Welcome to Alarm New England's business and home security page for Somerville, Massachusetts. This informational page provides important crime data along with additional information for those living in or considering moving to Somerville.
Number of Households: 32,229
ZIP Codes: 02143, 02144, 02145
Business is good and residents enjoy living in Somerville. The city’s “Happiness and City Satisfaction Survey” found that Somerville’s residents are happier on average than those in Switzerland, which in 2015 was ranked the happiest country in the world.
Somerville has come a long way. Between 1965 and 1979, the city was (in)famous for the Winter Hill Gang, reputed to be the most feared Irish Mob syndicate on the entire east coast at its peak. The gang was active in most organized-crime activities, most known for fixing horse races in the US northeast and shipping weapons to the IRA.
Around 1975, Somerville also held the dubious distinction of being the nation’s car theft capital, with one out of every 35 registered vehicles reported stolen. Car theft concentrated at Assembly Square, with easy access to Route 93. Twenty years of improvements in anti-theft devices, more severe penalties, and new development of Assembly Square contributed to the decline.
Today, any trace of the city’s crime-ridden past is all but forgotten. Somerville’s overall crime rate is 38% lower than the national average, and the rate is decreasing by 24% each year. Winter Hill is a safe neighborhood just like others in Somerville, with property values increasing in anticipation of the Green Line extension. Between 2007-2017, Somerville saw an 89% increase in average home prices, highest among neighborhoods in the greater Boston area. In 2016, homeownership was only 34.7%, roughly half the national average of 63.6%.
Present-day Somerville was first settled by Puritans in 1629 as part of Charlestown. From then until Somerville’s establishment as a town in 1842, the area was referred to as “beyond the Neck,” alluding to the thin spit of land that connected it to the Charlestown Peninsula. Other early nicknames for Somerville include “Stinted Pasture” and “Cow Commons,” owing to early Charlestown settlers pasturing cows in the area. Somerville was key to the Revolutionary War, and Paul Revere Park (which locals say is the world’s smallest park) marks a spot along his famous midnight ride.
In 1852, Tufts College was founded as a small liberal arts college, only to transform into a larger research university in the 1970s. In 1872, increasing industrialization and population growth prompted the official incorporation of Somerville as a city. Brick manufacturing flourished in Somerville, and its success attracted other industries. Meatpacking soon replaced brickmaking as the city’s primary industry. Somerville was attractive to European immigrants, and became densely populated by the early 1900s. After the Ford Motor Company built a plant in Assembly Square in 1926, automobile assembly surpassed meatpacking to become Somerville’s most important industry.
With the ascent of the automobile, highways replaced railways in Somerville, prompting industries to move further out. The local economy was hard-hit with Ford closing its doors in 1958. Growth slowly returned only in 1984, with the Red Line extension to Davis Square.
Today, Somerville mixes blue-collar families, young professionals, college students, and recent immigrants, with more than 50 spoken languages in its schools. With a large immigrant population, Somerville celebrates its diversity through numerous celebrations of cultural traditions and holidays.
In 1972, 2009, and again in 2015, Somerville received the All-America City Award, recognizing the city’s inclusive civic engagement and strong connections among residents, businesses, and nonprofit and government leaders.
Geographically, a series of drumlins left by glaciers form the “Seven Hills” of Somerville featured on many postcards. Central, Clarendon, Cobble, Ploughed, Prospect, Spring, and Winter Hill provide scenic views of Boston and Medford. The Somerville Community Path is an excellent tree-lined rail trail that connects open spaces in the city.
For the patriotic and the historically-inclined, Powder House and Prospect Hill have major significance in the American Revolution. Powder House housed gunpowder for Revolutionary soldiers during the war. Prospect Hill was strategically valuable for its height and commanding view of Boston, and symbolically so as it was the site of the raising of the first Grand Union flag, under General George Washington’s orders.
The numerous city squares serve as nodes of interest in Somerville. Davis Square, Union Square, Ball Square, Teele Square and Magoun Square, and Assembly Row are among the most active today, each with ethnic restaurants, bars, shops and small businesses for the casual wanderer.
With an artist per capita rate only second to NYC, Somerville also draws crowds for its art scene. The highly creative Somerville Arts Council produces funky events that cement the city’s quirky status. For instance, each summer, the weekend-long ArtBeat Festival transforms Davis Square into a vibrant and innovative art destination. Honk! fest in October is an obnoxiously and wonderfully loud parade championing a variety of progressive causes. Somerville Theatre in the square houses the Somerville branch of the Museum of Bad Art, which really is just bad art, and Boston’s Independent Film Festival. An annual festival at Union Square titled “What the Fluff?” celebrates Archibald Query’s original creation of Fluff in Somerville at the beginning of the 19th century. It’s not difficult to see why Somerville appeals to the young and hip.
Last but not least, Tufts University is an attractive location for events and strolls. Visit the Tufts cannon, which is repainted almost nightly during the academic year to advertise student organizations, Greek societies, alumni weddings, and so on. Tufts is also home to a thriving a cappella scene, including the Beelzebubs, known for their performances on The Sing-Off and Glee, and Enchanted, a popular Disney-themed a cappella group.
Many of the Greater Boston Area’s scholars reside in Somerville for its relatively affordable rental prices, lively atmosphere, and close access to Cambridge and Boston. Famous past residents include Barack Obama and David Foster Wallace, known respectively for being President of the United States and for having a penchant for page-long footnotes.