kids encyclopedia robot

Medford, Massachusetts facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Medford, Massachusetts
Medford Square, Medford MA.jpg
Medford High School, Medford MA.jpg
Eaton Hall, Tufts.jpg
Outbound train at Wellington station, January 2013.jpg
Left-right from top: Medford Square, Medford High School, Eaton Hall of Tufts University, Wellington MBTA station
Official seal of Medford, Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Medford, Massachusetts is located in the United States
Medford, Massachusetts
Medford, Massachusetts
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Region New England
Settled 1630
Incorporated 1630
City 1892
 • Type Mayor-council city
 • Total 8.66 sq mi (22.43 km2)
 • Land 8.10 sq mi (20.98 km2)
 • Water 0.56 sq mi (1.45 km2)
14 ft (4 m)
 • Total 59,659
 • Density 7,365.31/sq mi (2,843.61/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Codes
02153, 02155–02156
Area code(s) 781/339
FIPS code 25-39835
GNIS feature ID 0612778

Medford is a city 6.7 miles (10.8 km) northwest of downtown Boston on the Mystic River in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. At the time of the 2020 U.S. Census, Medford's population was 59,659. It is home to Tufts University, which has its campus along the Medford and Somerville border.


17th century

Medford was settled in 1630 as part of Charlestown. The area was originally called "Mistick" by Thomas Dudley (a name which persisted for many decades), which his party renamed "Meadford". In 1634, the land north of the Mystic River became the private plantation of former Governor Matthew Cradock; across the river was Ten Hills Farm, which belonged to John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony. The name may have come from a description of the "meadow by the ford" in the Mystic River, or from two locations in England that Cradock may have known: the hamlet of Mayford or Metford in Staffordshire near Caverswall, or from the parish of Maidford or Medford (now Towcester, Northamptonshire).

In 1637, the first bridge (a toll bridge) across the Mystic River was built at the site of the present-day Cradock Bridge, which carries Main Street into Medford Square. It would be the only bridge across the Mystic until 1787, and as such became a major route for traffic coming into Boston from the north (though ferries and fords were also used). The bridge would be rebuilt in 1880 and 1909.

Until 1656, all of northern Medford was owned by Cradock, his heirs, or Edward Collins. Medford was governed as a "peculiar" or private plantation. As the land began to be divided among several people from different families, the new owners began to meet and make decisions locally and increasingly independently from the Charlestown town meeting. In 1674, a Board of Selectmen was elected, in 1684, the colonial legislature granted the ability to raise money independently, and in 1689, a representative to the legislature was chosen. The town got its own religious meeting room in 1690, and a secular meeting house in 1696.

18th and 19th centuries

The land south of the Mystic River was known as "Mistick Field". It was transferred from Charlestown to Medford in 1754. This grant also included the "Charlestown Wood Lots" (the Medford part of the Middlesex Fells), and part of what was at the time Woburn (now Winchester). Parts of Medford were transferred to Charlestown in 1811, Winchester in 1850 ("Upper Medford"), and Malden in 1879. Additional land was transferred to Medford from Malden (1817), Everett (1875), and Malden (1877) again.

The population of Medford went from 230 in 1700 to 1,114 in 1800. After 1880, the population rapidly expanded, reaching 18,244 by 1900. Farmland was divided into lots and sold to build residential and commercial buildings, starting in the 1840s and 1850s; government services expanded with the population (schools, police, post office) and technological advancement (gas lighting, electricity, telephones, railways). Tufts University was chartered in 1852 and the Crane Theological School at Tufts opened in 1869.

Medford was incorporated as a city in 1892 and was a center of industry, including the manufacture of brick and tile, rum, Medford Crackers, and clipper ships such as the White Swallow and the Kingfisher, both built by Hayden & Cudworth.


During the 17th century, a handful of major public roads (High Street, Main Street, Salem Street, "the road to Stoneham", and South Street) served the population, but the road network started a long-term expansion in the 18th century. The Medford Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1803, but turned what is now Mystic Avenue over to the city in 1866. The Andover Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1805, but turned what is now Forest Street and Fellsway West over to Medford in 1830.

Other major commercial transportation projects included the Middlesex Canal by 1803, the Boston and Lowell Railroad in West Medford in the 1830s, and the Boston and Maine Railroad to Medford Center in 1847.

