Boston, Massachusetts

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: North American Geography

Boston, Massachusetts
Skyline of Boston, Massachusetts
Official flag of Boston, Massachusetts
Official seal of Boston, Massachusetts
Flag Seal
Nickname: "City on the Hill, Beantown, The Hub (of the Universe)1, Athens of America, The Cradle of Revolution, Puritan City, America's Walking City"
Location in Massachusetts, USA
Location in Massachusetts, USA
Counties Suffolk County
Mayor Thomas M. Menino( D)
 - City 232.1 km²  (89.6  sq mi)
 - Land 125.4 km²  (48.4 sq mi)
 - Water 106.7 km² (41.2 sq mi)
 - Metro 11,684.7 km² (4,511.5 sq mi)
Elevation 43 m  (141 ft)
 - City (2005) 596,638
 - Density 4,457/km² (11,543/sq mi)
 - Urban 4,313,000
 - Metro 5,804,816
Time zone Eastern ( UTC-5)
 - Summer ( DST) Eastern ( UTC-4)
1 The State House, according to Oliver Wendell Holmes, is the hub of the Solar System

Boston is the capital and the most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a state of the United States of America. Founded in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest, wealthiest and most culturally significant cities in the United States. Boston is recognized as a gamma global city. Its economy is based on higher education, research, health care, finance, and technology, principally biotechnology. Citizens of Boston are called Bostonians.

The city lies at the centre of Greater Boston, which also includes the cities of Cambridge, Quincy, and Newton, the town of Brookline, and many suburban communities farther from Boston. The Greater Boston area encompasses parts of the states of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The city also lies at the centre of the Boston-Worcester-Manchester Combined Statistical Area (CSA), the fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States.


The 18th century Old State House in Boston is surrounded by tall buildings of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The 18th century Old State House in Boston is surrounded by tall buildings of the 19th and 20th centuries.

"In the political events which have affected the history of the entire country, and in shaping the thought of a people who have come to be a great nation, Boston has played a leading part." Boston by Henry Cabot Lodge

Boston was founded on November 17, 1630, by Puritan colonists from England, on a peninsula called Shawmut by its original Native American inhabitants. The peninsula was connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus, and surrounded by the waters of Massachusetts Bay and the Back Bay, an estuary of the Charles River. Boston's early European settlers first called the area Trimountaine. They later renamed the town for Boston, England, in Lincolnshire, from which several prominent "pilgrim" colonists emigrated. A majority of Boston's early citizens were Puritans. Massachusetts Bay Colony's original governor, John Winthrop, gave a famous sermon entitled "a City upon a Hill," which captured the idea that Boston had a special covenant with God. (Winthrop also led the signing of the Cambridge Agreement which is regarded as a key founding document of the city.) Puritan ethics molded an extremely stable and well-structured society in Boston. For example, shortly after Boston's settlement, Puritans founded America's first public school, Boston Latin School (1635), and America's first college, Harvard College (1636). Hard work, moral uprightness, and an emphasis on education remain part of Boston's culture. Until the 1760s, Boston was America's largest, wealthiest, and most influential city.

Back Bay.

During the early 1770s, British attempts to exert control on the thirteen colonies, primarily via taxation, prompted Bostonians to initiate the American Revolution. The Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and several early battles occurred in or near the city, including the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston. During this period, Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride. After the Revolution, Boston quickly became one of the world's wealthiest international trading ports because it was the closest major American port to Europe — exports included rum, fish, salt, and tobacco. During this era, descendants of old Boston families became regarded, in the American popular mind, as the nation's social and cultural elites; they were later dubbed the Boston Brahmins. In 1822, Boston was chartered as a city. By the mid-1800s, the city's industrial manufacturing overtook international trade in economic importance. Until the early 1900s, Boston remained one of the nation's largest manufacturing centers, and was notable for its garment production, leather goods, and machinery industries. A network of small rivers bordering the city and connecting it to the surrounding region made for easy shipment of goods and allowed for a proliferation of mills and factories. Later, an even denser network of railroads facilitated the region's industry and commerce. From the mid-to-late-nineteenth century, Boston flourished culturally — it became renowned for its rarefied literary culture and lavish artistic patronage. It also became a centre of the abolitionist movement.

Downtown Boston.
Downtown Boston.

In the 1820s, Boston's ethnic composition began to change dramatically with the first wave of European immigrants. Groups like the Irish and Italians moved into the city and brought with them Roman Catholicism. (This trend of immigration continued throughout the 1800s - most famously when the Potato Famine hit Ireland.) Currently, Catholics make up Boston's largest religious community and since the early 20th century the Irish have played a major role in Boston politics — prominent figures include the Kennedys, Tip O'Neill and John F. Fitzgerald.

