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The City of Medford is an historic suburban city located on the Mystic River with several small streams that provided waterpower for early industries. Originally the site of estates owned by Governors Craddock and Winthrop, Medford became a town in 1695 and a city in 1892. The city's colonial prosperity was based on being a tidewater seaport with shipbuilding and distilling, and Medford was part of the triangle trade. There was a significant slave population. Shipbuilding was begun by Thatcher Magoun, using lumber harvested from the Fells and later from New Hampshire, which came down on the Middlesex Canal. At its peak in 1855, Magoun's shipyard employed 1,000 men. Immigrant populations, mostly Irish, were also employed in the brick yards and in quarrying Medford granite. After the decline of the shipbuilding industry, printed cloth, carpets, linseed oil, hats and rum became the major products of the city, as did education when Tufts University was founded in 1852. Fueled by its industrial prosperity, Medford grew quickly; between 1870 and 1910 the city doubled in population every 20 years. Residents manufactured shoe-making machines, chemicals, covered buttons and brass soda fountains. The city retains a rich architectural heritage which includes the nationally important Isaac Royall estate as well as Federal, Greek revival and Victorian buildings. The earliest homes remaining in the community are the Peter Tufts House of 1678 and the Jonathan Wade House of 1689, but at least one outstanding example of each architectural period remains. There are now many suburban neighborhoods in Medford resulting from the rapid and dense development which followed the first world war. (Seal suppFINANCE AND ECby community. Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission)
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