Founded in 1630 on the Shawmut Peninsula in what is now Suffolk County, New England, Boston is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the undisputed cultural and economic capital of this part of the United States.
Its rich and varied history which has included some of the most momentous incidents in the formation of the republic (including the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party) attracts more than 16 million visitors every year.
The commuter area of Boston includes Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine and combined has a population of some 7.5 million people. Within the US, Boston is known as a centre of excellence in the field of education with more than 100 colleges and universities earning it the nickname the Athens of America. Most famously, just across the Charles River in neighbouring Cambridge is Harvard University and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). This all helps to make Boston one of the most livable cities in the world and it enjoys the highest concentration of jobs per square mile in the US, ahead even of New York City and Washington DC. Industries include research, engineering, biotechnology and finance.How To Get There
Logan International Airport which is in East Boston is the main handler of international air passengers. Others include Beverly Municipal airport in the north; Hanscom Field in the west and Norwood Memorial airport to the south.
Where to stay
Travellers to the Greater Boston area will found what they are looking for with the area’s wide range of accommodation options. You can stay in luxury hotels or homely bed and breakfasts and in recent years the city has also seen some great leaps forward in offering boutique hotels.
Dining in Boston is an international affair. Options range from casual food kiosks and student-frequented diners via the best from Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The local speciality which was once reserved for the poor alone but is now prized throughout the area is lobster. For a more upmarket experience a popular choice is the L’Espalier on Boylston Street. For well over a century of Boston history from white-aproned market traders through to celebrities there is Durgin Park whose speciality is fresh oysters. The other Boston favourite of “chowda” can be sampled at Legal Sea Foods as well as a choice of other seafood dishes. The North End of Boston is the home of many Italian home-cooking restaurants.
Despite the wealth of history and the plethora of galleries and museums, one of the main reasons that people visit Boston is for the shopping. The city is filled with boutique stores as well as malls and departments stores. Choices vary from books to clothes, with a good place to start being Newbury Street; an eight block complex of shops of all stripes; high-end to cutting edge. Near Boston Common is Downtown Crossing, a pedestrian-only area and a popular location for browsing in peace. Both Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall Marketplace are also ideal for the out of town visitor, offering quaint shops. Other notable centres include:
- Shops at Prudential Center
- Harvard Square
- Copley Place Mall
- North End
- Mall at Chestnut Hill
- CambridgeSide Galleria
- Atrium Mall
Boston is not famed for being a party destination despite its number of colleges and things start to close down by two in the morning. However, there are a range of options when it comes to nightclubs, bars and finding somewhere for a quick drink. Live music is also a big pull often at one of the intellectual haunts in Cambridge. If dancing is what you are into then there are venues like Avalon on Lansdowne Street and Roxy at Tremont Hotel. Boston is home to some of the most illustrious names in American professional sports like the Celtics, Red Sox and New England Patriots.
Boston has something for most people; history-buffs will be in their element as the area is home to plenty of sites celebrating the past such as the Freedom trail, Black Heritage Trail and Women’s Heritage Trail being three of the better known. If you are interested in an oasis of calm in the middle of the city then visit Boston Common which is America’s oldest public park or the Public Garden surrounded by trees, flowers, statues, ducks and memorials. Sports play a big part in this city and as well as a thrilling night out they also prove to be something of a powerful draw for visitors to Boston. Other Boston highlights include:
- Boston's Freedom Trail - See Boston starting from Boston Common, with historical names brought to life with the Paul Revere House, the statue of Benjamin Franklin and the site of the Boston Massacre.
- New England Holocaust Memorial - six 54-foot tall glass towers hovering above a pit of smoking coals help serve as a reminder of the six million Jews killed in the Second World War.
- Boston Public Garden - the oldest botanical gardens in the US and home to the famous swan boats since 1877. The swans offer cruises on the pond in the warmer months.
- Museum of Science – more than 400 interactive displays including the world’s largest lightning machine, lectures, laser and star shows.
- Charles River Canoe and Kayak - enjoy picturesque river scenery while travelling down the Charles River.
- Nantasket Beach - one of the few public beaches in Massachussets, includes leisure activities and parking.
Events in Boston
Boston has many events throughout the year. Being the historical centre that it is, the Fourth of July celebrations held on the site where the very nation was born are particularly poignant. The Boston Pops play Stars and Stripes forever with fireworks going off over the Esplanade. The Esplanade is also one of the main hosts for New Year’s Eve festivities. Year long this park which runs alongside the Charles River is host to numerous events including free outdoor movies on Friday nights in the summer.Another big draw is the Boston Marathon which is the oldest annual marathon event in the world founded in 1897, attracting around 20,000 runners and 450,000 spectators. Boston is also known for its largest Irish contingent and St Patrick’s Day is when everything becomes a shade of green in the South End of Boston, historically where many of Irish descent hail from.
How to get around
Given the age of the city, the downtown area of Boston is not organised in the logical grid-pattern that characterises many American cities. The pattern is far more organic with roads and lanes seemingly being created or lost at random as and when they were needed when new Wharves were created or when the city itself was expanded. Outside of downtown the Back Bay, South End, East Boston and South Boston follow the grid system.The MBTA (Massachussetts Bay Transportation Authority) is the public transportation hub which serves Boston. It was the first underground rapid transport system in the US and is now the fourth busiest. MBTA also operates the bus network, water shuttles and the commuter rail network. Nearly a third of Boston residents use the system for their commute to work.For trains and buses heading farther afield, the main terminus in Greater Boston is South Station. Those looking to travel to Chicago might try the NorthEast Corridor Service run by Amtrak. Fast NorthEast Corridor trains which service New York City and Washington DC also run from here. North Station is the main terminus for the Downeaster service which runs to Maine.Given the relatively compact geography of central Boston, more commuters than in any other major US city walk to work. Approximately 13% commute by foot, earning Boston the nickname, the Walking City, while cycling is also a popular choice.
Location: Suffolk County, New England; northern Atlantic coast of mainland United States.
Time: GMT - 5 Hours.
Language: English.Climate: Humid continental climate and humid subtropical climate; summers are warm and humid whilst winters are cold and snowy.
Area: City 89.63sq.m, urban 1,774sq.m, metropolitan 4,511sq.m.
Population: City 608,352, urban 4,032,484, metropolitan 4,522,858.
Electricity: 120 volts at 60hz.
Telephone Code: +1 617
Currency: US dollar.
Passport/visa requirements: Holders of a valid United Kingdom passport can stay for up to six months with a tourist visa. They would then have to have left the US for at least one day before returning.
Airports: Logan International Airport; Beverly Municipal Airport; Hanscom Field; Norwood Memorial Airport to the south.
Flight time: Approximately seven hours from Heathrow.
Public Holidays- 2009
1 Jan New Year's Day.
19 Jan Martin Luther King Day.
16 Feb Presidents' Day.
25 May Memorial Day.
4 Jul Independence Day.
7 Sep Labor Day.
12 Oct Columbus Day.
11 Nov Veterans' Day.
26 Nov Thanksgiving Day.
25 Dec Christmas Day.
Tourist Office: US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square, London, W1A 2LQ, Tel: 020-749 99000.