Boston in 1772 and 1880. The original area of the Shawmut Peninsula was substantially expanded by landfill.
Boston in 1772 and 1880. The original area of the Shawmut Peninsula was substantially expanded by landfill.

Between 1630 and 1890, the city tripled its physical size by land reclamation, specifically by filling in marshes, mud flats, and gaps between wharves along the waterfront, a process Walter Muir Whitehill called "cutting down the hills to fill the coves." The largest reclamation efforts took place during the 1800s. Beginning in 1807, the crown of Beacon Hill was used to fill in a 50- acre (20  ha) mill pond that later became Haymarket Square (just south of today's North Station area). The present-day State House sits atop this shortened Beacon Hill. Reclamation projects in the middle of the century created significant parts of the South End, West End, Financial District, and Chinatown. After The Great Boston Fire of 1872, workers used building rubble as landfill along the downtown waterfront. Boston's Back Bay land reclamation project proved dramatic. During the mid-to-late 19th century, workers filled almost 600 acres (2.4 km²) of brackish Charles River marshlands west of the Boston Common with soil brought by rail from the hills of Needham Heights. Boston also annexed the adjacent communities of East Boston, Dorchester, South Boston, Brighton, Allston, Hyde Park, Roxbury, West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and Charlestown.

Scollay Square, Boston, Boston, in the 1880s
Scollay Square, Boston, Boston, in the 1880s

By the early and mid-20th century, the city was in decline as factories became old and obsolete, and businesses moved out of the region for cheaper labor elsewhere. Boston responded by initiating various urban renewal projects, including the demolition of the old West End neighbourhood and the construction of Government Centre. In the 1970s, Boston boomed after thirty years of economic downturn, becoming a leader in the mutual fund industry. Boston already had a reputation for excellent healthcare services. Hospitals such as Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, and Brigham and Women's Hospital led the nation in medical innovation and patient care. Universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Boston University attracted many students to the Boston area. Nevertheless, the city experienced conflict starting in 1974 over desegregation busing, which resulted in unrest and violence around public schools throughout the mid-1970s. The unrest served to highlight racial tensions in the city.

Hyatt in Boston downtown
Hyatt in Boston downtown

Housing prices sharply increased in the 1990s. In 2004, the Boston metropolitan area had the highest cost of living of any in the country, and Massachusetts was the only state to lose population.

The City of Boston has a City Archaeologist on staff, and also a City Archaeology Program and an Archaeology Laboratory, Education and Curation Centre which houses over 27 collections owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Part of the job of the City Archaeologist is to oversee any lots of land to be developed for historical artifacts and significance, and to manage the archaeological remains located on public land in Boston.

Geography and climate

A simulated-color satellite image of the Boston area taken on NASA's Landsat 3.
A simulated-colour satellite image of the Boston area taken on NASA's Landsat 3.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 89.6   square miles (232.1  km²)— 48.4 square miles (125.4 km²) of it is land and 41.2 square miles (106.7 km²) of it is water. The total area is 46.0% water. With an elevation of 19  feet (5.8 m) above sea level at Logan International Airport, Boston is bordered by the cities of Winthrop, Revere, Chelsea, Everett, Somerville, Cambridge, Watertown, Newton, Brookline, Needham, Dedham, Canton, Milton, and Quincy—often known as, and considered a part of, Greater Boston.

Much of the Back Bay and South End are built on reclaimed land—two and a half of Boston's three original hills were used as a source of material for landfill. Only Beacon Hill, the smallest of the three original hills, remains partially intact. The downtown area and immediate surroundings consist mostly of low-rise brick or stone buildings, with many older buildings in the Federal style. Several of these buildings mix in with modern high-rises, notably in the Financial District, Government Centre, Back Bay, and the South Boston waterfront. To this day, the South End Historic District remains the nation's largest surviving contiguous Victorian-era neighbourhood. Smaller commercial areas are interspersed amongst single-family homes and wooden/brick multifamily row houses.

The Charles River separates Boston proper from Cambridge, Watertown, and the neighbourhood of Charlestown. To the east lies Boston Harbour and the Boston Harbour Islands National Recreation Area. The Neponset River forms the boundary between Boston's southern neighborhoods and the cities of Quincy and Milton. The Mystic River separates the neighborhoods of East Boston and Charlestown from Chelsea and Everett.


