Boston is the capital and largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. Boston also served as the county seat of Suffolk County until Massachusetts disbanded most county governments by 2000. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 667,137 in 2015, making it the largest city in New England and the 23rd largest city in the United States. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area called Greater Boston is the home to 4.7 million people and the tenth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the country. Greater Boston as a commuting region is home to 8.1 million people making it the sixth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.
Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston was founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England. It was the scene of several key events of the American Revolution such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston. Upon U.S. independence from Great Britain, the city continued to be an important port and manufacturing hub, as well as a center for education and culture. Through land reclamation and municipal annexation Boston has expanded beyond the original peninsula. Its rich history attracts many tourists, with Faneuil Hall alone drawing over 20 million visitors per year. Boston’s many firsts include the United States’ first public school, Boston Latin School (1635), first subway system (1897) and the first public park in (1634).
The area’s many colleges and universities make Boston an international center of higher education, including law, medicine, engineering, and business, and the city is considered to be a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship. Boston’s economic base also includes finance, professional and business services, biotechnology, information technology, and government activities. Households in the city claim the highest average rate of philanthropy in the United States; businesses and institutions rank among the top in the country for environmental sustainability and investment. The city has one of the highest costs of living in the United States, though it remains high on world livability rankings.
Boston’s early European settlers had first called the area Trimountaine (after its “three mountains”—only traces of which remain today) but later renamed it Boston after Boston, Lincolnshire, England, the origin of several prominent colonists. The renaming, on September 7, 1630 (Old Style),[b] was by Puritan colonists from England who had moved over from Charlestown earlier that year in quest of fresh water. Their settlement was initially limited to the Shawmut Peninsula, at that time surrounded by the Massachusetts Bay and Charles River and connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. The peninsula is known to have been inhabited as early as 5000 BC.
In 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s first governor, John Winthrop, led the signing of the Cambridge Agreement.
State Street, 1801
Many of the crucial events of the American Revolution the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s midnight ride, the battles of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill, the Siege of Boston, and many others occurred in or near Boston. After the Revolution, Boston’s long seafaring tradition helped make it one of the world’s wealthiest international ports, with the slave trade, rum, fish, salt, and tobacco being particularly important.
Boston was an early port of the Atlantic triangular slave trade in the New England colonies, but was soon overtaken by Salem, Massachusetts and Newport, Rhode Island. Eventually Boston became a center of the abolitionist movement. The city reacted strongly to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, contributing to President Franklin Pierce’s attempt to make an example of Boston after the Anthony Burns Fugitive Slave Case.
In 1822 the citizens of Boston voted to change the official name from the “Town of Boston” to the “City of Boston”, and on March 4, 1822 the people of Boston accepted the charter incorporating the City. At the time Boston was chartered as a city, the population was about 46,226, while the area of the city was only 4.7 square miles (12 km2).
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