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Fortifications were built across the neck to protect the city from a land attack, I suppose a bit like a heavy necklace, or a handsome neck brace.
When the Siege of Boston began in 1775, Governor Gage ordered that the fortifications be expanded and strengthened - they became known as "Gage's Lines".
Starting in the 19th century, land was added to Boston Neck, widening it to make room for the city to grow - and, presumably, to ease traffic on and off the island, since Boston's no longer in danger of attack from the countryside.