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Boston Bio

Boston’s early European settlers had first called the area Trimountaine (after its “three mountains”—only traces of which remain today) but later renamed it Boston after Boston, Lincolnshire, England, from which several prominent colonists had come. The renaming, on September 7, 1630 (old style), was by Puritan colonists from England, who had moved over from Charlestown earlier that year in quest of fresh water. Their settlement was initially limited to the Shawmut Peninsula, at that time surrounded by the Massachusetts Bay and Charles River and connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. The peninsula is known to have been inhabited as early as 5000 BC.

In 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Colony‘s first governor, John Winthrop, led the signing of theCambridge Agreement, a key founding document of the city. Puritan ethics and their focus on education influenced its early history; America’s first public school was founded in Boston in 1635. Over the next 130 years, the city participated in four French and Indian Wars, until the British defeated the French and their native allies in North America. Boston was the largest town inBritish North America until Philadelphia grew larger in the mid 18th century.

Many of the crucial events of the American Revolution—the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s “midnight ride”, the battles of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill, the Siege of Boston, and many others—occurred in or near Boston. After the Revolution, Boston’s long seafaring tradition helped make it one of the world’s wealthiest international ports, with rum, fish, salt, and tobacco being particularly important.

Black and white photo of a city square

Scollay Square in the 1880s

The Embargo Act of 1807, adopted during the Napoleonic Wars, and the War of 1812 significantly curtailed Boston’s harbor 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 facilitated shipment of goods and led to a proliferation of mills and factories. Later, a dense network of railroads furthered the region’s industry and commerce.

Painting with a body of water with sailing ships in the foreground and a city in the background

View of Boston from Dorchester Heights, 1841

During this period Boston flourished culturally as well, admired for its rarefied literary life and generous artistic patronage, with members of old Boston families—eventually dubbed Boston Brahmins—coming to be regarded as the nation’s social and cultural elites. Boston also became a center of the abolitionist movement. The city reacted strongly to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, contributing to President Franklin Pierce‘s attempt to make an example of Boston after the Anthony Burns Fugitive Slave Case.

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 grew rapidly, and the city’s ethnic composition changed dramatically with the first wave of Europeanimmigrants. Irish immigrants dominated the first wave of newcomers during this period, especially following the Irish Potato Famine—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 settled 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 theWest 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.

Cutting down Beacon Hill in 1811; a view from the north toward the Massachusetts State House

Between 1631 and 1890, the city tripled its area through land reclamation by filling in marshes, mud flats, and gaps between wharves along the waterfront. 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. AfterThe 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. The city annexed the adjacent towns of South Boston (1804), East Boston (1836), Roxbury (1868), Dorchester (including present dayMattapan and a portion of South Boston) (1870), Brighton (including present day Allston) (1874), West Roxbury (including present day Jamaica Plainand Roslindale) (1874), Charlestown (1874), and Hyde Park (1912). Other proposals, for the annexation of Brookline, Cambridge, and Chelsea,[52][53] were 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 neighborhood. Extensive demolition was met with vociferous public opposition. The BRA subsequently reevaluated its approach to urban renewal in its future projects, including the construction of Government Center. In 1965, the first Community Health Center in the United States opened, the Columbia Point Health Center, in the Dorchester neighborhood. It mostly served the massive Columbia Pointpublic 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 Center. The Columbia Point complex itself was redeveloped and revitalized into a mixed-income community called Harbor Point Apartments from 1984 to 1990. 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. Hospitals such as Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 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, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Berklee College of Music andBoston 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

Boston is an intellectual, technological, and political center but has lost some important regional institutions, including 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 Cincinnati–based Macy’s. Boston has 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 129th most expensive major city in the world in a 2011 survey of 214 cities. Despite cost of living issues, Boston ranks high on livability ratings, ranking 36th worldwide in quality of living in 2011 in a survey of 221 major cities. On April 15, 2013, at approximately 2:50 p.m. EDT, the city suffered two bombings during the Boston Marathon, killing 3 people and injuring hundreds.

Boston skyline from Student Village II at Boston University.

Geography

Aerial view of the Boston area from space

Boston as seen from the International Space Station (ISS)

Boston has an 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—and is the country’s third 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. The city’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 feet (100 m) above sea level, and the lowest point is at sea level. Situated near the Atlantic Ocean, Boston is the only state capital in the contiguous United States with an ocean coastline.

