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Charlestown Information

Charlestown is a part of the city of Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1628, and settled July 4, 1629, by Thomas Graves, Rev. Francis Bright, Ralph, Richard and William Sprague and about 100 others, who preceded the Great Migration. John Winthrop’s company stopped here for some time in 1630, before deciding to settle across the Charles River at Boston. Charlestown was originally a separate city and the first capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; it was annexed by Boston in 1874. Charlestown is located northeast of Boston proper on a peninsula extending southeast between the Charles River and the Mystic River. It now has a substantial Irish-American population. Locals refer to themselves as “Townies”.

The geographic extent of Charlestown has changed dramatically from its colonial ancestor. Landfill operations have expanded much of Boston, lowering hills, and have expanded Charlestown, eliminating the narrow Charlestown Neck that connected the northwest end of the Charlestown Peninsula to the mainland.

Charlestown was the location from which Paul Revere began his famous “midnight ride” before the Battle of Lexington and Concord. A local restaurant still in operation, The Warren Tavern, claims to have been one of Revere’s favorite taverns.

On June 17, 1775 the Charlestown Peninsula was the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill. In fact, the battle actually took place on Breed’s Hill, which overlooked the harbor and the town and was only about 400 yards from the southern end of the peninsula; Bunker Hill was near the northwest end of the peninsula, close to Charlestown neck and about a mile from the Charles River. The city, including its wharfs and dockyards, was destroyed by fire during the battle. The Bunker Hill Monument now stands in Charlestown in commemoration of the battle.

Charlestown was the birthplace of inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, and the burial location of John Harvard, founder of Harvard University.

Today, the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned vessel in the US Navy, is docked in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Boston’s Freedom Trail’s north end is in Charlestown.