Although it would be unfair to call Malden a one-company town, the dominant role of the rubber shoe industry gave the city its industrial identity. Formed from part of the original Charlestown grant, Malden became a separate town in 1649 and incorporated as a city in 1881. The navigable Malden River allowed early transportation for local industries, but the arrival of the Boston & Maine Railroad in the mid-nineteenth century brought rapid industrial expansion. The Boston Rubber Shoe Company (MR9; founded 1853) led the development of the industrial district of Edgeworth, which attracted other industries (chemical works, paper plants, and tanneries) and new immigrant workers (first the Irish and later Eastern European Jews). Elisha Converse headed Boston Rubber Shoe, served as the town's first mayor, and endowed its landmark library. In the early twentieth century, knitting mills became another major industry. The town reached its peak population during the Great Depression and slowly lost residents throughout the twentieth century.
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