Welcome to Alarm New England's business and home security page for Watertown, Massachusetts. This informational page provides important crime data along with additional information for those living in or considering moving to Watertown.
Number of Households: 15,040
ZIP Codes: 02135, 02471, 02472
Watertown is safer on average than other towns in Massachusetts, with 443 crimes annually for a crime rate of 12.65 per 1,000 residents. Most property crimes take the form of theft, with only a small proportion being burglaries. Thankfully, the town’s violent crime rate is also fairly low.
Watertown’s residents enjoy the town for its peaceful, friendly, and historical atmosphere combined with an ethnically diverse population and an easy commute to Boston and surrounding towns. In the early 1800s, large portions of Watertown were bought as estates for rich Bostonians seeking relief from the summer heat. Many of these residences retain their former glory and add historic charm to the neighborhood.
The community is also on the upswing due to new business and residential construction, mainly along Arsenal Street, as more young professionals opt to live close to the city without paying exorbitant rent for an apartment with four roommates and two cats.
Even though Watertown’s new businesses are booming, gentrification isn’t happening anytime soon. Watertown has a sizeable Armenian community, the heart of which is on the East end of Coolidge Square, known as Little Armenia. Other Irish, Greek, and Italian communities are equally tight-knit, with Mount Auburn Street lined with family-run businesses, new and old alike.
Present-day Watertown was first occupied by Native Americans around 6,000 years ago. In May 1630, a party led by Roger Clap landed at a point near the present site of Perkins School for the Blind. A party of Pequossette Indians approached the landing party with a large bass, and the settlers presented a biscuit in return; this scene is commemorated on Watertown’s official seal. In July that year, a company of Englishmen led by Sir Richard Saltonstall settled further upstream. Originally named Saltonstall Plantation, their settlement officially became Watertown in September 1630.
In 1632, Watertown citizens defied a tax order imposed by the General Court to help fortify the City of Cambridge because the tax had been levied without Watertown’s representation. This sowed seeds for the rally cry during the American Revolution: No taxation without representation.
Watertown was ideal for farming and raising cattle, but its largest economic boom came as a result of industrialization. After Thomas Mayhew built America’s first grist mill in 1638 in present-day Watertown Square, Watertown grew into a mill village. It started gaining importance as a major gateway to the West, and a hub for trade and commerce.
During the Siege of Boston, Watertown was the provisional Capital of Massachusetts. Commander-in-Chief George Washington first met Massachusetts revolution leaders in Watertown on July 2, 1775. Between April 1775 and March 1776, Paul Revere lived on in the Cook House on the south side of the Charles and printed the currency that paid Continental soldiers.
A couple highlights convey the importance of Watertown in its industrial golden age in the 1800s. The Bemis Factory was the first in America to produce duck a cotton sail cloth, and the factory prides itself for weaving the sails for the U.S.S. Constitution. Many smaller factories produced chocolate, cotton starch paper, dyes, lace, and shirts. The Stanley Steamers and Crawford Stoves were manufactured at Watertown and shipped worldwide.
Founded in 1829, Perkins School for the Blind is the oldest school for the blind in the United States. Perkins’ instructional techniques were widely acclaimed, with such illustrative results as teaching Laura Bridgeman, the first known deaf-blind person to be educated, and educating Helen Keller, who went on to break down perceptions about what blind or deaf-blind people could accomplish.
The Watertown Arsenal, which operated as a munitions and military research facility between 1816 and 1995, is notable for being the location of a 1911 strike protesting “Scientific Management,” the brainchild of an operations research pioneer Frederick Winslow Taylor which broke factory tasks into smaller components for maximum efficiency. Congressional hearings regarding the case resulted a 1911 law banning Scientific Management in government-owned arsenals. However, Taylor’s method had a far-reaching effect for such industrialists as Henry Ford, and inspired the assembly line industrial method.
Armenians, mostly from the Ottoman Empire, immigrated to Watertown in the late 1890s and early 1900s because of the Hamidian massacres. The Hood Rubber Company was attractive to the newcomers, as it offered English classes, medical benefits, and a steady paycheck. By the late 1920s, 3,200 Armenians lived in Watertown and 500 worked at the factory. In 1970, the Watertown school district implemented an Armenian foreign language class into its high school curriculum. The Armenian Library & Museum of America was founded in Watertown in 1971, and it stands till this day on Main Street.
Mount Auburn Cemetery, a short bus ride from Harvard Square, is a must-visit for visitors to the neighborhood. The cemetery was dedicated in 1831, and it enjoys the status of being a National Historic Landmark for its historical importance as well as its role as an arboretum. Mount Auburn Cemetery is the permanent home to many of the Boston and Harvard elite, as well as such distinguished residents as Dorothea Dix, Mary Baker Eddy, Buckminster Fuller, and Isabella Stewart Gardner. Be sure to climb up to Washington Tower at the highest point of the cemetery, which offers a stunning view of the Boston skyline.
For those interested in a bit of military history, the Watertown Arsenal is worth checking out. Designs for the grand campus were drawn up by Alexander Parris, the famous architect who also designed Faneuil Hall in Boston. Today, the site is a community resource with sports, gatherings, and sometimes farmers’ markets.
Watertown’s many scenic walks along the Charles attract bikers, families, and birdwatchers alike. The Heart Healthy Trail in the Charles River Reservation is a mild path with picnic areas; expect canoes drifting by and turtles basking in the sun on a sunny day. In the backyard of Perkins School is the Braille Trail, a collaboration between design firm Sasaki and local craftsman Mitch Ryerson. This crescent-shaped quarter-mile trail has a guide wire running along the edge of the trail, allowing users to hold to it as they make their way through. A marimba bench and large wooden boats offer an interactive experience, while stone markers in both alphabetical words and Braille describe features of the Charles River habitat.
Do visit Arax Market on Mount Auburn Street for a taste of their homemade baklava. The family-owned market sells Armenian, Greek, and Arabic products. Arax is stacked with rows of fruits, spices, cheeses, grains, sauces, and prepared foods, and the family is always friendly and keen to help with any indecision.
Aside from the dearly departed at Mount Auburn Cemetery, many illustrative figures have been proud to call Watertown home. Architect Charles Brigham designed stately public buildings and residences in Boston, including the Museum of Fine Arts. Harriet Hosmer was arguably the most distinguished female sculptor in America in the 19th century, pioneering a process that turned limestone into marble. Drastamat Kanayan, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Defense Minister of Armenia in 1920, also lived in Watertown briefly before passing.