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Milton, Massachusetts
—  Town  —
Official seal of Milton, Massachusetts

Milton, Massachusetts is located in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°15′00″N 71°04′00″W / 42.25, -71.0666667Coordinates: 42°15′00″N 71°04′00″W / 42.25, -71.0666667
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Suffolk until 1793
Norfolk thereafter
Settled 1640
Incorporated 1662
 • Type Representative town meeting
 • Total 13.3 sq mi (34.4 km2)
 • Land 13.0 sq mi (33.8 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.6 km2)
Elevation 130 ft (40 m)
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total 27,003
 • Density 2,000/sq mi (780/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02186
Area code(s) 617 / 857
FIPS code 25-41690
GNIS feature ID 0619459

Milton is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States and part of the Greater Boston area. The population was 27,003 at the 2010 census.[1] Milton is the birthplace of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush and architect Buckminster Fuller. Milton also has the highest percentage of residents per capita citing Irish heritage of any town in the United States; 38%.[2] In 2007, 2009, and 2011, Money Magazine listed Milton 7th, 5th, and 2nd, respectively, on its annual list of the "Best Places to Live" in the United States.[3]

Milton is located between the Neponset River and the Blue Hills. It is bordered by Boston's Dorchester neighborhood and Mattapan neighborhood to the north and its Hyde Park neighborhood to the west, Quincy to the east and south, Randolph to the south and Canton to the west. It has water access to Boston Harbor through the Neponset Estuary.


Template:Very long section Milton was settled in 1640 as part of Dorchester.[4] Referred to as "Unquity", the term used by the Neponset Tribe of the Massachusetts Indians meaning "Lower Falls," which was translated into "Lower Mills" after the establishment of the Stoughton Grist Mill in 1634. In 1662, "that part of the Town of Dorchester which is situated on the south side of the Neponsett River commonly called 'Unquatiquisset' was established as an independent town and named Milton in honor of Milton Abbey, Dorset, England."[5]

Milton's Walter Baker Chocolate Factory to the right

A powder mill established in 1674 may be the earliest in the colonies, taking advantage of the town's water power sites. Boston investors, seeing the potential of the town and its proximity to the city, provided the capital to develop 18th century Milton as an industrial site with an iron slitting mill, paper and sawmills, and the first chocolate factory in New England (the Walter Baker Chocolate Factory) in 1764, which was converted from the old Stoughton Grist Mill. Laying of streetcar lines fueled the rapid expansion of residential development. Between 1870 and 1915, Milton grew into the community it is now: a streetcar suburb with some chocolates, biscuits and market produce to remind residents of the past. By 1929, many of the big estates were broken into subdivisions as the town's residential growth continued.

The Suffolk Resolves House

The Suffolk Resolves were signed in Milton in 1774, and were used as a model by the drafters of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Suffolk Resolves House, where the Resolves were passed, still stands and it is maintained as the headquarters of the Milton Historical Society. The house was moved to a new location at 1370 Canton Avenue in West Milton in order to save it from demolition at its previous location in "Milton Village" at Lower Mills. They were the "Suffolk Resolves" because Milton was part of Suffolk County until 1793, when Norfolk County split off, leaving only Boston and Chelsea in Suffolk County.

Two royal governors of Massachusetts, Jonathan Belcher and Thomas Hutchinson, had houses in Milton. The Governor Belcher House dates from 1777, replacing the earlier home destroyed in fire in 1776, and it is privately owned on Governor Belcher Lane in East Milton. Although Hutchinson's house is gone, Governor Hutchinson's Field, owned by the Trustees of Reservations today is a wide expanse of greenery on Milton Hill, with a view of the Neponset River estuary and the skyscrapers of Boston six miles (10 km) away. Both Governor Belcher's house and Governor Hutchinson's field are on the National Register of Historic Places.

The town was home to America's first piano factory. Revolutionary Milton is the setting of the opening of the 1940 bestselling historical novel Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts. The Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory is located in the town, home of the nation's oldest continuously kept meteorological records.[6]

File:Frog Switch of the Granite Railway displayed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.jpg

The switch frog of the Granite Railway that was displayed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.

The Granite Railway passed from Quincy to the Neponset River in Milton, beginning in 1826. It is often called the first commercial railroad in the United States, as it was the first chartered railway to evolve into a common carrier without an intervening closure. A centennial historic plaque from 1926 and an original switch frog and section of track from the railway can be found in the gardens on top of the Southeast Expressway (Interstate 93) as it passes under East Milton Square. The frog had been displayed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.[7]

East Milton Square developed as a direct result of the Granite Railway. Four sheds there were used to dress the granite stone prior to it being brought by rail to the wharf for transfer to boats. East Milton Square was originally termed the "Railway Village" and a train station was located there after 1871 when the Granite Railway became a passenger line of the Old Colony Railroad. The Blue Bell Tavern, which was also a hotel, served as the headquarters of the Granite Railway and it was later named the Russell House. It was located on the site of the current United States Post Office in East Milton Square.

