Charlestown, MA: history, population, rivers, lakes, mountains, resorts, hotels, motels, inns, and landmarks.
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New England > Massachusetts > Charlestown

Charlestown, Massachusetts

Middlesex county. The Indian name of this town was Mishawun. First settled, 1628. Incorporated, 1629. Population, 1820, 6,591; 1830, 8,787; 1837, 10,101. Charlestown is a peninsula, formed by Charles and Mystic rivers, and is united to Boston by Charles and Warren bridges. It is also united to Boston as a port of entry, and in its various commercial and manufacturing pursuits. This town is noted for its sacrifices in the cause of liberty; and its soil will ever be dear to the patriot's bosom. The town is not so regularly laid out as Philadelphia, yet it is neatly built, and contains many elegant public and private edifices. The streets are wide and airy, and many of them have recently been planted with trees for shade. Considerable shipping is owned here, engaged in foreign and domestic commerce. The annual value of the cod and mackerel fisheries is about $40,000. The value of the manufactures in Charlestown, the year ending April 1, 1837, exclusive of a large amount of leather, was $390,000. The articles manufactured were as follows: soap, candles, boots, shoes, hats, morocco, chairs, cabinet ware, vessels, combs, tin ware, and spirits.

The United States' Navy Yard was first established in this town about the year 1798. the yard is situated on the N. side of Charles river, on a plot of ground of about 60 acres. It is enclosed by a high wall of durable masonry, and contains several ware-houses, dwelling-houses for the officers, and a large amount of naval stores, live oak and other timber. It also contains three large ship-houses, in which are the Vermont and Carolina of 74, and the Cumberland frigate of 44 guns. These ships can be launched and ready for sea in a very short time.

The dry dock at this place is of hewn granite, and of unrivalled masonry. It is 341 feet in length, 80 in width, and 30 in depth. It cost $670,089. This dock was completed and received the Constitution on the 24th of June, 1833.—Connected with this establishment are a naval hospital and magazine, at Chelsea, and a large ropewalk in the yard; other additions are contemplated. This is considered one of the best naval depots in the united States.

McLean Asylum. This establishment is located on a beautiful rise of ground, in Charlestown, near East Cambridge, and about a mile and a half from the City Hall, in Boston. The buildings are large, and exceedingly well adapted to their philanthropic design. They cost about $186,00. This House was opened for patients on the 6th of October, 1818.

Belonging to, and surrounding this Asylum, are about 15 acres of land, appropriated to courts and gardens. These are laid out with gravelled walks. The former are furnished with summer houses, and the latter are ornamented with groves of fruit and ornamental trees, shrubbery and flowers. Surrounding the lower garden and within the enclosure, is a carriage path, where patients are taken to ride. In the centre is a small fresh water pond, containing several hundred gold and silver fish, and immediately contiguous is a summer house, where the patients at times resort for games and amusements.

The system of moral treatment adopted and pursued, is founded upon principles of elevated benevolence and philanthropy, and an acquaintance with human nature and the capabilities and wants of the insane. The previous tastes, habits and pursuits, and the present inclinations and feelings of each individual, are habitually consulted. A library for the use of the patients has been purchased, and those of them who are disposed to read, are permitted at stated periods to send their names and the number of the book desired; the list is examined and approved by the physician, and the books are distributed by the librarian. In the same way, writing materials are distributed, and patients are engaged in keeping journals—writing sketches of their lives—poetry—addressing letters to their friends, drawing, &c. Some engage in games, as bowling—throwing the ring—battledore—graces—jumping the rope—chess—draughts—back gammon, &c., or are occupied in walking and riding into the country, or in making fresh excursions in the company of their attendants; while others are working on the farm and in the garden. The female patients, besides being employed in various kinds of needle and ornamental work, are engaged in various domestic labors. The quiet and convalescent patients regularly attend religious exercises of the family, and a portion of them join in the vocal and instrumental music of the occasion; a part of this number also attend church on the Sabbath, in company with the nurses and attendants, and dine with the family. A regulated intercourse with the family and society is regarded as an important auxiliary in the means of cure, and on suitable occasions they are invited into the house, where parties are made for their special amusement and benefit.

John McLlean, Esq., late of Boston, an eminent merchant, bequeathed a large amount of property to this institution; hence its name.

Bunker Hill Monument. On the 17th of June, 1825, the corner stone of an Obelisk was laid on the heights of this town, by the illustrious La Fayette, to commemorate the battle between the Americans and British on the 17th of June, 1775. In that battle, 449 Americans and 1,055 Britons were slain. Charlestown was burnt by the British the same day. The site of the Monument is 62 feet above the level of the sea. It is of hewn granite, and, when completed, will be 30 feet square at the base, 15 feet square at the top, and 220 feet in height. It is now raised to about 60 feet, and will probably be completed in one or two years. The cost of it will be about $100,000.

The State Prison. This institution was founded in 1800, and soon after located on a point of land in this town, near East Cambridge, and which is connected with Canal bridge by a lateral bridge of 1,820 feet in length. After having struggled with many and great difficulties attendant on the establishment of an institution so entirely new, the state, by the agency of suitable men, have so placed it as to effect all the objects proposed, without any expense to the commonwealth.

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