Richest County in Massachusetts
Present day Brookline is a town (exclave) in Norfolk County, which is the richest county in the state of Massachusetts of the United States. It is an exclave because it is geographically separated from the original county by towns belonging to other counties. With an area of 6.8 square miles, the city is bordered by Newton (Middlesex County) on its west and Boston (Suffolk County) on the remaining sides. According to the 2010 census, the population of Brookline stood at around 58,000.
Brookline was once part of the Algonquian territory. The first settlement in Brookline can be dated back to 1638 when the town was part of the European colony in Boston. It was established as a separate individual town only on 13 November 1705. In the 1670s, the Brookline Village had developed as an important business center. Two arms of the Boston Post Road ran through the village while steam railroads were constructed around the middle of the nineteenth century. The present day Massachusetts Route 9 was established as the Boston and Worcester Turnpike in the year 1810 and passed through the village. Street car tracks were laid out in the latter half of the nineteenth century and were electrified subsequently. Brookline later developed as a streetcar suburb which significantly enhanced transportation to Boston and made it cheaper.
Two small rivers (brooks) once bordered the northern and southern area of the town and hence, it is so named. The northern one, Smelt Brook separated it from adjacent town Brighton while the southern Muddy River marked its boundary with Boston. Smelt Brook was filled up sometime in the beginning of the nineteenth century, while the Muddy River was incorporated into a parkland area which could be used both by the people of Boston and Brookline.
Initially, the towns of West Roxbury and Hyde Park were part of the Norfolk County and served as a connection between Brookline and the rest of the county. However, both these towns were annexed by Boston in the years 1874 and 1912 respectively and put into Suffolk County. And Brookline was hence separated from the rest of the Norfolk County.
Brookline was always opposed to the idea of annexation by Boston. The Boston-Brookline annexation debate of 1873 was a significant event in the history of American suburbs. In the 168 years of its existence (the period from 1705 to 1873), Brookline had significantly developed from a rural community to a commuting town. A few years on, the lands of Brookline gained tremendous importance as large tracts of lands were converted to real estates for wealthy people. Soon enough, it became a desirable residential area by wealthy elites from neighboring areas, which is why Boston wanted to annex it. But, unlike other adjacent towns, Boston was reluctant to the idea. So on 7 October 1873, the people of Brookline voted against its annexation.
Brookline was once said to be the richest town in the world with the bulk of the wealth contributed by private citizens. What made town of Brookline unique were its beautifully constructed roads and avenues, elegant residences, real estates, and architecture with wide parks, which made it an attractive residential town. Brookline along with neighboring Newton and Brighton is a major cultural hotspot for the Jewish community. Brookline is also noted for being the birthplace of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States.