Boston is surrounded by the “Greater Boston” region and is contiguously bordered by the cities and towns of Winthrop, Revere, Chelsea, Everett,Somerville, Newton, Brookline, Needham, Dedham, Canton, Milton, and Quincy. The Charles River separates Boston from Cambridge and Watertown, and the mass of Boston from its own Charlestown neighborhood. To the east lie Boston Harbor and the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area (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 Harbor separate East Boston from Boston proper.

The city’s water supply, from the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs to the west, is one of the very few in the country so pure as to satisfy federal quality standards without filtration.

Boston skyline looking west with Boston Harbor in the foreground

Boston skyline from Logan International Airport in the early morning

Cityscape

Boston is sometimes called a “city of neighborhoods” because of the profusion of diverse subsections; there are 21 officially designated neighborhoods

Reflecting pool with highrises in the background

Reflecting pool of the headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist. ThePrudential Tower and 111 Huntington Avenue are in the background.

More than two-thirds of inner Boston’s modern land area did not exist when the city was founded, but was “made” by filling over the centuries, notably with earth from the leveling or lowering of Boston’s three original hills (the “Trimountain”, after which Tremont Street is named), and with gravel brought by train from Needham to fill the Back Bay Downtown and its immediate surroundings consists largely of low-rise (often Federal style andGreek Revival) masonry buildings, interspersed with modern highrises, notably in the Financial District, Government Center, and South Boston. Back Bay includes many prominent landmarks, such as the Boston Public Library, Christian Science Center, Copley Square, Newbury Street, and New England’s two tallest buildings—the John Hancock Tower and the Prudential Center. Near the John Hancock Tower is the old John Hancock Building with its prominent illuminated beacon, the color of which forecasts the weather. Smaller commercial areas are interspersed among areas of single-family homes and wooden/brick multi-family row houses. The South End Historic District is the largest surviving contiguous Victorian-era neighborhood in the U.S. The geography of downtown and South Boston was particularly impacted by the Central Artery/Tunnel Project (known unofficially as the “Big Dig“), which allowed for the removal of the unsightly elevated Central Artery and the incorporation of new green spaces and open areas.

Parks and recreation

City skyline with a body of water in the background and a green park in the foreground

Boston Common seen from 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. The Emerald Necklace includes Jamaica Pond, Boston’s largest body of freshwater, and Franklin Park, the city’s largest park and home of the Franklin Park Zoo. 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; in Charlestown; and along the Dorchester, South Boston, and East Boston shorelines.

Boston’s park system is well-reputed nationally. In its 2013 ParkScore ranking, The Trust for Public Land reported that Boston was tied withSacramento and San Francisco for having the third-best park system among the 50 most populous U.S. cities. ParkScore ranks city park systems by a formula that analyzes the city’s median park size, park acres as percent of city area, the percent of residents within a half-mile of a park, spending of park services per resident, and the number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents.

Climate

Boston has a continental climate with some maritime influence, and it lies within the transition from a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) to a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa),although the suburbs north and west of the city are significantly colder in winter and solidly fall under the latter categorisation. Summers are typically warm, rainy, and humid, while winters oscillate between periods of cold rain and snow. Spring and fall are usually mild, with varying conditions dependent on wind direction and jet stream positioning. Prevailing wind patterns that blow offshore minimize the influence of the Atlantic Ocean.

Autumn foliage with a city skyline in the distant background

Boston’s skyline in the background, withfall foliage in the foreground

The hottest month is July, with a mean temperature of 73.4 °F (23.0 °C). The coldest month is January, with a mean of 29.0 °F (−1.7 °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 13 days per year seeing the former extreme, and the most recent subzero reading occurring on January 24, 2011. Extremes have ranged from −18 °F (−28 °C) on February 9, 1934, up to 104 °F (40 °C) on July 4, 1911.

Boston’s coastal location on the North Atlantic moderates its temperature, but makes the city very prone to Nor’easter weather systems that can produce much snow and rain. The city averages 43.7 inches (1,110 mm) of precipitation a year, with 45.1 inches (115 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 fairly common, 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 breezes, 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. Thunderstorms occur from May to September, that are occasionally severe with large hail, damaging winds and heavy downpours. Although downtown Boston has never been struck by a violent tornado, the city itself has experienced manytornado warnings. Damaging storms are more common to areas north, west, and northwest of the city.