A horse-powered street railway began running to Somerville and Charlestown in 1860. The street railway network expanded in the hands of various private companies, and went electric in the late 1890s, when trolleys to Everett and downtown Boston were available. Streetcars were converted to buses in the 20th century. Interstate 93 was constructed between 1956 and 1963.

Gypsy moth

In 1868, a French astronomer and naturalist, Leopold Trouvelot, was attempting to breed a better silkworm using Gypsy moths. Several of the moths escaped from his home, at 27 Myrtle Street. Within ten years, the insect had denuded the vegetation in the neighborhood. It spread over North America.

Holiday songs

In a tavern and boarding house on High Street (Simpson's Tavern) in the late 19th century, local resident James Pierpont wrote "Jingle Bells" after watching a sleigh race from Medford to Malden. Another local resident, Lydia Maria Child (1802–1880), made a poem out of the trip across town to her grandparents' house, now the classic song "Over the River and Through the Woods".

Other notables

View of the bridge over mystic river
1790 bird's-eye view from Bunker Hill of the "Malden Bridge" across the Mystic River, with Medford in the background.

Medford was home to Fannie Farmer, author of one of the world's most famous cookbooks—as well as James Plimpton, the man credited with the 1863 invention of the first practical four-wheeled roller skate, which set off a roller craze that quickly spread across the United States and Europe.

George Luther Stearns, an American industrialist and one of John Brown's Secret Six. His passion for the abolitionist cause shaped his life, bringing him into contact with the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Ralph Waldo Emerson and starting The Nation magazine. He was given the rank of major by Massachusetts Governor John Andrew and spent most of the Civil War recruiting for the 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments and the 5th cavalry.

Amelia Earhart lived in Medford while working as a social worker in 1925.

The Peter Tufts House (350 Riverside Ave.) is thought to be the oldest all-brick building in New England. Another important site is the "Slave Wall" on Grove Street, built by "Pomp," a slave owned by the prominent Brooks family. The Isaac Royall House, which once belonged to one of Harvard Law School's founders, Isaac Royall, Jr., is a National Historic Landmark and a local history museum. The house was used by Continental Army troops, including George Washington and John Stark, during the American Revolutionary War.

Medford has sent more than its share of athletes to the National Hockey League; Shawn Bates, though born in Melrose, MA grew up in Medford, as did Keith Tkachuk, Mike Morrison, David Sacco, and Joe Sacco. Former Red Sox pitcher Bill Monbouquette grew up in Medford.

Medford was home to Michael Bloomberg, American businessman, philanthropist, and the founder of Bloomberg L.P.. He was the Mayor of New York City from 2002-2013. Mayor Bloomberg attended Medford High School and resided in Medford until after he graduated from college at Johns Hopkins University. His mother remained a resident of Medford until her death in 2011.

The only cryobank of amniotic stem cells in the United States is located in Medford, built by Biocell Center, a biotechnology company led by Giuseppe Simoni.

Medford was the site of one of the biggest bank robberies and jewel heists in world history.


Medford is located at 42°25′12″N 71°6′29″W / 42.42000°N 71.10806°W / 42.42000; -71.10806 (42.419996, −71.107942).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.6 square miles (22 km2), of which, 8.1 square miles (21 km2) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) of it (5.79%) is water.

A park called the Middlesex Fells Reservation, to the north, is partly within the city. This 2,060-acre (8 km2) preserve is shared by Medford with the municipalities of Winchester, Stoneham, Melrose, and Malden. The Mystic River flows roughly west to southeast through the middle of the city.


People from Medford often identify themselves with a particular neighborhood.

  • West Medford
  • Fulton Heights/The Heights (North Medford)
  • Wellington/Glenwood
  • Station Landing
  • Brooks Estate
  • Lawrence Estates
  • South Medford
  • The Hillside


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1790 1,029 —    
1800 1,114 +8.3%
1810 1,443 +29.5%
1820 1,474 +2.1%
1830 1,755 +19.1%
1840 2,478 +41.2%
1850 3,749 +51.3%
1860 4,842 +29.2%
1870 5,717 +18.1%
1880 7,573 +32.5%
1890 11,079 +46.3%
1900 18,244 +64.7%
1910 23,150 +26.9%
1920 39,038 +68.6%
1930 59,714 +53.0%
1940 63,083 +5.6%
1950 66,113 +4.8%
1960 64,971 −1.7%
1970 64,397 −0.9%
1980 58,076 −9.8%
1990 57,407 −1.2%
2000 55,765 −2.9%
2010 56,173 +0.7%
2020 59,659 +6.2%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.
U.S. Decennial Census

