What if Cambridge and Somerville were but neighborhoods of Boston? Or Saugus and Lynn for that matter? How about Newton and Dedham? All subject to the machinations of Tom Menino, Stephen Murphy, the BRA, etc., and all part of a city larger in area than Philly, Chicago, even New York, with a population to dwarf the first of those three and most others in the U.S.
One hundred years ago this month, a Brookline lawyer named Daniel J. Kiley tried to make it happen. Chris Marstall has the backstory in The Globe:
Kiley’s bill proposed bringing 32 cities and towns?—?from industrial centers like Malden, Waltham, and Cambridge to leafy burgs like Wellesley, Lexington, and Nahant?—?within Boston’s borders ... some 327 square miles and with a population of 1.4 million... It wasn't so implausible. Boston had been growing for roughly 300 years, and had just annexed Hyde Park. What were a few more towns and cities? And, for that matter, only 14 years before New York had gobbled up Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx to form the archnemesis we know today. Alas, prejudice and the sewers put the kibosh on Kiley's plan. The towns and cities feared annexation might mean more Irish immigrants in their backyards. Plus:
In 1895 the regionwide Metropolitan Water Board was created. By 1909 it had grown to manage the region’s sewers, and the Boston area also formed commissions overseeing rapid transit, roads, the harbor, parks, and land. These special agencies ended up serving as a kind of state-controlled shadow government for the region, and in the end accomplished many annexationist goals without the pain of drawing new borders. In 1919, the water, sewer, and parks boards were combined into the Metropolitan District Commission. Today we have even more holding us all together in this thing called The Hub, not least of which a transit warren that whisks the Irish and anybody else anywhere they damn well please. For now.