Lexington, Massachusetts

Lexington is a suburban town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. It is 10 miles (16 km) from Downtown Boston. The population was 31,394 at the 2010 census,[1] which was estimated at 33,727 in 2018.[2] Settled in 1641 as a farming community, it is well known as the site of the first shots of the American Revolutionary War, in the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775. It is home to Minute Man National Historical Park.

Lexington, Massachusetts
Minuteman statue in Lexington
Minuteman statue in Lexington
Flag of Lexington, Massachusetts
Official seal of Lexington, Massachusetts
Etymology: Likely from Laxton, Nottinghamshire
Birthplace of American Liberty
"What a Glorious Morning for America!"
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°26′50″N 71°13′30″W / 42.44722°N 71.22500°W / 42.44722; -71.22500Coordinates: 42°26′50″N 71°13′30″W / 42.44722°N 71.22500°W / 42.44722; -71.22500
Country United States
State Massachusetts
RegionNew England
 • TypeRepresentative town meeting
 • Total16.5 sq mi (42.8 km2)
 • Land16.4 sq mi (42.5 km2)
 • Water0.1 sq mi (0.4 km2)
210 ft (64 m)
 • Total33,792
 • Density2,000/sq mi (790/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s)339/781
FIPS code25-35215
GNIS feature ID0619401


Buckman Tavern, built 1710

Colonial historyEdit

The area that is now Lexington was first settled circa 1642[3] as part of Cambridge, Massachusetts.[3] As the population increased, Lexington was incorporated as a separate parish, called Cambridge Farms, in 1691. This allowed the residents to have their own local church and minister, although they were still under jurisdiction of the Town of Cambridge. Lexington was incorporated as a separate town in 1713. It was then that it got the name Lexington.[4] How the town received its name is the subject of some controversy. One view is that it was named in honor of Lord Lexington, an English peer.[5] Another view is that it was named after Lexington (which was pronounced and is today spelled Laxton) in Nottinghamshire, England.[6]

In the early colonial days, Vine Brook, which runs through Lexington, Burlington, and Bedford, and then empties into the Shawsheen River, was a focal point of the farming and industry of the town. It provided for many types of mills, and in the 20th Century, for farm irrigation.

Battle of LexingtonEdit

On April 19, 1775, what many regard as the first battle of the American Revolutionary War was the Battle at Lexington. On the night of April 18, the British Army had sent out 800 grenadiers and light infantry soldiers on foot from Boston, with the intention of destroying Colonial gunpowder and cannons that were being stored in Concord, as well as capturing two leaders of the Sons of Liberty, John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who were staying in Lexington.[7] Hancock and Adams were warned of the danger by two alarm riders, Paul Revere and William Dawes, who alerted the countryside of the British movements. When the British soldiers arrived on the Lexington Common not long after sunrise, they faced 77 men of the Lexington militia, commanded by Captain John Parker. Someone-still unknown to this day—fired a shot, provoking an exchange of musket fire between the two sides.[7] Eight Lexington militia men were killed, dozens more wounded. After the rout, the British marched on toward Concord. There, several hundred militia and minute men from nearby towns assembled near the Old North Bridge to turn back the British and prevent them from capturing and destroying the Colony's stores of gunpowder and military equipment.[8]

Today, the town annually commemorates the battle on the Battle Green in the Downtown with a reenactment, as part of its Patriots Day festivities.

Painting of the Battle of Lexington


For decades after the Revolutionary War, Lexington grew modestly while remaining largely a farming community, providing Boston with much of its produce. Many of these farms became dense housing developments and subdivisions by the 1970s. Lexington always had a bustling downtown area, which remains to this day. Lexington began to prosper, helped by its proximity to Boston, and having a rail line (originally the Lexington and West Cambridge Railroad, later the Boston and Maine Railroad) service its citizens and businesses, beginning in 1846 until 1981. In 1984, Due to the rapid urbanization that occurred in many other suburbs like Lexington, The MBTA proposed expanding the Red Line through Lexington, terminating in Bedford. Despite Lexington and Bedford being on board with the idea, Arlington residents lobbied against the plan and it was shot down by the Board of Selectmen.[9]

Lexington, as well as many of the towns along the Route 128 corridor, experienced a jump in population in the 1960s and 70s, due to the high-tech boom. Today, many companies are still moving into Lexington, with Takeda and BAE Systems both having huge offices. The urbanization and massive job growth resulted in soaring property values, and the school system becoming nationally recognized for its excellence.[10] The town participates in the METCO program, which buses minority students from Boston to suburban towns to receive better educational opportunities than those available to them in the Boston Public Schools.[11]

Lexington was the Cold War location of the USAF "Experimental SAGE Subsector"[12] for testing a prototype IBM computer that arrived in July 1955[13] for development of a computerized "national air defense network"[14] (the namesake "Lexington Discrimination System" for incoming ICBM warheads was developed in the late 1960s).[15]


Lexington is located at 42°26′39″N 71°13′36″W / 42.44417°N 71.22667°W / 42.44417; -71.22667 (42.444345, -71.226928).[16]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 16.5 square miles (42.8 km2), of which 16.4 square miles (42.5 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.4 km2), or 0.85%, is water.

