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Brookline, Massachusetts

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58,732 (1 Apr 2010)

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Brookline /ˈbrʊkˌln/ is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, in the United States, and is a part of Greater Boston. Brookline borders six of Boston's neighborhoods: Brighton, Allston, Fenway–Kenmore, Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, and West Roxbury. The city of Newton lies to the west of Brookline.


Map of Brookline, MA, USA

At the 2010 census, the population of the town was 58,732. Brookline was first settled in 1638 as a hamlet in Boston, but was incorporated as a separate town in 1705.

Brookline is especially notable as the birthplace and hometown of John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States.

Brookline massachusetts


Brookline was known as the hamlet of Muddy River and was considered part of Boston until the Town of Brookline was independently incorporated in 1705. (The Muddy River was used as the Brookline–Boston border at incorporation.) It is said that the name derives from a farm therein once owned by Judge Samuel Sewall.


According to the United States Census Bureau, Brookline has a total area of 6.8 sq mi (17.7 km2), all but 0.039 sq mi (0.1 km2) (0.44%) of which is land.

The northern part of Brookline, roughly north of the D-line tracks, is urban in character, as highly walkable and transit rich. The population density of this part of town is nearly 20,000 inhabitants per square mile (8,000/km2), on a par with the densest neighborhoods in nearby Cambridge, Somerville and Chelsea, Massachusetts (the densest cities in New England), and just below that of central Boston's residential districts (Back Bay, South End, Fenway, etc.). The overall density of Brookline, which also includes suburban districts and grand estates south of the D-line, is still higher than that of many of the largest cities in the United States, especially in the South and West. Brookline borders Newton (part of Middlesex County) to the west and Boston (part of Suffolk County) in all other directions; it is therefore non-contiguous with any other part of Norfolk County. Brookline became an exclave in 1873, when the neighboring town of West Roxbury was annexed by Boston (and left Norfolk County to join Suffolk County), and Brookline refused to be annexed by Boston after the Boston–Brookline annexation debate of 1873.

Brookline separates the bulk of the city of Boston (except for a narrow neck or corridor near the Charles River) from its westernmost neighborhoods of AllstonBrighton, which had been the separate town of Brighton until annexed by Boston in 1873.


Brookline falls under the USDA 6b Plant Hardiness zone.


As of the census of 2010, there were 58,732 people, 24,891 households, and 12,233 families residing in the town. The population density was 8,701.0 people per square mile (3,247.3/km²). There were 26,448 housing units at an average density of 3,889.6 per square mile (1,501.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 73.3% White, 3.4% Black or African American, 0.12% Native American, 15.6% Asian (6.7% Chinese, 2.6% Indian, 2.3% Korean, 1.8% Japanese), 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.01% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.0% of the population (0.9% Mexican, 0.8% Puerto Rican). (Source: 2010 Census Quickfacts)

There were 25,594 households out of which 21.9% had children under the age of 18, living with them, 38.4% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 52.2% were non-families. 36.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the town, the population was spread out with 16.6% under the age of 18, 11.7%, from 18 to 24, 37.3% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 82.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $66,711, and the median income for a family was $92,993. Males had a median income of $56,861 versus $43,436 for females. The per capita income for the town was $44,327. About 4.5% of families and 9.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.3% of those under the age of 18 and 7.5% of those ages 65 and older.

Serving as a residential zone for nearby academic and medical institutes such as Harvard Medical School and Boston University, the town of Brookline was reported as the city with the most doctoral degree holders (14.0% of total population) in the United States.


Once part of Algonquian territory, Brookline was first settled by European colonists in the early 17th century. The area was an outlying part of the colonial settlement of Boston and known as the hamlet of Muddy River. In 1705, it was incorporated as the independent town of Brookline. The northern and southern borders of the town were marked by two small rivers or brooks, hence the name. The northern border with Brighton (which was itself part of Cambridge until 1807) was Smelt Brook. (That name appears on maps starting at least as early as 1852, but sometime between 1888 and 1925 the brook was covered over.) The southern boundary, abutting Boston, was the Muddy River.