[hide]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
(22)
70
(21)
89
(32)
94
(34)
97
(36)
100
(38)
104
(40)
102
(39)
102
(39)
90
(32)
83
(28)
76
(24)
104
(40)
Average high °F (°C) 35.8
(2.1)
38.7
(3.7)
45.4
(7.4)
55.6
(13.1)
66.0
(18.9)
75.9
(24.4)
81.4
(27.4)
79.6
(26.4)
72.4
(22.4)
61.4
(16.3)
51.5
(10.8)
41.2
(5.1)
58.8
(14.9)
Average low °F (°C) 22.2
(−5.4)
24.7
(−4.1)
31.1
(−0.5)
40.6
(4.8)
49.9
(9.9)
59.5
(15.3)
65.4
(18.6)
64.6
(18.1)
57.4
(14.1)
46.5
(8.1)
38.0
(3.3)
28.2
(−2.1)
44.1
(6.7)
Record low °F (°C) −13
(−25)
−18
(−28)
−8
(−22)
13
(−11)
31
(−1)
41
(5)
50
(10)
46
(8)
34
(1)
25
(−4)
−2
(−19)
−17
(−27)
−18
(−28)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.36
(85.3)
3.25
(82.6)
4.32
(109.7)
3.74
(95)
3.48
(88.4)
3.68
(93.5)
3.43
(87.1)
3.29
(83.6)
3.44
(87.4)
3.94
(100.1)
3.99
(101.3)
3.78
(96)
43.7
(1,110)
Snowfall inches (cm) 14.0
(35.6)
11.3
(28.7)
7.8
(19.8)
1.9
(4.8)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.3
(3.3)
8.8
(22.4)
45.1
(114.6)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 11.3 9.8 11.6 11.2 12.0 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 .8 0 0 0 0 0 .1 .8 4.6 22.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 164.3 169.5 213.9 228.0 266.6 288.0 300.7 275.9 237.0 207.7 144.0 142.6 2,638.2
Source: NOAA HKO (sun only, 1961–1990),

Demographics

Map of Boston and the surrounding area displaying per capita income distribution

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.

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%
2010 617,594 +4.8%
2012 636,479 +3.1%

In 2010 Boston was estimated to have 618,000 residents (a density of 12,200 persons/sq mile, or 4,700/km2) living in 272,000 housing units—a 5% population increase over 2000. Some 1.2 million persons may be within Boston’s boundaries during work hours, and 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 21.9% at age 19 and under, 14.3% from 20 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males. There were 252,699 households, of which 20.4% had children under the age of 18 living in them, 25.5% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.0% were non-families. 37.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 3.08.

The median income for a household in the city was $51,739, and the median income for a family was $61,035. Full-time year-round male workers had a median income of $52,544 versus $46,540 for full-time year-round female workers. The per capita income for the city was $33,158. 21.4% of the population and 16.0% of families are below the poverty line. Of the total population, 28.8% of those under the age of 18 and 20.4% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

In 1950, whites represented 94.7% of Boston’s population. From the 1950s to the end of the 20th century, the proportion of non-Hispanic whites in the city declined; in 2000, non-Hispanic whites made up 49.5% of the city’s population, making the city majority-minorityfor the first time. However, in recent years the city has experienced significant gentrification, in which affluent whites have moved into formerly non-white areas. In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that non-Hispanic whites again formed a slight majority. But as of 2010, in part due to the housing crash, as well as increased efforts to make more affordable housing more available, the minority population has rebounded. This may also have to do with an increased Latino population and more clarity surrounding U.S. Census statistics, which indicate a Non-Hispanic White population of 47 percent (some reports give slightly lower figures).

Race/Ethnicity Composition (2010)
Race/Ethnicity Percentage
White 53.9%
Black or African American 24.4%
Native American 0.4%
Asian 8.9%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.0%
Two or more races 3.9%
Hispanic or Latino 17.5%
Non-Hispanic Whites 47.0%

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 Indianancestry are another sizable group, at 6.0%, 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 and greater area also has a large immigration population of South Asians, including the tenth-largest Indian community in the country.

The city has a sizable Jewish population with an estimated 25,000 Jews within the city and 227,000 within the Boston metro area; the number of congregations in Boston is estimated at 22. The adjacent communities of Brookline and Newton are both approximately one-third Jewish.

The city is 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 is home to 7.6 million people, making it the fifth-largest Combined Statistical Area in the United States.

Crime

White Boston Police car with blue and gray stripes down the middle

A Boston Police cruiser on Beacon Street

The city has seen a great reduction in violent crime since the early 1990s. Boston’s low crime rate since the 1990s has been credited to the Boston Police Department‘s collaboration with neighborhood groups and church parishes to prevent youths from joining gangs, as well as involvement from theUnited 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).[122]

In the 2000s, 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, 61 in 2004, and 73 in 2005. In 2008 there were 62 reported homicides.[123] 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.

