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Concord Massachusetts From the Brink of Revolution

When the Puritans bought Muske-taquid from the Algonkians in 1635, they changed the name to "Concord" to signify the harmony of the agreement. The Massachusetts town has lived up to its name ever since, albeit rather unconventionally. Its inhabitants have historically created waves in order to bring about change or what they saw as a better way of life. Today, the town of about 17,000 bustles peacefully on the banks of the Assabet River, and has become a most desirable place to live.

Three Revolutions

As noted at the Concord Museum, the town has been touched by three revolutions. In 1775, "the shot heard round the world" was fired between the British and the Americans on Old North Bridge, and officially began the American Revolution. With Ralph Waldo Emerson's lofty thoughts and Henry David Thoreau's experimental living, a literary and philosophical revolution got under way among the Transcendentalists. These thinkers attempted, in their lives and writings, to comment on the ills of their society and live according to their idea of true spirituality, which they felt was best reached through intuition, rather than doctrine. Concord also contributed to the Industrial Revolution, with its Damon Mill, which provided jobs for many and revenue for the community until the early 1900's.

The most enduring legacy to the town was arguably left by the Transcendentalists. Much of Concord is still wooded, and large areas--notably The Calf Pasture andWalden Pond—are now conservation land. Sleepy Hollow, where Emerson, Hawthorne, and their friends used to escape to commune with nature, has been made into a cemetery and park. It has been kept simple and wild so that others, even today, may seek peace and solitude there. In order to maintain such resources, community organizations exists so that residents may be involved in caring for these spaces.

The Transcendentalists made their mark in the center of town, too. The town center was a hub of activity, the exchange of goods and ideas. Thoreau gave his speech on civil disobedience there, and many other notables voiced their concerns and their thoughts. Today, both Main and Walden Streets still hum with activity harking back to earlier days.

Classic Community

No doubt because of its intellectual heritage, Concord boasts numerous cultural sites and activities. Its museums and historical sites include Minuteman National Historic Park, Orchard House, Walden Pond, The Old North Bridge, and, naturally, the Concord Museum. The Concord Chamber of Commerce proudly states, "The Concord of today continues to foster the arts, having a chorus, orchestra, band, four theater companies, two art centers, museums, historic houses and a theater for the performing arts." A-frame placards stand on street corners proclaiming local orchestra performances, and the theatre prominently announces its next play.

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2 Comments

  • Nice article Jenn. I'm a big history buff, and you pointed out some nice details in your writing. Details that have convinced me to check Concord out sometime.
  • The combination of Ms. Grosser's literary style and diligent research make her a fine addition to your staff.