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Friday, May 2, 1941
in What's New In Town
W. J. Sidis
The “Jamaica” of Jamaica Plain has no connection with the Island of Jamaica in the West Indies. The name comes from an Algonquin word “jemeco,” meaning a pond. New York City’s Jamaica, on Long Island, is from the same origin. So Jamaica Pond really means “pond pond.”
Greater Boston gets a better break on the two-cent postage rate than any other place in America. The Boston Postal District, including as it does 25 cities and towns outside the official Boston limits, is the largest postal district in the United States. It is three times as large as New York’s post-office district, four times as large as Washington’s, and about 40 per cent larger than that of Chicago. Excluding port mail handled in transit to other countries, the Boston Post Office handles more mail than any other in America. Boston had the first actual post office in America, and the first in the world to offer service to the general public.
The oldest colonial settlement in Greater Boston is Weymouth. It dates from a voyage of the Mayflower in 1623, after the Pilgrim colony was well established, when English courts tried to use Plymouth as a penal colony. Many of those sent over were prisoners for debt, but many were of more violent nature, and gave Plymouth enough trouble to necessitate removing them to points north. They settled in Wessagusset, and there they gave the Indians enough trouble to stir up the only bit of fighting the Pilgrims had with the Indians in their first half century. Modern Weymouth is partly in the Metropolis, partly outside it. The section called Weymouth Landing lies astraddle the Braintree boundary, and is partly in Braintree.
Beacon Hill was originally much higher than at present, and had no less than three peaks; and the old “triple hill” was an outstanding feature of the Shawmut peninsula. The highest of these peaks, the original Beacon Hill, was behind the east wing of the State House. The second peak, called Elizabeth Hill, was on the Common, and the Soldiers Monument is on what is left of this peak. The third peak was called Fox Hill, and the Charles Street Mall runs through the site. All these peaks were lowered, and Fox Hill removed, to fill in the Back Bay. It was “Sawmut’s triple hill,” or Trimountain, that gave Boston its old-time name of Tremont. The name of Tremont Street is a reminder of this.
The waterfront used to be along Broad Street and Commercial Street, and at one point an inlet brought harbor facilities to even more central points. The old “town dock,” located on this inlet, is responsible for the name of Dock Square, now far from water.
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