Boston August 19, 2017
Some People Don’t Know That Boston Was The First To Do These 13 Things
Things happen first in Boston, from technological developments to medical breakthroughs. In fact, it might be quicker to list occasions when Boston
wasn’t leading the pack! Given the city’s long list of accomplishments, you may have overlooked or forgotten about a few. Here’s a refresher:
Let’s start with Boston’s most critical achievements…
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1. Boston was the first city in the country to have a chocolate factory.
We have our priorities. The Baker Chocolate Factory was located in the Lower Mills part of Dorchester, on the Neponset River. It’s since been converted into condos, where you can bet the residents have sweet dreams.
2. In 1950, the first Dunkin’ Donuts shop was established in Quincy.
And so the Dunks addiction began…
3. When it comes to amenities, if it’s public and awesome, Boston was probably the first to have it. Case in point, Revere Beach is "America’s First Public Beach."
4. Boston Common is the first public park in the U.S. – it was established in 1634.
You can only appreciate the effect of the shadows from above!
5. Oh, and the Public Garden is the first botanic garden in the nation.
It actually sits on reclaimed marshland.
6. The first subway in the nation opened in Boston in 1897.
On its first day in use 100,000 people tried it out. Even new amusement park rides can’t compete with that level of enthusiasm!
7. Boston is where the first lighthouse in the U.S. was constructed. It was built on Little Brewster Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands, in 1716.
While this remains the oldest continuously used lighthouse site, the British damaged the original building at the end of the Revolutionary War. The lighthouse you can see today dates back to 1783.
8. Mount Auburn is the country’s first rural cemetery.
It’s definitely not in a pastoral location anymore; the city has expanded a lot since the cemetery opened in 1831.
9. Harvard, established in 1636, was the first college in the U.S.
It was named after John Harvard, a clergyman from Charlestown, who bequeathed his library and half of his estate to the college.
10. The first successful telephone call was made in Boston on March 10, 1876.
Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson were in different rooms within their Boston lab when Bell spoke into his invention, saying: "Watson, come here. I want to see you." The sound carried successfully, even though the quality wasn’t great. Interestingly, Bell’s mother was deaf and that’s what spurred him to begin experimenting with sound.
11. Ether, a powerful anesthetic, was first demonstrated in Boston. Before this, the substance was best known as a recreational drug.
However, that all changed in 1846, when people congregated at Mass General to watch dentist William Morton use ether to render a patient unconscious prior to a surgery to remove a tumor from the patient’s neck. This development revolutionized the surgical field. You can still visit the Ether Dome today.
12. The first disposable razor was manufactured in Boston. (We’ll take credit for the smooth shave, but any nicks are on you!)
King Camp Gillette was an impoverished traveling salesman with a knack for inventions. An employer suggested he invent something that could only be used for a limited time, to ensure repeat customers. Gillette decided to create a razor with a removable, double-edged blade. Thus, the Gillette razor was born.
13. The first Polaroid camera was sold in Boston.
Edwin Land, a chemist and physicist who focused on light polarization, established Land-Wheelright Laboratories in Cambridge. While he got the idea for an instant camera in Santa Fe and gave the first public demonstration of his technology in New York, his company – renamed the Polaroid Corporation – was here. The Land camera retailed for $89.95 in 1948 (the equivalent of about $910 today) and was carried by Boston department store, Jordan Marsh.
Thanks to the presence of MIT and Harvard, as well as many other centers of brilliant minds, there is no end to the pioneering developments that continually happen in Boston. How many of these “firsts” did you already know about? Let us know on the
Only In Boston Facebook page.