Beacon Hill in the winter.
Beacon Hill in the winter.

Boston experiences a continental climate that is very common in New England. The weather in Boston, like much of New England, changes rapidly. It is not uncommon for the city to experience temperature swings of 54 Fahrenheit degrees (30 Celsius degrees) or more over the course of a couple of days. Summers are typically warm and humid, while winters are cold, windy and snowy. It has been known to snow in October.

The earliest recorded 90 °F temperature in a year was in late March 1998, while February in Boston has seen 70 degrees only once in recorded history, on February 24, 1985. Spring in Boston can be hot, with temperatures in the 90s, though it is just as possible for a day in late May to remain in the 40s. The hottest month is July, with an average high of 81.9 ° F (27.7 ° C) and a low of 65.1 °F (18.4 °C). The coldest month is January, with an average high of 35.8 °F (2.1 °C) and a low of 21.6 °F (-5.6 °C). Periods exceeding 90 °F in summer and below 10 °F in winter are not uncommon, but rarely prolonged. The record high temperature is 104 °F (40 °C), recorded July 4, 1911. The record low temperature is -18 °F (-28 °C), recorded on February 9, 1934.

The city averages 42  in (1,080  mm) of rainfall a year. It also coincidentally averages 42 in (108  cm) of snowfall a year, although this increases dramatically as one goes inland away from the city. Massachusetts' geographic location's jutting out into the North Atlantic also make the city very prone to Nor'easter weather systems that can dump more than 20 in (50 cm) of snow on the region in one storm event.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high °F
Avg low °F
Rainfall in inches


Town (to 1820) and City of Boston
Population by year
Population Rank

1790   18,320   3
1800   24,937   4
1810   33,787   4
1820   43,298   4
1830   61,392   4
1840   93,383   5
1850 136,881   3
1860 177,840   5
1870 250,526   7
1880 362,839   5
1890 448,477   6
1900 560,892   5
1910 670,585   5
1920 748,060   7
1930 781,188   9
1940 770,816   9
1950 801,444 10
1960 697,197 13
1970 641,071 16
1980 562,994 20
1990 574,283 20
2000 589,141 20

As of the census GR2 of 2000, there were 589,141 people, 239,528 households, and 115,212 families residing in the city. The population density was 12,166 people per square mile (4,697/km²). There were 251,935 housing units at an average density of 5,203 per square mile (2,009/km²). According to the census, the racial makeup of the city was 54.47% White, 25.33% Black or African American, 0.40% Native American, 7.52% Asian American, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 7.83% from other races, and 4.39% from two or more races. 14.44% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race. (These figures became less reliable because of the large Brazilian population, estimated by some studies to approach 250,000 in Massachusetts. Census data may not have fully accounted for this significant segment of the community because Brazilians speak Portuguese and often do not consider themselves to belong to one specific racial category, such as white or black, or to the Hispanic/Latino ethnic category.

People of Irish descent form the largest single ethnic group in the city, making up 15.8% of the population. Italians also form a significant segment of the city's population, accounting for 8.3% of the population. People of West Indian ancestry are another sizeable group (6.4%); about half of them are of Haitian ancestry. Some neighborhoods, such as Dorchester, have received an influx of Vietnamese residents in the past few years.

Per capita income in the greater Boston area, by U.S. Census block group
Per capita income in the greater Boston area, by U.S. Census block group

There were 239,528 households out of which 22.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.4% were married couples living together, 16.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.9% were non-families. 37.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 3.17.

In the city the population was spread out with 19.8% under the age of 18, 16.2% from 18 to 24, 35.8% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $39,629, and the median income for a family was $44,151. Males had a median income of $37,435 versus $32,421 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,353. 19.5% of the population and 15.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 25.6% of those under the age of 18 and 18.2% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Law and government

Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts State House

Boston has a strong mayor system in which the mayor is vested with extensive executive powers. The mayor (currently Thomas Menino) is elected to a four-year term by plurality voting. The city council is elected every two years. There are nine district seats, each elected by the residents of that district through plurality voting, and four at-large seats. Each voter casts up to four votes for at-large councilors, no more than one vote per candidate. The candidates with the four highest vote totals are elected. The president of the city council, currently Michael F. Flaherty, is elected by the councilors from within themselves. The school committee is appointed by the mayor, as are city department heads.