The G.H. Bent Factory

In 1801 Josiah Bent began a baking operation in Milton, selling "water crackers" or biscuits made of flour and water that would not deteriorate during long sea voyages from the port of Boston. The crackling sound occurred during baking, hence the name. This is where the American term "cracker" originated. His company later sold the original hardtack crackers used by troops during the American Civil War. The company, Bent's Cookie Factory, is still located in Milton and continues to sell these items to Civil War reenactors and others.

Robert Bennet Forbes was a noted China Trade merchant, sea captain, and philanthropist during the Irish Famine. He built a Greek Revival mansion in 1833 at 215 Adams Street on Milton Hill. The Captain Robert Bennet Forbes House is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open for tours. In addition to artifacts from the China Trade period, the museum's grounds include a log cabin replica and a collection of Lincoln memorabilia.

George Herbert Walker Bush was born at 173 Adams Street on Milton Hill on June 12, 1924. He became the 41st President of the United States, serving from 1989 to 1993, and his son would become the 43rd President. Coincidentally, Adams Street is named for the family of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, who lived on the same street just a few miles southeast in Quincy, Massachusetts. The Bush Family moved from Milton to Greenwich, Connecticut in 1925. The Victorian house where President Bush was born is now privately owned and not open to the public.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 13.3 square miles (34.4 km²), of which, 13.0 square miles (33.8 km²) is land and the balance is water.

Great Blue Hill in the Blue Hills Reservation is the highest point in Norfolk County, and at 635 feet (194 m), is the highest point within 10 miles (16 km) of the Atlantic coast south of central Maine, making it an important weather observatory and radio and television transmitter site.

There are no official wards or neighborhoods defined in the town's governance and community planning processes.[8]

There are three GNIS populated places located in the town:[9]

  • Milton (42°14'58"N 07°10'358"W),
  • Milton Center (42°15'15"N 07°10'448"W), and
  • East Milton (42°15'30"N 07°10'233"W).


Climate data for Milton, Massachusetts
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 34
Average low °F (°C) 18
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.78
Mean monthly sunshine hours 148.8 152.6 179.8 198.0 235.6 252.0 266.6 251.1 216.0 192.2 135.0 130.2 2,357.9
Source #1: The Weather Channel[10]
Source #2: HKO (sun, 1961−1990)[11]


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1850 2,241
1860 2,669 +19.1%
1870 2,683 +0.5%
1880 3,206 +19.5%
1890 4,278 +33.4%
1900 6,578 +53.8%
1910 7,924 +20.5%
1920 9,382 +18.4%
1930 16,434 +75.2%
1940 18,708 +13.8%
1950 22,395 +19.7%
1960 26,375 +17.8%
1970 37,190 +41.0%
1980 25,860 −30.5%
1990 25,725 −0.5%
2000 26,062 +1.3%
2010 27,003 +3.6%

As of the census[22] of 2010, there were 27,003 people, 9,274 households, and 6,835 families residing in the town. The racial makeup of the town was 77.4% White, 14.3% Black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 4.1% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.3% of the population.

As of the census[22] of 2000, the population density was 1,999.1 people per square mile (771.7/km²). There were 9,161 housing units at an average density of 702.7 per square mile (271.2/km²).

The top six ancestries of Milton are Irish (38.0%), Italian (11.3%), English (8.6%), West Indian (4.8%), and German (4.7%).

Milton also has been cited as having the highest percentage of residents citing Irish lineage of any town in the United States per capita — 38%[2] — There were 8,982 households out of which 37.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.1% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.8% were non-families. 21.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.79 and the average family size was 3.27.

In the town the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 24.1% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 89.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.2 males.

According to a 2010 estimate,[23] the median income for a household in the town was $103,373, and the median income for a family was $131,025. Males had a median income of $85,748 versus $61,500 for females. The per capita income for the town was $47,589. About 1.6% of families and 2.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.2% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.


There are six public schools in Milton, including four elementary schools: Collicot, Cunningham, Glover, and Tucker; one middle school, Charles S. Pierce; and the Milton High School. There are also private high schools and elementary/middle schools, including the girls' school Fontbonne Academy, St. Mary of the Hills, St. Agatha's, Thacher Montessori School, and Delphi Academy.

Milton is also home to the prep school Milton Academy, and Curry College, a small liberal arts institution.

Milton is also one of the few school systems which offer a French immersion program, starting in Grade 1. For those students that participate in this program, all classes are taught in French during grades 1 and 2, allowing children to become fluent in this language. In grades 3 - 5, some classes are taught in English as well to prepare for the MCAS. This program continues through grade 12. Spanish/English is taught as well. In the middle school Latin is available for the Spanish/English students.


Milton lies within the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority district. Fixed-route service includes the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line, a light rail extension of the Red Line. Milton has 4 stops: Milton, Central Avenue, Valley Road, and Capen Street. This was originally a steam railway prior to becoming a trolley line. Massachusetts Route 28 and Massachusetts Route 138 run north and south across Milton, and Interstate 93, which is also U.S. Route 1 and Massachusetts Route 3, loops around the town near the southern and eastern borders.[24]

Cycling is a popular form of transportation and recreation in Milton. The opening of the Neponset River Greenway reconnected Milton with Boston Harbor via Port Norfolk, Dorchester. Other cycling routes and locations include Turner's Pond, Brook Road, Blue Hills Parkway, Milton Cemetery, and the Pine Tree Brook greenway.[25]

The Milton Yacht Club began in 1902, with a small building in the Lower Mills area beside the Neponset River that was formerly the police department for the town of Milton. Various boats continue to be anchored there or stored on the dock during the winter.