Economy

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

A global city, Boston is placed among the top 30 most economically powerful cities in the world. Encompassing $363 billion, theGreater Boston metropolitan area has the sixth-largest economy in the country and 12th-largest in the world.

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. The area’s schools are major employers and attract industries to the city and surrounding region. The city 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 receives the highest absolute amount of annual funding from the National Institutes of Healthof all cities in the United States. The city is also considered highly innovative for a variety of reasons that include the presence of academia, access to venture capital, and the presence of many high-tech companies.

Tourism comprises a large part of Boston’s economy, with 21.2 million domestic and international visitors spending $8.3 billion in 2011. 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 a major seaport along the United States’ East Coast and the oldest continuously operated industrial and fishing port in the Western Hemisphere.

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.[21][133] The city is home to the headquarters of Sovereign Bank, and Boston is a center for venture capital firms. State Street Corporation, which specializes in asset management and custody services, is based in the city. Boston is a printing and publishing center — Houghton Mifflin is headquartered within the city, along with Bedford-St. Martin’s Press and Beacon Press. Pearson PLC publishing units also employ several hundred people in Boston. The city is home to three major convention centers—the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay, and the Seaport World Trade Center and Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on the South Boston waterfront.

Several major companies headquartered within Boston or nearby—especially along Route 128, the center 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.

Culture

Main article: Culture in Boston
Colonial style red brick building with a white cupola in an urban setting

The Old State House, a museum on theFreedom Trail and the site of the Boston Massacre

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.

Several theatres are located in or near the Theater District south of Boston Common, including the Cutler Majestic Theatre, Citi Performing Arts Center, the Colonial Theater, and the Orpheum Theatre. Symphony Hall (located west of Back Bay) is home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, (and the related Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, which is one of the largest youth orchestras in the nation) and the Boston Pops Orchestra, while the Boston Ballet performs at the Boston Opera House. Other performing-arts organizations located in the city include the Boston Lyric Opera Company, Opera Boston, Boston Baroque (the first permanent Baroque orchestra in the U.S.), and the Handel and Haydn Society (one of the oldest choral companies in the United States). The city is a center for contemporary classical music with a number of performing groups, several of which are associated with the city’s conservatories and universities. These include the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Boston Musica Viva.

There are several major annual events such as First Night, which occurs on New Year’s Eve, the Boston Early Music Festival, the annual Boston Arts Festival at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, and Italian summer feasts in the North End honoring Catholic saints. The city is the site of several events during the Fourth of July period. They include the week-long Harborfest festivities and a Boston Pops concert accompanied by fireworks on the banks of the Charles River.

Boston is one of the birthplaces of the hardcore punk genre of music. The area’s musicians have contributed significantly to this music scene over the years (see also Boston hardcore). The city’s 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 closed. Many were razed or converted during recent gentrification.

Gray stone classical building with columns and art banners on the central façade

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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 art museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The Institute of Contemporary Art is housed in a contemporary building designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in the Seaport District. The University of Massachusetts Boston campus on Columbia Point houses the John F. Kennedy Library. The Boston Athenaeum (one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States),[150]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.

Boston has been a noted religious center 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. Unitarian Universalism has its headquarters on Beacon Hill. The Christian Scientistsare 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 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), Jubilee Christian Church and Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Mission Hill (1878).

Newspapers

The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald are two of the city’s major daily newspapers. The city is also served by other publications such as Boston magazine, The Improper Bostonian, Boston’s Weekly Dig, and the Boston edition of Metro. The Christian Science Monitor, headquartered in Boston, was formerly a worldwide daily newspaper but ended publication of daily print editions in 2009, switching to continuous online and weekly magazine format publications.[153] The Boston Globe also releases a teen publication to the city’s public high schools, called Teens in Print orT.i.P., which is written by the city’s teens and delivered quarterly within the school year

The city’s growing Latino population has given rise to a number of local and regional Spanish-language newspapers. These include El Planeta (owned by the former publisher of The Boston Phoenix), El Mundo, and La Semana. Siglo21, with its main offices in nearby Lawrence, is also widely distributed.

Various LGBT publications serve the city’s large LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community such as The Rainbow Times, the only minority and lesbian-owned LGBT newsmagazine. Founded in 2006, The Rainbow Times is now based out of Boston, but serves all of New England.

