Whether visiting or moving to Somerville, one will find a wealth of activities to stay busy thanks to the vibrant atmosphere in this community. Somerville is particularly well known for its historic places, with 83 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These sites include parkways, homes, churches, and libraries that have been declared historic landmarks. Somerville Museum is dedicated to preserving memorabilia related to the city’s history. For those who enjoy the outdoors, the Somerville Community Path is a welcome retreat. This tree-lined rail trail extends from Lowell Street all the way to Davis Square, near the Cambridge border. The path also connects with Alewife Linear Park, which leads to Fitchburg Cutoff Path and the Minuteman Bikeway. With dozens of parks, playing fields, playgrounds, and community gardens, Somerville boasts a wealth of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
Among the most popular attractions in Somerville you have Davis Square. This renowned nightlife destination caters to local university students and young professionals. Davis Square is home to numerous coffeehouses and bars, as well as a number of restaurants that dish up everything from East Asian cuisine to crepes to hamburgers.
While Union Square is slightly off the beaten path, it remains one of the more popular districts in Somerville. The site of a strong and vibrant Brazilian community, Union Square features several Brazilian restaurants, as well as a Korean market and several Mexican, Indian, and Peruvian restaurants.
The area that now comprised the city of Somerville dates back to 1629 when it was first settled as part of Charleston. Somerville was later the site of one of the first events of the American Revolutionary War, when colonial gunpowder was stolen by British soldiers, resulting in a massive location reaction that is today recognized as one of the turning points that led up to the war. Following the Revolutionary War, local residents began devoting their time and energy to farming. The community of Somerville later separated from Charlestown and became a township in its own right in 1842. As the local brick making market grew, the community’s population expanded significantly. Brick manufacturing later became the predominant trade in the area. With industry booming, a large influx of immigrants further expanded the population of Somerville, which became incorporated as a city in 1872. Local brickyards continue to boom throughout the late 19th century.
Eventually, meatpacking took over as the predominant industry, with Somerville becoming known as The Chicago of New England. Growth began to slow somewhat in the early 20th century as local industries became more consolidated. In the following years, Somerville became transformed into a major automobile assembly industrial center. Unfortunately, industry began moving outward toward the metropolitan area of Boston.
Growth later returned toward the end of the 20th century. Gentrification efforts first began in West Somerville and later extended throughout the rest of the city. Those efforts have led to the development of Union Square. Today, a diverse mix of urban residents have worked to make the community vibrant once again. This has led to a steadily rising cost of living in Somerville. While the community once had the reputation of being an affordable neighborhood alternative to Boston and Cambridge, that has begun to change with rising property values. The cost of living in Somerville is now approximately 50% higher than the national average and 20% higher than the Massachusetts average, with an average monthly apartment rent of almost $1,500 and average home prices nearing $500,000.
Getting around Somerville is relatively easy thanks to the fact that the city is covered by numerous Mass Bay Transit Authority bus lines along with two subway stations. Additionally, the Minuteman Bike Trail, a former railway right of way, makes it easy for those who prefer to bike around the city. In fact, there are numerous bike rental kiosks scattered throughout the city, as well as clearly designated bike lanes. On-street metered parallel parking can be found in all of Somerville’s city squares, although one would need a resident parking permit to parallel park elsewhere in the city.
Educational opportunities nearby are plenty, including Tufts University which is located in Somerville. Among the most well-known educational institutions near Somerville is Harvard, which is located less than two miles away. Other nearby colleges and universities include Lesley University, Bay State College, Bunker Hill Community College, Cambridge College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, Berklee College of Music, Boston Architectural College, Boston University, Emerson College, Northeastern University, New England College of Business, and Fisher College, all located within 5 miles of Somerville.
Considering relocated to the Boston metro area for college or work? If so, Somerville offers a vibrant and eclectic option to enjoy the charm of a smaller city while maintaining close proximity to everything that Boston and Cambridge have to offer.
Both Davis and Union squares host seasonal farmers markets where farmers sell their locally-sourced fruits and vegetables, along with other products. Theater buffs aren't relegated to going to downtown Boston as The Somerville Theatre has several live musical acts, along with inexpensive 2nd-run movies. Head to the basement to check out The Museum of Bad Art, MOBA, which celebrates the exhibition, preservation, and celebration of bad art. Quite a unique experience, and it's free for people who hold a movie ticket.
Anyone who loves festivals will love Somerville whether it's the 4th of July fireworks, the Memorial Day parade, or the Honk! Festival, where over a dozen brass bands from all over the world come to play.