Chelsea is an inner urban suburb of Boston, the capital city of Massachusetts, with a diverse population of 35,080. Its location bordering Boston, on Boston Harbor and only three miles from Logan International Airport, gives it ideal access by water, rail, land and air. The local economy centers on this access.
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A charter change in 1995 designed an efficient council-manager form of government, which has focused on improving the quality of service the city provides to its residents and businesses, while establishing financial policies that have significantly improved the city’s financial condition. Increased emphasis on economic development and capital improvement has lead to a remarkable influx of new business and homebuyers interested in taking advantage of superior services and unparalleled access.
The area was first called Winnisimmet, meaning “good spring nearby,” by the Massachusett tribe which once lived here. It was settled in 1624 by Samuel Maverick, whose palisaded trading post is considered the first permanent settlement at Boston Harbor. In 1635, Maverick sold all of Winnisimmet, except for his house and farm, to Richard Bellingham. The community remained part of Boston until it was set off and incorporated in 1739, when it was named after Chelsea, a neighborhood in London.
In 1775, the Battle of Chelsea Creek was fought here, the second battle of the Revolution, at which American forces made one of their first captures of a British ship. Part of Washington’s army was stationed here during the Siege of Boston.
Chelsea originally included North Chelsea — all of Revere, Winthrop and parts of Saugus. In 1846, North Chelsea was set off as a separate town. Reincorporated as a city in 1857, Chelsea developed as an industrial center, producing rubber and elastic goods, boots and shoes, stoves and adhesives. It became home to a naval hospital (designed by Alexander Parris) and soldiers’ home. But on April 12, 1908, nearly half the city was destroyed in the First Great Chelsea Fire. In 1973, the Second Great Chelsea Fire burned 18 city blocks.
Chelsea Square looking north up Broadway after Great Fire of 1908In September 1991, Massachusetts enacted special legislation to place Chelsea into receivership. This was the first time since the Great Depression that a United States municipality had such an action taken against it. Events preceding the action included failed financial intervention by the state, a political stalemate over the city’s budget, deepening economic decline and a spiraling fiscal crisis. Fortunately, Chelsea had no publicly held long-term debt — thus, a solution to its problems could be explored in isolation of creditors.
A charter change in 1995 designed an efficient council-manager form of government, which has focused on improving the quality of service the city provides to its residents and businesses, while establishing financial policies that have significantly improved the city’s financial condition. Increased emphasis on economic development and capital improvement has led to an influx of new business and homebuyers. In 1998, Chelsea was named winner of the All-America City Award. The community is home to a Carnegie library built in 1910.