The Town of Brighton was merged with Boston in 1874, and the Boston-Brookline border was redrawn to connect the new Back Bay neighborhood with Allston-Brighton. This created a narrow strip of land along the Charles River belonging to Boston, cutting Brookline off from the shoreline. It also put certain lands north of the Muddy River on the Boston side, including what are now Kenmore Square and Packard's Corner. The current northern border follows Commonwealth Avenue, and on the northeast, St. Mary's Street. When the Emerald Necklace of parks and parkways was designed for Boston by Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1890s, the Muddy River was integrated into the Riverway and Olmsted Park, creating parkland accessible by both Boston and Brookline residents.

Throughout its history, Brookline has resisted being annexed by Boston, in particular during the Boston–Brookline annexation debate of 1873. The neighboring towns of West Roxbury and Hyde Park connected Brookline to the rest of Norfolk County until they were annexed by Boston in 1874 and 1912, respectively, putting them in Suffolk County. Brookline is now separated from the remainder of Norfolk County.

Brookline has long been regarded as a pleasant and verdant environment. In 1841 edition of the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, Andrew Jackson Downing described the area this way:

The whole of this neighborhood of Brookline is a kind of landscape garden, and there is nothing in America of the sort, so inexpressibly charming as the lanes which lead from one cottage, or villa, to another. No animals are allowed to run at large, and the open gates, with tempting vistas and glimpses under the pendent boughs, give it quite an Arcadian air of rural freedom and enjoyment. These lanes are clothed with a profusion of trees and wild shrubbery, often almost to the carriage tracks, and curve and wind about, in a manner quite bewildering to the stranger who attempts to thread them alone; and there are more hints here for the lover of the picturesque in lanes than we ever saw assembled together in so small a compass.

Brookline residents were among the first in the country to propose extending the vote to women. Benjamin F. Butler, in his 1882 campaign for Governor, advocated the idea.

Transportation and economy

Two branches of upper Boston Post Road, established in the 1670s, passed through Brookline. Brookline Village was the original center of retail activity. In 1810, the Boston and Worcester Turnpike, now Massachusetts Route 9, was laid out, starting on Huntington Avenue in Boston and passing through the village center on its way west.

Steam railroads came to Brookline in the middle of the 19th century. The Boston and Worcester Railroad was constructed in the early 1830s, and passed through Brookline near the Charles River. The rail line is still in active use, now paralleled by the Massachusetts Turnpike. The Highland Branch of the Boston and Albany Railroad was built from Kenmore Square to Brookline Village in 1847, and was extended into Newton in 1852. In the late 1950s, this would become the Green Line "D" Branch.

The portion of Beacon Street west of Kenmore Square was laid out in 1850. Streetcar tracks were laid above ground on Beacon Street in 1888, from Coolidge Corner to Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, via Kenmore Square. In 1889, they were electrified and extended over the Brighton border at Cleveland Circle. They would eventually become the Green Line "C" Branch.

Thanks to the Boston Elevated Railway system, this upgrade from horse-drawn carriage to electric trolleys occurred on many major streets all over the region, and made transportation into downtown Boston faster and cheaper. Much of Brookline was developed into a streetcar suburb, with large brick apartment buildings sprouting up along the new streetcar lines.


  • Brookline, along with the nearby Boston neighborhood of Brighton and the city of Newton, is a cultural hub for the Jewish community of Greater Boston.
  • The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Metropolis of Boston is headquartered in Brookline.
  • Points of interest

