Introduction to Boston, Massachusetts
Boston, also known as "Beantown" or "The Hub", is the 24th largest city in the United States with a population of nearly 600,000 people. The Boston metropolitan area is the eleventh largest in the United States with a population of over 4.4 million people, according to U.S. census estimates. It is the largest city in Massachusetts and New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut), and the capital of the The Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Boston is located on the eastern Massachusetts coast, at the mouth of the Charles River which separates Boston from Cambridge, and is on Boston Harbor. The Boston Metropolitan area is home to many Fortune 500 company headquarters, including well-recognized names such as Raytheon, Staples, TJX, and EMC. The Boston economy is founded on the education, healthcare, finance, and technology (information technology and biotechnology) industries. Some of the nation's most well-regarded teaching hospitals are based in Boston, including Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Boston is also home to mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments.
Boston is one of 11 U.S. global cities (world city or world-class city) and is ranked a "Gamma World City" by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group & Network (cities get ranked as Alpha, Beta, or Gamma World Cities).
Boston is a city of neighborhoods, from Allston to Roxbury, with the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Charlestown, Dorchester, East Boston, the North End, and more in between. Each has its own unique character, history, and charm. Boston is physically a relatively compact city and it is a good walking city. It is relatively easy to walk from one of the neighborhoods all the way to the Boston waterfront on Boston Harbor.
Boston was founded in 1630 by Puritan colonists from England. Most early settlers of Boston were Puritans, who placed their strong "Puritan ethic" stamp on the city. The Puritans who came to Boston were not terribly tolerant of "other" religions. Many of the surrounding colonies were founded by people fleeing the persecution of the Puritans.
Boston, and the surrounding area, is rich in early American colonial history as well as the history of the American Revolution. The Revolutionary War started outside of Boston, in Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts. Some key dates in Boston's history include:
- In 1620, the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, south of Boston, where they founded Plymouth Colony, which would later be incorporated into the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691.
- In 1635, America's first school, Boston Latin School, was founded.
- In 1636, America's first college, Harvard, was founded in nearby Cambridge.
- On March 5, 1770, the Boston Massacre, an early precursor to the American Revolution, happened in downtown Boston.
- On December 16, 1773, another precursor to the American Revolution, the Boston Tea Party, happened in Boston Harbor when colonists dumped tea off of of three ships to protest English taxation.
- On the night of April 18/19, 1775, Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott made the famous "Midnight Ride" to warn the militias at Lexington and Concord of the approach of British army troops from Boston.
- On April 19, 1775, the "shot heard around the world", the first shots of the American Revolutionary War, happened at the Old North Bridge in nearby Concord, and during the Battle of Lexington and Concord.
- April 19, 1775 through March 17, 1776 was the British occupation of Boston - the Siege of Boston.
- On June 17, 1775, was the Battle of Bunker Hill, an early battle of the Revolution War.
- In 1822, Boston was chartered as a city.
- In 1872, The Great Boston Fire started. The fire took twelve hours to contain and destroyed approximately 65 acres of Boston's downtown.
- In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in Boston.
- In 1917, John F. Kennedy was born in the Boston neighborhood of Brookline.
Boston Arts and Culture
Boston is a major center for arts and culture. Boston offers museums, the performing arts, and much more. Some of Boston's more notable museums include:
- The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
- The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
- The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
- The Museum of Fine Arts
- The Museum of Science
- The New England Aquarium
For patrons of the performing arts, Boston has many wonderful attractions. Some of the more notable include:
- The American Repertory Theatre in nearby Cambridge
- The Bank of America Pavilion, home to world-class acts of all musical genres every summer on Boston Harbor
- The Boston Ballet
- The Boston Chamber Music Society
- The Boston Children's Museum
- The Boston Lyric Opera
- The Boston Pops
- The Boston Symphony Orchestra
- The Colonial Theatre
- The Cutler Majestic Theatre at Emerson College
- The Wang Center for the Performing Arts
- The Handel & Haydn Society
- The Huntington Theatre Company
- The Shubert Theatre
- The Wilbur Theatre
The Boston area also plays host to numerous festivals every year, including First Night Boston, the Boston Arts Festival, the Boston Blues Festival, the Boston Wine Festival, Boston Harborfest, the Boston Pops 4th of July Concert and Fireworks, St. Patrick Day Parade, and much more.
Boston Sports and Leisure
No city in the United States is as crazy about their sports as Boston. Boston sports fans are legendary for their devotion to their teams. Boston has plenty to offer to fill every sports fan's appetite. Boston is home to the following major sports teams:
- Baseball - The Major League Baseball (MLB), five-time World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. For individuals who like Minor League Baseball action, the Pawtucket Red Sox play an hour southwest of Boston in Pawtucket, Rhode Island; and the Lowell Spinners play forty minutes northwest of Boston in Lowell, Massachusetts. The Pawtucket Red Sox are a Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and the Lowell Spinners are a Class A Short-Season affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
- Basketball - The National Basketball Association (NBA) and sixteen-time NBA champion (most in NBA History) Boston Celtics.
- Football - The National Football League (NFL), five-time AFC Champion and three-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots play close by in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
- Hockey - The National Hockey League (NHL) and five-time Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins. The American Hockey League (AHL) Providence Bruins play an hour southwest of Boston in Providence, Rhode Island.
- Soccer - The Major League Soccer (MLS) New England Revolution play close by in Foxboro, Massachusetts. In addition, the United Soccer League (USL) USL-W Division Boston Renegades play thirty minutes to the west of Boston in Framingham, Massachusetts.
- Tennis - The World Team Tennis (WTT) Boston Lobsters.
Boston is also home to the world famous Boston Marathon that is run from Hopkinton to Boston in April of every year.
If an individual's interest turns to outdoor activities, Boston has a lot to offer. Boston is only a couple of hour drive from many of the northeast's premier ski areas in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. In addition, wonderful beaches lie a short distance to the north of Boston (north shore) and the south of Boston (south shore). Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, all popular summer destinations, are an hour and a half south of Boston. Boston also offers the highest concentration of National Park sites in the country, with 12 located within 30 miles of downtown.
Boston "Must See" Attractions
Boston has attractions too numerous to do justice in a simple list. Some of Boston's more notable and unique attractions include:
- Boston Duck Tours, a tour of Boston on board an authentic, renovated World War II amphibious landing vehicle
- The Boston Common, the country's oldest public park
- The Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum
- Faneuil Hall Marketplace (also known as Quincy Market)
- Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox
- The Freedom Trail, Boston's 2.5 mile walk through history along the red brick road to 12 historic sites
- The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
- The Old North Bridge in nearby Concord
- The Old North Church, Boston's oldest church building where the signal was given to launch Paul Revere's ride on April 18, 1775
- The Paul Revere House/Hichborn House
- The U.S.S. Constitution and USS Constitution Museum
Boston at Night
If interests turn more to the evening dining and nightclub scene, Boston takes a back seat to no city. The city is full of wonderful eating establishments that span the spectrum of ethnic cuisine. Nearby Cambridge also offers an excellent dining scene. For Boston's night club scene, good places to head include the Faneuil Hall Marketplace area, the Kenmore Square/Fenway Park Area, Allston, and nearby Cambridge. The Boston Globe "Calendar" section is a good source of information on events and happenings, as is the The Boston Phoenix.