In addition to city government, numerous state authorities and commissions play a role in the life of Bostonians, including the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport). As the capital of Massachusetts, Boston plays a major role in state politics. Boston is also the United States federal government centre for New England. Properties include the John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building and the Thomas P. O'Neill Federal Building. The city also serves as the home of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, as well as the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (the First District of the Federal Reserve). The city is in the Eighth and Ninth Congressional districts.

Boston's low crime rate in the last years of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st has been credited to its police department's collaboration with neighbourhood groups and church parishes to prevent youths from joining gangs, as well as involvement from the US Attorney and District Attorney's office. This helped lead in part to what has been touted as the "Boston Miracle." Murders in the city dropped from 152 in 1990 (for a murder rate of 26.5 per 100,000 people) to just 31—not one of them a juvenile—in 1999 (for a murder rate of 5.26 per 100,000). The police department's figures are made available online and can be searched by neighbourhood.

In more recent years, however, the annual murder count has fluctuated by as much as 50% compared to the year before, with 60 murders in 2002, followed by just 39 in 2003, 64 in 2004, and 75 in 2005. Though the figures are nowhere near the high-water mark set in 1990, the aberrations in the murder rate have been unsettling for many Bostonians and have prompted discussion over whether the Boston Police Department should reevaluate its approach to fighting crime.

The city's Election Department has made mistakes for years, and in 2005 agreed to oversight by the federal government after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit alleging coercion and other problems involving services for voters who do not speak English. Following the 2006 election, the Election Department is also under investigation by the Secretary of State's office. It is reported that the department's policy has been to distribute to the polling places only enough ballots for half the registered voters, despite a state law requiring each polling place to have enough ballots for all voters. The Secretary of State has announced an intention to take control of the Elections Department.

County government: Suffolk County
Clerk of Courts: Michael Joseph Donovan
County Treasurer:
District Attorney: Daniel F. Conley
Registrar of Deeds: Francis Roache
Registrar of Probate: Richard Iannella
Sheriff: Andrea J. Cabral
State government
Representative(s) in General Court: Anthony Petruccelli, Salvatore DiMasi, Brian Wallace, Marie St. Fleur, Shirley Owens-Hicks, Gloria Fox, Paul Demakis, Byron Rushing, Michael Rush, Elizabeth Malia, Linda Dorcena-Forry, Martin Walsh, Angelo Scaccia, Jeffrey Sanchez, Kevin Honan, Michael Moran
Senator(s) in General Court: Jarrett Barrios, Eugene L. O'Flaherty, Marian Walsh, Steven A. Tolman, John Hart, Jr., Dianne Wilkerson, Robert Travaglini
Governor's Councilor(s): Michael J. Callahan, Kelly A. Timilty, Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney
Federal government
Member(s) of the U.S. House of Representatives: Michael Capuano (D- 8th District),
Stephen Lynch (D- 9th District)
U.S. Senators: Edward Kennedy (D)
John Kerry (D)


Newbury Street is one of the busiest shopping streets in Boston.
Newbury Street is one of the busiest shopping streets in Boston.

Boston's colleges and universities have a major impact on the city and region's economy. Not only are they major employers, but they also attract high-tech industries to the city and surrounding region, including computer hardware and software companies as well as biotechnology companies like Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Millipore, and Biogen Idec. Boston receives the highest amount of annual funding from the National Institutes of Health of all cities in the United States.

Other important industries include financial services, especially mutual funds and insurance. Boston-based Fidelity Investments helped popularize the mutual fund in the 1980s, and has made Boston one of the top financial cities in the United States. The city is also the regional headquarters of major banks such as Bank of America and Sovereign Bank, and a centre for venture capital. Boston is also a printing and publishing centre. Textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin is headquartered within the city. The city is home to four major convention centers: the Hynes Convention Centre in the Back Bay, the Bayside Expo Center in Dorchester, and the World Trade Centre Boston and Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre on the South Boston waterfront. Because of its status as a state capital and the regional home of federal agencies, law and government is another major component of the city's economy.

Major companies headquartered within the city include Gillette, owned by Procter & Gamble, and Teradyne, one of the world's leading manufacturers of semiconductor and other electronic test equipment. New Balance has its headquarters in the city. Other major companies are located outside the city, especially along Route 128. The Port of Boston is a major seaport along the United States' east coast, and is also one of the oldest continuously-operated industrial and fishing ports in the Western Hemisphere.


Colleges and universities

Boston's reputation as the Athens of America derives in large part from the teaching and research activities of more than 100 colleges and universities located in its metropolitan area. These include some of the most famous universities in the world.