Radio and television

Boston has the largest broadcasting market in New England, with the radio market being the eleventh largest in the United States. Several major AM stations include talk radio WRKO 680 AM, sports/talk station WEEI 850 AM, and CBS Radio WBZ 1030 AM. WBZ (AM) broadcasts a news radio format. A variety of FM radio formats serve the area, as do NPR stations WBURand WGBH. College and university radio stations include WERS (Emerson), WHRB (Harvard), WUMB (UMass Boston), WMBR (MIT), WZBC (Boston College), WMFO (Tufts University), WBRS(Brandeis University), WTBU (Boston University, campus and web only), WRBB (Northeastern University) and WMLN (Curry College).

The Boston television DMA, which also includes Manchester, New Hampshire, is the seventh largest in the United States.[159] The city is served by stations representing every major American network, including WBZ 4 and its sister station WSBK 38 (the former with CBS, the latter an MyNetwork TV affiliate), WCVB 5 (ABC), WHDH 7 (NBC), WFXT 25 (Fox), and WLVI 56 (The CW). The city is also home to PBS station WGBH 2, a major producer of PBS programs,[160] which also operates WGBX 44. Spanish-language television networks, including MundoFox (WFXZ 24),Univision (WUNI 27), Telemundo (WNEU 60), and Telefutura (WUTF 66), have a presence in the region. Most of the area’s television stations have their transmitters in nearby Needham andNewton along the Route 128 corridor.

Sports

Main article: Sports in Boston

Boston has teams in the four major North American professional sports leagues, and has won 33 championships in these leagues, as of 2011. It has been suggested that Boston is the new “TitleTown, USA”, as the city’s professional sports teams have won seven championships since 2002: Patriots (2002, 2004, & 2005), Red Sox (2004 & 2007), Celtics (2008), and Bruins (2011).

Baseball game in a professional league ballpark
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, nearKenmore Square in the city’s Fenway section. 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 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 theNational Association in 1871, and of the National League in 1876. 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.

Professional basketball game between the Celtics and Timberwolves in a crowded arena

Boston Celtics in a game at the TD Garden

The TD Garden, formerly called the FleetCenter, 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 of the National Basketball Association. The arena seats 18,624 for basketball games and 17,565 for ice hockey games. 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 of the National Football League were founded in 1960 as the Boston Patriots, changing their name in 1971 to better reflect its status as New England’s team. The team won the Super Bowl 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.

Football game in a full professional league stadium

Gillette Stadium

The area’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 “BeanpotTournament”, 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 42.195-kilometre (26.219 mi) run from Hopkinton to Copley Square in the Back Bay which is the world’s oldest annual marathon, run on Patriots’ Day in April. On April 15, 2013, two explosions killed three people and injured hundreds at the marathon.

Another major annual event is the Head of the Charles Regatta, held in October.

Government

Concrete building with red bricks on the lower levels

Boston City Hall

Boston has a strong mayor – council government system in which the mayor (elected every fourth year) has extensive executive power. The current mayor, Thomas Menino, has been in office since 1993—the longest mayoral tenure in the city’s history. The Boston City Council is elected every two years; there are nine district seats, and four citywide “at-large” seats.The School Committee, which oversees the Boston Public Schools, is appointed by the mayor.

Red brick building with white columns on the façade and a gold dome on the top

The Massachusetts State House, seat of the Massachusetts state government, on Beacon Hill

In addition to city government, numerous commissions and state authorities—including the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), 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 federal facilities, including the John F. Kennedy Federal Office Building, the Thomas P. O’Neill Federal Building, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Federally, Boston is split between two congressional districts. The northern three-fourths of the city is in the 7th district, represented by Mike Capuanosince 1998. The southern fourth is in the 8th district, represented by Stephen Lynch.[182] Both are Democrats; a Republican has not represented a significant portion of Boston in over a century. The state’s senior member of the United States Senate is Democrat Elizabeth Warren, first elected in 2012. The state’s junior member of the United States Senate is Democrat Ed Markey, who was elected in 2013 to succeed John Kerry after Kerry’s appointment and confirmation as the United States Secretary of State.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 17, 2012[183]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Democratic 211,257 54.58%
Republican 25,903 6.69%
Green-Rainbow 686 0.17%
Unaffiliated 147,813 38.19%
Total 387,040 100%

Education

Higher education

Brick square surrounded by gray and white stone buildings, with a chapel in the center background

Marsh Chapel at Boston University

Boston’s reputation as a higher education center 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, the city’s fourth-largest employer, 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 Engineering, 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 school. Boston College, a private Catholic Jesuit university, whose original campus was located in the South End, straddles the Boston (Brighton)-Newton border, with planned expansions further into Brighton.[188]Boston’s only public university is the University of Massachusetts Boston, located on Columbia Point in Dorchester. Roxbury Community College andBunker Hill Community College are the city’s two public community colleges.

