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Boston

Boston, located in Suffolk County, is the capital and largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is considered the unofficial economic and cultural center of the entire New England region. The city, which had an estimated population of 596,763 in 2006, lies at the center of the Cambridge–Boston-Quincy metropolitan area—the 11th-largest metropolitan area (5th largest CSA) in the U.S., with a population of 4.4 million. Residents of Boston are referred to as Bostonians.

In 1630, Puritan colonists from England founded the city on the Shawmut Peninsula.[5] During the late eighteenth 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. After American independence Boston became a major shipping port and manufacturing center, and its rich history now attracts 16.3 million visitors annually. The city was the site of several firsts, including America's first public school, Boston Latin School (1635). and first college, Harvard College (1636), in neighboring Cambridge. Boston was also home to the first subway system in the United States.

Through land reclamation and municipal annexation, Boston has expanded beyond the peninsula. With many colleges and universities within the city and surrounding area, Boston is a center of higher education and a center for health care. The city's economy is also based on research, finance, and technology — principally biotechnology. Boston has been experiencing gentrification and has one of the highest costs of living in the United States.

History

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 are historically distinct and differed in religious practice. 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 surrounded by the waters of Massachusetts Bay and the Back Bay, an estuary of the Charles River. Several prehistoric Native American archaeological sites excavated in the city have shown that the peninsula was inhabited as early as 5,000 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 captured the idea that Boston had a special covenant with God. (Winthrop also led the signing of the Cambridge Agreement, which is regarded as a key founding document of the city.) Puritan ethics molded 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), and America's first college, Harvard College (1636). Boston was the largest town in British North America until the mid-1700s.

In the 1770s, British attempts to exert more stringent control on the thirteen colonies, primarily via taxation, prompted Bostonians to initiate the American Revolution.[5] The Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and several early battles occurred in or near the city, including the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston. During this period, Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride.

After the revolution, Boston had become one of the world's wealthiest international trading ports due to the city's consolidated seafaring tradition — exports included rum, fish, salt, and tobacco. During this era, descendants of old Boston families became regarded as the nation's social and cultural elites; they were later dubbed the Boston Brahmins. In 1822, Boston was chartered as a city.

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-1800s, the city's industrial manufacturing overtook international trade in economic importance. Until the early 1900s, Boston remained one of the nation's largest manufacturing centers, and was notable for its garment production 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 allowed for a proliferation of mills and factories. Later, a dense network of railroads facilitated the region's industry and commerce. From the mid- to late nineteenth century, Boston flourished culturally; it became renowned for its rarefied literary culture and lavish artistic patronage. It also became a center of the abolitionist movement.

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 nineteenth century, the city saw increasing numbers of Irish, Germans, Lebanese, French Canadians, and Russian and Polish Jews settle in the city. By the end of the nineteenth century, Boston's core neighborhoods had become enclaves of ethnically distinct immigrants — Italians inhabited the North End, the Irish dominated South Boston, and Russian Jews lived in the West End.

Between 1630 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 Walter Muir Whitehill called "cutting down the hills to fill the coves." The largest reclamation efforts took place during the 1800s. Beginning in 1807, the crown of Beacon Hill was used to fill in a 50-acre (20 ha) mill pond that later became Haymarket Square. The present-day State House sits atop this shortened Beacon Hill. Reclamation projects in the middle of the century created significant parts of the South End, West End, 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 nineteenth century, workers filled almost 600 acres (2.4 km²) of brackish Charles River marshlands west of the Boston Common with gravel brought by rail from the hills of Needham Heights. In addition, the city annexed the adjacent towns of Roxbury (1868), Dorchester (1870), Brighton, West Roxbury (including present day Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and West Roxbury), and Charlestown. The last three towns were annexed in 1874.

Boston
 
By the early and mid-twentieth 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 garnered vociferous public opposition to the new agency. BRA subsequently reevaluated its approach to urban renewal in its future projects, including the construction of Government Center. By the 1970s, the city's economy boomed after thirty years of economic downturn. Hospitals such as Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Brigham and Women's Hospital led the nation in medical innovation and patient care. Schools such as Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, and Boston College attracted students to the Boston area. Nevertheless, the city experienced conflict starting in 1974 over desegregation busing, which resulted in unrest and violence around public schools throughout the mid-1970s.

In the early twenty-first century the city has become an intellectual, technological, and political center. It has, however, experienced a loss of regional institutions,[20] 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 FleetBoston Financial, which was acquired by Charlotte-based Bank of America in 2004. The city also had to tackle gentrification issues and rising living expenses, with housing prices increasing sharply since the 1990s.

