Winthrop capitalized on its physical advantages, poised on the narrow peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Boston Harbor on the west. Claimed by Boston in 1634, the peninsula became part of Chelsea in 1739 and Revere in 1847 before incorporation as Winthrop in 1852. The earliest inhabitants were herdsmen and fishermen. In the early 1750s, Thomas Goldthwait and other Boston merchants attempted to develop a fishery at Point Shirley; the fishery failed by 1763, but the publicity brought summer inhabitants to the peninsula. With ferry service to nearby Boston, summer residences flourished throughout the nineteenth century. The purchase of Point Shirley in 1844 by the Revere Copper Company introduced a smelter into the oceanfront landscape; that effort proved unprofitable by 1869 and closed. The development of a narrow gauge railroad from Revere to Point Shirley in 1877 inaugurated active development of summer house districts—Ocean Spray (1875–1876), Cottage Hill (1882), and Point Shirley (1883). The railway remained the artery for the summer colonies until it was abandoned in 1940. By the 1890s, the summer houses were becoming year-round residences, and Winthrop assumed the character of a Boston suburb. The filling of tidal flats since the mid-twentieth century for the expansion of Logan Airport (EB1) in adjacent East Boston has brought development pressure and noise pollution to this oceanfront enclave.
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