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—  City  —
Clockwise: Skyline of Back Bay seen from the Charles River, Fenway Park, Christian Science Church, Boston Common, Prudential Tower, and Massachusetts State House


Nickname(s): Beantown, The Hub (of the Universe), The Cradle of Liberty, The Cradle of Modern America, The Athens of America, The Walking City
Motto: Sicut patribus sit Deus nobis (Latin = As with our fathers may God be to us)
Location in Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Boston is located in United States
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 42°21′28″N 71°03′42″W Coordinates: 42°21′28″N 71°03′42″W
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Suffolk
Settled September 17, 1630
Incorporated (city) March 4, 1822
 • Type Strong mayor – council
 •  Mayor Thomas M. Menino ( D)
 • City 89.63 sq mi (232.14 km2)
 • Land 48.43 sq mi (125.43 km2)
 • Water 41.21 sq mi (106.73 km2)
 • Urban 1,774 sq mi (4,595 km2)
 • Metro 4,511 sq mi (11,683 km2)
 •  CSA 10,644 sq mi (27,568 km2)
Elevation 141 ft (43 m)
 • City 645,169 ('09 estimate)
 • Density 13,321/sq mi (5,144/km2)
 •  Urban 4,032,484 ('00 census)
 •  Metro 4,522,858 ('08 est.)
 •  CSA 7,609,358 ('09 est.)
 •  Demonym Bostonian
Time zone EST ( UTC-5)
 • Summer ( DST) EDT ( UTC-4)
ZIP code(s)
Area code(s) 617 and 857
FIPS code 25-07000
GNIS feature ID 0617565

Boston (pronounced /ˈbɒstən/) is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had a 2009 estimated population of 645,169, making it the twentieth largest in the country. Boston is also the anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area called Greater Boston, home to 4.5 million people and the tenth-largest metropolitan area in the country. Greater Boston as a commuting region includes six Massachusetts counties: Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, Worcester, northern Bristol County, all of Rhode Island and parts of New Hampshire; it is home to 7.6 million people, making it the fifth-largest Combined Statistical Area in the United States.

In 1630, Puritan colonists from England founded the city on the Shawmut Peninsula. During the late 18th century, Boston was the location of several major events during the American Revolution, including the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. Several early battles of the American Revolution, such as the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Siege of Boston, occurred within the city and surrounding areas. Through land reclamation and municipal annexation, Boston has expanded beyond the peninsula. After American independence was attained Boston became a major shipping port and manufacturing centre, and its rich history now helps attract over 20 million visitors annually. The city was the site of several firsts, including America's first public school, Boston Latin School (1635), and the first subway system in the United States (1897).

With many colleges and universities within the city and surrounding area, Boston is an international center of higher education and a centre for medicine. The city's economy is also based on research, electronics, engineering, finance, and high technology—principally biotechnology. As a result, the city is a leading finance centre, ranking 14th in the Z/Yen top 20 Global Financial Centers. The city was also ranked number one for innovation, both globally and in North America, for a variety of reasons. Boston has been experiencing gentrification, and has one of the highest costs of living in the United States, though it remains high on world livability rankings, ranking third in the US and 37th globally.


Boston in 1772, compared with Boston in 1880

Boston was founded on September 17, 1630, by Puritan colonists from England. The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony are sometimes confused with the Pilgrims, who founded Plymouth Colony ten years earlier in what is today Bristol County, Plymouth County, and Barnstable County, Massachusetts. The two groups, which differed in religious practice, are historically distinct. The separate colonies were not united until the formation of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1691.

The Shawmut Peninsula was connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus and was surrounded by the waters of Massachusetts Bay and the Back Bay, an estuary of the Charles River. Several prehistoric Native American archaeological sites that were excavated in the city have shown that the peninsula was inhabited as early as 5000 BC. Boston's early European settlers first called the area Trimountaine, but later renamed the town after Boston, Lincolnshire, England, from which several prominent colonists had emigrated. Massachusetts Bay Colony's original governor, John Winthrop, gave a famous sermon entitled " A Model of Christian Charity", popularly known as the "City on a Hill" sermon, which espoused 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 a 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). Between 1636 and 1698, six major smallpox epidemics in Boston had caused a substantial number of deaths. Boston was the largest town in British North America until Philadelphia grew larger in the mid-18th century.

Map showing a British tactical evaluation of Boston in 1775

In the 1770s, British attempts to exert more-stringent control on the thirteen colonies—primarily via taxation—led to the American Revolution. The Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and several early battles—including the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston—occurred in or near the city. During this period, Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride. After the Revolution, Boston had become one of the world's wealthiest international trading ports because of the city's consolidated seafaring tradition. Exports included rum, fish, salt, and tobacco. During this era, descendants of old Boston families were regarded as the nation's social and cultural elites; they were later dubbed the Boston Brahmins.

The Embargo Act of 1807, adopted during the Napoleonic Wars, and the War of 1812 significantly curtailed Boston's harbour activity. Although foreign trade returned after these hostilities, Boston's merchants had found alternatives for their capital investments in the interim. Manufacturing became an important component of the city's economy, and by the mid-19th century, the city's industrial manufacturing overtook international trade in economic importance. Until the early 20th century, Boston remained one of the nation's largest manufacturing centers and was notable for its garment production and leather-goods industries. A network of small rivers bordering the city and connecting it to the surrounding region made for easy shipment of goods and led to a proliferation of mills and factories. Later, a dense network of railroads facilitated the region's industry and commerce. From the mid-19th to late 19th 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.

