Brookline, Massachusetts

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Seal of Brookline, MA
Seal of Brookline, MA

Brookline is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. It borders Newton (part of Middlesex County) on the southwest and Boston (part of Suffolk County) in all other directions, so it is not actually contiguous with any other part of Norfolk County. As of the 2000 census, the population of the town is 57,107.



Brookline is governed by a representative (elected) Town Meeting, which is the legislative body of the town, and a five-person Board of Selectmen which serves as the executive branch of the town. For more details about the roles and procedures within the government of Brookline, please see the town government's own description.


First settled in the early 1600s as a part of Boston, Massachusetts known as the hamlet of Muddy River, Brookline was incorporated as an independent town in 1705.

President John F. Kennedy was born here. It was also the home of influential American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, 60 Minutes icon Mike Wallace, former Governor of Massachusetts and 1988 Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, television talk show host Conan O'Brien, television commentator and journalist Barbara Walters, former Boston Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Wallace, Dukakis, Epstein, O'Brien and Kraft all attended Brookline High School.

The Country Club, an exclusive sporting club in the town, claims to be the first private club in the United States formed exclusively for outdoor activities. It is most famous as a golf club; it was one of the five clubs that formed what is now the United States Golf Association, and has hosted the U.S. Open three times and the Ryder Cup Matches once.

Brookline is also home to the Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.


Brookline is located at 42°19'50" North, 71°8'1" West (42.330664, -71.13364)1.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 17.7 km² (6.8 mi²). 17.6 km² (6.8 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.04 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.44% water.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 57,107 people, 25,594 households, and 12,233 families residing in the town. The population density is 3,247.3/km² (8,409.7/mi²). There are 26,413 housing units at an average density of 1,501.9/km² (3,889.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the town is 81.08% White, 2.74% Black or African American, 0.12% Native American, 12.83% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.01% from other races, and 2.18% from two or more races. 3.53% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 25,594 households out of which 21.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.4% are married couples living together, 7.1% have a female householder, and 52.2% are non-families as defined by the Census bureau. 36.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.18 and the average family size is 2.86.

In the town the population is spread out with 16.6% under the age of 18, 11.7% from 18 to 24, 37.3% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 82.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 79.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town is $66,711, and the median income for a family is $92,993. Males have a median income of $56,861 versus $43,436 for females. The per capita income for the town is $44,327. 9.3% of the population and 4.5% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 5.3% of those under the age of 18 and 7.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


As close to Boston as Brookline is, it has managed to maintain its own identity. Brookline features a unique mixture of urban and suburban living, upscale shops and recreational parks, apartment buildings and large estates. It is the home of many academic and scientific professionals who work at the nearby medical centers in Boston. Brookline has staunchly refused to be absorbed by Boston, which surrounds it like a horseshoe. Brookline has kept its town meeting form of government since its 1705 incorporation. It has also kept an unusual overnight on-street parking ban that continues to baffle and irritate many residents. The name "Brookline" is derived from the brooks that form its boundaries. Among its many unusual resources, Brookline has its own working farm (with farm stand), the oldest country club in the nation, a town golf course, the home in which John F. Kennedy was born, a park on a hillside overlooking Boston with an open air skating rink and transportation museum, as well as numerous neighborhood parks and playgrounds scattered throughout the town. Its major retail centers, like Coolidge Corner and Brookline Village, are pedestrian-oriented shopping areas with a variety of shops. Along with offering both a city atmosphere and a feeling of being in the country, there is a wide mix of people in Brookline. It is said that the student body at Brookline High School includes students from more than 50 different countries. Although predominantly residential, Brookline is open to new commercial development, and has amended its zoning to encourage new growth along its major thoroughfares.

Brookline is known in the Boston area for its large population of Russian immigrants and numerous synagogues. Jewish culture is very strong in Brookline, and is especially notable along the section of Harvard Street that runs between Beacon Street (Coolidge Corner) and Commonwealth Avenue. This neighborhood is home to at least 3 area synagogues and a number of Jewish-themed restaurants and stores.

Brookline is also known for its excellent schools, which are supported in large part by property taxes — the town has one of the highest property tax burdens in the country.

While residents of Brookline tend toward liberal ideals, economic and cultural factors keep this section of the Boston metropolitan area less diverse than its neighbor across the Charles River, Cambridge.

"Fairsted", the 100 year old business headquarters and design office for renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and the Olmsted Brothers firm, has been carefully preserved as the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, located on 7 acres (28,000 m²) of landscaped grounds at 99 Warren Street.

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