  • Coolidge Corner, which is located at the crossing of Beacon Street and Harvard Street, is one of Brookline's two primary retail districts (the other being Brookline Village). It includes a number of historically significant sites, including the S.S. Pierce Building, and the Coolidge Corner Theatre.[1]
  • There were two stops on the Underground Railroad in Brookline: 9 Toxteth Street and 182 Walnut Street.
  • The Country Club, an exclusive sporting club in the town, was the first private club in the United States formed exclusively for outdoor activities. It is most famous as a golf club; it was one of the five clubs that formed what is now the United States Golf Association and has hosted the U.S. Open three times and the Ryder Cup Matches once.
  • "Fairsted", the 100-year-old business headquarters and design office for renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and the Olmsted Brothers firm, has been carefully preserved as the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, on 7 acres (2.8 ha) of landscaped grounds at 99 Warren Street.
  • Brookline is home to part of Frederick Law Olmsted's Emerald Necklace of park systems, including Olmsted Park.
  • Larz Anderson Park is in Brookline on the 64-acre (26 ha) estate once owned by Larz Anderson and Isabel Weld Perkins. The park contains the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, the oldest automobile collection in the country, as well as Putterham School, a one-room schoolhouse from colonial times.
  • The birthplace of John F. Kennedy stands in Brookline and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is maintained by the National Park Service and is open to the public from May through September.
  • St. Aidan's Church was where John F. Kennedy was baptized and where the Kennedy family and other prominent Irish-Americans were parishioners. The church was designed by architect Charles Maginnis, who was awarded the American Institute of Architects' gold medal. Although it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, St. Aidan's Church has been closed and converted into housing.
  • The Puppet Showplace Theatre, one of the four oldest puppet theatres in the United States, is located in Brookline Village.
  • The Dutch House, one of only five surviving buildings from the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 was relocated to Brookline.
  • John Goddard House, an historic house at 235 Goddard Avenue, was built in 1767 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
  • Neighborhoods

    There are many neighborhood associations, some of which overlap.

    The neighborhoods, squares, & notable areas of Brookline include:

    Public schools

    The town is served by the Public Schools of Brookline.[2] The student body at Brookline High School includes students from more than 50 countries. Many students attend Brookline High from surrounding neighborhoods in Boston such as Mission Hill and Mattapan through the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) system.

    There are eight elementary schools in the Brookline Public School system: Baker School, Devotion, Driscoll, Heath, Lawrence, Lincoln, Pierce, and Runkle. As of December 2006, there were 6,089 K-12 students enrolled in the Brookline public schools. The system includes one early learning center, eight grades K-8 schools, and one comprehensive high school. The Old Lincoln School is a surplus building used by the town to temporarily teach students in when another school building is being renovated. It was rented in 2009 as the venue for the play Sleep No More.

    The student body is 57.4% White, 18.1% Asian, 6.4% Black, 9.9% Hispanic, and 8.2% Multi-race. Approximately 30% of students come from homes where English is not the first language. (Data from Massachusetts department of education 2012–2013 Year)

    Private schools

    Several private primary and secondary schools are located in Brookline.

    Higher education

    Several institutes of higher education are located in Brookline, including:

    Public libraries

  • Public Library of Brookline, 361 Washington St., Brookline, MA 02445
  • Coolidge Corner Branch Library, 31 Pleasant St., Brookline, MA 02446
  • Putterham Branch Library, 959 West Roxbury Pkwy., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
  • Light rail and subway

    Brookline is served by the C and D branches of the MBTA's Green Line trains, with inbound service to downtown Boston and outbound service to Newton. The B line runs along the town's northern border of Commonwealth Avenue in Allston.


    Brookline is served by several MBTA bus routes.


    Brookline is governed by a representative (elected) town meeting, which is the legislative body of the town, and a five-person Board of Selectmen that serves as the executive branch of the town. For more details about the roles and procedures within the government of Brookline, please see the town government's own description at

    Fire department

    The town of Brookline is protected full-time by the 158 paid, professional firefighters of the Brookline Fire Department (BFD). It currently operates out of five fire stations located throughout the town, under the command of a Deputy Chief per shift. The BFD also operates a fire apparatus fleet of four engines, two ladders, one quint, one cross-staffed rescue (special operations), two squads, one special operations unit, one decontamination trailer, two maintenance units, as well as numerous other special, support, and reserve units. The Brookline Fire Department responds to approximately 6,500 emergency calls annually. The current Acting Chief of Department is Robert J. Ward.


    The Brookline Fire Department has four divisions of operation: Administration, Operations, Fire Prevention, and Training. The Administration Division is under the command of the Chief of Department and the Assistant Chief of Operations. The Operations Division is commanded by a Deputy Chief per shift, and includes the fire suppression units and personnel of the department, which include seven captains, 21 lieutenants, and 115 firefighters. The Fire Prevention Division falls under the jurisdiction of the Fire Marshal and includes all fire prevention, education, and investigative operations of the department. The Training Division is commanded by a Deputy Chief, a captain and a lieutenant.

    Fire station locations and apparatus

    Below is a complete listing of all fire station company locations in the town of Brookline.

    The fire headquarters is at 350 Washington Street.

