Logo   Surprising New England Facts & Firsts
Basketball, electric street lights, Graham crackers, the Smiley—they all started in New England.



Basketball was invented in 1891 by Dr James Naismith in Springfield MA. You can visit the Basketball Hall of Fame there. Four years later, William Morgan invented volleyball in nearby Holyoke MA.

• The dollar bills in your pocket were probably printed on paper produced by the Crane Paper Company of Dalton MA, main paper supplier to the US Mint.

Great Barrington MA was the first town in the world to have electric street lights, in 1886.

• Sylvester Graham (1794-1851) of Northampton MA advocated a diet of vegetables and coarse-milled grains, so he invented the Graham cracker.

• Boston is at a latitude similar to Barcelona, Rome and Istanbul.

Harvard University, America's oldest institution of higher learning, was founded in 1636.

• Of the hundreds of people accused of witchcraft in Salem MA in 1692, only one confessed—and she claimed others had forced her into evil.

Mount Washington (6288 feet/1917 meters), with the highest summit east of the Rockies, had the highest winds ever recorded that was not part of a tropical cyclone: 231 miles per hour. The summit qualifies as an arctic climate zone.

Boston's subway (underground railway, Metro) system was the first to be built in the western hemisphere.

• The Smiley (or Smiley Face) was created in Worcester MA in 1963 by artist Harvey Ball (1921-2001).

New England History

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  Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan


Town Hall, Northampton MA

Town Hall in Northampton MA,
birthplace of the Graham cracker.

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