Lexington borders Burlington, Woburn, Winchester, Arlington, Belmont, Waltham, Lincoln, and Bedford. It has more area than all other municipalities that it borders.


Historical population

Source: United States census records and Population Estimates Program data.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26]

By the 2010 census, the population had reached 31,394.

As of the census[27] of 2010, there had been 31,394 people, 11,530 households, and 8,807 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,851.0 people per square mile (714.6/km2). There were 12,019 housing units at an average density of 691.1 per square mile (266.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 68.6% White, 25.4% Asian (15.4% Chinese, 4.8% Asian Indian, 3.2% Korean[28]), 1.5% Black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.5% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population.

There were 11,530 households, out of which 38.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.0% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.1% were non-families. Of all households, 20.8% were made up of individuals, and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.10.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 26.4% under the age of 18, 3.5% from 18 to 24, 22.7% from 25 to 44, 28.5% from 45 to 64, and 19.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.5 males.

In 2018,[29] the mean home price was $910,584, and the median price of a house was $1,050,821. According to a 2018 estimate,[30] the median income for a household in the town was $191,350, and the median income for a family was $218,890. Males had a median income of $101,334 versus $77,923 for females. The per capita income for the town was $70,132. About 1.8% of families and 3.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.2% of those under age 18 and 3.4% of those age 65 or over.

By race, the median household income was highest for mixed race households, at $263,321. Hispanic households had a median income of $233,875. Asian households had a median income of $178,988. White households had a median income of $154,533. Black households had a median income of $139,398. American Indian or Alaskan Native households had a median income of $125,139.[31]

Immigrant populationEdit

As of 2010, Lexington has the second highest Asian population in Massachusetts, reflecting 25.4% of the population. 29% of Lexington residents were born outside of the United States.[32] This racial diversity is largely reflected in the Lexington Public Schools, where Asians compose over 40% of the student population.[33]

Government and politicsEdit

The town uses a five-member Select Board. The day-to-day operations are handled by a Town Manager hired by the Select Board. A Representative town meeting, acts as the legislative body, made up of 203 members, including 21 citizens elected from each of nine precincts for three-year staggered terms, At-large member positions include the Select Board, Town Counsel, Town Clerk and the School Committee chairman.[34] Article LXXXIX Section 8 of the Massachusetts Constitution permits towns with a population greater than 12,000 to adopt a city form of government. The Town of Lexington meets the population requirement to become a city, but has not done so, in part because it would lose its ability to engage citizens in local government under the Representative Town Meeting form of government.

Lexington is Represented by State Representative Michelle Ciccolo, State Senators Cindy Friedman and Michael Barrett, all Democrats. Lexington is in Massachusetts's 5th congressional district, currently represented by Katherine Clark. Federally, Lexington is heavily Democratic, having not voted Republican since 1980. Even in Scott Brown's upset 2010 Senate special election, he received just 34% of the vote, to Coakley's 64%.

Lexington town vote[35]
by party in presidential elections
Year Democratic Republican Third party
2020 81.3% 16,308 16.6% 3,337 2.0% 403
2016 77.1% 13,900 18.2% 3,279 4.7% 854
2012 70.2% 12,750 29.1% 5,293 0.7% 185
2008 72.2% 12,984 26.1% 4,593 1.7% 199
2004 70.6% 12,334 27.5% 4,834 1.9% 207
2000 63.1% 10,623 26.9% 4,741 10.1% 1,349
1996 63.6% 10,659 27.4% 4,824 9.0% 1,002
1992 55.4% 10,015 26.7% 5,001 17.9% 2,000
1988 57.0% 10,252 40.3% 7,252 2.7% 245
1984 53.1% 9,397 45.8% 8,118 1.1% 184
1980 37.3% 6,557 39.8% 6,999 22% 3,745
1976 49.6% 8,494 45.6% 7,814 4.8% 544
1972 52.1% 8,478 45.7% 7,432 2.2% 366

Emergency servicesEdit

Law enforcementEdit

The Lexington Police Department (LPD) is responsible for law enforcement in the town of Lexington, handling investigation, patrol, and traffic safety/control, with 51 sworn officers. They also host a youth academy for children age 12–17. It is led by Interim Chief of Police Mark McLean.

Fire and rescueEdit

The Lexington Fire Department (LFD) provides both fire and rescue, and emergency medical services to the town of Lexington. The date of its formation is unknown. It is based in the Fire Department Headquarters, with a secondary East Lexington Station, having 61 firefighters and EMS personnel. It is led by Fire Chief Derek Sencabaugh.


