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Belmont, Massachusetts
Looking north on Leonard Street in the town center
Looking north on Leonard Street in the town center
Official seal of Belmont, Massachusetts
"The Town Of Homes"
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Settled 1636
Incorporated 1859
 • Type Representative town meeting
 • Total 4.7 sq mi (12.2 km2)
 • Land 4.7 sq mi (12.1 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.1 km2)
44 ft (13 m)
 • Total 24,729
 • Density 5,260/sq mi (2,027/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 617 / 857
FIPS code 25-05070
GNIS feature ID 0618216

Belmont is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. It is part of the Boston metropolitan area. Its population was 24,729 at the 2010 census.


Belmont was established on March 10, 1859, by former citizens of, and land from the bordering towns of Watertown, to the south; Waltham, to the west; and Arlington, then known as West Cambridge, to the north. They also wanted a town where no one could buy or sell alcohol. (Today, a person can buy alcohol in this town.) The town was named after Bellmont, the 200 acre (0.8 km²) estate of one of the leading and largest donor to its createion, John Perkins Cushing. Cushing Square is named after him and what was left of his estate after it nearly burned to the ground became a Belmont Public Library branch. The easternmost section of the town, including the western portion of Fresh Pond, was annexed by Camobridge in 1880 in a dispute over a slaughterhouse licensed in 1878 on Fresh Pond, so that Cambridge could protect Fresh Pond, a part of its municipal water system.

Preceding its incorporation, Belmont was an agrarian based town, with several large farms servicing Boston for produce and livestock. It remained largely the same until the turn of the twentieth century, when trolley service and better roads were introduced, making the town more attractive as a residential area, most notably for the building of large estates.

Belmont's population grew by over 90 percent during the 1920s.

The economics of the town shifted from purely agrarian to a commercial greenhouse base: much of the flower and vegetable needs of Boston were met from the Belmont 'hothouses' which persisted until about 1983 when Edgar's, the last large greenhouse firm in the area, closed. Other commercial enterprises in Belmont included mining and waste management. The reclamation of a large dump and quarry off Concord Avenue into sites for the Belmont High School and the Clay Pit Pond stands as a lasting example of environmental planning. With the introduction of automobiles and highways Belmont continued its transition to a commuter-based suburb throughout the twentieth century.

Belmont was the home of the headquarters of the John Birch Society from the organization's founding in 1958 until its relocation to Appleton, Wisconsin in 1989.

In 1963, English composer Arthur Bliss wrote The Belmont Variations based on the town of Belmont MA, where his wife Lady Trudy Bliss was born. The work was used at the Royal Albert Hall (London) as the test piece for the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain.

The residents of Belmont did not have cable until 1989. They could only watch cable televisi be a department that is part of the town government. It would be called The Belmont Cable Department. As this had never been donw before by any Mass. town, the Town of Belmont had to get a special law passed by the Massachusetts legislature to makne this caple dept. possible. The local cable companies like Time Warner and Cablevision did not like this special law and spent most of the 1980s fighting the law tooth and nail. The cable companies won and in 1989, the cable system was set up by Time Warner. 3

In 1993, this small suburban was overwhelmed by Japanese tourists. Crown Prince of Japan had just become engaged to Masako Owada, the future Crown Princess of Japan. Her parents were part of the Japanese diplomatic service and they had lived in Belmont in the early 1980s. She graduated from Belmont High School. The Japanese tourists came to see the house where she had lived and the local schools she attended. This is probably the only time that this small town had ever been mentioned in newspapers throughout the world.

Railroad history

Boston & Maine Railroad Station at Belmont Center, now used for the MBTA Commuter Rail.

Belmont was once served by two railroads, the Fitchburg Railroad and the Central Massachusetts Railroad, both of which were later to become part of the Boston & Maine Railroad system. Originally the two railroads had their own tracks through town, but in 1952 the Central Mass tracks were lifted between Hill's Crossing and Clematis Brook (Waltham). Traffic was then rerouted over the Fitchburg line.

