Great American Cities – Boston Posted by sasha on Feb 19, 2015 in Uncategorized
We’re staying on the east coast for the third post in our “Great American Cities” series with one of the country’s oldest and most famous cities – Boston.
Name: In its early days, the city was called Trimountaine by European settlers for its three hills. In 1630, Puritan colonists from England renamed it Boston after a town where many of them came from.
Location: Boston is located in the east coast in the state of Massachusetts. It’s in the eastern part of the state in Suffolk County. It’s the capital of the state and the biggest city in the area known as New England. Thanks to its location, it’s also the only state capital with a coastline.
Nicknames: Boston has more nicknames than most American cities. Thanks to the above-mentioned hills, it was nicknamed “The City on a Hill.” Thanks to its part in the American Revolution, it has also been called “The Cradle of Liberty.” Back in 1858, a writer named Oliver Wendell Holmes referred to Boston as the “The Hub of the Solar System,” which has been shortened to simply “The Hub.” Perhaps the most famous nickname, however, is “Beantown.” Back in colonial days, baked beans and bread were a staple meal, and the name has stuck ever since.
Year Founded: On March 29, 1630, a fleet of ships left England bound for Massachusetts full of Puritans fleeing religious persecution. The Massachusetts Bay Colony had recently been established as a self-governing entity, and it was led by John Winthrop. Their first location (present day Salem) was no good for a lack of food, and the second (Charlestown) was without fresh water. The third time was the charm as they settled on the area that would soon become Boston. The city was founded on September 7th that year.
Population: As of 2013, there were just under 646,000 people living in Boston, making it the 24th largest city in the US. During work hours or special events, there can be anywhere from 1-2 million people in the city, though. Many live in suburban areas and commute to the city for work and sporting events. Boston was 95% white in 1950, but these days minorities are the majority – non-Hispanic whites make up just about 47% of the population now.
Transportation: Boston is sometimes called “America’s Walking City” due to the walkability of its downtown area. The city also has an excellent public transportation system, the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority). This is the 4th largest transit system in America, including the subway network known as “the T.” Driving in Boston is notoriously bad, so definitely find a different way to get around.
Famous Places: There’s no shortage of famous places in Boston, and it’s one of the most popular cities for tourists in the States. Along the 2.5-mile long Freedom Trail, you can visit 16 historic sites such as the old State House, Faneuil Hall, and Paul Revere’s House. The city is also home to many museums, Boston Common, and plenty of world famous universities. One of the most famous sights in the city is definitely Fenway Park – home to the Boston Red Sox and the oldest ballpark in America.
Culture: When it comes to Boston culture, the city is well known for having a distinct accent – just ask a Bostonian to say “you can’t park your car in the Harvard yard.”
As for the culinary scene, seafood is a big part of New England cuisine, including the famous clam chowder. In addition to its many museums, Boston also has a Theater District and a wide array of performance venues. Throughout the year, lots of different events and festivals are held in Boston, highlighted by an epic 4th of July fireworks display.
While the arts, music, and food are all great, Boston is first and foremost a sports city.
Sports Teams: Add one more to the list of Boston’s nicknames, as the city’s success in pro sports has bestowed upon it the name of “Titletown.” The city has won championships in all four major sports in the last decade, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down with the Pats’ recent Super Bowl victory. Here are the city’s pro teams:
- MLB – Boston Red Sox
- NFL – New England Patriots
- NBA – Boston Celtics
- NHL – Boston Bruins
- MLS – New England Revolution
Travel Experience: I finally got the chance to visit Boston on an East Coast road trip in the fall of 2013. Our visit was focused on sporting events, as the Red Sox were in the playoffs at the time and my beloved Detroit Red Wings were in town to play the Bruins. Somehow, we managed to score tickets for just $10 each to Game 1 of the ALDS between Boston and Tampa Bay. It was great to take in a ballgame at the country’s oldest and most historic park, and the Sox won that game en route to a World Series win.
As for the hockey game, the tickets were more expensive and the result wasn’t great for the visiting team. We got trounced by the Bruins, but it was still a fun time seeing a hockey game in another city.
When we weren’t at a sporting event, we did our best to complete the entire Freedom Trail over two days. We didn’t make it all the way to the end at the USS Constitution, but we did see most of the famed sights and learned a lot about the city’s history.
Since we were tourists, we had no problems with doing stereotypically touristy things like eating expensive chowder in Quincy Market and having drinks at the Cheers bar from the famous TV show.
Other than that, we did what we love to do in every city – seek out good food, beer, music, and people. We had an amazing brunch at a place called Zaftigs one morning, which was a great way to start the day.
On another night we had an incredible Jamaican meal complete with Red Stripe beer at a place called Flames. It’s not just a clever name – the food was insanely spicy.
In addition to all the great food, we sampled some of the city’s craft beers at Boston Beer Works. One night, we headed to a placed called The Greatest Bar, which isn’t such a lofty claim. The bar is four floors and is covered in murals depicting Boston sports and pop culture. They’ve also got games, live music, and huge TVs for watching the big game. It may not really be the greatest bar in the world, but it’s one of the coolest I’ve been to.
Before leaving Beantown, we just had to take a stroll through the Harvard yard. Boston is home to many of the world’s best universities, and this is definitely the most famous of them all. Neither of us could have ever gotten into Harvard, but it was nice to walk around the campus and check out our country’s most legendary higher learning institution.
All in all, we had a great time in Boston. It’s definitely an expensive city, but even budget travelers can have a good time – we’re living proof of that.
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