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Lynn is the 9th largest municipality in Massachusetts and the largest city in Essex County. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean, 3.7 miles (6.0 km) north of the Boston city line at Suffolk Downs, Lynn is part of Greater Boston's urban inner core. Settled by Europeans in 1629, Lynn is the 5th oldest colonial settlement in the Commonwealth. An early industrial center, Lynn was long colloquially referred to as the "City of Sin", owing to its historical reputation for crime and vice. Today, however, the city is known for its contemporary public art, international population, historic architecture, downtown cultural district, loft-style apartments, and public parks and open spaces, which include the oceanfront Lynn Shore Reservation; the 2,200-acre, Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Lynn Woods Reservation; and the High Rock Tower Reservation. Lynn also is home to Lynn Heritage State Park, the southernmost portion of the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, and the seaside, National Register-listed Diamond Historic District.
Prior to European colonization, the area today known as Lynn was inhabited by the Naumkeag people. The English settled Lynn not long after the 1607 establishment of Jamestown, Virginia—the first successful English colony in North America—and the 1620 arrival of the Mayflower at Plymouth. European settlement of the area was begun in 1629 by Edmund Ingalls, followed by John Tarbox of Lancashire in 1631. The area today encompassing Lynn was originally incorporated in 1629 as Saugus, the Nipmuck name for the area.
A noteworthy early Lynn colonist, Thomas Halsey, left Lynn to settle the East End of Long Island, where he and several others founded the Town of Southampton, New York. The resulting Halsey House—the oldest extant frame house in New York State (1648)—is now open to the public, under the aegis of the Southampton Colonial Society.
Further European settlement of Lynn led to several independent towns being formed, with Reading created in 1644; Lynnfield in 1782; Saugus in 1815; Swampscott in 1852; and Nahant in 1853.