Boston University, located along the Charles River on Commonwealth Avenue, is the largest university in the city. Northeastern University, a large private university, maintains a campus in the Fenway district. Boston College, one of the oldest and largest Jesuit institutions in the country, is in Chestnut Hill.

Harvard University, the nation's oldest institution of higher learning, is located across the Charles River in Cambridge. The business and medical schools are in Boston, and there are plans for major expansion into Boston's Allston neighbourhood. This will put a majority of the students, faculty and physical plant in Boston. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which originated in Boston and was long known as Boston Tech, moved across the river to Cambridge in 1917.

Tufts University administers its medical and dental school adjacent to the Tufts- New England Medical Centre (Tufts-NEMC), a 451-bed academic medical institution that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and the Floating Hospital for Children. Its undergraduate campus is in Medford, adjacent to Cambridge. Additionally, Wentworth Institute of Technology, a founding member of the Colleges of the Fenway, is located in the Fenway area. Suffolk University, a small private university known for its law school, maintains a campus on Beacon Hill. Emerson College located by Boston Common is a small private college with a strong reputation in the fields of performing arts, journalism, writing, and film. Babson College in the suburb of Wellesley is a private college with a strong focus on entrepreneurship. The city is also home to a number of conservatories and art schools, including the Massachusetts College of Art, New England Conservatory of Music (the oldest independent conservatory in the United States), Boston Conservatory, The School at the Museum of Fine Art and Berklee College of Music. Roxbury Community College and Bunker Hill Community College are the city's two community colleges. Boston has one major public university, the University of Massachusetts Boston, located on Columbia Point in Dorchester.

Primary and secondary schools

Boston Public Schools, the oldest public school system in the U.S., enrolls 58,600 students from kindergarten to grade 12. The system operates 145 schools, which includes Boston Latin School (the oldest public school, established in 1635), English High (the oldest public high school, established 1821), and Mather (the oldest public elementary school, established in 1639). The city also has private, parochial, and charter schools. 3000 students of racial minorities attend participating suburban schools through the Metropolitan Educational Opportunity Council, or METCO. In 2002, Forbes Magazine ranked the Boston Public Schools as the best large city school system in the country, with a graduation rate of 82%.


Equestrian statue of George Washington in Boston Public Garden.
Equestrian statue of George Washington in Boston Public Garden.

Boston shares many cultural roots with greater New England, including a dialect of the Eastern New England accent known as Boston English, and a regional cuisine with a large emphasis on seafood and dairy products. Irish Americans are a major influence on Boston's politics and religious institutions. Boston has its own collection of neologisms known as Boston slang.

Many consider Boston a highly cultured city, perhaps as a result of its intellectual reputation; much of Boston's culture originates at its universities. The city also has a number of ornate theatres, including the Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston Opera House, The Wang Centre for the Performing Arts, Schubert Theatre, and the Orpheum Theatre. Renowned performing arts groups include the Boston Ballet, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Boston Lyric Opera Company, and the Handel and Haydn Society (the oldest choral company in the United States). There are a number of major annual events such as First Night, which occurs during New Year's Eve, and several events during the Fourth of July. These events include the weeklong Harborfest festivities and a Boston Pops concert accompanied by fireworks on the banks of the Charles River.

In contrast to what might be considered the more "refined" aspects of Boston's culture, the city is also one of the birthplaces of the hardcore punk genre of music. Boston musicians have contributed greatly to the hardcore scene over the years (see also Boston hardcore). Boston also had one of the leading local ska scenes in the ska revival of the mid-1990s with bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Allstonians, and Skavoovie and the Epitones. The 80s hardcore record This Is Boston, Not L.A. highlights some of the bands that built the 'scene'. A few clubs in the city The Channel, Bunnrattys in Allston and The Rat were well renowned for showcasing local and out of city punk bands. As a result of the Rat, a cheap pizza place and a few used record stores in Kenmore square, Kenmore became a hangout for skate punks. During the summer after Red Sox games it was not uncommon to see fights break out amongst the punks and the more conservative suburban Red Sox fans.


Boston has many nicknames owing to historical context.

  • The City on a Hill came from original Massachusetts Bay Colony's governor John Winthrop's goal to create the biblical "City on a Hill." It also refers to the original three hills of Boston.
  • Beantown refers to early Bostonian tradition of making baked beans with imported molasses.
  • The Hub is a shortened form of a phrase recorded by writer Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Hub of the Solar System.
  • The Athens of America is a title given by William Tudor, co-founder of the North American Review for Boston's great cultural and intellectual influence.
  • The Puritan City nickname references the religion of the city's founders.
  • The Cradle of Liberty derives from Boston's role in instigating the American Revolution.
  • City of Notions in the nineteenth century.
  • America's Walking City, because Boston's compact and high density nature has made walking an effective and popular mode of transit in the city.