View of Boston from Dorchester Heights, 1841

The city reacted strongly to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which contributed to President Franklin Pierce's attempt to make an example of Boston after the Burns Fugitive Slave Case.

Scollay Square in the 1880s

In 1822, the citizens of Boston voted to change the official name from "the Town of Boston" to "the City of Boston", and on March 4, 1822, the people of Boston accepted the charter incorporating the City. At the time Boston was chartered as a city, the population was about 46,226, while the area of the city was only 4.7 square miles (12 km2). In the 1820s, Boston's population began to swell, and the city's ethnic composition changed dramatically with the first wave of European immigrants. Irish immigrants dominated the first wave of newcomers during this period. By 1850, about 35,000 Irish lived in Boston. In the latter half of the 19th century, the city saw increasing numbers of Irish, Germans, Lebanese, Syrians, French Canadians, and Russian and Polish Jews settle in the city. By the end of the 19th century, Boston's core neighborhoods had become enclaves of ethnically distinct immigrants—Italians inhabited the North End, Irish dominated South Boston and Charlestown, and Russian Jews lived in the West End. Irish and Italian immigrants brought with them Roman Catholicism. 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.

Haymarket Square, 1909

Between 1631 and 1890, the city tripled its physical size by land reclamation—by filling in marshes, mud flats, and gaps between wharves along the waterfront —a process that Walter Muir Whitehill called "cutting down the hills to fill the coves". The largest reclamation efforts took place during the 19th century. Beginning in 1807, the crown of Beacon Hill was used to fill in a 50- acre (20  ha) mill pond that later became the Haymarket Square area. The present-day State House sits atop this lowered Beacon Hill. Reclamation projects in the middle of the century created significant parts of the South End, the West End, the Financial District, and Chinatown. After The Great Boston Fire of 1872, workers used building rubble as landfill along the downtown waterfront. During the mid-to-late 19th century, workers filled almost 600 acres (2.4 km²) of brackish Charles River marshlands west of Boston Common with gravel brought by rail from the hills of Needham Heights. Also, the city annexed the adjacent towns of South Boston (1804), East Boston (1836), Roxbury (1868), Dorchester (including present day Mattapan and a portion of South Boston) (1870), Brighton (including present day Allston) (1874), West Roxbury (including present day Jamaica Plain and Roslindale) (1874), Charlestown (1874), and Hyde Park (1912). Other proposals, for the annexation of Brookline, Cambridge, and Chelsea, have been unsuccessful.

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 under the direction of the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), which was established in 1957. In 1958, BRA initiated a project to improve the historic West End neighbourhood. Extensive demolition was met with vociferous public opposition. BRA subsequently reevaluated its approach to urban renewal in its future projects, including the construction of Government Centre. In 1965, the first Community Health Center in the United States opened, the Columbia Point Health Centre, in the Dorchester neighbourhood. It mostly served the massive Columbia Point public housing complex adjoining it, which was built in 1953. The health center is still in operation and was rededicated in 1990 as the Geiger-Gibson Community Health Centre.

The John F. Kennedy Library, located on the Columbia Point peninsula, 2007

By the 1970s, the city's economy boomed after 30 years of economic downturn. A large number of high rises were constructed in the Financial District and in Boston's Back Bay during this time period. This boom continued into the mid-1980s and later began again. Boston now has the second largest skyline in the Northeast (after New York) in terms of the number of buildings reaching a height of over 500 feet (150 m). Hospitals such as Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, and Brigham and Women's Hospital lead the nation in medical innovation and patient care. Schools such as Boston University, the Harvard Medical School, Northeastern University, and Boston Conservatory attract students to the 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. In 1984, the City of Boston gave control of the Columbia Point public housing complex to a private developer, who redeveloped and revitalized the property from its rundown and dangerous state into an attractive residential mixed-income community called Harbour Point Apartments, which opened in 1988 and was completed by 1990. It was the first federal housing project to be converted to private, mixed-income housing in the United States, and served as a model for the federal HUD HOPE VI public housing revitalization program that began in 1992.

The North End has been experiencing gentrification since the completion of the Big Dig in the early 2000s, which moved the elevated Central Artery freeway mostly into tunnels. This has also been changing the traditional Italian American culture of the area.

In the early 21st century, the city has become an intellectual, technological, and political centre. It has, however, experienced a loss of regional institutions, which included the acquisition of The Boston Globe by The New York Times, and the loss to mergers and acquisitions of local financial institutions such as FleetBoston Financial, which was acquired by Charlotte-based Bank of America in 2004. Boston-based department stores Jordan Marsh and Filene's have both been merged into the New York–based Macy's. Boston has also experienced gentrification in the latter half of the 20th century, with housing prices increasing sharply since the 1990s. Living expenses have risen, and Boston has one of the highest costs of living in the United States, and was ranked the 99th most expensive major city in the world in a 2008 survey of 143 cities. Despite cost, Boston ranks high on livability ratings, ranking 35th worldwide in quality of living in 2009 in a survey of 215 major cities.


