Once a rural paradise kwn as Noddle s Island, East Boston is the site of key developments in the nation s history, including the first naval battle of the American Revolution, the creation of the world s fastest sailing ships, the country s first underwater tunnel, and the nation s first public branch library. It has had its share of famous residents, from Colonial goverr John Winthrop and repentant Salem witch trial judge Samuel Sewall, to clipper ship builder Donald McKay and the world s first female clipper ship navigator, Mary Patten. Women s suffrage activist Judith Winsor Smith called East Boston home, as did the first Civil War nurse, Armeda Gibbs; Massachusetts goverr John Bates; and Boston mayor Frederick Mansfield. Pres. John F. Kennedy s paternal grandparents and father were born in East Boston, where they started their first businesses and political ventures, and the neighborhood has produced numerous community activists, musicians, artists, writers, and athletes.