Place

Noddle's Island

Aerial view of coastal land with houses with two bridges leading to another island with houses.
Historical island Noddle's Island sits in the foreground of this photograph of East Boston.

Boston Public Library

Quick Facts

One of the former Boston Harbor Islands that has disappeared into today’s East Boston, Noddle’s Island echoes Boston’s military and shipbuilding history.

Noddle’s Island gained its name from William Noddle, one of the first European occupants of the island. William Noddle lived at Noddle’s Island sometime around 1630. Not much else is known of Noddle as he drowned in 1632.1

The Island had an active presence during the Siege of Boston in the Revolutionary War. In May 1775, colonial forces of 300, led by General Stark, raided farms on Noddle’s Island and other surrounding islands. A conflict occurred with some British Marines, who drove colonists back to nearby Chelsea Creek. More skirmishes occurred over the next day before British forces retreated to their post in the harbor. Colonial troops returned to several islands a few days later to finish dispersing livestock and destroying supplies.2

After the British evacuated in 1776, Noddle’s Island became heavily fortified with a fort that became known as Fort Strong. Noddle’s Island later became outfitted with barracks to serve as a hospital for the French in 1780. These barracks remained in place until 1833.3

In the mid to late 1800s, Noddle’s Island became one of several islands that served as one of the locations of Boston’s growing shipbuilding industry in East Boston. As King’s Handbook of Boston Harbor noted:

Some of the finest ships that ever sailed were constructed here…between 1848 and 1858 more than 170 vessels were built at East Boston; of which 99 exceeded 1,000 tons each, and 9 were above 2,000 tons.4

Sometime in the 1900s (likely mid-century), Noddle’s Island became absorbed into East Boston.


Footnotes

  1. Edward Snow, The Islands of Boston Harbor (Carlisle, MA: Commonwealth Editions, 2002), 146-147.
  2. Olmstead Center for Landscape Preservation, Cultural Landscape Report: Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park, Volume 1: Historical Overview (Boston: National Park Service, 2017), 76; Moses Foster Sweetser, King’s Handbook of Boston Harbor (Cambridge, MA: Moses King, 1883), 112; Richard Frothingham,  History of the Siege of Boston (Boston: C. C. Little and J. Borwn, 1851), 109-110.
  3. Cultural Landscape Report: Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park, Volume 1: Historical Overview, 76, 101, 106 ftnt. 34; Sweetser, King’s Handbook of Boston Harbor, 113; Frothingham, History of the Siege of Boston, 313.
  4. Edward Snow, The Islands of Boston Harbor (Carlisle, MA: Commonwealth Editions, 2002), 149; Sweetser, King’s Handbook of Boston Harbor, 113.

Boston National Historical Park, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

Last updated: February 14, 2022