Owing to its early founding, Boston is very compact. 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) (54.0%) of land and 41.2 square miles (106.7 km²) (46.0%) of water. Boston is the country's fourth most densely populated city that is not a part of a larger city's metropolitan area. This is largely attributable to the rarity of annexation by New England towns. Of United States cities with more than 600,000 people, only San Francisco is smaller in land area. Boston is surrounded by the " Greater Boston" region and is bordered by the cities and towns of Winthrop, Revere, Chelsea, Everett, Somerville, Cambridge, Watertown, Newton, Brookline, Needham, Dedham, Canton, Milton, and Quincy. 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 (BHINRA), which includes part of the city's territory, specifically Calf Island, Gallops Island, Great Brewster Island, Green Island, Little Brewster Island, Little Calf Island, Long Island, Lovells Island, Middle Brewster Island, Nixes Mate, Outer Brewster Island, Rainsford Island, Shag Rocks, Spectacle Island, The Graves, and Thompson Island. The Neponset River forms the boundary between Boston's southern neighborhoods and the city of Quincy and the town of Milton. The Mystic River separates Charlestown from Chelsea and Everett, and Chelsea Creek and Boston Harbour separate East Boston from Boston proper. Boston's official elevation, as measured at Logan International Airport, is 19 ft (5.8 m) above sea level. The highest point in Boston is Bellevue Hill at 330 ft (101 m) above sea level, and the lowest point is at sea level.

The headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist in the Back Bay is dominated by a reflecting pool. The tall buildings in the background are the Prudential Tower and 111 Huntington Avenue.

Much of the Back Bay and South End neighborhoods are built on reclaimed land—all of the earth from two of Boston's three original hills, the "trimount", was used as landfill material. Only Beacon Hill—the smallest of the three original hills—remains partially intact; only half of its height was cut down for landfill. 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, the South Boston waterfront, and Back Bay, which includes many prominent landmarks such as the Boston Public Library, Christian Science Centre, Copley Square, Newbury Street, and New England's two tallest buildings—the John Hancock Tower and the Prudential Centre.

Newbury Street, a major thoroughfare and shopping district located in the Back Bay neighbourhood

Near the John Hancock Tower is the old John Hancock Building with its prominent weather forecast beacon—the colour of the illuminated light gives an indication of weather to come: "steady blue, clear view; flashing blue, clouds are due; steady red, rain ahead; flashing red, snow instead". (In the summer, flashing red indicates instead that a Red Sox game has been rained out.) Smaller commercial areas are interspersed among single-family homes and wooden/brick multi-family row houses. Currently, the South End Historic District remains the largest surviving contiguous Victorian-era neighbourhood in the U.S. Along with downtown, the geography of South Boston was particularly impacted by the Central Artery/Tunnel (CA/T) Project (or the "Big Dig"). The unstable reclaimed land in South Boston posed special problems for the project's tunnels. In the downtown area, the CA/T Project allowed for the removal of the unsightly elevated Central Artery and the incorporation of new green spaces and open areas.

Boston Common seen from the Prudential Skywalk Observatory, an observation deck on the 50th floor of the Prudential Tower

Boston Common, located near the Financial District and Beacon Hill, 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. Jamaica Pond, part of the Emerald Necklace, is the largest body of freshwater in the city. Franklin Park, which is also part of the Emerald Necklace, is the city's largest park and houses the Franklin Park Zoo, recognized in all of New England. Another major park is the Esplanade, located along the banks of the Charles River. The Hatch Shell, an outdoor concert venue, is located adjacent to the Charles River Esplanade. Other parks are scattered throughout the city, with the major parks and beaches located near Castle Island (not part of the BHINRA, and now connected to the mainland); in Charlestown; and along the Dorchester, South Boston, and East Boston shorelines.


Boston is sometimes called a "city of neighborhoods" because of the profusion of diverse subsections. There are 21 official neighborhoods in Boston used by the city. These neighborhoods include: Allston/ Brighton, Back Bay, Bay Village, Beacon Hill, Charlestown, Chinatown/ Leather District, Dorchester, Downtown/ Financial District, East Boston, Fenway/Kenmore, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, North End, Roslindale, Roxbury, South Boston, South End, West End, and West Roxbury.


Boston has a climate that is continental in nature but with maritime influences owing to its coastal location, a phenomenon common to coastal southern New England. The climate is classified as either humid continental or humid subtropical ( Koppen Dfa, Cfa respectively). Summers are typically warm, rainy, and humid, while winters are cold, windy, and snowy. Spring and fall are usually mild, but conditions are widely varied, depending on wind direction and jet stream positioning. Prevailing wind patterns that blow offshore affect Boston, minimizing the influence of the Atlantic Ocean.

