- About Us
Welcome to Alarm New England's business and home security page for Needham, Massachusetts. This informational page provides important crime data along with additional information for those living in or considering moving to Needham.
Number of Households: 10,519
ZIP Codes: 02459, 02464, 02492, 02494
Needham boasts the lowest violent crime rate in the state of Massachusetts, at .20 per 1,000. The town is exceptionally safe and also features high-performing schools.
Settled by Europeans in the 1640s, Needham is part of the Dedham Grant, purchased from Native Americans who had occupied the land for more than 8,000 years. Though little physical evidence of indigenous settlement remains, several places in and around Needham bear the name Nehoiden, honoring Native American leader William Nehoiden. Needham incorporated in 1711, and like many other New England towns, grew alongside the larger port towns and relied primarily on agriculture until the industrial era. Early settlers found it difficult to grow familiar crops there, and experimented with various options before settling primarily on hay and the raising of cattle.
The introduction of a railroad in the 1850s spurred Needham’s economy further, particularly as gravel from the Needham area was used for the Back Bay infill project. During this time, over a thousand freight cars moved between Needham and Back Bay daily, creating new residential land for Boston over a course of fifteen years. In the mid-1800’s, sawmills along the Charles River supplemented the local economy with lumber, and a wave of migration of English textile knitters eventually led to the establishment of a strong knit apparel industry. The proximity to a railroad meant easy access to coal for fuel and to trains for exporting their goods.
These immigrant entrepreneurs became successful mill owners and went on to built some of the town’s most important public institutions, including the public library and Needham Bank. The economy of the town diversified with the success of commercial dairy farms and flower greenhouses which, in addition to the garment factories, created the need for an increasingly larger workforce. When, in the early 20th century, much of the American textile industry moved south in search of cheaper labor and higher profits, many New England textile towns were devastated by the loss of industry and jobs. However, due to its economic diversity, Needham survived this economic crisis fairly well, shifting production into new areas and positioning itself as a convenient suburb for Boston workers.
Industry continued to develop in Needham during and after World War II, as the increased need for war supplies led to more factories and new highways allowed products to travel farther and faster. Technological and economic changes, along with the growth of Boston’s academic and research sector, provided new opportunities. The Needham Industrial Center, one of the first of its kind in the country, provides a hub for technological innovation and development. This model of large-scale industrial business park, much more common now, was a relatively new way of clustering technology developers and their associated industries to bring innovators together and enhance opportunities for collaboration.
Drawing on the Boston area’s abundance of intellectual talent and research institutions, Needham and other suburban business-industrial enclaves have survived by providing affordable, accessible locations for research and development campuses. Since the 1980s, Needham is also home to a Coca Cola bottling plant and Trader Joe’s packing plant. Needham is also home to the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, which consistently ranks as one of the highest-rated colleges in the country for classroom experience, quality of life, and lab facilities.
The Needham History Center & Museum presents a wealth of information and artifacts from the early days of the town. They are currently celebrating the centennial of the Needham Historical Society with a special exhibit of 100 important artifacts and items from the city’s history. The museum also features historic maps of Needham dating back to 1771 and illustrating the town’s growth and change, as well as an intriguing exhibit about home front participation and involvement in World War I.
Using artifacts including uniforms, posters, and other memorabilia, “Needham Goes Over There” illustrates the town’s involvement in World War I efforts and the ways in which Americans supported the war effort from home with bond drives and austerity measures.
One of Needham’s most famous local residents, N.C. Wyeth, is an artist known for his realist paintings as well as illustrations for over one hundred books. His style is highly photorealistic and dramatic, with paintings often depicting epic historic events. He was tragically killed in a car crash along with his grandson, also a painter.
Needham has also been home to several highly successful athletes including ice hockey players and coaches Mike Grier and Milt Schmidt and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman.