1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Winthrop (Massachusetts)

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WINTHROP, a township and a summer resort of Suffolk county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., occupying a peninsula jutting out into Massachusetts Bay about 5 m. N.E. of Boston and 3 m. S.E. of Chelsea, and forming part of the north-eastern boundary of Boston Harbour. Pop. (1900) 6058, of whom 1437 were foreign-born and 43 were negroes; (1910, U.S. census) 10,132. Between May and October the population is estimated to be between 14,000 and 16,000. Area, 1.6 sq. m. Winthrop is served by the Winthrop branch of the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn railway, and by electric railway from Orient Heights to Revere, Chelsea, East Boston, Lynn and Boston. The township contains several villages connected by a railway loop; there are nine stations in its 5.3 m. of track. The peninsula has about 8 m. of water front on the ocean and the harbour. The northern part nearest the narrow neck connecting with the mainland is a high bluff, known as Winthrop Highlands, having its north-eastern terminus in Grover's Cliff, a bold headland which forms the north-eastern-most point of the peninsula. On Grover's Cliff is Fort Heath, a battery of three powerful long-range guns. At the western end of the Highlands is Fort Banks (a part of Boston's harbour defence), consisting of a masked battery of sixteen 12 in. mortars, each able to drop a 600 lb shell on a ship 6 m. at sea. From Grover's Cliff a fine sandy beach facing the open ocean leads to Great Head, the highest elevation on the peninsula. Winthrop Shore Drive (16.73 acres), one of the reservations of the Metropolitan park system, is a public parkway along the shore. From Great Head, a long sandy spit curves away southward, ending in Point Shirley, a hillock and flat sandy plain, separated by Shirley Gut, a narrow channel of deep water, from Deer Island, on which are the Boston House of Correction and City Prison. At Point Shirley is the Point Shirley Club house; at the western foot of Great Head, on Crystal Bay, is the Winthrop Yacht Club house and anchorage; and at Winthrop Center on the west side are the Town Hall, the High School, the Public Library, the Masonic Hall, College Park Yacht Club and Ingleside Park. There are several large summer hotels.

Winthrop, first known as “Pullen Poynt” (Pulling Point) because the tide made hard pulling here for boatmen, was originally a part of Boston; it was part of Chelsea from 1739 until 1846, when with Rumney Marsh it was separately incorporated as North Chelsea, from which it was set off as a township in 1852 under its present name, in honour of Deane Winthrop (1623-1704), who was a son of Governor John Winthrop, the elder, and whose house is still standing. Point Shirley takes its name from Governor William Shirley who helped to establish a cod fishery there in 1753. Before and after the War of Independence Winthrop was a favourite seaside home for Bostonians, many prominent families, including the Gibbons, Hancocks, Bartletts, Emersons, Lorings and Lowells, having country-seats here. The community was a secluded rural retreat until the construction of the railway in 1876 converted it into a watering-place.

See C. W. Hall, Historic Winthrop, 1630-1902 (Boston, 1902).