    Additionally, Fallon Emergency Medical Services, an ALS and BLS ambulance transport company, shares two of Brookline's firehouses with paramedic and EMT-staffed ambulances.


  • The Old Burying Ground, also known as Walnut Street Cemetery [3] 1717 - 1.54 acres (Walnut Street at Chestnut Street)
  • Walnut Hills Cemetery [4] 1875 - 45.26 acres (Grove Street and Allandale Road)
  • Notable people

  • Jeff Adrien (born 1986), University of Connecticut Huskies basketball captain and power forward
  • Bhumibol Adulyadej, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) of Thailand lived his infancy in Brookline while his father the prince studied at Harvard Medical School
  • Eddie Andelman, sports radio host and businessman, moved to Brookline as child, graduated from Brookline High
  • Larz Anderson, U.S. Ambassador to Japan
  • Ray Atherton, first U.S. Ambassador to Canada, born and raised in Brookline
  • Linda Barnes, novelist
  • Saul Bellow, Nobel Prize-winning novelist, lived the last 12 years of his life in Brookline
  • Larry Bird, professional basketball player, lived in Brookline while he played for the Boston Celtics
  • Ran Blake, jazz pianist and composer
  • Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City 2002-12, lived in Brookline as a child
  • Zabdiel Boylston, physician who introduced inoculation against smallpox to the North American colonies in 1721
  • Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback and husband of Gisele Bündchen
  • Gisele Bündchen, supermodel and wife of Tom Brady
  • Richard Burgin, author, editor of Boulevard (magazine)
  • Michael A. Burstein, science-fiction writer
  • Stanley Cavell (born 1926), professor of philosophy, winner of a MacArthur Fellowship
  • Herman Chernoff (born 1923), statistician
  • Ida Conquest, actress
  • Zach Cone, creator and player of Biker Boy
  • Harvey Cushing, "father of modern neurosurgery"
  • Michael Dukakis (born 1933), former Governor of Massachusetts and 1988 Democratic Presidential candidate
  • Theo Epstein (born 1973), Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations and former Boston Red Sox general manager
  • Hank Eskin, webmaster of Where's George?
  • Frederick Perry Fish (died 1930), pioneering intellectual property attorney
  • Kenny Florian, professional mixed martial artist
  • Terry Francona, former manager of the Boston Red Sox
  • Edward Fredkin, digital physics pioneer, inventor of the trie data structure, the Fredkin gate and the Billiard-Ball Computer Model for reversible computing
  • Irwin Freedberg, dermatologist
  • Peter Gammons, baseball writer and ESPN commentator
  • King Gillette, popularizer of the safety razor
  • Sheldon Lee Glashow (born 1932), Nobel Prize-winning physicist
  • Robert R. Glauber, Harvard faculty, former Chairman of NASD
  • Robert Goldwyn (1930–2010), editor-in-chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery for 25 years, Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, and Chief of Plastic Surgery at the Beth Israel Hospital
  • Ellen Goodman (born 1941), American journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist
  • John Hodgman (born 1971), author and contributor for This American Life and The Daily Show
  • Levi Yitzchak Horowitz (1921–2009), the Bostoner Rebbe
  • Isabella Howland (1895–1974), painter and sculptor
  • Richard Jones, US ambassador to Israel, lived in Brookline with his family
  • Victor Kac, (born 1943), mathematician, MIT faculty, creator of Kac-Moody algebras, creator of Superalgebra
  • Jeffrey Karp, biomedical researcher
  • John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), President of the United States, born in Brookline, where he lived his first 10 years; baptized at and attended St. Aidan's Church; attended Edward Devotion School, a Brookline public school, from kindergarten until the beginning of 3rd grade, then Noble and Greenough Lower School and its successor Dexter School, a Brookline private school for boys through 4th grade; moved with family to The Bronx, New York City, New York in September 1927
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver, (1921–2009), sister of President John F. Kennedy, born in Brookline
  • Patricia Kennedy Lawford, (1924–2006), sister of President John F. Kennedy, born in Brookline
  • Robert F. Kennedy (1925–1968), Attorney General, US Senator, brother of President John F. Kennedy, born in Brookline
  • Jean Kennedy Smith (born 1928), sister of President John F. Kennedy, born in Brookline
