the Old North Bridge at the start of the Revolutionary War, Arlington has preserved many of its historical buildings and even recreated its town common. Once a thriving agriculture and mill town, Arlington's excellent access to metropolitan Boston has made it a very desirable place to live.
Area: 5.5 square miles
The Minuteman Bikeway passes through the historic area where the American Revolution began in April 1775. Today, the Minuteman Bikeway is one of the most popular and successful rail-trails in the United States, enjoyed for both healthy recreation and transportation. Best of all, the Brattle Street Minuteman entrance is only 0.2 miles from Majestic Mill Brook.
Built by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on an inactive railroad right of way, the Minuteman Bikeway has become a treasured regional resource, used by local residents and visitors from near and far. Connecting to the Alewife “T” Station in Cambridge, the bikeway provides an easy way for bicyclists and pedestrians to travel to and from subway and bus lines, serving to reduce automobile traffic in the area.
The Town of Arlington was originally settled in 1635 as a village under the name Menotomy. In 1807, the Town and a section of what is now Belmont were set off from Cambridge and incorporated as West Cambridge. In 1867, the name was changed to Arlington in honor of the heroes buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.
Mill Brook, where seven mills once operated, including the nearby Old Schwamb Mill, the oldest continuously operating mill site in the United States. The current mill building, erected in 1861, is now a living history museum.
In 1688, Menotomy's 24 taxpayers petitioned for the right to build a school; an unusual request, because they did not have as yet a meetinghouse. The school, located at what is now the cemetery on Pleasant Street, was completed in 1693 and stood there for more than 100 years.
Battle of Menotomy
Arlington (then called Menotomy) played a prominent role on the first day of the American Revolution - April 19, 1775. Minutemen from surrounding towns converged on Menotomy to ambush the British on their retreat from Concord and Lexington. More than one-half of that fateful day's casualties were suffered in the short distance from Foot of the Rocks (at the intersection of Lowell Street and Massachusetts Avenue) to Spy Pond.
We acknowledge that the Town of Arlington is located on the ancestral lands of the Massachusett Tribe, the tribe of Indigenous peoples from whom the Colony, Province, and Commonwealth have taken their names. We pay our respects to the ancestral bloodline of the Massachusett Tribe and their descendants who still inhabit historic Massachusett territories today.
When the first settlers made an agreement in 1635 with Squaw Sachem (translated into Lady Chief), she reserved the right to maintain some land near the Mystic Lakes for her use and required as part payment, a new English (woolen) coat every year for as long as she lived. This area was called Menotomy, an Algonquian word.