Boston's skyline in the background, with fall foliage in the foreground

The hottest month is July, with a mean temperature of 73.9 °F (23.3 °C). The coldest month is January, with a mean of 29.3 °F (−1.5 °C). Periods exceeding 90 °F (32 °C) in summer and below 10 °F (−12 °C) in winter are not uncommon but rarely extended, with about 14 days per year seeing the former extreme, and the most recent subzero reading occurring on January 24, 2011. Extremes have ranged from −18 to 104 °F (-28 to 40 °C), recorded on February 9, 1934 and July 4, 1911, respectively.

Sunset at Charles River in December 2010

Boston's coastal location on the North Atlantic, although it moderates temperatures, also makes the city very prone to Nor'easter weather systems that can produce much snow and rain. The city averages 42.5 inches (1,080 mm) of precipitation a year, with 41.8 inches (106 cm) of snowfall a year. Snowfall increases dramatically as one goes inland away from the city (especially north and west of the city)—away from the warming influence of the ocean. Most snowfall occurs from December through March. There is usually little or no snow in April and November, and snow is rare in May and October.

Fog is prevalent, particularly in spring and early summer, and the occasional tropical storm or hurricane can threaten the region, especially in early autumn. Due to its situation along the North Atlantic, the city is often subjected to sea breeze, especially in the late spring, when water temperatures are still quite cold and temperatures at the coast can be more than 20 °F (11 °C) colder than a few miles inland, sometimes dropping by that amount near midday. From May to September, the city experiences thunderstorms that are occasionally severe; large hail, damaging winds and heavy downpours accompany such severe events. Although downtown Boston has never been stuck by a violent tornado, the city itself has seen its fair share of tornado warnings, but damaging storms are more common to areas north, west, and northwest of the city.

Climate data for Boston (Logan Airport), 1981−2010 normals, extremes 1872−present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 72
Average high °F (°C) 36.3
Average low °F (°C) 22.3
Record low °F (°C) −13
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.36
Snowfall inches (cm) 14
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 11.3 9.8 11.6 11.2 12 10.8 9.6 9.4 8.6 9.4 10.6 11.6 125.9
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 6.8 5.3 4.2 0.8 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 0.8 4.6 22.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 164.3 169.5 213.9 228 266.6 288 300.7 275.9 237 207.7 144 142.6 2638.2
Source: NOAA HKO (sun only, 1961–1990),


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1722 10,567
1765 15,520 +46.9%
1790 18,320 +18.0%
1800 24,937 +36.1%
1810 33,787 +35.5%
1820 43,298 +28.1%
1830 61,392 +41.8%
1840 93,383 +52.1%
1850 136,881 +46.6%
1860 177,840 +29.9%
1870 250,526 +40.9%
1880 362,839 +44.8%
1890 448,477 +23.6%
1900 560,892 +25.1%
1910 670,585 +19.6%
1920 748,060 +11.6%
1930 781,188 +4.4%
1940 770,816 −1.3%
1950 801,444 +4.0%
1960 697,197 −13.0%
1970 641,071 −8.1%
1980 562,994 −12.2%
1990 574,283 +2.0%
2000 589,141 +2.6%
2009* 645,169 +9.5%

According to the 2000 United States Census, 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). The 2009 U.S. Census population estimate for the city is 645,169, a 9.5% increase from 2000. During weekdays, the population of Boston can grow during the daytime to over 1.2 million, and can reach as many as 2 million during special events. This fluctuation of people is caused by hundreds of thousands of suburban residents who travel to the city for work, education, health care, and special events.

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. There were 239,528 households, of which 22.7% had children under the age of 18 living in 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. Boston has a large presence of gays and lesbians, which is estimated to be at 12.3%; the highest concentration of homosexuals is in the South End neighbourhood.

Per capita income in the Greater Boston area, by U.S. Census block group, 2000. The dashed line shows the boundary of the City of Boston.

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. 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.

Since the 1950s with the advent of white flight, the proportion of whites in the city has declined with the city becoming minority-majority in the 2000 Census. Surprisingly, a 2006 Census estimate suggests that this trend may have reversed, with whites again occupying a slight majority.

According to the 2006-2008 American Community Survey, the racial composition of Boston was as follows:

  • White: 56.3% ( Non-Hispanic Whites: 50.6%)
  • Black or African American: 23.5%
  • Native American: 0.4%
  • Asian: 8.2%
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 0.1%
  • Some other race: 8.5%
  • Two or more races: 3.1%
  • Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 16.1%

People of Irish descent form the largest single ethnic group in the city, making up 15.8% of the population, followed by Italians, accounting for 8.3% of the population. People of West Indian ancestry are another sizable group, at 6.4%, about half of whom are of Haitian ancestry. Some neighborhoods, such as Dorchester, have received an influx of people of Vietnamese ancestry in recent decades. Neighborhoods such as Jamaica Plain and Roslindale have experienced a growing number of Dominican Americans.

The city also has a sizable Jewish population with an estimated 21,000 Jews within the city and 22 synagogues. The adjacent communities of Brookline and Newton are both approximately one third Jewish.


The "Boston accent" is widely parodied in the U.S. as the speech of the Kennedys. It is non-rhotic (i.e., drops the "r" sound at the end of syllables unless the next syllable starts with a vowel) and traditionally uses a "broad a" in certain words, so "bath" can sound like "bahth". Boston English has many dialect words, such as "frappe", meaning "milkshake made with ice cream" (as opposed to other milkshakes). The accent originated in the non-rhotic speech of 17th century East Anglia and Lincolnshire.


