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[29] marked change in its career began. Down to this time there had been little or no fluctuation in the population. The number of inhabitants in 1776 was said to have been only 1586, and at that time both Menotomy and the parish south of the Charles were parts of the town. Cambridgeport and East Cambridge could have been described in 1780, in conveyancer's language, as woodlands, pastures, swamps, and salt marsh. The little village practically ceased at Quincy Street, and eastward between the mansion house of Judge Dana, on what is now called Dana Street, and Boston and Charlestown, there were in 1793, according to Rev. Dr. Holmes, but four dwelling-houses. On the 23d of November of that year, the West Boston Bridge was opened for public travel. Then began the growth which soon transferred the centre of population east of the college. The construction of the Craigie Bridge in 1809 largely contributed to this result also. Both of these bridges were originally private enterprises, their profits being dependent upon tolls. As the town increased, other bridges were built, partly on account of the growth of population, and partly for the purpose of bringing real estate into the market. Prison Point Bridge was constructed in 1815, under authority of an act passed in 1806. It was laid out as a county road in 1839. The bridge at the foot of River Street was completed in 1811, and was assumed by the town in 1832. The Western Avenue Bridge was built under authority of an act passed in 1824.

A glance at the streets and avenues which were laid out as feeders to the Boston bridges will show the important part played by these corporations in the development of the town. Radiating from Main Street (now Massachusetts Avenue) and covering the territory from the Charles River to the eastern boundary, we have as tributary to the West Boston Bridge, River Street, Western Avenue, Broadway, which was built as a continuation of the Concord Turnpike, Hampshire Street, which was a part of the Middlesex Turnpike, and Webster Avenue, formerly known as Medford Street. Tributary to Craigie Bridge, Cambridge Street was opened, crossing the Middlesex Turnpike, intersecting the Concord Turnpike, and connecting with the streets through which the Watertown travel could find its way to Boston. Rivalry between these bridge corporations was the basis of many a hard-fought battle, in connection with street openings.

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