Industrial port and commercial centre, capital of Massachusetts, on Massachusetts Bay; population (2000 est) 589,100. Its economy is dominated by financial and health services and government. It is also a publishing and academic centre. The subway system, begun in 1897, was the first in the USA. Boston's baseball team, the Red Sox, is based at Fenway Park. Boston was founded by Puritans in 1630 and has played an important role in American history.
History Having become the largest British settlement in North America, Boston was a centre of opposition to British trade restrictions, culminating in the Boston Tea Party in 1773. After the first shots of the American Revolution in 1775 at nearby Lexington and Concord, the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought outside the city; the British withdrew in 1776. In the 19th century Boston became the metropolis of New England. Urban redevelopment and the growth of service industries have compensated for the city's industrial decline.
Features Boston has an important tourist industry, which attracts about 10 million visitors per year. It has over 30 museums and galleries, among which notable museums are the Museum of Fine Arts, with a West Wing designed by the architect I M Pei; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, with its interior courtyard and Spanish cloister; and the Museum of Science. The John F Kennedy Library and Museum are in South Boston.
Boston has over 250 entries in the national register of historic places, including milestones, ships, houses, historic districts, hospital, churches, and the 1742 Faneuil Hall. The Freedom Trail (2.4km/1.5mi) covers 16 sites connected with the American Revolution, including Paul Revere House (1680), the oldest residential building in central Boston; Old State House (1713); Old North Church (1723); Old South Meeting House (1729); King's Chapel (1754); Old Granary Burial Ground; and the Bunker Hill Monument. Beacon Hill, a residential area built in the 18th and early 19th centuries, includes Louisburg Square, Mount Vernon and Chestnut streets, Harrison Gray Otis House, Nichols House Museum, and the African Meeting House (1806), the oldest black church still standing in the USA. The USS Constitution (1794) (‘Old Ironsides’) is berthed here. The New England Aquarium includes a re-creation of a coral reef.
Among the 64 colleges and universities in the Boston area are Harvard University (1636), the oldest in the country, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1861), Boston University (1869), Northeastern University (1922, but dating back to Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) educational programmes started in 1851), Brandeis University (1948), Tufts University (1852), University of Massachusetts (1964, but founded as Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863) and Wellesley College (1810). Many famous jazz musicians have studied at the Berklee School of Music (1945). The Boston Latin School established in 1635 was the first public school in America.
Urban development The Back Bay neighbourhood was built in the 19th century on land reclaimed from the sea, and includes several Romanesque Revival churches designed by Henry Hobson Richardson, the best known of which is Trinity Church of 1877. The North End was settled by Irish immigrants in the 19th century, followed by Italians after World War I. The Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in Boston was established in 1826. Boston Common, the oldest public park in the USA, dates from the 17th century, and is part of the Emerald Necklace (a linked series of parks). Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox and built in 1912, is one of the last of the traditional baseball stadiums still in use.
In the 19th century Frederick Law Olmsted designed a system of parks and tree-lined avenues, including the Charles River Esplanade, Commonwealth Avenue, and the Public Garden (the first botanical garden in the USA, with swan boats). In August 2000, Boston was named as having one of the best urban park systems in the USA. The Trust for Public Land praised Boston's reuse of landfill sites for parks, including West Roxbury, which opened in 2000. The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) was set up in 1957; the architect I M Pei was put in charge of renewal plans for the city, and was responsible for Government Center and the John Hancock Tower, which stands at 222 m/740 ft. Market buildings and warehouses near the waterfront have been restored, such as the Faneuil Hall marketplace, with Quincy Market, restaurants, outdoor cafés, and shops.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops perform in Symphony Hall, and in the summer the Boston Pops give outdoor concerts in the Hatch Memorial Shell.
Boston is the birthplace of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Benjamin Franklin, Cotton Mather, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sylvia Plath. Three of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine, are interred in the Old Granary Burying Ground.
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