Notable people[]

  • Dana Barros, former NBA player
  • Jonathan Belcher, governor of Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, and New Jersey Provinces
  • Josiah Bent, manufacturer
  • Tim Bulman, NFL player, Houston Texans
  • George H. W. Bush, 41st president of the United States
  • Ken Casey, bassist and co-lead vocalist of the Irish-punk rock group Dropkick Murphys
  • Chris Cleary, former professional soccer player
  • Hal Clement, science fiction Grand Master, Hugo Award
  • Jill Ker Conway, Australian-born novelist
  • Stephen Davis, music journalist and biographer.[26]
  • T. S. Eliot, poet, student at Milton Academy
  • William Ralph Emerson, "Father" of the Shingle Style form of architecture
  • Jim Fahey, NHL player, NJ Devils
  • Thomas Flatley, real-estate developer
  • Elbie Fletcher, All-Star first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates
  • John Ferruggio, led the evacuation of Pan Am Flight 93 in 1970[27]
  • John Murray Forbes, American railroad magnate, merchant, philanthropist and abolitionist.
  • Robert Bennet Forbes, Sea captain, China merchant, ship owner, and writer.
  • Buckminster Fuller, architect and futurist
  • George V. Higgins, attorney, writer
  • Rich Hill, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox
  • Thomas Hutchinson (governor)
  • Abigail Johnson, President of Fidelity Investments, 5th richest woman in the world according to Forbes magazine
  • Howard Deering Johnson, restaurateur, founder of Howard Johnson's franchising
  • Trish Karter, entrepreneur
  • Jordan Knight, singer New Kids on the Block
  • Janet Langhart
  • Johnny Martorano, Winter Hill Gang member
  • Charles Munch, Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1949 to 1962 [28]
  • Leonard Nimoy, actor
  • Kate O'Neill, long distance runner
  • William Ordway Partridge, sculptor, poet, and author
  • Deval Patrick, current Governor of Massachusetts
  • Mike Ryan, NHL player, Buffalo Sabres
  • Jenny Slate, comedian on Saturday Night Live.
  • Luis Tiant, former Boston Red Sox pitcher
  • Steve Trapilo, former NFL player for New Orleans Saints
  • Ronan Tynan, Irish tenor [27]
  • John Valentin, former Boston Red Sox infielder
  • Mark Vonnegut, writer, son of American author Kurt Vonnegut
  • Roger Vose, United States Representative from New Hampshire
  • Keith Yandle, NHL player, Phoenix Coyotes

Points of interest[]

Milton has twenty-seven sites or districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including,

  • Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory
  • Captain Robert Bennet Forbes House
  • Governor Hutchinson's Field
  • Granite Railway
  • Suffolk Resolves House

Other places of interest include,

  • Blue Hills Reservation
  • Houghton's Pond
  • Milton Academy
  • Curry College

Filming locations featuring Milton[]

  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  • Love Story (1970)
  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
  • This Old House TV Series
  • The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
  • What's the Worst That Could Happen? (2001)
  • Spartan (2005)
  • The Box (2009)
  • The Social Network (2010)

Books featuring Milton[]

  • Kenneth Roberts — Oliver Wiswell (1940)


  1. ^ a b "Population and Housing Occupancy Status: 2010 - State -- County Subdivision, 2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  2. ^ a b ePodunk Irish Index
  3. ^ Best Places to Live 2009 - Money Magazine
  4. ^
  5. ^ [1] Town of Milton
  6. ^ Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory
  7. ^
  8. ^ Town of Milton website
  9. ^ GNIS public query
  10. ^ "Monthly Averages for Milton, Massachusetts". 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
  11. ^ "Climatological Information for Milton, United States". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  12. ^ "TOTAL POPULATION (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010. 
  13. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  14. ^ "1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics: Massachusetts". US Census Bureau. December 1990. Table 76: General Characteristics of Persons, Households, and Families: 1990. 1990 CP-1-23. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  15. ^ "1980 Census of the Population, Number of Inhabitants: Massachusetts". US Census Bureau. December 1981. Table 4. Populations of County Subdivisions: 1960 to 1980. PC80-1-A23. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  16. ^ "1950 Census of Population". Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  17. ^ "1920 Census of Population". Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  18. ^ "1890 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  19. ^ "1870 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  20. ^ "1860 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1864. Pages 220 through 226. State of Massachusetts Table No. 3. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c.. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  21. ^ "1850 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c.. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  22. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Caleb Daniloff, "Rock from Axl to Zep", BU Today, October 21, 2008.
  27. ^ a b Marquard, Bryan (2010-06-22). "John Ferruggio, at 84; hero of 1970 Pan Am hijacking". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-06-27.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "bg" defined multiple times with different content
  28. ^ Holoman, D. Kern (2012). Charles Munch. Oxford University Press. 

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