Headquarters of the Boston Police Department

The city has seen a great reduction in violent crime since the early 1990s. Boston's low crime rate over the past decade or so has been credited to the Boston Police Department's collaboration with neighbourhood groups and church parishes to prevent youths from joining gangs, as well as involvement from the United States Attorney and District Attorney's offices. 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).

In the first decade of the 21st century, however, the annual murder count has fluctuated by as much as 50% compared with the year before, with 60 murders in 2002, followed by just 39 in 2003, 64 in 2004, and 75 in 2005. Although 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.


Skyline of downtown Boston's Financial District, seen from inner Boston Harbour

Boston's colleges and universities have a significant effect on the regional economy, with students contributing an estimated $4.8 billion annually to the city's economy. Boston's schools are major employers and attract industries to the city and surrounding region. Boston is home to a number of technology companies and is a hub for biotechnology, with the Milken Institute rating Boston as the top life sciences cluster in the country. Boston also receives the highest absolute amount of annual funding from the National Institutes of Health of all cities in the United States.

Distribution of the Boston metropolitan NECTA labor force, 2004 annual averages

Tourism comprises a large part of Boston's economy. In 2004, tourists spent $7.9 billion and made the city one of the ten-most-popular tourist locations in the country. Because of Boston's status as a state capital and the regional home of federal agencies, law and government are another major component of the city's economy. The city is also a major seaport along the United States' East Coast and is also the oldest continuously operated industrial and fishing port in the Western Hemisphere.

Some of the other important industries are 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 home to the regional headquarters of Bank of America and Sovereign Bank, and it is a centre for venture capital firms. State Street Corporation, which specializes in asset management and custody services, is based in the city. A 2008 study ranked Boston among the top 10 cities in the world for a career in finance. Boston is a printing and publishing centre— Houghton Mifflin is headquartered within the city, along with Bedford-St. Martin's Press, Beacon Press, and Little, Brown and Company. Pearson PLC publishing units also employ several hundred people in Boston. The city is home to three major convention centers—the Hynes Convention Centre in the Back Bay, and the Seaport World Trade Centre and Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on the South Boston waterfront. Boston once had a fourth convention center, the Bayside Expo Centre in Dorchester, which was lost in a foreclosure on Corcoran-Jennison in 2009 to a Florida-based real estate firm, LNR/CMAT, who bought it. Soon after, the University of Massachusetts Boston bought the property from them to build campus facilities.

Some of the major companies headquartered within the city are the Liberty Mutual insurance company, Gillette (now owned by Procter & Gamble), and New Balance. Boston is also home to management consulting firms The Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company, as well as the private equity group Bain Capital. The Ad Club serves as a networking company to Boston-based companies and advertising. Other major companies are located outside the city, especially along Route 128, which serves as the centre of the region's high-tech industry. In 2006, Boston and its metropolitan area ranked as the fourth-largest cybercity in the United States with 191,700 high-tech jobs. Only NYC Metro, DC Metro, and Silicon Valley have larger high-tech sectors.

Encompassing $363 billion, the Greater Boston metropolitan area has the sixth-largest economy in the country. Boston is classified as an "incipient global city" by a 2004 study group at Loughborough University in England.

Boston skyline from the north side of the Charles River


Symphony Hall, home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops Orchestra

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

Faneuil Hall, a well-known stop on the Freedom Trail, sometimes called "the Cradle of Liberty" because of its role in the American Revolution

The city has a number of ornate theatres, including the Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston Opera House, Citi Performing Arts Center, the Colonial Theatre, and the Orpheum Theatre. Renowned performing-arts organizations include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Ballet, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Lyric Opera Company, OperaBoston, and the Handel and Haydn Society (one of the oldest choral companies in the United States). The city is also a major centre for contemporary classical music, with a number of performing groups, some of which are associated with the city's conservatories and universities. There are also many major annual events such as First Night, which occurs on New Year's Eve, the annual Boston Arts Festival at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, Italian summer feasts in the North End honoring Catholic saints, and several events during the Fourth of July period. These events include the week-long Harborfest festivities and a Boston Pops concert accompanied by fireworks on the banks of the Charles River.

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 of bricks embedded in the ground. The city is also home to several prominent art museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In December 2006, the Institute of Contemporary Art moved from its Back Bay location to a new contemporary building designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro located in the Seaport District. The University of Massachusetts campus at Columbia Point houses the John F. Kennedy Library. The Boston Athenaeum (one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States), Boston Children's Museum, Bull & Finch Pub (whose building is known from the television show Cheers), Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium are within the city.

Quincy Market, a part of the larger Faneuil Hall festival marketplace

Boston is also one of the birthplaces of the hardcore punk genre of music. Boston musicians have contributed significantly to this music scene over the years (see also Boston hardcore). Boston neighborhoods were home to one of the leading local third wave ska and ska punk scenes in the 1990s, led by bands such as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Allstonians. The 1980s' hardcore punk-rock compilation This Is Boston, Not L.A. highlights some of the bands that built the genre. Several nightclubs, such as The Channel, Bunnratty's in Allston, and The Rathskeller, were renowned for showcasing both local punk-rock bands and those from farther afield. All of these clubs are now closed. Many were razed or converted during recent gentrification.

