Saturday, April 7, 2012

Brighton Cattle Call

Brighton, 1819 (BPL). Note the Agricultural Hall and Cattle Fair.

Brighton's history as a market center goes all the way back to 1776, when the Winships provided meat to General Washington's troops. By the end of the century, they were the largest meat packers in Massachusetts. Originally part of Cambridge, the town of Brighton was formed in 1807, allowing a focus on the cattle market. The state agricultural fair was soon located in Brighton, and the coming of the railroad in the 1830s allowed access from the rest of the state.

The Brighton Market on market day (BPL Flickr photo group).

The Cattle Fair Hotel became the center of business for the trade, and was run by Zachariah Porter, whom Porter square in Cambridge and the Porterhouse steak were named after.

As the town grew in population and agriculture gave way to industry in Massachusetts, the meat packing business was moved to empty land along the Charles river, where the Brighton abattoir was built. The abattoir would remain until the 1950s, when it was demolished for the Leo M. Birmingham Parkway and Soldier's Field Road.

Rather than go into more detail, I'll just point you to the links below, which already tell the story.

Brighton Allston Historical Society

Brighton Abattoir

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