Waltham, Massachusetts

Waltham, Massachusetts

Central Square

Nickname(s): The Watch City

Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Waltham, Massachusetts

Location in the United States

Coordinates: 42°22′35″N 71°14′10″W / 42.37639°N 71.23611°W / 42.37639; -71.23611
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Settled 1634
Incorporated as a Town 1738
Incorporated as a City 1884
  Type Mayor-council city
  Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy
  Total 13.6 sq mi (35.2 km2)
  Land 12.7 sq mi (32.9 km2)
  Water 0.9 sq mi (2.4 km2)
Elevation 50 ft (15 m)
Population (2010)
  Total 60,632
  Density 4,705.4/sq mi (1,816.4/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
  Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02451-02454
Area code(s) 339 / 781
FIPS code 25-72600
GNIS feature ID 0612400
Website www.city.waltham.ma.us

Waltham (/ˈwɔːlˌθæm/) is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, and was an early center for the labor movement as well as a major contributor to the American Industrial Revolution. The original home of the Boston Manufacturing Company, the city was a prototype for 19th century industrial city planning, spawning what became known as the Waltham-Lowell system of labor and production. The city is now a center for research and higher education, home to Brandeis University and Bentley University. The population was 60,636 at the census in 2010.[1]

Waltham is commonly referred to as Watch City because of its association with the watch industry. Waltham Watch Company opened its factory in Waltham in 1854 and was the first company to make watches on an assembly line. It won the gold medal in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. The company produced over 35 million watches, clocks and instruments before it closed in 1957.[2]


The name of the city is pronounced with the primary stress on the first syllable and a full vowel in the second syllable, /ˈwɔːlθæm/ "wall-tham", though the name of the Waltham watch was pronounced with a reduced schwa in the second syllable: /ˈwɔːlθəm/.[3] As most would pronounce in the British way, Walthum, when people came to work in the mills from Nova Scotia, the pronunciation evolved. The "local" version became a phonetic sounding to accommodate French speakers who could not pronounce in the British way.


Boston Manufacturing Company

Waltham was first settled in 1634 as part of Watertown and was officially incorporated as a separate town in 1738.[4]

In the early 19th century, Francis Cabot Lowell and his friends and colleagues established in Waltham the Boston Manufacturing Company – the first integrated textile mill in the United States, with the goal of eliminating the problems of co-ordination, quality control, and shipping inherent in the subcontracting based textile industry. The Waltham–Lowell system of production derives its name from the city and the founder of the mill.[5]

The city is home to a number of large estates, including Gore Place, a mansion built in 1806 for former Massachusetts governor Christopher Gore, the Robert Treat Paine Estate, a residence designed by architect Henry Hobson Richardson and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted for philanthropist Robert Treat Paine, Jr. (1810–1905), and the Lyman Estate, a 400-acre (1.6 km2) estate built in 1793 by Boston merchant Theodore Lyman.

In 1857, The Waltham Model 1857, was a watch made by the American Watch Company in the city of Waltham, Massachusetts, in the United States of America. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Waltham was home to the brass era automobile manufacturer Metz, where the first production motorcycle in the U.S. was built.

Another first in Waltham industrial history involves the method to mass-produce the magnetron tube, invented by Percy Spencer at Raytheon. During World War II, the magnetron tube technology was applied to radar. Later, magnetron tubes were used as components in microwave ovens.

Waltham was also the home of the Walter E. Fernald State School, the western hemisphere's oldest publicly funded institution serving people with developmental disabilities. The storied and controversial history of the institution has long been covered by local and at times, national media.


Waltham is located at 42°22′50″N 71°14′6″W / 42.38056°N 71.23500°W / 42.38056; -71.23500 (42.380596, −71.235005),[6] about 11 miles (18 km) north-west of downtown Boston, Massachusetts, and approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) north-west of Boston's Brighton neighborhood.

The city stretches along the Charles River and contains several dams. The dams were used to power textile mills and other endeavors in the early years of the industrial activity.

The Charles River in Waltham

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.6 square miles (35 km2), of which 12.7 square miles (33 km2) is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2) (6.69%) is water.


Waltham has several neighborhoods or villages, including:[7]

  • Angleside
  • Banks Square
  • The Bleachery
  • Cedarwood
  • The Chemistry (named after the former Newton Chemical Company)[7]
  • Gardencrest
  • The Highlands
  • The Island (formerly Morse Meadow Island)
  • Kendal Green (mostly in Weston)
  • Lakeview
  • The Lanes
  • Northeast
  • The North Side
  • Piety Corner
  • Prospectville (defunct in 1894, now under Cambridge Reservoir)
  • Ravenswood
  • Robert's
  • Rock Alley
  • The South Side
  • Warrendale
  • West End
  • Wildwood Acres

Adjacent towns

It is bordered to the west by Weston and Lincoln, to the south by Newton, to the east by Belmont and Watertown, and to the north by Lexington.


Historical population
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]
U.S. Decennial Census[19]

As of the census[20] in 2000, there were 59,226 people, 23,207 households, and 12,462 families in the city. The population density was 4,663.4/mile² (1,800.6/km²). There were 23,880 housing units at an average density of 1,880.3 per square mile (726.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.98% White, 4.41% African American, 0.16% Native American, 7.29% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 3.20% from other races, and 1.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.49% of the population.

