On this day in 1630, the Massachusetts Bay Colony proprietors chose a site along the northern bank of the Charles River for their capital. They named it Newtowne, and laid out an orderly grid of streets fortified by a wooden palisade. It was the first planned town in English North America. Six years later, the colony’s first college was established in Newtowne. In honor of the English university town, Newtowne was renamed Cambridge. Contemporary William Wood noted “this is one of the neatest…towns in New England, having many fair structures with many handsome…seats.” Despite its well-ordered appearance, Cambridge did not remain the colony’s capital. In 1638 the General Court settled five miles downstream, in the neighboring town of Boston.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I’m going to take today and following few days to slow down and relax, look around me with a careful and thankful eye, and reflect on what I have to be thankful for.
I am thankful for my friends and family—for their love, loyalty, and support. I am thankful for where I live. I am thankful for a warm, dry home, access to good, healthy food, clean water, and a fuzzy, sometimes-affectionate cat named Donut.
I am thankful for my community. Cambridge is a great place to live. We have wonderful public and social services, a thoughtful municipal government, a vibrant and diverse population of interesting and often friendly people, good jobs, good bars—here’s looking at you, the Abbey— fun when you want it, quiet when you need it, tall trees, wild turkeys, fluffy bunnies, and four full seasons. I’m thankful for all of it.
And I am thankful for my state. I am both proud and horrified to say that Massachusetts was the only state in the lower forty-eight to vote Democrat everywhere on the county-level in the last presidential election. (Apparently, Hawaii did, too.)
As all parts of the country, folks in Massachusetts are hurting, too. I am thankful that my neighbors across the state voted against solutions that promote finger pointing, blame, and hate to ease their pain. I am thankful that in Massachusetts we voted to protect our environment, to fight for women’s rights, black rights, immigrant rights, Muslim rights, gay rights, and general civil rights, and to dignify people with the basic rights to health care, equal pay for equal work, and higher wages.
Are you thankful for you local and state governments?
On this day of thanksgiving, I hope you are, too!