Sites of interest

Boston Common.
Boston Common.

Because of the city's prominent role in the American Revolution, several historic sites relating to that period are preserved as part of the Boston National Historical Park. Many are found along the Freedom Trail, which is marked by a red line or bricks embedded in the ground. Along the Freedom Trail is Boston Common, or "The Common" as it is locally referred to, is the oldest public park in the United States . Along with the adjacent Boston Public Garden, it is part of the Emerald Necklace, a string of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted to encircle the city. In the winter, the Frog Pond at Boston Common doubles as an ice-skating rink. Another major park is the Esplanade located along the banks of the Charles River. A major recreation site for many Bostonians, it is also the site of the Hatch Shell. Other parks are scattered throughout the city, with the major parks and beaches located near Castle Island, in Charlestown and along the Dorchester, South Boston, and East Boston shorelines. The largest parks in the city are Franklin Park and the adjacent Arnold Arboretum (both part of the Emerald Necklace), and Stony Brook State Reservation.

The John Hancock Tower.
The John Hancock Tower.

The Back Bay district includes many prominent landmarks such as the Christian Science Centre, Boston Public Library, Copley Square, and Newbury Street. Back Bay is also the home of New England's tallest two buildings: the John Hancock Tower and the Prudential Centre. Near the John Hancock Tower is the old John Hancock Building with its prominent weather forecast beacon. Other notable districts/neighborhoods include Beacon Hill, Charlestown, Chinatown, Downtown Crossing, North End, and South Boston.

Cheers on Beacon Hill
Cheers on Beacon Hill

Boston is home to several museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Museum of Science. The University of Massachusetts campus at Columbia Point houses the John F. Kennedy Library. The New England Aquarium, Franklin Park Zoo, Boston Athenaeum (one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States), and the Boston Children's Museum are located within the city.

Along with the Freedom Trail, there are two other self-guided walking tours: Harbour Walk, which is designed to follow the entire shore of Boston Harbour, and the Black Heritage Trail. A popular guided tour is the Boston Duck Tour, which uses World War II-era duck boats. The outer suburbs of Boston, which tend to be forested, have vibrantly colored foliage every autumn that attracts many tourists.

Boston is home to the Bull & Finch Pub, whose building is known from the television show Cheers. Exterior shots of the building were used in the show.


A Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park
A Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park
Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Boston Red Sox MLB Baseball Fenway Park 1901 6 World Series
New England Patriots NFL Football Gillette Stadium 1960 3 Super Bowls
Boston Celtics NBA Basketball TD Banknorth Garden 1946 16 NBA Titles
Boston Bruins NHL Hockey TD Banknorth Garden 1924 5 Stanley Cups
New England Revolution MLS Soccer Gillette Stadium 1995 0
Boston Cannons MLL Lacrosse Nickerson Field 2001 0

Boston can lay claim to being the city to have sponsored a professional sports league franchise the longest. In 1871, the Boston Red Stockings, formed out of the nucleus of the former Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first openly professional baseball team, began play in the National Association. Since then, there has never been a year without a professional franchise playing in the city. The Red Stockings joined the National League upon its founding in 1876, and would eventually become the Boston Braves. The Braves played in Boston until 1952, when they moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to become the Milwaukee Braves, which, in turn, moved to their current home in Atlanta, Georgia in 1966. Despite four National Association championships, ten National League Pennants, and a World Series title (1915), the team was considered the "second" Boston team for most of its last five decades in the city, due to a team from an upstart league that began play in 1901.

The Boston Red Sox are a founding member of the American League of Major League Baseball, and one of the four American League teams (the White Sox, Indians, and Tigers are the others) to still play in their original city. The "Sox," as they are colloquially called, play their home games at Fenway Park, located near Kenmore Square, in the Fenway section of Boston. Built in 1912, it is the oldest sports arena or stadium in active use in the United States among the four major professional sports. Boston was also the site of the first game of the first baseball World Series, in 1903. The series was played between the Red Sox (then known as the "Pilgrims") and the Pittsburgh Pirates, while the team still played at the Huntington Avenue Grounds (the site is now a part of Northeastern University). The Red Sox won that series and five more since then (1912, 1915, 1916, 1918 and 2004). Recently the 2004 team is said to have broken the 86-year long " Curse of the Bambino." There have been many legendary players on the team; members of the Baseball Hall of Fame include Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Wade Boggs, manager Joe Cronin and owner Tom Yawkey.

