Despite the high traffic volume generated by Logan Airport (EB1), East Boston remains strangely isolated from the rest of the city. Built on a peninsula extending from the city of Revere to the northeast, East Boston is delimited by Chelsea River to the northwest, inner Boston Harbor to the southwest, and Logan Airport and the outer harbor to the southeast. In general, industrial zones ring the community. Substantial land-filling operations have expanded the East Boston landmass, joining former islands and creating enormous new land for the airport.
Although claimed by Boston in 1637, East Boston remained virtually uninhabited until the 1840s. The East Boston Company purchased Noodles Island in 1833 and established a plan for the development of waterfront industries and hilltop residences. A period of explosive growth arrived in the 1840s when shipping and shipbuilding became major industries. Here clipper ships were built and sent forth to trade around the globe. The generally working-class population grew twentyfold between 1840 and the end of the Civil War. After 1865, the dawn of iron shipbuilding stagnated the wooden boatyards, which were soon replaced by factories. The older Yankee stock began to leave as first Irish and then Italian and Russian Jewish immigrant workers arrived to fill the converted residences and new tenements.
Construction of Logan Airport began in 1922, creating a new dominant element in the East Boston landscape. Close to the heart of the city, the airport became more accessible with the Sumner (1934) and Callahan (1961) tunnels under Boston Harbor, providing easy access from downtown. Since World War II, East Boston has lost half of its population while still providing a home to new groups of immigrants. However, new development projects hope to capitalize on East Boston's panoramic view of Boston across the harbor.
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