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A quick look at Boston's history

A quick look at Boston's history

Learn more about the history behind the Mayors of Boston and the Boston City Council, as well as the City's major land acquisitions.

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United States

Past Mayors of Boston

Mayors
19th century
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YEARS

NAME

1822

John Phillips

1823-1828

Josiah Quincy

1829-1831

Harrison Gray Otis

1832-1833

Charles Wells

1834-1835

Theodore Lyman, Jr.

1836

Samuel T. Armstrong

1837-1839

Samuel A. Eliot

1840-1842

Jonathan Chapman

1843-1844

Martin Brimmer

More details: From the close of Mayor Brimmer's term until the election of Thomas A. Davis, the Chairman of the Board of Aldermen, William Parker, acted as Mayor. (January 6, 1845 to February 27, 1845).

1845

Thomas A. Davis

More details: In the period between the death of Mayor Davis and the election of his successor, Josiah Quincy, Jr., Bensin Leavitt, the Chairman of the Board of Aldermen, acted as Mayor (November 22 to December 11, 1845).

1846-1848

Josiah Quincy, Jr.

1849-1851

John P. Bigelow

1852-1853

Benjamin Seaver

More details: There were three ballots for the election of mayor for 1854, from December 12, 1853 to January 9, 1854. In the meantime, Benjamin L. Allen,the Chairman of the Board of Aldermen, acted as Mayor.

1854-1855

Jerome V. C. Smith

1856-1857

Alexander H. Rice

1858-1860

Frederic W. Lincoln, Jr.

1861-1862

Joseph Wightman

1863-1866

Frederic W. Lincoln, Jr.

1867

Otis Norcross

1868-1870

Nathaniel B. Shurtleff

1871-1872

William Gaston

1873 (10 months)

Henry L. Pierce

More details: Pierce left his office on November 29, when he was elected to the US Congress.  For the rest of the year, Leonard R. Cutter, the Chairman of the Board of Aldermen, served as Acting Mayor.

1873 (2 mos.)

Leonard R. Cutter

1874-1876

Samuel C. Cobb

1877

Frederick O. Prince

1878

Henry L. Pierce

1879-1881

Frederick O. Prince

1882

Samuel A. Green

1883

Albert Palmer

1884

Augustus P. Martin

1885-1888

Hugh O’Brien

1889-1890

Thomas N. Hart

1891-1894

Nathan Matthews, Jr.

1895

Edwin Curtis

1896-1899

Josiah Quincy

20th century
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Years Name

1900-1901

Thomas N. Hart

1902-1905

Patrick A. Collins

More details: When Collins died, Daniel A. Whelton, the Chairman of  the Board of Aldermen, acted as Mayor for the rest of the year (September 15, 1905, to January 1, 1906).

1905 (3 1/2 mos.)

Daniel A. Whelton

1906-1907

John F. Fitzgerald

1908-1909

George A. Hibbard

1910-1913

John F. Fitzgerald

1914-1917

James M. Curley

1918-1921

Andrew J. Peters

More details: Peters was the first Mayor not eligible to succeed himself.

1922-1925

James M. Curley

1926-1929

Malcolm E. Nichols

1930-1933

James M. Curley

1934-1937

Frederick W. Mansfield

1938-1944

Maurice J. Tobin

1945

John E. Kerrigan

More details: Mayor Tobin resigned on January 4, 1945, when he was elected governor. By Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1945, John F. Kerrigan, the president of the Boston City Council served as Mayor from January 25, 1945, through the end of the year.

1946-1949

James M. Curley

1947 (Five months)

John B. Hynes

More details: City Clerk John B. Hynes served as temporary Mayor from June 26 to November 28, in 1947 during the absence of Mayor Curley.

1950-1959

John B. Hynes

1960-1967

John F. Collins

1968-1983

Kevin H. White

1984-1993

Raymond L. Flynn

More details: Mayor Flynn was appointed US Ambassador to the Holy See. He resigned as Mayor on July 12, 1993. Thomas M. Menino, president of the Boston City Council, served as Acting Mayor for the rest of the year.

 
20th - 21st century
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Years Name

1993-2013

Thomas M. Menino

2014-

Mayor Martin J. Walsh

History of the City Council

From 1822-1909, the Boston City Council was comprised of two bodies: the Board of Aldermen and the Common Council. Under the Charter of 1909, a new City Council was created with nine elected members. As of 1983, the City Council has thirteen members, including one each from nine districts and three at large.

NAMES OF MEMBERS

Major land acquisitions

Land acquisitions
Noddle's Island
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Timeline:

By order of the Court of Assistants, March 9, 1636-37 (old style).

South Boston
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Timeline:
  • Set off from Dorchester on March 6, 1804, by St. 1803, c. 111.
Washington Village
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Timeline:
  • Set off from Dorchester May 21, 1855, by St. 1855, c. 468.
Roxbury
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Timeline:
  • January 6, 1868, by St. 1867, c. 359
  • Accepted September 9, 1867.
  • Roxbury received its name by order of the Court of Assistants October 8, 1630 (old style).
  • It was incorporated as a City March 12, 1846 by St. 1846, c. 95, accepted March 25, 1846.
Dorchester
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Timeline:
  • January 3, 1870, by St. 1869, c. 349
  • Accepted June 22, 1869.  
  • Dorchester received its name by order of the Court of Assistants September 7, 1630 (old style).
Brighton
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Timeline:
  • January 5, 1874, by St. 1873, c. 303
  • Accepted October 7, 1873.  
  • Set off from Cambridge as the Town of Brighton February 24, 1807, by St. 1806, c. 65.
Charlestown
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Timeline:
  • January 5, 1874, by St. 1873, c. 286, accepted October 7, 1873.
  • Settled July 4, 1629 (old style).  
  • It was incorporated as a city February 22, 1847, by St. 1847, c. 29, accepted March 10, 1847.
West Roxbury
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Timeline:
  • January 5, 1874, by St. 1873, c. 314, accepted October 7, 1873.
  • It was set off from Roxbury and incorporated as a town May 24, 1851, by St. 1851, c. 250.
Hyde Park
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Timeline:
  • January 1, 1912, by St. 1911, c. 469, and 583, accepted November 7, 1911.
  • It was incorporated as a town April 22, 1868.