Red brick building with a glass façade surrounded with white stone

Northeastern University

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 theater 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 is 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 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. Its business and medical schools are in Boston, and there are plans for additional expansion into Boston’s Allstonneighborhood. 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, whose main campus is north of the city in Somerville and Medford, administers its medical and dental school adjacent to the Tufts Medical Center, a 451-bed academic medical institution that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and the Floating Hospital for Children.

Primary and secondary education

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 high school in the United States, established in 1635) which, along withBoston 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 second oldest public high school, established 1821), and the Mather School (the oldest public elementary school, established in 1639).

In 2012, the student population within the school system was 35% Black or African American, 42% Hispanic or Latino, 13% White, and 8% Asian.The city has additional private, parochial, and charter schools and approximately 3,300 students of racial minorities attend participating suburban schools through the Metropolitan Educational Opportunity Council, or METCO.

Healthcare

The Longwood Medical and Academic Area, adjacent to the Fenway district, is a region of Boston with a concentration of medical and research facilities, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.[198] Massachusetts General Hospital, which recently achieved the accolades of being ranked #1 in the Nation as America’s Best Hospital,[199] is near the Beacon Hill neighborhood with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary andSpaulding Rehabilitation Hospital nearby. St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center is in Brighton Center of the city’s Brighton neighborhood. New England Baptist Hospital is in Mission Hill. The city has Veterans Affairs medical centers in the Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury neighborhoods.[200] The Boston Public Health Commission, an agency of the Massachusetts government, oversees health concerns for city residents.[201]

Many of Boston’s medical facilities are associated with universities. The facilities in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area and in Massachusetts General Hospital are affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Tufts Medical Center (formerly Tufts-New England Medical Center), located in the southern portion of the Chinatown neighborhood, is affiliated with Tufts University School of Medicine. Boston Medical Center, located in the South End neighborhood, is the primary teaching facility for the Boston University School of Medicine as well as the largest trauma center 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.

Transportation

Aerial view of Logan Airport with Boston Harbor on the top of the image

Aerial view of Logan Airport

Logan Airport, located in East Boston and operated by the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), is Boston’s principal airport.[205] Nearby general aviation airports are Beverly Municipal Airport to the north, Hanscom Field to the west, and Norwood Memorial Airport to the south. Massport also operates several major facilities within the Port of Boston, including a cruise ship terminal and facilities to handle bulk and container cargo in South Boston, and other facilities in Charlestown and East Boston.

Downtown Boston’s streets grew organically, so they do not form a planned grid unlike those in later-developed Back Bay, East Boston, the South End, and South Boston. Boston is the eastern terminus of I-90, which in Massachusetts runs along the Massachusetts Turnpike. The elevated portion of the Central Artery, which carried most through traffic in downtown Boston, was replaced with the O’Neill Tunnel during the Big Dig, substantially completed in early 2006.

A silver and red rapid transit train entering an above-ground station

An MBTA Red Line train on theLongfellow Bridge

With nearly a third of Bostonians using public transit for their commute to work, Boston has the fifth-highest rate of public transit usage in the country. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA—known as the “T”) operates the oldest underground rapid transit system in the United States and is thefourth busiest rapid transit system in the country, with 65.5 miles (105 km) of track on four lines. The MBTA also operates busy bus and commuter rail networks, and water shuttles.

Beige stone building with columns on the façade and a clock at the top

South Station

Amtrak‘s Northeast Corridor and Chicago lines originate at South Station, which serves as a majorintermodal transportation hub, 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”, Boston hosts more pedestrian commuters than do other 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. In 2011, Walk Score ranked Boston the third most walkable city in the United States.

Between 1999 and 2006, Bicycling magazine named Boston three times as one of the worst cities in the U.S. for cycling; regardless, it has one of the highest rates of bicycle commuting. In 2008, as a consequence of improvements made to bicycling conditions within the city, the same magazine put Boston on its “Five for the Future” list as a “Future Best City” for biking, and Boston’s bicycle commuting percentage increased from 1% in 2000 to 2.1% in 2009. The bikeshare program called Hubway launched in late July 2011, logging more than 140,000 rides before the close of its first season. The neighboring municipalities of Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline joined the Hubway program

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