Dorchester is Boston's largest neighborhood and one of its most culturally diverse. The center of the state's Vietnamese community, Dorchester is home to the first Vietnamese Community Center. The area is home to a wide range of ethnic shops, beauty salons, eateries and businesses. Franklin Park calls the neighborhood home, with 527 acres of green space, walking and biking paths, a zoo and a golf course. Dorchester is bordered by the Neponset River and Boston Harbor which offer water activities like boating and fishing.
Named after the English town Dorset from which immigrants originated, the area was annexed to Boston in 1870. The portion of the state that would become Boston, and eventually the neighborhood of Dorchester, was first settled in 1630 near what is now the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Columbia Road. The first public elementary school in the new nation was established in Dorchester in 1639 and still stands today. Dorchester is also home to chocolate, first refined and distributed in 1765 by Dr. James Baker.
In the 1800s, Dorchester was a popular destination for the state's well-to-do citizens. The era also saw much growth to the neighborhood thanks, in part, to quarries and railway lines. In the mid-1900s, Dorchester was deeply involved in the civil rights movement and, as time has passed, has become the destination for many of our country's immigrant population. Today, Dorchester is home to people from a more vast array of countries than anywhere else in Boston.