The area which became the town of Concord was originally known as "Musketaquid," situated at the confluence of the Sudbury and Assabet rivers. The name Musketaquid was an Algonquian word for "grassy plain," fitting the area's low-lying marshes and kettle holes. Native Americans had cultivated corn crops there; the rivers were rich with fish and the land was lush and arable. However, the area was largely depopulated by the smallpoxplague that swept across the Americas after the arrival of Europeans.
In 1635, a group of settlers from Britain led by Rev. Peter Bulkley and Major Simon Willard negotiated a land purchase with the remnants of the local tribe. Bulkley was an influential religious leader who "carried a good number of planters with him into the woods"; Willard was a canny trader who spoke the Algonquian language and had gained the trust of Native Americans. Their six-square-mile purchase formed the basis of the new town, which was called "Concord" in appreciation of the peaceful acquisition.
The battle was initially publicized by the colonists as an example of British brutality and aggression: one colonial broadside decried the "Bloody Butchery of the British Troops." A century later, however, the conflict was remembered proudly by Americans, taking on a patriotic, almost mythic status ("the shot heard 'round the world") in works like the "Concord Hymn" and "Paul Revere's Ride." In April 1975, the town hosted a bicentennial celebration of the battle, featuring an address at the Old North Bridge by President Gerald Ford.
Concord has a remarkably rich literary history centered in the mid-nineteenth century around Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), who moved to the town in 1835 and quickly became its most prominent citizen. Emerson, a successful lecturer and philosopher, had deep roots in the town: his father Rev. William Emerson (1769–1811) grew up in Concord before becoming an eminent Boston minister, and his grandfather, William Emerson Sr., witnessed the battle at the North Bridge from his house, and later became a chaplain in the Continental Army. Emerson was at the center of a group of like-minded Transcendentalists living in Concord. Among them were the author Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) and the philosopher Bronson Alcott (1799–1888), the father of Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888). A native Concordian, Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), was another notable member of Emerson's circle. This substantial collection of literary talent in one small town led Henry James to dub Concord "the biggest little place in America."
The Wayside house, located on Lexington Road, has been home to a number of authors. It was occupied by scientist John Winthrop (1714–1779) when Harvard College was temporarily moved to Concord during the Revolutionary War. The Wayside was later the home of the Alcott family (who referred to it as "Hillside"); the Alcotts sold it to Hawthorne in 1852, and the family moved into the adjacent Orchard House in 1858. Hawthorne dubbed the house "The Wayside" and lived there until his death. The house was purchased in 1883 by Boston publisher Daniel Lothrop and his wife, Harriett, who wrote the Five Little Peppers series and other children's books under the pen name Margaret Sidney. Today, The Wayside and the Orchard House are both museums. Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and the Alcotts are buried on Authors' Ridge in Concord's Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
In 1849 Ephraim Bull developed the now-ubiquitous Concord grape at his home on Lexington Road, where the original vine still grows.Welch's, the first company to sell grape juice, maintains a small headquarters in Concord.
Plastic bottle ban
On September 5, 2012, Concord became the first community in the United States to approve a ban on the sale of water in single serving plastic bottles. The law bans the sale of single-serving PET bottles of one liter or less starting on January 1, 2013. The ban proposed was not met without controversy. An editorial in the Los Angeles Times characterized the ban as "born of convoluted reasoning" and "wrongheaded." Some residents have stated that this ban will not do much to effect the purchase of bottled water, which is still very accessible in the surrounding areas, and that it restricts consumers' freedom of choice. It has also been stated that it may be considered unfair targeting one product in particular, when other, less healthy alternatives such as soda and fruit juice are still readily available in bottled form.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 25.9 square miles (67 km2), of which 24.9 square miles (64 km2) is land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2), or 3.75%, is water. The city of Lowell is 13 miles (21 km) to the north, Boston is 19 miles (31 km) to the east, and Nashua, New Hampshire, is 23 miles (37 km) to the north.
There were 13,090 households out of which 37.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.5% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.4% were non-families. 22.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the town the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 4.2% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 28.4% from 45 to 64, and 16.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 100.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.8 males.
About 2.1% of families and 3.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.7% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.
The town's name is usually pronounced by its residents as /ˈkɒŋkərd/, in a manner indistinguishable from the American pronunciation of the word "conquered".
Speakers with a Boston accent often pronounce "Concord" with the [ə] in the second syllable replaced by [ʏ] ([ˈkɒŋkʏd]).
^"1950 Census of Population". 1: Number of Inhabitants. Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1920 Census of Population". Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1890 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1870 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1860 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1864. Pages 220 through 226. State of Massachusetts Table No. 3. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1850 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Volume 1 (A-H), Volume 2 (L-W) compiled by Samuel Adams Drake, published 1879-1880. 572 and 505 pages. Concord article by Rev. Grindall Reynolds in volume 1 pages 380-405.