Boston, Massachusetts: History/Heritage
Boston is the capital of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is one of the oldest cities in America, steeped in history, and its citizens were on the front line of a series of momentous events that helped to shape this nation. 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 population of 617,594 according to the 2010 U.S. Census. 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 center, and its rich history now helps attract many tourists, with Faneuil Hall alone attracting over 20 million every year. 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). Did you know that marshmallow fluff was invented here in Somerville (Union Square) in 1917? Boston has continued a long line of firsts by building the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge (2003), which is the widest cable – stayed bridge in the world, and implementing a major central artery re-construction project that re-routed traffic through and around the city.
With many colleges and universities, including Harvard and MIT, located within the city and surrounding area, Boston is an international center of higher education and a center for medicine. It was the first in the country to implement Health Care Insurance Reform in 2006 which enabled the Commonwealth to provide healthcare for all of its citizens. Its hospitals continue to rank # 2 & 3 in the world. The city’s economy is also based on research, electronics, engineering, finance, and high technology—principally biotechnology. The first 2 biotech companies (Biogen and Genzyme) were found here in 1978 and 1981 respectively. As a result, the city is a leading finance center, ranking 12th 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.