Watertown Man Tells the History of His Hometown in His New Book

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Watertown resident Greg Beach tells the history of his hometown in his new book "The World and Watertown."

Watertown resident Greg Beach tells the history of his hometown in his new book “The World and Watertown.”

A town resident has tried to capture Watertown’s place in the history of the nation and the world in his new book, The World and Watertown.

Greg Beach, 28, has worked in education, but also enjoys writing. He wanted to write a book about Watertown history for a number of years, but it was when the Boston Marathon Bombers came to Watertown in 2013, and the following year’s Marathon that really pushed him to make the book a reality.

It also spurred in his mind the links Watertown has to history that has touched the nation.

“I talk about the (the Watertown Shootout and Manhunt), and also that my experience as a Watertown Middle School student,” Beach said, noting that he went to the school during some major events in American history: the 2000 Presidential Election when he was in sixth grade, the Sept. 11 Attacks occurred during his seventh grade year and the Iraq War started when he was an eighth-grader.

“Also, after the (2010) Times Square Bombing attempt, two men who were linked to the bomber were arrested in a home near the Middle School,” Beach said.

Beach, who grew up in Brighton until moving to Watertown, his father Chris’ hometown. He said he wanted to capture much more than just the Marathon Bombing in The World and Watertown. He also tries to weave threads from the earliest times to modern day.

“I wanted to take big topics and tell the story with interesting little vignettes,” Beach said. “It sounds long and daunting, but I think as long as you keep it moving and interesting people will be receptive.”

One of the topics is ecology and land use. In that chapter Beach looks at the Mt. Auburn Cemetery and improvements to area parks, and even gardens at Watertown’s elementary schools. But the environment is also changing for residents.

“Even as Watertown and surrounding areas are becoming more hospitable to wildlife, it is harder for people to find a place to live because of the housing crisis,” Beach said.

The book explores the people who have lived in Watertown, from the Wamponoag to the Irish and Armenian immigrants who populated the town.

In his chapter about the economy of Watertown he focused on the Watertown Arsenal, and how it changed, all the way up to the Arsenal Mall. The chapter includes the fact that the Watertown Arsenal was the scene of a strike in 1912 by workers protesting the methods of Frederick Winslow Taylor who sought to implement “scientific management” at the Arsenal to improve efficiency. As a result of the strike Congress investigated Taylor’s controversial system.

These days, the former U.S. Army Arsenal is home to companies in the modern, high tech economy, including Athenahealth, which owns the Arsenal on the Charles.

While Beach’s book focuses on the town where he grew up and loves, it will be a swan song, of sorts, because he and his girlfriend are moving to the Atlanta area this summer.

“We love this area, but at this point we have got as much as we could out of it,” Beach said. “There is a lot of opportunity in Atlanta.”

The World and Watertown is self-published, but people can buy it from Create Space (click here) or it is available on Amazon.com. Beach said he will donate some copies to the Watertown Free Public Library so people can find it there, too.

He notes that the cover image, made by one of his friends, shows the missing A Line of the MBTA’s Green Line, which used to run into Watertown.

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