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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Dorchester

October 25, 2013 6:24 AM

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File Image (Photo Courtesy:  Wikimedia Commons)

File Image (Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

The Boston neighborhood of Dorchester is home to a lot of history. And there’s a lot you don’t know about it. Here are five things.

(Photo Credit:Boston Public Library, Norman B. Leventhal Map Center. http://maps.bpl.org/Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo Credit:Boston Public Library, Norman B. Leventhal Map Center. http://maps.bpl.org/Wikimedia Commons)

1. Lots of Land

At six square miles, Dorchester is the largest neighborhood in Boston. But it used to be a lot bigger. The original town of Dorchester (before annexation with Boston) included Dorchester Heights, which is now considered part of South Boston, as well as parts of Quincy, Hyde Park, Milton, Canton, and Stoughton.

2. Big City Living

Despite losing all that land, if Dorchester were its own city, it would be one of the largest by population in Massachusetts. The 2010 census puts the neighborhood’s population at 92,115, which makes it bigger than all 296 towns and at least 47 of the 55 cities in Massachusetts.

(Photo from Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo from Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

3. Sweet History

The first chocolate factory in the United States was built in the Lower Mills section of Dorchester. It was part of Walter Baker & Co., which was established in 1780. The factory functioned all the way until 1965. Baker’s chocolate is still around today, but it is owned by Kraft Foods.

4. Presidential Visit

Plenty of presidents have visited (or lived in) Dorchester over the centuries. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan was in town and asked former Dorchester resident and high-ranking secret service agent Edward V. Hickey, Jr. where he could get a bite to eat. Two years earlier, Hickey had told the owner, Tom Stenson that if he was ever with the president in Boston, he’d “try to get him over” to the Eire Pub. That’s where Hickey sent Reagan. But Stenson was vacationing in Florida that day, and because of the short notice, he missed the entire ordeal.

Dorchester Lower Mills (Photo by Marcbela (Marc N. Belanger)/Wikimedia Commons)

Dorchester Lower Mills (Photo by Marcbela (Marc N. Belanger)/Wikimedia Commons)

5. Not ‘The Dot’

Perhaps you’ve heard Dorchester called ‘The Dot.’ But ‘The Dot’ is NOT short for Dorchester, at least according to people who are OFD. The Boston-centric website Universal Hub, relying on some help from long-time Dorchester residents, explains in its Wicked Good Guide To Boston English, Dot is “an adjective referring to something or somebody from Dorchester,” but it’s not a synonym for Dorchester. Only “people from Southie” use it that way, the definition explains. Instead, it only works in phrases like “Dot Rat” and “Dot Ave.” OFD, by the way, is short for “originally from Dorchester.” But you didn’t hear that here.

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