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Originally called Noodle's Island, East Boston was once comprised of five islands connected by marshland. Today, many people identify East Boston as the location of Logan International Airport, but it is really much more than that. From colonial times through the late twentieth century, the neighborhood of East Boston has experienced significant developments in the fields of city planning, transportation, and urban development. Until the nineteenth century, East Boston was a rural community whose land was used for grazing and firewood. The East Boston Company was incorporated by William Hyslop Sumner in 1833 to plan the residential and commercial growth of this Boston neighborhood. Connecting East Boston to the city were various modes of transportation including ferries, railroads, and an underground streetcar tunnel. In the 1920s, construction of the Boston Airport, later Logan International Airport, was begun.
Once a rural paradise known as "Noddle's Island," East Boston is the site of key developments in the nation's history, including the first naval battle of the American Revolution, the creation of the world's fastest sailing ships, the country's first underwater tunnel, and the nation's first public branch library. It has had its share of famous residents, from Colonial governor John Winthrop and repentant Salem witch trial judge Samuel Sewall, to clipper ship builder Donald McKay and the world's first female clipper ship navigator, Mary Patten. Women's suffrage activist Judith Winsor Smith called East Boston home, as did the first Civil War nurse, Armeda Gibbs; Massachusetts governor John Bates; and Boston mayor Frederick Mansfield. Pres. John F. Kennedy's paternal grandparents and father were born in East Boston, where they started their first businesses and political ventures, and the neighborhood has produced numerous community activists, musicians, artists, writers, and athletes.
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