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A day at the shore is the essence of Revere, home of the nation's first public ocean beach. Claimed by Boston as early as 1634, Rumsey March (as the area was initially called) raised its first meetinghouse in 1710. The land above the salt marshes was used for farming alone until the 1830s, when summer visiting began. In 1871, the town changed its name to Revere, in honor of the Revolutionary patriot, and it incorporated as a city in 1914.

The real development of Revere Beach, a four-and-a-half-mile-long crescent on the Atlantic Ocean, awaited the 1838 arrival of the Eastern Branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad. The addition of the Boston, Revere & Lynn narrow gauge railway in 1875 brought larger hotels and residential real estate speculation. The Great Ocean Pier (1881) constructed on the Cherry Island bar and the early electrification (1884) of the beachfront gave a level of magic to the restaurants, hotels, and bathhouses that lined the shore. The tawdry nature of these commercial establishments was wiped away in 1896 when the Metropolitan Park Commission took the shoreline by eminent domain, moved the railway back from the beach, and regulated use. Amusement facilities followed, such as Wonderland in 1906, an imitation of New York's Coney Island. Behind the beach, residential neighborhoods were developed, some rapidly in response to displacement from the 1908 major fire in nearby Chelsea. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, urban renewal cleared away the remaining amusement park elements, providing space for a line of high-rise apartment buildings fronting the ocean.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan

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