EXPLORE: Living in Somerville

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It’s the city known for its zany festivals, hipsters, and arguably more artists per capita than most of the East Coast. Meet Somerville, one of the most densely populated cities in the country with just over four square miles to work with. Its enviable location is only two miles from Boston’s city center and close to popular Cambridge sites like Porter and Inman Squares. From its roots as a revolutionary hotspot to an industrial juggernaut, it’s now setting into its status as a vibrant, community-centered location with a bright future ahead.

History

Somerville first began as part of Charlestown when it was settled by British colonists in 1630. More than a century later, Somerville played a vital role in the American Revolution where it saw one of the first hostile acts by British soldiers at The Old Powder House, which is still standing today; it’s also the home of the first official raising of the American flag at Prospect Hill, critical for its views of Boston proper.

In 1842 Somerville officially separated from Charlestown and became its own township, and, due to the booming factory growth in the area, was incorporated as a city in 1872. Today, it’s undergoing a renewal renaissance, where it’s preserving its industrial past and crafting an innovative culture of forward-thinking residents with fierce pride for their city.

Urban Planning

Named Best-Run City in Massachusetts by The Boston Globe, Somerville packs an urban-planning punch only two miles from the Boston city center. It’s won the All-American City award three times since 1972 for its ideal walking and biking routes, and cities throughout Massachusetts and New England look to become “the next Somerville” in terms of its roaring success in residential initiatives.

Each square in Somerville not only holds a place in US history but offers present-day dining and shopping attractions as well. Assembly Square, Davis Square, and Union Square each have their own sub-cultures and worth at least a visit for their individual charms.

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Claims to Fame

Somerville’s deep roots in industrial work left behind a legacy as the birthplace of many products and well-known store chains. Marshmallow Fluff, for example, was first invented in Somerville; thousands flock to Somerville every year for its annual “What the Fluff?” festival that celebrates it and other Somerville creations.

With Somerville practically surrounded by water, it’s easy to visit renowned markers like the Mystic River, which is nationally known and referenced in poetry and film.  Other attractions range from historically renowned sites to institutions like Brooklyn Boulders and the Museum of Bad Art in Somerville Theatre.

Need more convincing? Somerville lies a stone’s throw away from Tufts University, only bested by MIT and Harvard as best university in Massachusetts. On a national scale, Forbes ranks Tufts within the top twenty due to its high caliber programs and internationalism.

Transportation

With Red and Orange Line connections, Somerville is easily accessible from Cambridge and Boston by both rail and bus routes via the MBTA. For further convenience, Somerville will soon have a place on the Green Line as well through the Green Line extension project, set to be completed in 2021.

Somerville is highly walkable and bike able with ideal grid routes, a rare and unusual trait for a city this close to Boston. Popular routes include the Somerville Community Path, which runs from Davis Square to the Cambridge border near Lechmere Square. Companies like Hubway have partnered with Somerville to support cycling and bicycle infrastructure with more than 300 bike parking spots and other initiatives.

Housing

Somerville’s Davis Square and Winter Hill areas have seen the highest increases in price over the past decade, seeing prices jump over sixty percent in both areas. Somerville is also a great location for singles as over half its residents are unmarried.

Due to excitement over the Green Line extension and its urban planning success, Somerville is rapidly becoming a valuable choice for homeowners and investors. Trendgraphix sets the average price of a single family home today at $789,000, an increase from the average price of $461,000 in 2007.