Geography

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) of it is land and 41.2 square miles (106.7 km²) (46.0%) of it is water. This compares with cities of comparable population such as Denver at 154.9 square miles (401 km²) and Charlotte, North Carolina at 280.5 square miles (726 km²). Of United States cities over 500,000, only San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are smaller in size. Boston's official elevation, as measured at Logan International Airport, is 19 feet (5.8 m) above sea level. The highest point in Boston is Bellevue Hill at 330 feet (101 m) above sea level, while the lowest point is at sea level.

Boston is surrounded by the "Greater Boston" region, and bordered by the cities and towns of Winthrop, Revere, Chelsea, Everett, Somerville, Cambridge, Watertown, Newton, Brookline, Needham, Dedham, Canton, Milton, and Quincy.
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; just 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 Center, the South Boston waterfront, and Back Bay, which 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.[23] Near the John Hancock Tower is the old John Hancock Building with its prominent weather forecast beacon—whatever light illuminates 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 neighborhood 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.

The Prudential Center in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston
The Prudential Center in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston

Boston Common, located near the Financial District and Beacon Hill, is the oldest public park in the U.S. 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. Franklin Park, which is also part of the Emerald Necklace, is the city's largest park and houses a zoo. Another major park is the Esplanade located along the banks of the Charles River. Other parks are scattered throughout the city, with the major parks and beaches located near Castle Island, in Charlestown and along the Dorchester, South Boston, and East Boston shorelines.

The Charles River separates Boston proper from Cambridge, Watertown, and the neighborhood of Charlestown. To the east lies Boston Harbor and the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. 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, while Chelsea Creek and Boston Harbor separate East Boston from Boston proper.

Boston

Climate

Boston experiences a continental climate that is very common in New England, with prevailing wind patterns that blow offshore, minimizing the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Summers are typically hot and humid, while winters are cold, windy and snowy. It has been known to snow in May and October, but these events are rare.
February in Boston has seen 70 °F (21 °C) only once in recorded history, on February 24, 1985. The maximum temperature recorded in March was 90 °F (32 °C), on March 31, 1998. Spring in Boston can be hot, with temperatures in the high 90s when winds are from offshore, though it is just as possible for a day in late May to remain in the lower 40s due to cool ocean waters. The hottest month is July, with an average high of 82 °F (28 °C) and average low of 66 °F (18 °C), with conditions usually humid. The coldest month is January, with an average high of 36 °F (2 °C) and an average low of 22 °F (-6 °C). Periods exceeding 90 °F (32 °C) in summer and below 10 °F (−12 °C) in winter are not uncommon, but rarely prolonged. The record high temperature is 104 °F (40 °C), recorded July 4, 1911. The record low temperature is -18 °F (-28 °C), recorded on February 9, 1934.

The city averages about 42 in (108 cm) of rainfall a year. It also coincidentally averages about 42 in (108 cm) of snowfall a year, although this increases dramatically as one goes inland away from the city. Massachusetts' geographic location's jutting out into the North Atlantic also makes the city very prone to Nor'easter weather systems that can produce much snow and rain. Fog is prevalent, particularly in spring and early summer, and the occasional tropical storm or hurricane can threaten the region, especially in early autumn.

Weather averages for Boston, Massachusetts
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 36 (2) 38 (3) 45 (7) 56 (13) 67 (19) 77 (25) 82 (28) 80 (27) 73 (23) 63 (17) 52 (11) 41 (5) 59 (15)
Average low °F (°C) 22 (-6) 23 (-5) 31 (-1) 40 (4) 50 (10) 59 (15) 65 (18) 64 (18) 57 (14) 47 (8) 38 (3) 27 (-3) 44 (7)
Precipitation inch (mm) 3.8 (97) 3.5 (89) 4.0 (102) 3.7 (94) 3.4 (86) 3.0 (76) 2.8 (71) 3.6 (91) 3.3 (84) 3.3 (84) 4.4 (112) 4.2 (107) 42.9 (1,090)
Source: Weatherbase Feb 2007

Demographics

According to the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 589,141 people, (the population estimate of 2006 was 596,638 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). Of major US cities, only New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago have a greater population density than Boston. There were 251,935 housing units at an average density of 5,203 per square mile (2,009/km²).

However, the population of Boston can grow during the daytime to about 1.2 million. This fluctuation of people is caused by suburban residents traveling to the city for work, education, medical purposes, and special events.

There were 239,528 households, out 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.