There were 23,207 households, of which 20.3% included those under the age of 18, 41.3% were married couples living together, 8.9% were headed by a single mother, and 46.3% were non-families. 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 3.01.

The age distribution is as follows: 15.5% under 18, 16.8% from 18 to 24, 34.4% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% 65 or older. The median age was 34. For every 100 females, there were 97.2 males. For every 100 females 18 and over, there were 95.6 males.

Age Distribution

The median income for a household was $54,010, and the median income for a family was $64,595. These figures increased to $60,434 and $79,877, respectively, according to an estimate in 2007.[21] Males had a median income of $42,324, as opposed to $33,931 for females. The per capita income was $26,364. 7% of the population and 3.6% of families lived below the poverty line. 4.8% of those under 18 and 8.4% of those 65 and older lived below the poverty line.

Foreign-born residents

As of 2010, 24% of the residents were born outside of the United States. Many originated from Guatemala and India.[22]


Waltham is governed by a mayor and a city council. The current mayor is Jeanette A. McCarthy.[23] There are 15 members of the city council,[24] each elected to two-year terms in non-partisan elections. The current president of the city council is Robert J. Waddick.

The city is in Massachusetts's 5th congressional district and is currently represented in the United States House of Representatives by Katherine Clark.[25] Waltham is also represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by State Representative John J. Lawn and State Representative Thomas M. Stanley, and in the Massachusetts Senate by Senator Michael Barrett.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 15, 2008[26]
Party Number of voters Percentage
Democratic 12,770 36.13%
Republican 3,490 9.87%
Unaffiliated 18,820 53.24%
Minor Parties 268 0.76%
Total 35,348 100%

Fire department

The city of Waltham is protected 24/7, 365 by the 153 full-time, paid firefighters of the city of Waltham Fire Department(WFD).[27] Established in 1816, the Waltham Fire Department is currently organized into 3 divisions of operations: fire suppression, fire prevention, and training. The fire prevention and training divisions are each commanded by a deputy chief. The fire suppression division is commanded by a deputy chief per shift or group.[28][29] The WFD operates out of 6 fire stations, located throughout the city, and operates a frontline fire apparatus fleet of 6 engines, 2 ladders, 1 squad, 1 rescue, 4 fireboats, 1 haz-mat./decon. unit, and 1 haz-mat./decon. trailer. The WFD also operates 2 reserve engines and 1 reserve ladder when frontline apparatus goes out of service for maintenance.[30] The Waltham Fire Department currently responds to over 8,000 emergency calls annually. The current chief of department is Paul J. Ciccone.

Engine 1, Ladder 2, and Squad 5's quarters on Moody Street

Fire station locations and apparatus

Below is a complete listing of all fire stations and fire company locations in the city of Waltham.

Engine company Ladder company Special unit Command unit Address
Engine 1 Ladder 2 Squad 5, Rescue Boat 1 Car 2(Deputy Chief) 536 Moody St.
Engine 2 Ladder 1 Rescue 6, Rescue 6A(Haz-Mat./Decon. Unit), Rescue Boat 2 Car 1 (chief of department), Car 3 (deputy chief), Car 4 (deputy chief) 175 Lexington St.
Engine 3 63 Willow St.
Engine 4 Haz-mat./decon. trailer, Rescue Boat 4 35 Prospect St.
Engine 7 Rescue Boat 7 196 Lake St.
Engine 8 Mass. State Field Comm. Unit 20 699 Trapelo Rd.


Public schools

The Waltham Public Schools system includes six elementary schools (Northeast, Fitzgerald, MacArthur, Plympton, Whittemore, Stanley), two middle schools (McDevitt, Kennedy), and one senior high school (Waltham High School).[31]

Waltham High School's sports teams had been referred to as the Watchmen and the Crimson, before they changed the name to the Hawks.

Private schools

Higher education

Waltham is home to:


Among the companies based in Waltham are the defense contractor Raytheon, broker-dealer Commonwealth Financial Network, technology companies Care.com and StudentUniverse, research and development organization Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), and the marketing firm Constant Contact. Retail activity is concentrated on Main Street, Moody Street, Lexington Street, River Street, parts of Route 60, and the First Avenue area. A new shopping complex called the Merc on Main Street was recently completed. New development has also been active at a former Polaroid site.[32]

Top employers

According to the City's 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[33] the top ten non-city employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Brandeis University 1,512
2 Cimpress 950
3 Bentley University 800
4 Bank of America 660
5 Astra-Zeneca 650
6 National Grid 650
7 AM-FM Cleaning Corporation 600
8 Nova Biomedical Corporation 600
9 Raytheon 587
10 Verizon 520
11 Parexel International Corporation 500


Waltham is close to several U.S. interstate highways. Interstate 95, which is also Route 128, runs through the western part of the city. Exits in Waltham are 26, 27, and 28. Interstate 90, which is also the Massachusetts Turnpike, is just to the south in Newton, Massachusetts. Due to its proximity to the center of the Cambridge-Boston-Quincy metropolitan area, a number of state highways are within a few miles.