Boston has been a noted religious centre from its earliest days. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston serves nearly 300 parishes and is based in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross (1875) in the South End, while the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, with the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (1819) as its episcopal seat, serves just under 200 congregations. Two Protestant faiths are headquartered in Boston: Unitarian Universalism, with its headquarters on Beacon Hill, and the Christian Scientists, headquartered in Back Bay at the Mother Church (1894). The oldest church in Boston is King's Chapel, the city's first Anglican church, founded in 1686 and converted to Unitarianism in 1785. Other notable churches include Christ Church (better known as Old North Church, 1723), the oldest church building in the city, Trinity Church (1733), Park Street Church (1809), First Church in Boston (congregation founded 1630, building raised 1868), Old South Church (1874), and Mission Hill's Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (1878).


Boston has teams in the four major North American professional sports leagues, and has won 32 championships in these leagues, as of 2010.

1989 Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park

The Boston Red Sox, a founding member of the American League of Major League Baseball in 1901, play their home games at Fenway Park, 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 American sports leagues, encompassing Major League Baseball, the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League. Boston was also the site of the first game of the first modern World Series, in 1903. The series was played between the AL Champion Boston Americans and the NL champion Pittsburgh Pirates. Persistent reports that the team was known in 1903 as the "Boston Pilgrims" appear to be unfounded. Boston's first professional baseball team was the Red Stockings, one of the charter members of the National League in 1871. The team played under that name until 1883, under the name Beaneaters until 1911, and under the name Braves from 1912 until they moved to Milwaukee after the 1952 season. Since 1966 they have played in Atlanta as the Atlanta Braves.

2004 Boston Celtics basketball game at the FleetCenter, the former name of the TD Garden

The TD Garden (formerly called the FleetCenter and the Shawmut Centre) is adjoined to North Station and is the home of three major league teams: the Boston Blazers of the National Lacrosse League, the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League; and the Boston Celtics, the 2008 National Basketball Association champions. The arena seats 18,624 for basketball games and 17,565 for ice hockey venues. The Bruins were the first American member of the National Hockey League and an Original Six franchise. The Boston Celtics were founding members of the Basketball Association of America, one of the two leagues that merged to form the NBA. The Celtics have the distinction of having won more championships than any other NBA team, with seventeen.

While they have played in suburban Foxborough since 1971, the New England Patriots were founded in 1960 as the Boston Patriots. A charter member of the American Football League, the team joined the National Football League in 1970. The team has won the Super Bowl three times, in 2001, 2003, and 2004. They share Gillette Stadium with the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer. The Boston Breakers of Women's Professional Soccer, which formed in 2009, play their home games at Harvard Stadium in Allston.

Boston's many colleges and universities are active in college athletics. Four NCAA Division I members play their games in the city— Boston College ( Atlantic Coast Conference), Boston University ( America East Conference), Harvard University ( Ivy League), and Northeastern University ( Colonial Athletic Association). Of the four, only Boston College participates in college football at the highest level, the Football Bowl Subdivision. Harvard participates in the second-highest level, the Football Championship Subdivision. Boston University and Northeastern University do not have football teams. All but Harvard belong to the Hockey East conference; Harvard belongs to the ECAC in hockey. The hockey teams of these four universities meet every year in a four-team tournament known as the " Beanpot Tournament", which is played at the TD Garden over two Monday nights in February.

One of the best known sporting events in the city is the Boston Marathon, the 26.2 mile (42.2 km) run from Hopkinton to Copley Square in the Back Bay which is the world's oldest annual marathon run. It is run on Patriots' Day in April and always coincides with a Red Sox home baseball game that starts at 11:05 AM, the only MLB game all year to start before noon local time. Another major event held annually in the city is the Head of the Charles Regatta rowing competition on the Charles River.

The Prudential Tower lit up for the 2007 World Series. The Red Sox won 4–0.
Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Boston Bruins NHL Hockey TD Garden 1924 5 Stanley Cups
Boston Celtics NBA Basketball TD Garden 1946 17 NBA Titles
Boston Red Sox MLB Baseball Fenway Park 1901 7 World Series Titles
12 AL Pennants
New England Patriots NFL Football Gillette Stadium 1960 3 Super Bowl Titles
6 AFC Championships
New England Revolution MLS Soccer Gillette Stadium 1995 1 U.S. Open Cup
1 Superliga
Boston Blazers NLL Lacrosse (Indoor) TD Garden 2008 None
Boston Breakers WPS Soccer Harvard Stadium 2001 None
Boston Cannons MLL Lacrosse (Outdoor) Harvard Stadium 2001 None
New England Riptide NPF Softball Martin Softball Field 2004 1 Cowles Cup
Boston Demons USAFL Australian Rules Football Ipswich River Park 1997 2 National Championships


Thomas M. Menino, the current Mayor of Boston

Boston has a strong mayor – council government system in which the mayor is vested with extensive executive powers. The mayor is elected to a four-year term by plurality voting. The current mayor of Boston is Thomas Menino. He was elected in 1993 and was reelected in 2009 for a fifth term, the longest in Boston history. Boston 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, with no more than one vote per candidate. The candidates with the four highest vote totals are elected. The president of the city council is elected by the councilors from within themselves. The school committee for the Boston Public Schools is appointed by the mayor. The Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Zoning Board of Appeals (a seven-person body appointed by the mayor) share responsibility for land-use planning.

