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about Boston

Boston is the capital and largest city in Massachusetts in the United States. It is also the largest city in New England and the business and cultural center of the region. It is one of the oldest and wealthiest cities in the United States, and its economy is primarily based on education, health care, finance, and technology. Its nicknames include "Beantown" and "The Hub" (shortened from Oliver Wendell Holmes's phrase The Hub of the Universe), as well as The Athens of America, due to its educational and cultural institutions.

As of the 2000 census, its population was 589,141. The Greater Boston metropolitan area, including nearby cities like Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline, has about 5.7 million residents. Boston is the county seat of Suffolk County. It is located at 42°20'N, 71°W.

Boston geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 232.1 km² (89.6 mi²). 125.4 km² (48.4 mi²) of it is land and 106.7 km² (41.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 45.98% water.

Much of the downtown area and most of the Back Bay is built on reclaimed land. The sources of material were a number of nearby hills and gravel shipped in from surrounding towns during the nineteenth century.

The city is divided into many neighborhoods, including: Allston/Brighton, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Charlestown, Dorchester, East Boston, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, the North End, Hyde Park, Roslindale, Roxbury, South Boston, the South End, and West Roxbury. Each of the neighborhoods has its distinct character. Allston/Brighton, for example, is mostly populated by students from nearby Boston University and recent graduates, with both groups of individuals often sharing their apartments with roommates. The Back Bay, just west of the Public Garden, is a spot of luxury housing for the better-off, and includes and adjacent to the shops and restaurants on Newbury Street and the tallest buildings in Boston, the Prudential and the John Hancock Building. The South End, just south of the Back Bay, is a currently very trendy neighborhood with a mixed population of gays, artists, yuppies, and African American and Hispanic communities. It is noted for having one of the better restaurant scenes in Boston and is the center of the area's gay community. Roxbury and Dorchester, located south of downtown, are home to large African-American and Hispanic communities, as well as middle-class Irish communities and a growing number of other middle-class families priced out of more expensive downtown real estate. Boston is notable for having one of the most desirable and livable urban cores in the country, with correspondingly high housing prices.

Boston is bordered by the cities of Revere, Chelsea, Everett, Somerville, Cambridge, Watertown, Newton, and Quincy, and the towns of Winthrop, Brookline, Needham, Dedham, Canton, and Milton.

The Charles River separates Boston from Cambridge and Watertown. To the east lies Boston Harbor and the Boston Harbor Islands, many of which are open to the public.

Boston history

Founded in 1630 on a peninsula called "Shawmut" by the Native Americans who lived there, Boston is named after Boston, England, the town in Lincolnshire from which several prominent first colonists originated. The Puritans who led "Winthrop's fleet" of three ships were not Separatists as were the Pilgrim Fathers who had founded Plymouth. Boston outnumbered Plymouth from the outset, and the city, as the center of Massachusetts Bay Colony, grew rapidly and became wealthy as the primary port for ships bound to Great Britain and the West Indies from the colonies. During the first 200 years, the city was primarily composed of Protestants who originally came from Great Britain.

On March 20, 1760 the "Great Fire" of Boston destroyed 349 buildings.

Boston played a key role in the American Revolutionary War. The Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party and several of the early battles of the revolutionary war (such as the Battle of Lexington and Concord and the Siege of Boston) occurred near the city. During this period, Paul Revere made his famous ride. As a result Boston is known as the Cradle of Liberty and historic sites remain a popular tourist draw to this day.

After the revolutionary war, the city continued to develop as an international trading port, exporting products such as rum, fish, salt and tobacco. It was chartered as a city in 1822, and by the mid-1800s it was one of the largest manufacturing centers in the nation noted for its garment, leather goods, and machinery industries.

A poem about Boston, attributed to various people, describes the city thus: "And here’s to good old Boston/The land of the bean and the cod/Where Lowells talk only to Cabots/And Cabots talk only to God." But while wealthy colonial families like the Lowells and Cabots (sometimes called the Boston Brahmins) continued to be powerful in the city , by the 1840s waves of new immigrants began to arrive from Europe. These included large numbers of Irish, and Italians giving the city a large Roman Catholic population. It is currently the third largest Catholic community in the United States (after Chicago and Los Angeles).

The first medical school for women, The Boston Female Medical School (which later merged with the Boston University School of Medicine), opened in Boston on November 1, 1848.

