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Manufacturing became an important component of the city's economy, and the city's industrial manufacturing overtook international trade in economic importance by the mid-19th century.Boston remained one of the nation's largest manufacturing centers until the early 20th century, and was known for its garment production and leather-goods industries.During the mid- to-late 19th century, workers filled almost 600 acres (2.4 km) of brackish Charles River marshlands west of Boston Common with gravel brought by rail from the hills of Needham Heights.The city annexed the adjacent towns of South Boston (1804), East Boston (1836), Roxbury (1868), Dorchester (including present day Mattapan and a portion of South Boston) (1870), Brighton (including present day Allston) (1874), West Roxbury (including present day Jamaica Plain and Roslindale) (1874), Charlestown (1874), and Hyde Park (1912).

By the end of the 19th century, Boston's core neighborhoods had become enclaves of ethnically distinct immigrants.

Boston was the largest town in British America until Philadelphia grew larger in the mid-18th century.

occurred in or near Boston, including the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's midnight ride, the battles of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill, the Siege of Boston, and many others.

In 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Colony's first governor John Winthrop led the signing of the Cambridge Agreement, a key founding document of the city.

Puritan ethics and their focus on education influenced its early history; Over the next 130 years, the city participated in four French and Indian Wars, until the British defeated the French and their Indian allies in North America.