Brighton is a dissolved municipality and current neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, United States, and is located in the northwest corner of the city. It is named after the town of Brighton in the English city of Brighton and Hove. For its first 160 years Brighton was part of Cambridge and was known as “Little Cambridge." Throughout much of its early history it was a rural town with a significant commercial center at its eastern end. Brighton separated from Cambridge in 1807 after a bridge dispute and was later annexed to Boston, in 1874. The neighborhood of Allston was also formerly part of the City of Brighton, but is now often considered separately, leading to the moniker Allston-Brighton for the combined area.
In 1630, land comprising present-day Allston-Brighton and Newton was assigned to Watertown. In 1634, the Massachusetts Bay Colony transferred ownership of the south side of the Charles River, including present-day Allston-Brighton and Newton, from Watertown to Newetowne, later renamed Cambridge.
In 1646, Reverend John Eliot established a “Praying Indian” village on the present Newton-Brighton boundary, where resided local natives converted to Christianity. The first permanent English settlement came as settlers crossed the Charles River from Cambridge, establishing Little Cambridge, the area's name before 1807.
Before the American Revolutionary War, Little Cambridge became a small, prosperous farming community with fewer than 300 residents. Its inhabitants included wealthy Boston merchants such as Benjamin Faneuil (after whom a street in Brighton is named).
A key event in the history of Allston-Brighton was the establishment in 1775 of a cattle market to supply the Continental Army. Jonathan Winship I and Jonathan Winship II established the market, and in the post-war period that followed, the Winships became the largest meat packers in Massachusetts.
The residents of Little Cambridge resolved to secede from Cambridge when the latter's government made decisions detrimental to the cattle industry and also failed to repair the Great Bridge linking Little Cambridge with Cambridge proper. Legislative approval for separation was obtained in 1807, and Little Cambridge renamed itself Brighton.
In 1820, the horticulture industry was introduced to the town. Over the next 20 years, Brighton blossomed as one of the most important gardening neighborhoods in the Boston area. The businessmen, however, did not neglect the cattle industry. In 1834, the Boston & Worcester Railroad was built, solidifying the community's hold on the cattle trade. By 1866, the town contained 41 slaughterhouses, which later were consolidated into the Brighton Stock Yards and Brighton Abattoir.
In October 1873, the Town of Brighton, in Middlesex County, voted to annex itself to the City of Boston in Suffolk County, and in January 1874 Brighton officially became a neighborhood of the City of Boston. Allston-Brighton’s population grew tremendously in the next half century, rising from 6,000 in 1875 to 47,000 by 1925.