A classic example of a suburban residential community of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Melrose generally relied on other cities to provide an economic base for its citizens. Melrose grew from the original Charlestown grant, becoming an independent town only in 1850 and incorporating as a city in 1899. Its location in the Fells uplands, east of the Middlesex Fells plateau, provided gently varied topography for residential development. The arrival of the Boston & Maine Railroad in 1845 spurred new growth. Shoemaking became a modest industry in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The Boston Rubber Shoe Company (MR9), based in adjacent Malden, built the town's most substantial industrial plant in 1883–1884; it closed in 1929. Between 1870 and 1915, the population grew fivefold, but even greater expansion occurred between 1925 and 1930. After World War II, Melrose native Royal Barry Wills established a conservative pattern for colonial-derived middle-class houses that influenced the Boston suburbs and much of the nation beyond.
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