  • Louise Andrews Kent (1886–1969), author
  • Robert Kraft (born 1942), New England Patriots owner
  • Jon Krakauer (born 1954, raised in Corvallis, Oregon), author of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, columnist for Outside magazine
  • Michio and Aveline Kushi, leaders of the worldwide macrobiotic movement
  • Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1856–1943), former president of Harvard University
  • Lester Lefton, president of Kent State University
  • Amy Lowell (born 1874), poet
  • Eddie Lowery (1903–1984), 10-year-old caddy of Francis Ouimet during 1913 U.S. Open held in Brookline
  • Larry Lucchino (born 1945), co-owner of Boston Red Sox
  • Ananda Mahidol, His Majesty King Ananda Mahidol (King Rama VIII) of Thailand, lived during age 1–3 years in Brookline while his father the prince studied at Harvard Medical School
  • Albert and David Maysles, documentary filmmakers
  • Arthur Chute McGill (1926–1980), theologian, philosopher, author and editor, Harvard professor 1971-80
  • Joey McIntyre, youngest member of musical group New Kids on the Block, lived in Brookline
  • Henry J. Meade, Chief of Chaplains of the U.S. Air Force
  • Jean Baker Miller (1927–2006), psychoanalyst, feminist, author, social activist
  • Roger Miller, rock musician
  • George Minot (1885–1950), winner of the 1934 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
  • Marvin Minsky (born 1927), Artificial Intelligence theorist, inventor, author, professor
  • Abelardo Morell (born 1948), photographer, professor at Massachusetts College of Art
  • William Murphy (1892–1987), winner of 1934 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
  • Nicholas Nixon, photographer, professor at Massachusetts College of Art
  • Joel Mark Noe (1943–1991), pioneering reconstructive plastic surgeon, longtime resident
  • Conan O'Brien (born 1963), television host, comedian, writer, producer
  • Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903), landscape architect
  • Francis Ouimet (1893–1967), amateur golfer who won the U.S. Open in 1913
  • Paul Pender (1930–2003), boxer, middleweight champion
  • Esther Petrack, contestant on America's Next Top Model, Cycle 15
  • Henry Varnum Poor, creator of the Standard & Poor's Index
  • Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D., neurosurgeon and author
  • Norman Ramsey (1915–2011), winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Rishi Reddi, short story writer
  • Elliot Richardson, lieutenant governor and attorney general of Massachusetts, cabinet official in the Nixon and Ford administrations, ambassador and lawyer
  • Steve Rochinski (born 1954), jazz guitarist, recording artist, composer, arranger, author, jazz educator
  • Neil Rolde (born 1932), writer and Maine politician
  • David L. Rose (born 1967), tech entrepreneur and scientist at the MIT Media Lab
  • Dan Rosenthal (born 1966), Assistant to the President in White House under Bill Clinton
  • Larry Ruttman (born 1931), attorney and author
  • Charles Sprague Sargent (1841–1927), first director of Harvard University's Arnold Arboretum
  • Conrad Salinger (1901–1962), longtime orchestrator for MGM musicals
  • Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903–1993), noted Jewish scholar
  • Sarah Smith (born 1947), novelist
  • Lawrence Summers, economist, president of Harvard University 2001–06
  • Paul Szep (born 1941), two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist
  • James Taylor, musician, owns a home in Brookline
  • Michelle Thomas (1968–1998), actress who played Justine Phillips on The Cosby Show and Myra Monkhouse on Family Matters
  • Mike Wallace (1918–2012), TV journalist, best known for 60 Minutes
  • Stephen Walt, Professor of International Relations, Harvard University
  • Barbara Walters (born 1929), television commentator and journalist
  • Robert Weinberg, cancer researcher known for discovering a gene that causes normal cells to form tumors, and the first tumor suppressor gene
  • David Weinberger, blogger, internet expert, and political consultant
  • The Weld family
  • William A. Wellman (born 1896 in Brookline), director, Wings
  • Mikey Welsh, former bassist for rock band Weezer, moved to Brookline in his youth
  • Gary K. Wolf, creator of Roger Rabbit
  • Moshe Yanai, electrical engineer and entrepreneur
  • Twin towns – Sister cities

    Brookline is twinned with:


    Brookline, Massachusetts Wikipedia