On this day in 1630, the Massachusetts Bay Colony proprietors chose a site along the northern bank of the Charles River for their capital. They named it Newtowne, and laid out an orderly grid of streets fortified by a wooden palisade. It was the first planned town in English North America. Six years later, the colony’s first college was established in Newtowne. In honor of the English university town, Newtowne was renamed Cambridge. Contemporary William Wood noted “this is one of the neatest…towns in New England, having many fair structures with many handsome…seats.” Despite its well-ordered appearance, Cambridge did not remain the colony’s capital. In 1638 the General Court settled five miles downstream, in the neighboring town of Boston.