Chelsea, Massachusetts

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Chelsea is a city in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States directly across the Mystic River from the city of Boston. It is the smallest city in Massachusetts in land area, and the 26th most densely populated incorporated place in the country.



The area was first called Winnisimmet, meaning "good spring nearby," by the Massachusett tribe which once lived here. It was settled in 1624 by Samuel Maverick, whose palisaded trading post is considered the first permanent settlement at Boston Harbor. In 1635, Maverick sold all of Winnisimmet, except for his house and farm, to Richard Bellingham. The community remained part of Boston until it was set off and incorporated in 1739, when it was named after Chelsea, a neighborhood in London.

In 1775, the Battle of Chelsea Creek was fought here, the second battle of the Revolution, at which American forces made one of their first captures of a British ship. Part of Washington's army was stationed here during the Siege of Boston.

Chelsea originally included North Chelsea—all of Revere, Winthrop and parts of Saugus. In 1846, North Chelsea was set off as a separate town. Reincorporated as a city in 1857, Chelsea developed as an industrial center, producing rubber and elastic goods, boots and shoes, stoves and adhesives. It became home to a naval hospital (designed by Alexander Parris) and soldiers' home. But on April 12, 1908, nearly half the city was destroyed in the First Great Chelsea Fire. In 1973, the Second Great Chelsea Fire burned 18 city blocks.

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