The Massachusetts State House, described by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. in an 1858 collection of essays as "the Hub of the Solar System"

In addition to city government, numerous commissions and state authorities—including the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Boston Public Health Commission, and the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport)—play a role in the life of Bostonians. As the capital of Massachusetts, Boston plays a major role in state politics. The city has several properties relating to the United States federal government, including the John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building and the Thomas P. O'Neill Federal Building. Boston also serves as the home of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts; Boston is the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (the First District of the Federal Reserve).

Federally, Boston is part of Massachusetts's 8th and 9th congressional districts, represented respectively by Mike Capuano, elected in 1998, and Stephen Lynch, elected in 2001; both are Democrats. The state's senior member of the United States Senate is Democrat John Kerry, elected in 1984. The state's junior member of the United States Senate is Republican Scott Brown, elected in 2010 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of long-time Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 15, 2008
Party Number of Voters Percentage
  Democratic 209,710 55.04%
  Republican 27,541 7.23%
  Unaffiliated 140,601 36.90%
  Minor Parties 3,161 0.83%
Total 381,013 100%


Map of colleges and universities within Boston's Inner Core

Boston's reputation as an intellectual centre, "the Athens of America", derives in large part from the teaching and research activities of more than 100 colleges and universities located in the Greater Boston Area, with more than 250,000 students attending college in Boston and Cambridge alone. Within the city, Boston University exudes a large presence as the city's fourth-largest employer, and maintains a campus along the Charles River on Commonwealth Avenue and its medical campus in the South End. Northeastern University, another large private university, is located in the Fenway area, and is particularly known for its Business and Health Science schools and cooperative education program. Suffolk University, the third largest university in Boston, is located in the Beacon Hill area, and is known for its law school and business programs. Boston College, a private Catholic Jesuit university, whose original campus was located in the South End, now straddles the Boston (Brighton)-Newton border, with planned expansions further into Brighton. Boston's only public university is the University of Massachusetts Boston, located on Columbia Point in Dorchester. Roxbury Community College and Bunker Hill Community College are the city's two public community colleges.

Boston has several smaller private colleges and universities. Emmanuel College, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Simmons College, Wheelock College, and Wentworth Institute of Technology are founding members of the Colleges of the Fenway and are located adjacent to Northeastern University. New England School of Law, a small private law school located in the theatre district, was originally established as America's first all female law school. Emerson College, a small private college with a strong reputation in the fields of performing arts, journalism, writing, and film, is located near Boston Common.

Boston College, with Boston skyline in background

Boston is also home to several conservatories and art schools, including The Art Institute of Boston (Lesley University), Massachusetts College of Art, New England Institute of Art, New England School of Art and Design (Suffolk University), and the New England Conservatory (the oldest independent conservatory in the United States). Other conservatories include the Boston Conservatory, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Berklee College of Music.

Several major national universities located outside Boston have a major presence in the city. Harvard University, the nation's oldest, is located across the Charles River in Cambridge. The business and medical schools are in Boston, and there are plans for additional expansion into Boston's Allston neighbourhood. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which originated in Boston and was long known as " Boston Tech", moved across the river to Cambridge in 1916. Tufts University administers its medical and dental school adjacent to the Tufts Medical Centre, a 451-bed academic medical institution that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and the Floating Hospital for Children.

Boston Public Schools, the oldest public school system in the U.S., enrolls 57,000 students from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. The system operates 145 schools, which includes Boston Latin School (the oldest public school in the United States, established in 1635) which, along with Boston Latin Academy and John D. O'Bryant School of Math & Science, are highly prestigious public exam schools admitting students in the 7th and 9th grades only and serving grades 7–12), English High (the oldest public high school, established 1821), and the Mather School (the oldest public elementary school, established in 1639). 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%. In 2005, the student population within the school system was 45.5% Black or African American, 31.2% Hispanic or Latino, 14% White, and 9% Asian, as compared with 24%, 14%, 49%, and 8% respectively for the city as a whole. The city also has private, parochial, and charter schools and approximately 3000 students of racial minorities attend participating suburban schools through the Metropolitan Educational Opportunity Council, or METCO.


Longwood Medical and Academic Area

The Longwood Medical and Academic Area is a region of Boston with a high concentration of medical and research facilities, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Massachusetts General Hospital is near the Beacon Hill neighbourhood, with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital nearby. St. Elizabeth's Medical Center is in Brighton Center of Boston's Brighton neighbourhood. New England Baptist Hospital is in Mission Hill. Boston has Veterans Affairs medical centers in the Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury neighborhoods. The Boston Public Health Commission, an agency of the Massachusetts government, oversees health concerns for Boston residents.