In the city the population was spread out with 19.8% under the age of 18, 16.2% from 18 to 24, 35.8% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $39,629, and the median income for a family was $44,151. Males had a median income of $37,435 versus $32,421 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,353. 19.5% of the population and 15.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 25.6% of those under the age of 18 and 18.2% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Economy

Boston's colleges and universities have a major impact on the city and region's economy. Not only are they major employers, but they also attract high-tech industries to the city and surrounding region, including computer hardware and software companies as well as biotechnology companies like Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co., Millipore, Genzyme, and Biogen Idec. According to a 2003 report by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, students enrolled in Boston's colleges and universities contribute $4.8 billion annually to the city's economy. Boston also receives the highest amount of annual funding from the National Institutes of Health of all cities in the United States.

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.[6] Other important industries include financial services, especially mutual funds and insurance.[6] Boston-based Fidelity Investments helped popularize the mutual fund in the 1980s, and has made Boston one of the top financial cities in the United States. The city is also the regional headquarters of major banks such as Bank of America and Sovereign Bank, and a center for venture capital. State Street Corporation, which specializes in asset management and custody services, is headquartered in the city. Boston is also a printing and publishing center — Houghton Mifflin is headquartered within the city, along with Bedford-St. Martin's Press, Beacon Press, and Little, Brown and Company. The city is home to four major convention centers: the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay, the Bayside Expo Center in Dorchester, and the World Trade Center Boston and Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on the South Boston waterfront. Because of its status as a state capital and the regional home of federal agencies, law and government is another major component of the city's economy.

Major companies headquartered within the city include the Liberty Mutual insurance company, Gillette (now owned by Procter & Gamble), and Teradyne, one of the world's leading manufacturers of semiconductor and other electronic test equipment. New Balance has its headquarters in the city. Boston is also home to management consulting firms The Boston Consulting Group, Monitor Group, and Bain & Company, as well as the private equity group Bain Capital. Other major companies are located outside the city, especially along Route 128. The Port of Boston is a major seaport along the United States' east coast, and is also the oldest continuously-operated industrial and fishing ports in the Western Hemisphere.

Culture

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, rum, tobacco, 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.

Many consider Boston to have a strong sense of cultural identity, perhaps as a result of its intellectual reputation; much of Boston's culture originates at its universities The city has several ornate theatres, including the Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston Opera House, Citi Performing Arts Center, and the Orpheum Theatre. Renowned performing arts organizations include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Ballet, Boston Pops, Celebrity Series of Boston, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Lyric Opera Company, OperaBoston, Emmanuel Music, and the Handel and Haydn Society (one of the oldest choral companies in the United States). There are also many major annual events such as First Night, which occurs during New Year's Eve, Italian summer feasts in the North End honoring Catholic saints, and several events during the Fourth of July. These events include the weeklong Harborfest festivities and a Boston Pops concert accompanied by fireworks on the banks of the Charles River.

Symphony Hall designed by McKim, Mead, and White.
Symphony Hall designed by McKim, Mead, and White.

Because of the city's prominent role in the American Revolution, several historic sites relating to that period are preserved as part of the Boston National Historical Park. Many are found along the Freedom Trail, which is marked by a red line or bricks embedded in the ground. 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),[70] 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 is also one of the birthplaces of the hardcore punk genre of music. Boston musicians have contributed greatly 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, The Allstonians, Skavoovie and the Epitones, and the Dropkick Murphys. 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, and in many cases razed during recent gentrification.

Transportation

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

Downtown Boston's streets are not organized on a grid, but grew in a meandering organic pattern beginning early in the seventeenth 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. On the other hand, streets in the Back Bay, East Boston, the South End, and South Boston follow a grid system. However, these grids are built around the existing chaos from the city's early growth. In its March 2006 issue, Bicycling magazine named Boston as one of the worst cities in the U.S. for cycling; regardless, it has one of the highest rates of bicycle commuting.

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

Downtown Boston's streets are not organized on a grid, but grew in a meandering organic pattern beginning early in the seventeenth 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. On the other hand, streets in the Back Bay, East Boston, the South End, and South Boston follow a grid system. However, these grids are built around the existing chaos from the city's early growth. In its March 2006 issue, Bicycling magazine named Boston as one of the worst cities in the U.S. for cycling; regardless, it has one of the highest rates of bicycle commuting.

For further information on the city of Boston please visit the following websites:

http://www.cityofboston.gov/ City of Boston Website
http://www.bostonchamber.com/ Boston Chamber of Commerce
http://www.bostonusa.com/ Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
http://maps.bpl.org/tag/location:Boston+%28Mass.%29/ Historical Maps of Boston
http://www.storyofboston.com/ Historical sites around Boston
Information provided from the Wikipedia article found at www.wikipedia.com © 2008 Move In And Out, Inc.

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