For personal reasons, I have had occasion in recent weeks to make use of Google's eye in the sky over East Boston. Those of you who are really up on your esoteric knowledge of the siege of Boston at the outset of the Revolution may recall that there was a cattle raid turned salt marsh assault in the vicinity of what were then Noddle's and Hog Islands and the Winimisset ferry landing, ultimately leaving a British sloop ablaze in Chelsea Creek.
There is another very clear connection to the American Revolution in the naming conventions of the streets that were subsequently laid out across much of Noddles Island during its rapid development in the first half of the 19th century.
Like modern planned subdivisions, the streets running east to west across the river from Chelsea are named for related things, in this case various raptors (e.g. Condor, Falcon).
Those running diagonally just to the south of these, however, are named almost entirely relating to the Revolution.
Bennington, Saratoga, Princeton, Lexington, Trenton, Eutaw and Monmouth Streets all refer to battles which, if not all tactical patriot victories, still provided a strategic advantage. Eutaw is a curious outlier, as it alone took place in the Southern theatre of operations and the only notable New Englander involved was Rhode Island's General Nathaniel Greene. The clear win at Cowpens did not attract the attention of the developers. I have a theory about this which I'll share momentarily.
The cross streets include the names of prominent patriots - New England's local heroes Prescott and Putnam, and Marion, which could refer to"The Swamp Fox" Francis Marion, a South Carolina partisan leader.
It was not clear to me at first what the names of the other cross streets in this section of East Boston - Brooks and Shelby - had to do with the rest, until I looked at this 1838 map which made it clear that they were not part of the original layout. Brooks cuts through what was then a Public Garden, and Shelby was undeveloped land.
William Hyslop Sumner's East Boston Company laid out the development of the city's first planned neighborhood here in the 1830s. A militia officer and veteran of the War of 1812 whose father Increase Sumner was governor of the Commonwealth in the early Federal period, the choice of street names may well have reflected his patriotic interests. Perhaps he even had an ancestral connection to the Battle of Eutaw, for there was a Virginian General named Jethro Sumner who commanded North Carolina troops in that fight.
As for the streets named for raptors, one may assume their martial qualities only enhanced their primary association with flight in the mind of the East Boston Company. The isolation of Noddle's Island from the rest of Boston was a vexing challenge, and everything from ferries to railroad connections were envisioned to make the asset more valuable. The Sumner tunnel under Boston Harbor helps accomplish this connection today, though Eastie remains geographically isolated from mainland Boston even as planes from Logan Airport and waves of new immigrants link it to the rest of the world.