The TD Banknorth Garden (formerly called the Fleet Centre) is above North Station and is the home of two major league teams: the Boston Bruins ice hockey team of the National Hockey League and the Boston Celtics basketball team of the National Basketball Association. The Bruins, founded in 1924, were the first American member of the National Hockey League and a Original Six franchise, and have won five Stanley Cups, the last being in 1972. Such hall of fame players as Milt Schmidt, Eddie Shore, Raymond Bourque and the legendary Bobby Orr have played for the Bruins, and the team has been led by hall of famers such as team founder Charles Adams (namesake of hockey's old Adams Division), Art Ross (donor and namesake of the NHL's trophy for annual scoring champion), Walter A. Brown and Harry Sinden. The Boston Celtics were a founding member of the Basketball Association of America, one of the two leagues that merged to form the NBA. The Celtics have the distinction of having more World Championships than any other NBA team with 16 championships from 1957 to 1986. The list of Celtics who are members of the Basketball Hall of Fame include Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Larry Bird, original owner Walter Brown (also president of the Bruins and owner of the Boston Garden), and longtime coach and team president Red Auerbach who worked for the team until his death in 2006 at age 89. Longtime announcer Johnny Most was also honored by the BHOF as a recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Award.

Although the team has played twenty-five miles south in Foxboro since 1971, the New England Patriots are still generally considered to be Boston's football team. The team was founded in 1960 as the Boston Patriots, charter members of the American Football League. In 1970, the team joined the National Football League and moved to Foxboro Stadium one year later. While in Boston, the team played at Nickerson Field (at the time still known and configured as Braves Field), Fenway Park, Harvard Stadium, and BC's Alumni Stadium (technically, just outside of the city limits). The team has won three Super Bowl titles (2001, 2003, 2004) since the 2001 season, and currently is second in popularity only to the Red Sox. They share Gillette Stadium with the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer.

Another major league team is the Boston Cannons lacrosse team of Major League Lacrosse. The team plays at Boston University's Nickerson Field (the former Braves Field) There have been other professional sports teams to play in the city, such as the Boston Breakers indoor lacrosse team, the Boston Beacons and Boston Minutemen of the NASL, and the Boston Breakers WUSA franchise.

Rugby in Boston has a strong following; the city is home to numerous amateur, college and semi-professional sides. The city has two teams in the premier division of USA rugby union, the Rugby Super League - the Boston Irish Wolfhounds and Boston RFC. The city features one rugby league team in the American National Rugby League, the Boston Braves.

Boston's many colleges and universities are active in college athletics. Hockey is very popular in Massachusetts. There are four NCAA Division I members in the city: Boston College (member of the Atlantic Coast Conference), Boston University ( America East Conference), Northeastern University ( Colonial Athletic Association), and Harvard University ( Ivy League). All except Harvard, which belongs to the ECAC Hockey League, belong to the Hockey East conference in hockey. The hockey teams of these four universities meet every year in an immensely popular four-team tournament known as the " Beanpot Tournament," played at the TDBanknorth Garden (and the Boston Garden before that) over two Monday nights in February. Interestingly, the oldest continuously used indoor and outdoor sports stadiums in the world are used by Boston schools: Harvard Stadium (built in 1903) and Boston Arena (now known as Matthews Arena, built in 1910), which is used by Northeastern University.

One of the most famous sporting events in the city is the Boston Marathon, the 26 mile (42 km) run from Hopkinton to Copley Square in the Back Bay. The Marathon, the world's oldest, is popular and heavily attended. It is run on Patriot's Day in April and always coincides with a Red Sox home baseball game that starts at 11:00 AM (the only MLB game to start before noon local time all year). Another major event held in the city is the Head of the Charles Regatta rowing competition on the Charles River.

Boston's first all-female flat-track roller derby league, Boston Derby Dames, formed in May 2005. The league is among the original members of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association.

NOTE: The first five Boston natives to play Major League Baseball were John Morrill (1876), George Fair (1876), Jim Ward (1876), John Bergh (1876), and Chub Sullivan (1877).


Health and medicine

The Longwood Medical Area is a region of Boston with a concentration of medical and research facilities, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Harvard Medical School. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre and Brigham and Women's Hospital were both formed by mergers: the former between Beth Israel Hospital and New England Deaconess Hospital, and the latter by Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and the Boston Hospital for Women. Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is located near the Beacon Hill neighbourhood, with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital nearby. Boston also has VA medical centers in the Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury neighborhoods.