Public schoolsEdit

Lexington's public education system includes six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. Overall the Lexington school district is among the top ranked in the state and nationally. Bridge Elementary School, Jonas Clarke Middle School, and Harrington Elementary School were High Performing National Blue Ribbon Schools in 2010, 2013, and 2019 respectively.[36][37][38] They have been ranked as top schools based on Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test scores. Lexington High School was ranked in 2014 as the 19th best high school in the nation by U.S. News.[39] In 2012, 2017, and 2018, Lexington High School won the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Science Bowl competition.[40] In addition to Lexington High School, students may attend Minuteman Regional High School. In 2019 Jonas Clarke Middle School won the National Science Bowl competition.

Private schoolsEdit

Supplementary educationEdit

The Lexington Chinese School (LCS; 勒星頓中文學校) holds its classes at Belmont High School in Belmont.[41] In 2003 over 400 students attended classes at LCS, held on Sundays.[42]

Culture and artEdit

Engraved memorial bricks lining the Lexington Depot sidewalk
Historic Mullikan Oak Tree, September 2012
Old Belfry in Belfry Hill Park, Clarke Street


Lexington is home to the Lexington Symphony, which performs regularly at Cary Hall.[43][44]


Major employers in Lexington include Takeda (formerly Shire), BAE Systems, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Stride Rite, Agilent, Global Insight, CareOne, the Cotting School, Ipswitch, and Lexington Public Schools.[45]

MBTA bus operates three routes that connect with the Red Line at Alewife station in Cambridge.

Points of interestEdit

  • Lexington is most well known for its history and is home to many historical buildings, parks, and monuments, most dating from Colonial and Revolutionary times.
  • One of the most prominent historical landmarks, located in Lexington Centre, is the Lexington Common, commonly known as the Lexington Battle Green, and known by locals as the Battle Green or the Green. The Lexington Battle Green is known for being the site of the Battle of Lexington, where the "shot heard round the world" was fired. A statue of the captain of the Lexington Militia, John Parker, stands on the Battle Green. The statue is known as the Minuteman Statue by locals. A historical reenactment of the Battle of Lexington takes place on the Battle Green every year on Patriots' Day as part of the Patriots' Day celebrations.
  • Another important historical monument is the Revolutionary Monument, the nation's oldest standing war memorial (completed on July 4, 1799) and the gravesite of those colonists slain in the Battle of Lexington.
  • Other landmarks of historical importance include the Old Burying Ground (with gravestones dating back to 1690), the Old Belfry, Buckman Tavern (circa 1704-1710), Munroe Tavern (circa 1695), the Hancock-Clarke House (1737), the U.S.S. Lexington Memorial, the Centre Depot (old Boston and Maine train station, today the headquarters of the town Historical Society), Follen Church (the oldest standing church building in Lexington, built in 1839), and the Mulliken White Oak (one of Lexington's most distinguished and oldest trees).[46]
  • Lexington is also home, along with neighboring Lincoln and nearby Concord to the 900-acre (3.6 km2) Minute Man National Historical Park.
  • The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library showcases exhibits on American history and Freemasonry.
  • Lexington's town center is home to numerous dining opportunities, fine art galleries, retail shopping, a small cinema, the Cary Memorial Library, the Minuteman Bikeway, Depot Square, and many of the aforementioned historical landmarks.
  • The Great Meadow, a.k.a. Arlington's Great Meadows, is a sprawling meadow and marshland located in East Lexington, but owned by the town of Arlington, Lexington's neighbor to the east.
  • Willards Woods Conservation Area, a small forest of conservation land donated years ago by the Willard Sisters.[47] Willards Woods is referenced in the classic Saturday Night Live skit "Donnie's Party".
  • Wilson Farm, a farm and farm stand in operation since 1884.
  • The Lexington Community Center is a meeting place for Lexington residents.
  • Notable Lexington neighborhoods include Lexington Centre, Meriam Hill (and Granny Hill), Irish Village, Loring Hill, Belfry Hill, Munroe Hill, Countryside (sometimes referred to as "Scotland"), the Munroe District, the Manor Section, Four Corners, Grapevine Corner, Woodhaven, Liberty Heights and East Lexington (fondly "East Village", or "The East End").
  • Marrett Square, at the intersection of Marrett Road and Waltham Street, is the location of some light shopping and dining.
  • The "Old Reservoir," sometimes referred to by locals as "The Res," used to provide drinking water to Lexington residents and surrounding areas. Now it offers a place to swim and picnic in the summer time. In the winter, when it freezes over, it is used as an ice skating area.
  • Book publisher D.C. Heath was founded in 1885 at 125 Spring Street in Lexington, near the present day intersection of Route 128 and MA Route 2, and was headquartered on that spot until its 1995 sale to Houghton Mifflin.
  • Lexington is home to several historically significant modernist communities built by notable architects. These neighborhoods include Six Moon Hill, Peacock Farm, and Five Fields.[48]

Notable peopleEdit

Sister citiesEdit

Lexington is a sister city of:


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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit