About This Place
Jamaica Plain is a historic neighborhood of 4.4 square miles (11 km2) in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded by Boston Puritans seeking farm land to the south, it was originally part of the city of Roxbury. The community seceded from Roxbury as a part of the new town of West Roxbury in 1851, and became part of Boston when West Roxbury was annexed to Boston in 1874.The oldest community theatre in the US, Footlight Club is located in this neighborhood. In the 19th century, Jamaica Plain became one of the first streetcar suburbs in America and home to a significant portion of Boston's Emerald Necklace of parks, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. According to the 2010 Census, it had a population of 37,468.
Shortly after the founding of Boston and Roxbury in 1630, William Heath and three other families settled on land just south of Parker Hill in what is now Jamaica Plain. In the next few years, William Curtis, John May and others set up farms nearby along Stony Brook, which flowed from south to north from Turtle Pond (in Hyde Park) to an outlet in the Charles River marshes in the current filled-in Fens area of Boston. John Polley followed with a farm which he purchased from Lt. Joshua Hewe in 1659 at the site of the present day Soldier's Monument at the intersection of South and Centre streets, closer to the "Great Pond", later known as Jamaica Pond. Later, for services rendered during the Pequot War, Joseph Weld received a grant of 278 acres (1.1 km2) of land between South Street and Centre Street. His son John later built a home along South Street in what is now the Arnold Arboretum, and his descendants continued to live in the area for many generations.
In the late 17th century, the name "Jamaica" first appears for the area of Roxbury between Stony Brook and the Great Pond. There are a number of theories regarding the origin of the name "Jamaica Plain". A well-known theory traces the origin to "Jamaica rum", a reference to Jamaica cane sugar's role in the Triangle Trade of sugar, rum, and slaves. However, a more likely explanation is that "Jamaica" is an Anglicization of the name of Kuchamakin, who was regent for the young Chickatawbut, sachem (chief) of the Massachusett tribe.