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, borough, England

Boston, borough and district, E central England, on the Witham River. Boston's fame as a port dates from the 13th cent., when it was a Hanseatic port trading wool and wine. Having recovered from a decline in the 18th and 19th cent. caused by silting, Boston now exports coal, grain, agricultural machinery, potatoes, and cattle; it imports timber, grain, fruit, vegetables, and fertilizers. It is also a shellfishery center and a market for a rich lowland farm area. There are food-processing plants and other light industries.

Puritans under John Cotton sailed in 1633 from Boston to Massachusetts Bay (renamed Boston). St. Botolph's Church is on the site of a 7th-century monastery, founded by St. Botolph, for whom Boston is named (Botolph's tun, or town). The 288-ft (88-m) tower (called the Stump, because it does not come to a point) is a landmark. The guildhall, begun in 1545, was restored in 1911 and is now a museum.


, city, United States
Boston, city (2020 pop. 692,600), state capital and seat of Suffolk co., E Mass., on Boston Bay, an arm of Massachusetts Bay; inc. 1822. The city includes former neighboring towns—Roxbury, West Roxbury, Dorchester, Charlestown, Brighton, and Hyde Park—annexed in the late 19th cent.


The largest city in New England, Boston is an educational, governmental, and financial center and a leading fishing and commercial port. Its industries include publishing, food processing, and varied manufactures. High-technology research and development and computer and electronic manufacturing industries have flourished in the area, especially in the corridor along Boston's older peripheral highway (Routes 128 and 95). Tourism, much of it attracted by historic sites and cultural assets, has become increasingly important. Redevelopment in “the Hub” since the 1960s has focused on the Back Bay, where the John Hancock and Prudential buildings are New England's tallest, and on the city's compact downtown on the Shawmut Peninsula, where financial and other offices have been developed since the 1970s. Less than one fifth of the metropolitan area's residents, however, live in the city.

Points of Interest

Boston cherishes the landmarks of the past, especially in the narrow streets of the colonial city: the 17th-century house in which Paul Revere lived; Old North Church, famous for its part in Revere's “midnight ride”; Old South Meetinghouse, a rallying place for patriots during the Revolution; the old statehouse (1713), now a museum; the Boston Common, one of the oldest public parks in the country; Faneuil Hall; the gold-domed statehouse, designed by Charles Bulfinch; and the red-brick houses of Louisburg Square, among others. Famed Boston churches include King's Chapel, the birthplace of American Unitarianism (1785); the Mother Church of Christian Science; and Trinity Church (1872–77) in Copley Square, designed by H. H. Richardson. Boston Light (1716), at the entrance to Boston Harbor, is the oldest lighthouse in the United States.

Boston is one of the great cultural centers of the nation. In the city are the Massachusetts Historical Society (founded 1791); the Boston Athenæum (1807); the Boston Public Library; the New England Conservatory of Music; Symphony Hall (home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra); the Museum of Fine Arts; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; the Institute of Contemporary Art; the offices of the Christian Science Monitor; Harvard Medical School; the New England Medical Center; Massachusetts General Hospital; and Brigham and Women's hospitals. Educational institutions in the city include Boston, Suffolk, and Northeastern universities; the Univ. of Massachusetts at Boston, with the John F. Kennedy Library; Simmons, Emerson, and Emmanuel colleges; and the Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music. Together with such neighboring institutions as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge), Tufts Univ. (Medford), and Boston College (Chestnut Hill), they make up the nation's leading educational complex, a reminder of Boston's old nickname, “the Athens of America.”

The Boston Naval Shipyard (in operation 1800–1973) in Charlestown is the berth of the restored U.S.S. Constitution (“Old Ironsides”), launched (1797) a short distance away. The city is served by Logan International Airport, in the East Boston section. The American League's Red Sox play baseball in Fenway Park; the National Hockey League's Bruins and the National Basketball Association's Celtics also play in the city. The National Football League's Patriots play in suburban Foxboro.


Established by the elder John Winthrop in 1630 as the main settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Company, Boston was an early center of American Puritanism, with a vigorous, if theocratic, intellectual life. The nation's oldest public school, Boston Latin, was opened in 1635; Harvard, the nation's oldest college, was founded at Cambridge in 1636; a public library was started in 1653; and the first newspaper in the colonies, the Newsletter, appeared in 1704. With its excellent port, Boston held commercial ascendancy in colonial Massachusetts. As the American Revolution approached, it became a center of opposition to the British. The Battle of Bunker Hill, fought in Charlestown on June 17, 1775, was one of the first battles of the Revolution, and Boston was occupied until the British withdrew in Mar., 1776.

After a short postwar depression, Boston entered a period of prosperity that lasted until the mid-19th cent. Its ships made Boston known around the world. Prominent families built substantial houses on Beacon Hill, later in the reclaimed Back Bay section, and patronized the arts and letters. Despite the generally conservative tone of their culture, they backed reformers, notably the abolitionists. The growth of industry in the mid-19th cent. brought many immigrants, and Boston changed from a commercial city of primarily British stock to a manufacturing center with an Irish majority, evolving gradually into the diverse, institutionally based city of today. In 1872, a huge fire swept the city causing an estimated $60 million in damages. The city opened the U.S.'s first subway system in 1897.

