1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wakefield (Massachusetts)

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Wakefield, a township of Middlesex county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., about 10 m. N. of Boston. Pop. (1890) 6982; (1900) 9290, of whom 2347 were foreign-born; (1910, census) 11,404. Wakefield is served by three branches of the Boston & Maine railway and by electric interurban railway to neighbouring towns and cities. It contains the outlying villages of Greenwood, Montrose and Boyntonville; and, larger than these, Wakefield, near the centre of the township. In this village is the town hall, the gift of Cyrus Wakefield (1811–1873), and the Beebe Town Library, founded in 1836 as the Public Library of South Reading, and later renamed in honour of Lucius Beebe, a generous patron. The town park (about 25 acres), shaded by some fine old elms, extends to the S. shore of Lake Quannapowitt and contains a soldiers’ monument; and in the S. part of the township are Crystal Lake and Hart’s Hill (30 acres), a public park. In the township is the Wakefield Home for Aged Women, and a Y.M.C.A. building. Manufacturing is the principal industry; and among the manufactures are rattan goods, hosiery, stoves and furnaces, boots and shoes, and pianos. The value of the factory products increased from $2,647,130 in 1900 to $4,807,728 in 1905, or 81.6%. The township owns and operates the electric lighting and gas plants and the water-works.

Within the present limits of Wakefield the first settlement was made, in 1639, in that part of the old township of Lynn which in 1644 was incorporated as Reading. In 1812 the southern or “Old Parish” of Reading, which was strongly Democratic-Republican while the other two parishes were strongly Federalist, was set apart and incorporated as the town of South Reading. In 1868 the present name was adopted in honour of Cyrus Wakefield, who established the rattan works here. A portion of Stoneham was annexed to Wakefield in 1889.

See C. W Eaton, “Wakefield,” in S. A. Drake’s History of Middlesex County (Boston, 1880).