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41 Things Boston Did First

By David Bloch | 09/17/2014
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Happy Birthday, Boston! September 17 is the 384th anniversary of the official founding of the City of Boston.

Everyone knows how important the Hub is to United States history, politics, business, and culture; But did you know exactly how many American ‘firsts’ Boston is home to? Here’s the list:

  1. First windmill – Copp’s Hill (1632)
  2. First public park – Boston Common (1634)
  3. First public secondary school – Boston Latin School (1635)
  4. First institution of higher learning – Harvard College (1636)
  5. First UFO sighting – over Charles River (1639)
  6. First chartered corporation – Harvard Corporation (1650)
  7. First U.S. mail route – MA-NY (1672)
  8. First regular newspaper – Boston News-Letter (1704)
  9. First lighthouse – in Boston Harbor (1716)
  10. First chocolate factory – Baker Chocolate Factory (1765)
  11. First State Constitution – (1780)
  12. First Unitarian Church – King’s Chapel (1785)
  13. First African-American meeting house – (1806)
  14. First chartered savings bank – Provident Institution for Savings (1816)
  15. First public pool – (1827)
  16. First school for the blind – Perkins Institute (1829)
  17. First public school for African-American children – Abiel Smith School
  18. First police department – (1838)
  19. First coining of the term “OK” – (1838)
  20. First steam-heated building – Eastern Hotel (1845)
  21. First demonstration of anesthetic – Mass. General Ether Dome (1846)
  22. First public library – Boston Public Library (1848)
  23. First YMCA – Old South Church (1851)
  24. First law banning de jure public school segregation – (1855)
  25. First football club – Oneida Football Club (1862)
  26. First free black Civil War regiment – Mass. 54th (1863)
  27. First Christmas card – Louis Prang Factory (1875)
  28. First demonstration of the telephone – Alexander Graham Bell (1875)
  29. First woman with a PhD – Helen McGill White at BU (1877)
  30. First coining of the term “body-building” – YMCA (1881)
  31. First vaudeville theater – Gaiety Museum (1883)
  32. First cookbook – Fannie Farmer (1896)
  33. First annual marathon – Boston Marathon (1897)
  34. First subway – MBTA (1897)
  35. First World Series – Huntington Avenue Grounds (1903)
  36. First ‘open-end investment fund’ – Massachusetts Investors Trust (1924)
  37. First computer – Vannevar Bush at MIT (1928)
  38. First disposable razor – Gillette (1901)
  39. First NHL team – Bruins (1924)
  40. First kidney transplant – Peter Bent, Brigham Hospital (1954)
  41. First same-sex marriages – Cambridge City Hall (2004)

To get a better sense of where these things actually happened, view each Boston ‘first’ on the map below:

Main Sources: City of Boston, Celebrate Boston, Wikipedia