The completely true and absolutely false history of Boston’s annexations.
“Why is only this part of Boston officially called Boston?”
“Not hard to tell, Ansa…
Boston was an English noble. He committed an unspeakable affront to coir and in doing so broke a
geis. For this, he was cursed to live alone on a small hill, an island at high tide.
Still, Boston thrived on the small island. He drank from its abundant rains, and its tidal coves and
bays provided a twice daily seafood buffet.
And yet, he was lonely.
Sure, his noble sister Brooke kept her lands just to the west of Boston’s neck. Brooke, who was
more intelligent, more genteel, more wealthy, and more beautiful than her big brother in every
way. And yet she stole Boston’s Muddy River, and with it the secret meeting grounds where men
sought pleasures they dared not speak.
And, Boston could see the smoke from his cousin Chelsea’s lands just across the harbor.
But, it was his brother Chester who joined Boston first. Chester, the mercurial younger brother, so
changeable and unpredictable that his siblings called him the swinging Door. Chester perceived
Boston’s loneliness and angst. Boston invited Chester to come to his lands and live with him.
Chester conciliated his elder brother with this offer, “Boston, I like to spend my summers by the
water as much as the next man, but I like to go inland to my hills to lessen the frigid touch of the
ocean’s waves on me. But, how about this. I will give you my summer estate, and I will spend my
summers with you.
The brothers continued like that for thirty years plus two when a stranger called across the harbor
to them. “Hey, my name is Noodles! I know your cousin Chelsea. She said you are the paragon of
hospitality, that you would never turn away someone coming to you looking for work.”
Boston looked at this strange, muddy man who called himself Noodles. “Yeah, and what can you
“I’m a shipbuilder, and I want to build the fastest ships the world has ever seen.”
Boston was skeptical, but he didn’t like working alone, even if his brother partied and helped in the
summers. So, he took Noodles on, and nicknamed him Eastie after one of his clippers changed the
world with a speed record to the Far East.And together, the three worked and thrived and shared in the bountiful waters of the harbor
together for thirty years plus one when Chester’s wife Roxbry came to Boston one night on the full
moon, on the lowest tide of the year, the king tide that visits at Samhain. And Roxbry told Boston,
“I wish to join my estate to yours. I miss my husband every summer when he leaves mee for you.
And, well, when he is here, all he wants to do is harvest, drink, and plant. I want a bigger world.
Share your harbors with me. Share your technology with me. And together, we will thrive on the
apples that grow from my lands and the fresh waters from my springs.”
Boston – who’d always kind of had a thing for Roxbry anyway and who always wanted to share an
estate with all his family – accepted Roxbry’s proposal. Chester had to be convinced, worried as he
was about Boston and Roxbry being together, but bit by bit Chester joined his lands with Boston
too, until the three and their strange friend Eastie began to live in harmony.
They accepted all of the world’s people, not with equal generosity but certainly with an equal
welcome. From islands and continents near and far, newcomers came to join in Boston’s lands.
They came in such great numbers and so quickly that before Boston and his noble relatives could
notice, they found themselves utterly transformed. Their bays and coves filled with the homes and
workshops of the people. They even took from the harbor itself for their industries.
But the craic was mighty and Boston became a beacon of civilization, a shining city on the hill of
learned men and women of all races. Merely four years from swinging door Chester’s final joining
with Boston, Roxbry’s brother West, Boston’s cousin Charles, and the young descendant of Irish
nobility Go Leir Geal joined their lands and estates with Boston’s as well. Roxbry did this even if it
angered her old friend Brooke. Charles did this even if it caused his voluptuous Summer to leave
him. Go Leir Geal did this even if it incurred Brooke’s wrath for stealing back the bit of land that
Brooke had taken from Boston a century past.
Together, Boston, Charles, Eastie, Chester, Roxbry, and Go Leir Geal thrived with all of the peoples
of the world. But the Irish left the largest mark. They came in their hundreds of thousands to Boston
to escape persecution and starvation at the hands of Boston’s distant noble relatives. Despite the
rapid change, the diseases, and the excrement, Boston felt at his prime. He decided to invite
Brookline to join.
And so Boston, Charles, Chester, Roxbry, and West (leaving Go Leir Geal and Eastie at home) plead
their case to Brooke. Brooke replied, “Ah, my dear brother Boston. I admire your industry, your
entertainments, your athletes, and champions. I reflect in your glories. But, brother, look at how
the Irish have covered you. You’re dirty. You keep getting sick. And, I don’t know if you’ve noticed,
but worse and darker than the Irish have come to settle on you as well. No, brother, I will keep my
own lands. Let us maintain our love and friendship, but let us also manage our own affairs. And,
for the love of all that is right and proper, could you please keep Go Leir Geal and his sloppy,
drunken revelers on your land? I had to clean vomit from my own front steps this morning. Vomit,
Brooke’s rejection stung. Boston fell into a depression. Though his lands achieved in learning and
athletics above all others, he was morose. Though his lands remained more prosperous than most,
he watched as his family’s rival nobles, the Yorks, through a party ten times as large as Boston could
muster, and on lands taken from the Dutch who had abused the magic of the word to disconnect
those lands from their Lenape. Boston stewed in his rejection and jealousy. How could anyone
reject someone so perfect? Why would anyone strive to join any land outside of his own, the hub
of the universe?
Boston’s cousin Chelsea tried to cheer him up. “Boston, forget Brooke. Your aunt and I never liked
her anyway, the way she walks around with her nose in the air. What does she think she’s better
“Auntie too? Is that so, Chelsea? Well, that is comforting, thank you.”
“And, well cousin, there’s one more thing.”
“Well, I was chatting with the people who came to stay with me on my land. They are the ambitious
downtrodden of every nation. They face any and every danger to provide for their families. And,
well, we’d like to join your lands, Boston. We want to share everything we have with all of you.”
Boston gazed across the harbor at Chelsea. Eastie sniffed at Chelsea. Charles looked down from his
obelisk at Chelsea. Boston saw Chelsea’s needs, its poverty, its sickened waters. Eastie smelled
Chelsea’s huddled masses. Charles saw Chelsea from above, and told Boston she didn’t look any
better from up there.
“No.” Boston just stared and waited for Chelsea to react to his curt reply.
“You are Brooke’s brother. You two deserve each other.” Chelsea would occasionally chat with
Eastie or Charles, but she didn’t speak a word to her cousin Boston again for many years.
Adding insult to its injury of Chelsea, Boston not long after agreed to let Mr. Hyde join his lands to
Boston. Some say Mr. Hyde bribed Boston. Some say he threatened him. Some say Mr. Hyde may
have threatened, but he’s only mean sometimes and other times he appears downright genteel.
Years later, Boston attempted to reconcile with Chelsea and Brooke as well as invite all his
neighbors from the Blue Hills to the Middlesex Fells. This time, they all rejected poor Boston. He
just hadn’t changed much in recent years, and besides they had learned how to show up to
Boston’s parties and receive the spoils of Boston’s hospitality. Why would they ever want to live
where they went to party or where they went to work when they had castles of their own?
And so it’s only this part that truly lives with Boston, though these little neighbors who take more
than they give travel under Boston’s name and reputation.”
Graphics showing the expansion of Boston city limits through annexation and landfill.
by Jamie Madden