Many of Boston's major medical facilities are associated with universities. The facilities in the Longwood Medical Area and MGH are world-renowned research medical centers affiliated with Harvard Medical School. New England Medical Center, located in the southern portions of the Chinatown neighbourhood, is affiliated with Tufts University. Boston Medical Center, located in the South End neighbourhood, is the primary teaching facility for the Boston University School of Medicine as well as the largest trauma centre in the Boston area; it was formed by the merger of Boston University Hospital and Boston City Hospital.


Longfellow Bridge across the Charles River, with two MBTA Red Line trains. The Beacon Hill neighborhood is in the background.
Longfellow Bridge across the Charles River, with two MBTA Red Line trains. The Beacon Hill neighbourhood is in the background.


Logan International Airport, located in the East Boston neighbourhood, handles most of the scheduled passenger service for Boston. Surrounding the city are three major general aviation relievers: Beverly Municipal Airport to the north, Bedford/ Hanscom Field to the west, and Norwood Memorial Airport to the south. Further from the city, T. F. Green Airport serving Providence, Rhode Island, and Manchester-Boston Airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, also provide scheduled passenger service. There are also many smaller airports within a 30-mile radius of the city.

Since September 11, 2001, Boston has implemented exceptionally strict security at some of its airports, especially Logan and Hanscom field. Because of this and Boston's location as the closest U.S. port to Europe, it is one of the main destinations for airliners that experience security breaches or disturbances while enroute to the U.S., though in many cases, planes are diverted to Halifax or other Canadian airports instead.


Downtown Boston's streets do not seem to follow a logical pattern, as they were not planned when built centuries ago; they were created as needed, and as wharves and landfill expanded the area of the small Boston peninsula. Except for the reclaimed Back Bay, East Boston and part of South Boston, the city has no street grid. Along with several rotaries, roads change names and lose and add lanes seemingly at random. In its March 2006 issue, Bicycling magazine named Boston as one of the worst cities in the U.S. for cycling. Boston has been described as a "City of Squares", referring to the tradition of naming the intersections of major thoroughfares after prominent city residents.


Boston is the eastern terminus of I-90, also known as the Mass Pike. I-95, which surrounds the city, is locally referred to as Route 128, its historical state route numbering. U.S. Route 1 (also known locally as 'Route 1') and I-93 runs north to south through the city. The elevated Central Artery, which ran through downtown Boston and was constantly prone to heavy traffic, was replaced with an underground tunnel through the Big Dig.

Public transit

An MBTA sign at the Chinatown stop on the Orange Line. The MBTA rapid transit system serves urban Boston and surrounding suburban areas.
An MBTA sign at the Chinatown stop on the Orange Line. The MBTA rapid transit system serves urban Boston and surrounding suburban areas.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) operated the nation's first underground rapid transit system, which has since been expanded, reaching as far north as Malden, as far south as Braintree, and as far west as Newton. Collectively known as the "T", the MBTA also operates a network of bus lines and water shuttles, and a commuter rail network extending north to the Merrimack River valley, west to Worcester, and south to Providence, Rhode Island.


Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and Chicago lines originate at South Station and stop at Back Bay. Fast Northeast Corridor trains, which service New York City, Washington, D.C., and points in between, also stop at Route 128 Station in the southwestern suburbs of Boston. Meanwhile, Amtrak's Downeaster service to Maine originates at North Station.


Water supply and sewage-disposal services are provided by the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. The Commission in turn purchases wholesale water and sewage disposal from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). Established as a public authority in 1984, the MWRA pipes water from reservoirs in Western and Central Massachusetts, notably the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs, for several communities within Greater Boston. The agency operates several facilities for sewage treatment, notably an effluent tunnel in Boston Harbour and the Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant near the mouth of Boston Harbour.

NSTAR is the exclusive distributor of electric power to the city, though due to deregulation, customers now have a choice of electric generation companies. Natural gas is distributed by KeySpan Corporation (the successor company to Boston Gas); only commercial and industrial customers may choose an alternate natural gas supplier. Verizon, successor to New England Telephone, NYNEX, and Bell Atlantic, is the primary wired telephone service provider for the area. Phone service is also available from various national wireless companies. Cable television is available from Comcast and RCN, with Broadband Internet access provided by the same companies in certain areas. A variety of DSL providers and resellers are able to provide broadband Internet over Verizon-owned phone lines.

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