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The Town of Belmont is a pleasant, residential suburb which has unexpectedly achieved international notoriety as the childhood home of the bride of the Crown Prince of Japan. Residents report polite but persistent Japanese tourists knocking on likely doors hoping to discover the Princess's former house, and international tour guides persist in planning tours of the affluent community. Before the Prince found his Cinderella, Belmont was a quiet community on the western suburban corridor of Boston, situated on the divide between the watersheds of the Charles and the Mystic Rivers. The town was largely agricultural until the early 19th century when the turnpike and railroad linked the area to Boston, stimulating the creation of several large suburban estates. Although there were extensive market gardens in Belmont, the town underwent rapid subdivision development when trolley routes connected it directly to Boston. A Belmont farmer was the first to import and breed Holstein cows, and historians note that the conservatories on an estate in Belmont sparked the first use of hothouses to grow fruit and vegetables commercially. This was done so successfully that huge Belmont market gardens under glass produced enough fruit to make the town first in the country in the value of its fruit products and second in the country for vegetables during some years in the 19th century. A small town of about 4.6 square miles, Belmont residents are proud of their quiet, well-mannered community and appear unexcited by its present fame. (Seal supplied by community. Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission)
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