Menino Pavilion of Boston Medical Centre

Many of Boston's major medical facilities are associated with universities. The facilities in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area and in Massachusetts General Hospital are well-known research medical centers affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Tufts Medical Center (formerly Tufts-New England Medical Center), located in the southern portion of the Chinatown neighbourhood, is affiliated with Tufts University School of Medicine. 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, which was the first municipal hospital in the United States.


The Quabbin Reservoir is the largest body of water in Massachusetts and is one of the primary water supplies for Boston.

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. The city's water comes from the Quabbin Reservoir and the Wachusett Reservoir, which are about 65 miles (105 km) and 35 miles (56 km) west of the city respectively. 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 National Grid plc (originally KeySpan, the successor company to Boston Gas); only commercial and industrial customers may choose an alternate natural gas supplier. Municipal steam services are provided by Veolia Energy North America and its subsidiary Trigen Energy Corporation; which comprise the original assets of the defunct Boston Heating Company.

Verizon, successor to New England Telephone, NYNEX, Bell Atlantic, and earlier, the Bell System, 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. Galaxy Internet Services (GIS) has also moved to the forefront to deploy municipal WiFi Broadband Internet throughout areas of the city of Boston. Further attempts are being made by Boston's officials to increase internet access in the city with Boston being one of many U.S. cities vying to be a future testbed for the Google Fiber high speed internet network. The city has been termed by these officials as being "Google Ready" and public forums have been created to help drive the initiative in Boston's favour.


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, Hanscom Field in Bedford, to the west, and Norwood Memorial Airport to the south. T. F. Green Airport serving Providence, Rhode Island, Bradley International Airport outside of Hartford, Connecticut, and Manchester-Boston Airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, also provide scheduled passenger service to the Boston area.

Many of Boston's roads were based upon horse and cart paths from the 17th century. A few horse carriages are still found in Boston today, transporting tourists around the city.

Downtown Boston's streets were not organized on a grid, but grew in a meandering organic pattern from early in the 17th century. They were created as needed, and as wharves and landfill expanded the area of the small Boston peninsula. Along with several rotaries, roads change names and lose and add lanes seemingly at random. By contrast, streets in the Back Bay, East Boston, the South End, and South Boston do follow a grid system.

Boston is the eastern terminus of cross-continent I-90, which in Massachusetts runs along the Massachusetts Turnpike. Originally known as the Circumferential Highway, Route 128 carries I-95 over a portion of its route west and north of the city. U.S. 1 and I-93 run concurrently north to south through the city from Charlestown to Dorchester, joined by Massachusetts Route 3 after the Zakim Bridge over the Charles River. The elevated portion of the Central Artery, which carried these routes through downtown Boston, was replaced with the O'Neill Tunnel during the Big Dig, substantially completed in early 2006.

MBTA sign at the Chinatown stop

Nearly a third of Bostonians use public transit for their commute to work. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) operates what was the first underground rapid transit system in the United States and is now the fourth busiest rapid transit system in the country, having been expanded to 65.5 miles (105 km) of track, 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 the nation's seventh busiest bus network, as well as water shuttles, and the nation's busiest commuter rail network outside of New York City or Chicago, totaling over 200 miles (320 km), extending north to the Merrimack Valley, west to Worcester, and south to Providence.

South Station is the largest train station and intercity bus terminal in Greater Boston and serves as a major intermodal transportation hub.

Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and Chicago lines originate at South Station and stop at Back Bay. Fast Northeast Corridor trains, which serve 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.

Nicknamed "The Walking City", pedestrian commutes play a larger role than in comparably populated cities. Owing to factors such as the compactness of the city and large student population, 13% of the population commutes by foot, making it the highest percentage of pedestrian commuters in the country out of the major American cities.

Between 1999 and 2006, Bicycling magazine named Boston as one of the worst cities in the U.S. for cycling three times; regardless, it has one of the highest rates of bicycle commuting. In September 2007, Mayor Menino started a bicycle program called Boston Bikes with a goal of improving bicycling conditions by adding bike lanes, racks, and offering bikeshare programs. In 2008, as a consequence the same magazine put Boston on its list of its "Five for the Future" list as a "Future Best City" for biking.

Sister cities

View of Boston from the Prudential Tower Skywalk Observatory, looking east-northeast towards the Atlantic Ocean. The John Hancock Tower is in the centre, Boston Common is at the upper left, and the Financial District is beyond the Common and Hancock. The major road to the right is the Massachusetts Turnpike ( I-90), which connects to I-93 through the South Bay Interchange at the upper right. At the top right is Logan International Airport, which is across inner Boston Harbour.

Boston has eight official sister cities as recognized by Sister Cities International. The date column indicates the year in which the relationship was established. Kyoto was Boston's first sister city.

City Country Date References
Kyoto Japan Japan 1959
Strasbourg France France 1960
Barcelona Spain Spain 1980
Hangzhou China People's Republic of China 1982
Padua Italy Italy 1983
Melbourne Australia Australia 1985

Taipei Taiwan Republic of China (Taiwan) 1996
Sekondi-Takoradi Ghana Ghana 2001

Boston also has less formal friendship or partnership relationships with an additional three cities.

City Country Date References
Boston, Lincolnshire United Kingdom United Kingdom 1999
Haifa Israel Israel 1999
Valladolid Spain Spain 2007
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