The MBTA commuter rail has two stops in Waltham as part of the Fitchburg-Boston Line: one in Central Square Waltham across from the City Hall and one near Brandeis University.

MBTA bus service also covers the city, including routes 70, 70A, 170, 505, 553, 554, 556 and 558.

The Charles River runs through Waltham, and bike and walking paths cover most of the south bank, as well as part of the north bank from Prospect Street to Moody Street. Some commuters ride the path to offices in Cambridge and Boston.


Waltham is home to the Waltham News Tribune (formerly The Daily News Tribune), a weekly paper which publishes each Friday, year-round. WCAC-TV provides local-interest television programming. Waltham news sometimes appears in The Boston Globe's GlobeWest section, as well. The radio station 99.5, which specializes in classical music, has offices in Waltham on South Street.


Waltham Supermarket on Main Street, established in 1936, was a large historic grocery store that closed in the 1990s. However, the building continues to be a supermarket, occupied by Shaw's, then Victory, and now Hannaford.

Waltham's combination of population (especially in central and south Waltham) parks, public transit, stores, and trails gives it 62 (out of 100) walkability ranking on walkscore.com. This is often reflected downtown and along the Charles Riverwalk, which is often crowded on summer nights by people fishing, jogging, or walking off a meal at one of the many restaurants.

Moody Street in downtown Waltham offers its own brand of entertainment with a colorful assortment of shops, restaurants, and bars, including The Gaff, Outer Limits, Gourmet Pottery, and the Embassy Cinema. Moody Street's booming nightlife, convenience to the commuter rail and lower rents have attracted younger professionals to Waltham in growing numbers in recent years. Moody Street is also referred to as "Restaurant Row" because of the number, variety and quality of its restaurants.[34]

Waltham Library

For over 25 years, the Waltham Arts Council has sponsored "Concerts On Waltham Common", featuring a different musical act each week of the summer, free of charge to attendees. "Concerts On Waltham Common" was created and organized by Stephen Kilgore until his death in 2004.[35]

Waltham's cultural life is enriched by the presence of two major universities and a number of arts organizations throughout the city.

The city's history is also celebrated at a number of museums, monuments, and archives. The Charles River Museum of Industry, the Waltham Watch Factory historic district, the Gore Estate, the Lyman Estate, and the Robert Treat Payne Estate are among the most well known of the 109 sites in the city on the National Register of Historical Sites. Many festivals are held at these sites each year, such as the annual sheep shearing festival at the Gore Estate. The National Archives and Records Administration Northeast regional branch is located in Waltham. The Waltham Public Library has extensive archives regarding the city's history. The Waltham Museum is devoted solely to the history of the city. Mark Gately is the only stakeholder left of the Waltham Museum.

The Waltham Mills Artists Association is located in one of the former factories of the Boston Manufacturing Company. The WMAA Open Studios takes place each year on the first weekend of November. The 76 artists of the WMAA open their homes and studios to the public. Works of all media imaginable are demonstrated, displayed and discussed.

The Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra, a civic symphony of the MetroWest area, began in 1985 under the direction of local musicians David J. Tierney and Harold W. McSwain, Jr. With almost 60 professional, semi-professional, and amateur musicians, the orchestra's mission is to provide the Waltham community with the opportunity to perform in and attend classical concerts of the highest quality. WPO musicians come from Waltham as well as from Boston and surrounding communities. The ensemble includes players of a wide range of ages and professions.

There are five to six concerts throughout the season, including one that features the winner of the annual Youth Concerto Competition, which provides opportunities for young musicians to perform solo works with the WPO. Annual concerts have included summer Concerts on the Common and the December Holiday Pops.[36]

Waltham is home to the Waltham Symphony Orchestra, a high-level semi-professional civic orchestra. The 55 piece orchestra performs five concerts each season at the Kennedy Middle-school Auditorium. Its music director is French-born American conductor, Patrick Botti.[37] Open space in the city is protected by the Waltham Land Trust.[38]

Waltham embraces its ethnic diversity in a number of festivals. The annual Latinos en Acción Festival celebrates the many Puerto Rican, Mexican, Peruvian, and Guatemalan residents. It is held by Latinos in Action, is a local nonprofit group that helps the Latino population register to vote, understand the laws and find scholarships. The festival includes a parade, music, food, and a beauty pageant.

Waltham has in recent decades become a center for Ugandan culture, with an estimated 1500 Ugandans living in the city, leading some to call Waltham "Little Kampala". The Ugandan North America Association is headquartered in Waltham, along with St. Peters Church of Uganda Boston, as well as Karibu, a well regarded Ugandan eatery. Wilberforce Kateregga, a Ugandan immigrant to Waltham has since established Waltham College Uganda, a boarding school for over 300 orphans and children affected by AIDS. The school was named in honor of Kateregga's new home city.[39]

Points of interest

Notable people

See also


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Further reading

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Coordinates: 42°22′50″N 71°14′06″W / 42.380596°N 71.235005°W / 42.380596; -71.235005

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