Irish-Americans are a strong presence in the city and live in all areas. South Medford is a traditionally Italian neighborhood. West Medford, the most affluent of Medford's many neighborhoods, was once the bastion of some of Boston's elite families—including Peter Chardon Brooks, one of the wealthiest men in post-colonial America, and father-in-law to Charles Francis Adams—and is also home to an historic African-American neighborhood that dates to the Civil War.

As of the census of 2010, there were 56,173 people, 22,810 households, and 13,207 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,859.9 people per square mile (2,633.4/km2). There were 24,046 housing units at an average density of 2,796.0 per square mile (1,073.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 78.6% White, 8.80% African American, 0.2% Native American, 6.9% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 2.8% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.4% of the population.

There were 22,810 households, out of which 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.5% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.1% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 13.8% under the age of 15, 14.3% from 15 to 24, 31.7% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.7 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $52,476, and the median income for a family was $62,409. Males had a median income of $41,704 versus $34,948 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,707. About 4.1% of families and 6.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.7% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.

Medford has three Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable TV channels. The Public-access television channel is TV3, The Educational-access television is channel 15 and 16 is the Government-access television (GATV) municipal channel.


Numerous Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority bus lines go through Medford—specifically, the 80, 94, 95, 96, 99, 100, 101, 108, and 134 bus routes provide local service and direct connections to nearby areas in Arlington, Somerville, Cambridge, Malden, Charlestown, Winchester, and Woburn, while the 325 and 326 routes provide express service to downtown Boston and the 710 route is contracted to Joseph's Transportation, a Medford family-owned company. The 90, 97, 106, 110, and 112 bus routes additionally terminate at Wellington station, providing a direct connection between Medford and nearby areas in Somerville, Everett, Malden, Revere, Chelsea, East Boston, and Melrose. On Medford's east side, Wellington station on the Orange Line provides a connection to Boston and the entire rapid transit system. On the west side, the Lowell Commuter Rail Line stops in West Medford Square.

The Green Line Extension, which will bring the Green Line into Medford, as is mandated by environmental mitigation provisions of the Big Dig project, is currently under construction. When completed, the extension will follow the Lowell commuter rail tracks terminating near Tufts University at the intersection of Boston Avenue and College Avenue. A further extension to Mystic Valley Parkway (Massachusetts Route 16) is under environmental review.

Joseph's Limousine and Transportation of Medford runs a bus line through the city and also picks up passengers going to other parts of Greater Boston or out of state.

Interstate 93 travels roughly north–south through the city. State routes passing through Medford include 16, 28, 38, and 60.

Points of interest

1852 Middlesex Canal (Massachusetts) map
1852 map of Boston area showing Medford and rail lines.
THATCHER MAGOUN (Ship) (c112-02-34)
Clipper ship Thatcher Magoun


Medford is home to many schools, public and private.

  • Missituk Elementary School
  • Brooks Elementary School
  • John J. McGlynn Elementary School
  • Milton Fuller Roberts Elementary School
Private (non-sectarian)
  • Eliot-Pearson Children's School (Pre-K–2)
  • Gentle-Dragon Preschool (Pre-K)
  • Merry-Go-Round Nursery School (Pre-K)
  • Play Academy Learning Center (Pre-K–K)
  • Oakland Park Children's Center (Pre-K)
  • Six Acres Nursery School (Pre-K–K) (non-sectarian, but run through Medford Jewish Community Center)
Private (sectarian)
  • St. Joseph's (K–8)
  • St. Raphael's (Pre-K–8)
Middle School
  • John J. McGlynn Middle School
  • Madeline Dugger Andrews Middle School
High School
  • Medford High School
  • Medford Vocational Technical High School
    • Mascot: Mustang
Miscellaneous education
  • The Greater Boston Japanese Language School (ボストン補習授業校, Bosuton Hoshū Jugyō Kō), a supplementary school for Japanese people, holds classes at Medford High. Its weekday offices are in Arlington

