According to the 2000 demographic census, Somerville is New England’s densest city, housing 76,000 residents in only 4.1 square miles. This equates to more than 18,000 people living in every square mile of space! Its landscape is dotted with mostly triple-decker homes barely an arms’ length apart in some spots.
This makes it all the more impressive how many accolades the city has received for its well-organized government. In 2006. Somerville was recognized for being the best run city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Mayor Joe Curtatone deserves much praise for implementing SomerStat, a data-driven style of government that he modeled after New York City’s CompStat and Baltimore’s CitiStat programs. With it came the creation of the 311 Somerville helpline. Accessible from any phone in the city by dialing 311, residents can call the line anytime with a myriad of questions, which will either be answered immediately or assigned a case number and followed up on accordingly. I once called to report a stretch of my road with several broken street lights. I received a call back the following day thanking me for my report, and the lights were fixed within the next couple of weeks. For such a large community, the communication between city government and residents is worth calling out as exceptional.
DAILY TRIVIA: The 1842 census lists the population of Somerville as 1,013.