Wow! 61 Historic, Record-Setting “Firsts” That Happened in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is famous for many things. Between historic landmarks that date back to the formation of our great nation, iconic, record-setting sports teams (and their rabid fans) plus that amazing Boston accent is known across the country.
With Massachusetts being one of the oldest states in the country our history runs deep dating back to the earliest settlers. Massachusetts is home to the oldest churches, restaurants, schools, and even the oldest bar in the country.
In its three-hundred-year history, Massachusetts has led the nation and the world in many historic firsts. Check out the 61 that stand out most in our history according to state officials.
1602 Bartholomew Gosnold established the first trading post in Massachusetts.
1620 Pilgrims first land in Provincetown.
1620 The first religious meeting house was built in Plymouth.
1621 The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Plymouth.
1628 John Endicott established a settlement in Salem.
1629 The first tannery in the U.S. began operations in Lynn.
1634 Boston Common became the first public park in America.
1635 The first American public secondary school, Boston Latin Grammar School, was founded in Boston.
1636 Harvard, the first American university, was founded in Newtowne (now Cambridge).
1638 The first American printing press was set up in Cambridge by Stephen Daye.
1639 The first free American public school, the Mather school, was founded in Dorchester.
1639 The first post office in America was Richard Fairbanks’ tavern in Boston.
1650 The first American ironworks were established in Saugus.
1653 The first American public library was founded in Boston.
1686 Oxford became the first non-Puritan town.
1704 The first regularly issued American newspaper, “The Boston News-Letter”, was published in Boston.
1713 The first schooner was built in Gloucester by Andrew Robinson.
1716 The first American lighthouse was built in Boston Harbor.
1775 The first battle of the Revolution was fought in Lexington and Concord.
1775 The first ship of the U.S. Navy, the schooner “Hannah”, was commissioned in Beverly.
1778 The Town of Franklin was the first community to change its name to honor Benjamin Franklin.
1780 First State Constitution.
1789 The first American novel, William Hill Brown’s “The Power of Sympathy”, was published in Worcester.
1803 The Middlesex Canal, the first canal built for commercial use in the United States, was completed.
1806 The first church built by free blacks in America, the African Meeting House, opened on Joy Street in Boston.
1826 The first American railroad was built in Quincy.
1827 Francis Leiber opened the first swim school in America. Among the first to enroll was John Quincy Adams.
1831 The first abolitionist newspaper, “The Liberator”, was published in Boston by William Lloyd Garrison.
1837 Samuel Morse invented the electric telegraph based on Morse Code, a simple pattern of “dots” and dashes.
1839 Rubber was first vulcanized by Charles Goodyear in Woburn.
1840 The typewriter was invented by Charles Thurber in Worcester.
1845 The first sewing machine was made by Elias Howe in Boston.
1846 The first public demonstration of ether anesthetic was given in Boston at Massachusetts General Hospital.
1848 Esther Howland of Worcester printed the first mass-produced Valentine cards.
1850 The first National Women’s Right Convention convenes in Worcester.
1865 Massachusetts established the first Statewide Police Force in the nation.
1865 Robert Ware of M.I.T. began the first professional training program for architects. Prior to this, architects trained in Europe or learned through apprenticeship.
1866 The first African-American legislators in New England were elected to the General Court.
1874 The first American Christmas card was printed by Louis Prang in Boston.
1876 The first telephone was demonstrated by Alexander Graham Bell in Boston.
1877 Helen Magill White becomes the first woman to earn a Ph.D in the U.S. at Boston University.
1881 The Country Club in Brookline became the first dedicated to “outdoor pursuits”.
1886 The first transformer was demonstrated by William Stanley in Great Barrington.
1888 The first electric trolley in the state runs in Lynn.
1891 The first basketball game was played in Springfield.
1893 The first successful gasoline-powered auto was perfected by Charles and Frank Duryea in Springfield.
1895 The first volleyball game was played in Holyoke.
1896 Landscape architect Charles Eliot developed Revere Beach as the first public beach in America.
1897 April 19,1897 was the first Boston Marathon. The race was run from Boston to Ashland and the starting field was 15 runners. John J. McDermott was the winner.
1897 The first American subway system was opened in Boston.
1903 Using Gulielmo Marconi’s wireless telegraph President Theodore Roosevelt sent the first trans-Atlantic message from Wellfleet to King Edward VII in London.
1905 The Knox Automobile Company of Springfield is credited with making the first purpose built fire truck.
1906 On December 24 the first wireless broadcast of music and entertainment was sent by Reginald A. Fessenden from Brant Rock in Marshfield.
1925 Clarence Birdseye invented frozen food.
1926 The first successful liquid fuel rocket was launched by Dr. Robert Goddard in Auburn.
1928 The first computer, a non-electronic “differential analyzer”, was developed by Dr. Vannevar Bush of M.I.T. in Cambridge.
1944 Not to be outdone by M.I.T., Howard Aiken of Harvard developed the first automatic digital computer.
1947 Dr. Sidney Farber pioneers chemo-therapy as a treatment for cancer.
1961 The first nuclear-powered surfaceship, USS Long Beach, was launched in Quincy.
1975 First Night, which celebrates New Year’s Eve, originated in Boston on December 31.
2004 First legally married same-sex partners in the United States.