The Great Boston Fire of 1872 started on Lincoln Street on November 9 and in two days destroyed about 65 acres (260,000 m²) of city, 776 buildings, much of the financial district and caused US$60 million in damage.

"As a literary centre Boston was long supreme in the United States and still disputes the palm with New York," says Baedeker's United States (1893). "A list of its distinguished literary men would be endless; but it may not be invidious to mention Hawthorne, Emerson, Longfellow, Holmes, Lowell, Everett, Agassiz, Whittier, Motley, Bancroft, Prescott, Parkman, Ticknor, Channing, Theodore Parker, Henry James, T. B. Aldrich and Howells among the names more or less closely associated with Boston." Most of the great publishing houses of Boston have been acquired or moved, leaving little but the magazine The Atlantic Monthly (founded 1857) and the publisher Houghton Mifflin to bear witness to Boston's former literary glory.

On September 1, 1897 the Boston subway opened as the first underground metro in North America. Today it is affectionately known as "The T" and is run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The first vaudeville theater opened on February 28, 1883 in Boston. The last one, the Old Howard in Scollay Square, which had gradually evolved from opera to vaudeville to burlesque, closed in 1953.

In 1950, Boston was slumping. Few major buildings were being built anywhere in the city. Factories were closing up, and moving their operations south, where labor was cheaper. The assets Boston had -- excellent banks, hospitals, universities and technical know-how -- were minimal parts of the U.S. economy.

But all that changed in the next 50 years and Boston boomed. Financial institutions got far more latitude, many more people began to play the market, and Boston became a leader in the mutual fund industry. Health care became far more extensive and expensive, and hospitals such as Massachusetts General, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Brigham and Women's became major profit centers in the city. Universities, such as Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Boston University and Tufts University brought thousands of bright students to the area; many stayed and became citizens.

Finally, MIT and other universities became a source of high-tech talent. Many MIT graduates, in particular, founded successful high-tech companies in the Boston area. Powerful politicians such as John F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy and Tip O'Neill made sure Boston got plenty of federal investment.

In 1974, the city had to deal with a crisis when a federal district court judge, W. Arthur Garrity, ordered busing to integrate the city's public schools. Violence flared in some neighborhoods of the city when some white parents resisted the busing plan, and public schools - particularly high schools - in these and some other city neighborhoods became the scene of considerable unrest. The tension continued throughout the middle third of the 1970s, leading to the term forced busing entering the American political lexicon. Many parents chose to abandon the public school system, opting for private schools instead.

As of 2004, the city is in the final stages of a massive highway construction project called the Big Dig. Planned and approved in the 1980s under Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, with actual construction beginning in 1991, the Big Dig has moved several major highway routes through the city from antique and crumbling elevated highways into newer, larger underground tunnels, including a brand new tunnel built underneath Boston Harbor called the Ted Williams Tunnel. The Big Dig project is meant to both ease traffic congestion (which has become a major problem for the city) and also contribute significantly to urban renewal, as it removes enormous elevated highway structures and makes large areas of prime city land available for public development. The Big Dig has been plagued by cost overruns and delays, and it has become one of the largest and most expensive construction projects in the history of the entire United States.

High tech, education, finance and medical research, and health care are key industries and Boston has world-renowned cultural attractions (including the Museum of Fine Arts and two famous orchestras, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops Orchestra).

The largest art theft in US history occurred in Boston on March 18, 1990 when 12 paintings, collectively worth $100 million, were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by two thieves posing as police officers. As of 2004 these paintings had not been recovered.

In recent years as of 2004, like many cities in the United States, Boston has experienced a significant loss of regional institutions and practices that once gave it a very distinct identity, and become part of a more homogenized U. S. culture. Examples include: the acquisition of the Boston Globe by The New York Times; the loss of Boston-headquartered publishing houses (noted above), the acquisition of the century-old Jordan Marsh department store by Macy's; the increasing rarity of ice-cream shops using cone-shaped scoops; the financial crisis currently being experienced by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society; and the loss, to mergers, failures, and acquisitions of once-prominent local financial institutions such as Shawmut Bank, BayBanks, Bank of New England, and Bank of Boston. In 2004, this trend continued as Charlotte-based Bank of America acquired FleetBoston Financial (formerly Bank of Boston).

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Boston, Massachusetts".

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