Today the MBTA owns the trackage that runs through Belmont. It is known as the Fitchburg Line. Passenger service on this line currently ends at Fitchburg, but it once was the area's main route into New York state. As of 2011, the MBTA was planning to extend future service to West Fitchburg.

Wellington Hill Station

The station stops at Belmont Center and Waverley were once grade crossings, meaning pedestrian and vehicular traffic had to cross directly over rails that were in public roads. In 1907 the grade at Belmont Center was eliminated by constructing a stone bridge to carry the tracks past a new station building. At Waverley, the grade was lowered so that the tracks ran under Trapelo Road.

A second railroad station building exists in Belmont, though it is not obvious. The Wellington Hill Station was originally built in the 1840s as a private school, not far from its current location in Belmont Center. It was then used by the Fitchburg Railroad from 1852 to 1879. When the railroad decided to replace the station with a larger structure, the building was moved to the Underwood Estate and used as a summer house. In 1974, the station was donated to the Belmont Historical Society. It was restored and relocated to its current location in 1980.

Present day

Belmont remains a primarily residential suburb with little growth since the 1950s. It is best known for the mansion-filled Belmont Hill neighborhood, although most residents live in more densely settled, low-lying areas around the Hill. There are three major commercial centers in the town: Belmont Center in the center, Cushing Square in the south, and Waverley Square in the west. Town Hall and other civic buildings are located in Belmont Center. Large tracts of land from former farms and greenhouse estates form public or publicly accessible areas such as Rock Meadow, Habitat (Mass Audubon), portions of the McLean Hospital tract and various town fields.


Topographic maps of Arlington, Belmont, Lexington Massachusetts 1946
Topography of Belmont and environs

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12.2 km²), of which 4.7 square miles (12.1 km²) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.1 km²), or 1.06%, is water.

Belmont is bordered by Cambridge on the east, Arlington on the north, Lexington on the northwest, Waltham on the west, and Watertown on the south.

Environmental concerns

In 2002, Middlesex County was ranked in the worst 10% of polluted counties in the United States in terms of air and water pollution. Two companies that ranked in the top 10 for polluters in the county were Cambridge Plating Company in Belmont and the Polaroid Corporation in Waltham.

The chemicals released were trichloroethylene and dichloromethane, both of which are harmful and have been shown to cause cancer. These chemicals are released into the air so it is difficult to trace them and to determine the source as there are also several other industries in the area that release the same pollutants. It is estimated that 3% of homes in Belmont are at risk of having lead hazards.

In 2004, the town of Belmont first hosted an annual community environmental fair to encourage environmentally friendly behavior for its residents.


See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income
Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1860 1,198 —    
1870 1,513 +26.3%
1880 1,615 +6.7%
1890 2,098 +29.9%
1900 3,929 +87.3%
1910 5,542 +41.1%
1920 10,749 +94.0%
1930 21,748 +102.3%
1940 26,867 +23.5%
1950 27,381 +1.9%
1960 28,715 +4.9%
1970 28,285 −1.5%
1980 26,100 −7.7%
1990 24,720 −5.3%
2000 24,194 −2.1%
2010 24,729 +2.2%
* = population estimate. Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.

As of the census of 2010, there were 24,729 people. The 2010 census lists 10,184 housing units. The population density was 5,316.9 people per square mile (2,004.6/km²). The racial make up of the town was 83.5% White, 1.8% Black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 11.1% Asian, and 2.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.0% of the population. 6.3% of the population are under the age of five, 24.6% are under the age of eighteen, and 15.8% are 65 years of age or older; 53% are female. The median household income was $95,377.

The 2000 census listed 9,732 households out of which 31.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.9% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 25.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.01.

Foreign-born population

In 2010, 20% of the residents of Belmont were born outside of the United States. In 2000 this percentage was 15%.

Arts and culture

Points of interest

  • Redtop, home of William Dean Howells
  • Edwin O. Reischauer Memorial House
  • Boston & Maine Railroad Station, now known as the MBTA Commuter Rail Belmont stop, now owned by the Lions Club
  • Wellington Hill Railroad Station, circa 1840, located across the street from the current MBTA stop at Belmont Center
  • Boston Massachusetts Temple of the LDS Church

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