Charlestown is located north of Boston proper on a peninsula extending southeast between the Charles River and the Mystic River. The geographical extent of the area has changed drastically since its colonial ancestry. Landfill operations have expanded dramatically, from Boston, down mountains, and have expanded into Charlestown, eliminating the Charlestown narrow neck connecting the northwest tip of the peninsula of Charlestown to the mainland.
The original territory included present Somerville, which was incorporated as a separate city in 1842, as well as the northern part of Arlington. At the time, Charlestown proper was urbanizing, while Somerville was still largely rural.
Charlestown is a part of the city of Boston, Massachusetts, situated on a peninsula north of Boston proper. Charlestown was originally an independent city and the first capital of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, which later became a city in 1847 and was annexed by Boston on 5 January 1874. While there has been a major U.S. population influx from Ireland since the Irish emigration during the Irish famine of the 1840s, the neighborhood has changed substantially due to its proximity to the center of colonial architecture and City Square since the late 1980s.
The Bridge and Old Bridge Warren, was formerly a stop on the high Charlestown. The central artery was built between 1951 and 1954, routing via ramps for lifting the Town Square. The Area of North Central Artery (CANA) of this project was moved underground tunnel in the city square, giving way to a revitalized surface fleet.
Charlestown contains several historic sites, many of which are marked by the north end of Boston's Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail ends at the Bunker Hill Monument commemorating the famous Battle of Bunker Hill. The USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy, is docked in the Charlestown Naval Shipyard.
Charlestown was also the place from which Paul Revere began his famous "midnight ride" before the battles of Lexington and Concord. A local restaurant called the Warren Tavern opened in 1780 and is still in operation. The Warren Tavern claims to have been one of Revere's favorite taverns.
Throughout the 1960s until the mid-1990, Charlestown was infamous for its Irish mafia presence. The Charlestown McLaughlin Brothers were involved in a gang war with neighboring Somerville Winter Hill Gang during the wars of the Irish mob in the 1960s. In late 1980, however, Charlestown underwent a massive gentrification process similar to that of the South End. Attracted by its proximity to downtown and its colonial, red brick row house dwellings, similar to Beacon Hill, many professionals from the upper middle class, moved into the neighborhood. In late 1990, additional gentrification took place, similar to that in neighboring Somerville. Today the neighborhood is a mix of upper-middle and middle-class residences, housing projects and a large working class Irish-American population and culture that still dominates to this day.