Notable people

  • Edwin Adams (1834–1877), stage comedian of the 19th century
  • Lou Antonelli, science fiction writer
  • Rev. Hosea Ballou II, Minister of 1st Universalist and first president of Tufts College
  • Shawn Bates, professional hockey player, New York Islanders
  • Jessica Biel, actress, resident while attending Tufts University
  • Heber R. Bishop (1840–1902), industrialist and financier
  • Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City (2002–2013)
  • Dale Bozzio, lead singer of Missing Persons
  • Foghorn Bradley, was a baseball player and umpire in Major League Baseball
  • Hall L. Brooks, former member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
  • Loren Bouchard, animator, musician, filmmaker, creator and showrunner of Bob's Burgers
  • Mary Carew, Olympic gold medalist sprinter, born in Medford
  • Terri Lyne Carrington, jazz drummer
  • John Ciardi, poet and translator of Dante
  • Lydia Maria Child, anti-slavery activist, writer of the poem "Over the River and Through the Woods"
  • Martha Coakley, former attorney general of Massachusetts
  • Joe Coleman, Major League Baseball player
  • James O. Curtis (1804–1890), Medford shipbuilder who built ships powered by sail or by screw and steam
  • Thayer David, TV and film character actor
  • Edward Dugger (1894–1939), African American military commander
  • Amelia Earhart, pioneer aviator, born in Kansas, lived in Medford as a young woman
  • Eugene Fama, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
  • Fannie Farmer, culinary expert
  • Frank Fontaine, comedian and singer
  • Paul Geary, former drummer of hard rock band Extreme, music manager for acts such as Godsmack
  • Alan L. Gropman, military officer, college professor, and author
  • Colonel Edward Needles Hallowell, merchant and commander of 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the American Civil War
  • John Hancock Sr., first ordained preacher of Medford, lived and served in Medford 1692–1693, grandfather to John Hancock, Governor of Massachusetts and famous revolutionary figure
  • Robert Kelly, comedian known for Tourgasm
  • Bianca Miquela Landrau, known professionally as "Bia"; a rapper, songwriter, and model from Medford
  • Kathleen McCartney, president of Smith College, former dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Michael McDowell, screenwriter of Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas and author of Southern Gothic novels
  • Dave McGillivray, race director of Boston Marathon
  • Laurel McGoff, actress and singer
  • Maria Menounos, Miss Massachusetts Teen USA 1996, media personality (Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and Extra), actress, professional wrestler, hostess of the Eurovision Song Contest 2006
  • Bill Monbouquette, Major League Baseball pitcher 1958–1968 (Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees)
  • Priscilla Morrill, actress, played Edie Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • John Forbes Nash, Princeton professor, winner of Nobel Prize in Economics
  • Alexis Ohanian, founder of reddit
  • Mike Pagliarulo, Major League Baseball player (Yankees, Twins, Padres, Rangers, Orioles)
  • James Pierpont, writer of "Jingle Bells"
  • Rev. John Pierpont
  • Charles H. Pizzano noted sculptor
  • Ruth Posselt, classical violinist
  • Robert D. Richardson, historian, grew up in the Osgood House
  • William Zebina Ripley, economist and racial theorist
  • Mark Roopenian, NFL player
  • Isaac Royall, Jr., 18th century benefactor of Harvard
  • David Sacco, NHL player
  • Joe Sacco, NHL player and coach
  • Claude Shannon, scientist, father of Information Theory and modern digital communications
  • Clifford Shull, Nobel Prize–winning American physicist
  • David Silva, Provost and Academic Vice President at Salem State University, linguistics scholar, essayist.
  • Rev. Clarence Skinner, Dean of Religion at Tufts University, minister Hillside Universalist Church (1917–1920), theologian and pacifist
  • Bill Staines, folk musician
  • George Luther Stearns, industrialist, one of John Brown's Secret Six, lead recruiter of 54th and 55th Regiments
  • Mark T. Sullivan, author who has written novels on his own and has co-authored three James Patterson novels
  • Paul Theroux, author
  • Keith Tkachuk, NHL player
  • Ed Tryon, halfback at Colgate University, elected to College Football Hall of Fame in 1963
  • Bob Tufts (1955–2019), Major League Baseball pitcher

Images for kids

kids search engine
Medford, Massachusetts Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.