Natick is a suburban industrial center located on the upper basin of the Charles and Concord Rivers with an extensive complex of ponds. The town was from earliest Colonial days a prime target for development, possessing as it did good agricultural land, fish runs and water power. Established in 1650 on the Charles River, Natick had the first and the largest Indian praying town in the colonies, one that became a model for all other attempts to inculcate European standards into Indians. John Eliot, the great missionary, secured a charter of 6,000 acres for the Indians and converted them to Christianity. Unfortunately, Natick's Indian population was forcibly resettled on Deer Island during the King Philip's war and essentially never returned.
In Colonial days, Natick was an agricultural community with some orchards and some lumbering. Grist and sawmills were established and Indian ownership and control gave way to white dominance between 1676 and 1776. Local tradition claims that several loads of Natick men shipped out to the California gold rush in 1849 and 1850, returning with enough capital to start independent businesses in the town. The shoe industry dominated the community by the early 19th century, with the first shoe sole manufacturer established in 1827 and shoes shipped to the southern and western markets by 1830. The town's products, including baseballs manufactured in Natick, were shipped to Boston on the Boston and Worcester Railroad. The town saw rapid growth including an Irish, English, Nova Scotian, Italian and Armenian immigrant population which came to take jobs in the shoe plants and by the 1880's, Natick was the third largest shoe production community in the country.
In modern times, Natick has become an industrial Boston-oriented suburban community with heavy strip development on Route 9.
It is located in eastern Massachusetts, bordered by Framingham on the west, Wayland and Weston on the north, Wellesley and Dover on the east, and Dover and Sherborn on the south. Natick is 18 miles southwest of Boston; 25 miles east of Worcester; 35 miles north of Providence, Rhode Island; and about 201 miles from New York City.
Narrative compiled by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
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