Prospect Hill Tower Gets a New Flagpole

20131220-091533.jpgBy William Tauro

A brand new flagpole was installed at the Prospect Hill Tower early Friday morning.

The installing of the new pole comes just in time and getting ready for the city’s annual New Years Flag Raising Ceremony that takes place on January 1st 2014 at the tower grounds on Prospect Hill.

Union Square was Somerville’s earliest commercial district to develop when it was still a part of Charlestown. Early trade routes passed through the Square and a tavern was built here as early as 1770. Originally called “Sand Pit Square,” the area’s sandy, clay pit-dotted pastures yielded a fine grade of silica used in glass and brick-making. It was during the American Revolution, however, that Union Square took center stage.

Historic Prospect Hill’s castle and park overlook Union Square and points south and west and provide outstanding panoramic views. Because of its location and height, Prospect Hill, dominating the road from Charlestown, had great strategic importance in the Revolutionary War and became known as the “Citadel”.

The castle, dating back to 1902, is a monument commemorating the fortifications atop the hill during that war. A tablet inside reads: “This tablet is erected in memory of the soldiers of the Revolution and of the Civil War who encamped on Prospect Hill and of the banners under which they valiantly fought.”

It is said by some that George Washington first raised an early version of the U.S. Flag, called the Grand Union Flag, on Prospect Hill, on January 1, 1776.

Others, however, claim evidence the flag was flown earlier. Somerville is one of several locales claiming to have hosted the flag’s first raising.

In its early years, Somerville was an agricultural suburb, supplying the growing urban area surrounding Boston. Union Square became a major commercial center due to its location at an important crossroads in eastern Somerville during the early 19th Century.

After the Revolution, the Warren Bridge opened, linking Charlestown and Boston. This caused a considerable increase in traffic along Washington Street and Charlestown Lane. In the 1800s, rail access through Boynton Yards and the Union Square passenger stop served the meat packing and manufacturing district, which included a slaughterhouse, brickyard, and glass shop. Later the rail yards became an industrial area.

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