From its beginning as one of the oldest colonial settlements, Boston is home to many firsts in U.S. history and has also seen its fair share of innovations across the centuries since it was founded in 1630.
See also: Boston fun facts.
1621: First Thanksgiving feast
The Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as the first Thanksgiving celebration in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn't until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
1632: First U.S. windmill
The windmill is located on Copp’s hill. These old windmills, in the days when corn was legal tender, were useful servants to the community and were a feature of the landscape.
1634: First U.S. public park
Boston Common was purchased by its citizens for 30 pounds and officially set aside as public or "common" land by a vote in 1640. The park's original purpose was for military training grounds and a place for grazing cattle.
1635: First U.S. public school
Boston Latin School is both the first public school and oldest existing school in the United States. The Public Latin School was a bastion for educating the sons of the Boston elite, resulting in the school claiming many prominent Bostonians as alumni.
1636: First U.S. college
Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation (officially the President and Fellows of Harvard College) chartered in the country. Harvard's history, influence, accomplished alumni and wealth have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
1639: First recorded UFO sighting
In 1639, America's first UFO was sighted over the Charles River in Boston. Lights sped back and forth across the river from Back Bay Fens to Charlestown. Governor John Winthrop made an entry in his journal regarding this strange event. The primary witness was described as a man of good reputation, activity and estate in Boston.
1672: First U.S. mail route
The first U.S. mail route was opened between Boston and New York.
1704: First U.S. newspaper
America's first continuously published newspaper, the Boston News-Letter, published its first issue on April 24, 1704. John Campbell, a bookseller and postmaster of Boston, was its first editor, printing the newspaper on what was then referred to as a half-sheet. It originally appeared on a single page, printed on both sides and issued weekly.
Next: The Boston Light. »