In January 1919, a large storage tank containing molasses burst, causing an immense flood that killed 21 and injured 150 more people in Boston's North End. Cleanup took over six months and the harbor waters were brown well into the summer months. That same year, the city's police force went on strike, leading to widespread rioting in the city. Then-Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge broke the strike by replacing almost the entire force. Nonetheless, the event was credited with launching the movement to unionize the police locally and across the country. In 1920, the trial of alleged anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti began in the city; the Sacco-Vanzetti Case ran for seven years, ultimately resulting in their conviction and execution. In the postwar years, a massive urban renewal project was undertaken, leading to the construction of many highways that disrupted the city's old ethnic neighborhoods. The city's overall economy slumped as its white population increasingly left town to live in the suburbs. The city garnered additonal unwanted notoreity from 1962-64, when the so-called Boston Strangler terrorized women, murdering a total of 13 victims. Boston was a largely segregated city through the mid-'70s, and several riots occurred as the city tried to integrate it public schools. Anti-busing demonstrations proliferated and racial tensions ran high.

From the mid-'70s on, Boston enjoyed an economic revival. A major new construction project, the so-called "Big Dig," which began in 1991 and was marked by several setbacks, was finally completed in 2007, creating over 70 acres of new park land. The city also suffered a tragedy during the running of the 2013 marathon, when two bombs were set off near the finish line, killing three people and injurying hundreds more. In 2021, Boston elected its first female and person of color, Michelle Wu, to be its mayor, breaking a nearly nine-decade run of white, Italian or Irish men holding the seat.


See W. M. Whitehill, Boston: A Topographical History (1959, rev. ed 1968); G. B. Warden, Boston, 1689–1776 (1970); G. Lewis and M. Conzen, Boston (1976); H. C. Binford, The First Suburbs (1988); C. F. Durang, Boston: A Brief History (1989); L. W. Kennedy, Planning the City upon a Hill (1992); R. Campbell and P. Vanderwarker, Cityscapes of Boston (1992).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in the northeastern USA, located in the state of Massachusetts on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. The principal economic center of New England and one of the leading industrial, financial, and cultural centers in the USA. Population, about 630,000 (1969); with the surrounding suburban area, 2.7 million (seventh largest in the USA). Number of employed, 1.2 million (1969), including 25 percent in industry (of these 8 percent work in the city itself), approximately 50 percent in commercial and service activities, 4.6 percent in construction, and 5.8 percent in transportation and public service.

Historical sketch Boston was founded in 1630. During the 1760’s and 1770’s it was in the vanguard of the struggle against British domination. The Bostonians’ revolt against the stamp tax in 1765, their armed conflict with British troops in 1770, and the so-called Boston Tea Party in 1773 constituted a prologue to the War for Independence in North America (American Revolution) (1775–83). In the middle of the 19th century Boston was one of the centers of abolitionism. From 1921 to 1927 there were mass demonstrations in Boston in defense of Sacco and Vanzetti; from 1929 to 1933 there were strikes and hunger marches by the unemployed; and after World War II there were strikes by the dockworkers.

Economy Boston is the principal port of New England. Its cargo turnover is approximately 20 million tons. Imports are four times as high as exports, and the most important import is petroleum. It is the base for a fishing fleet. Boston is a major rail and highway terminal. It employs about 300,000 people in manufacturing industries. There is a predominance of various types of machine-tool industry—for the most part, complex and labor-consuming branches such as radio electronics and instrument making, the production of aviation engines, the production of parts for airplanes and rockets, electrical machine building, machine-tool construction, the production of industrial equipment (especially for the textile and shoe industries), and the manufacture of household appliances. There is also shipbuilding on a major scale, including a naval shipyard. Also well-developed are the chemical industry, the rubber industry (which produces rubber footwear and other industrial products), printing, and the food industry. Light industry (especially the production of shoes and woolen fabrics) has lost its former importance; most companies involved in it have transferred to the surrounding towns.

Architecture The following landmarks have been preserved in Boston: buildings dating from the colonial period (the Meeting House 1729–30; the Old State House, 1713, rebuilt in 1748; and Faneuil Hall, 1742, rebuilt in 1762–63), which are connected with the events of the American Revolution; C. Bulfinch’s buildings in the style of classicism, including the State House (1795–98) and a hospital (1818–20); the Public Library (1888–95, architects C. F. McKim, W. Mead, and S. White); the buildings of H. H. Richardson in the spirit of Romanesque architecture, including Trinity Church (1873–77). Since 1960 a number of sections in Boston have been renewed, and the following structures have been built: the Government Center (architect I. M. Pei) with a city hall (1969), large office buildings such as the State Bank (1966, architect F. Stahl), and the complex of Boston University.

Learned institutions and culture The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in Boston in 1780, Boston University in 1869, Northeastern University in 1898, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1881. The city also contains the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (specializing in the classical art of Europe and East Asia), and the Institute of Modern Art.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


arbiter of Puritanical taste as reflected in phrase “banned in Boston.” [Am. Usage: Misc.]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a port in E Massachusetts, the state capital. Pop.: 581 616 (2003 est.)
2. a port in E England, in SE Lincolnshire. Pop.: 35 124 (2001)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Due to its many alterations, however, the building steadily declined until 1880, when a group of citizens formed the Bostonian Society and sought out to restore the building and make it into a museum.
From New York, he initiated a theater column in the Jewish Advocate titled "The Bostonian on Broadway."
On January 31, about three weeks after the signs had been posted, a Bostonian called the cops to report a "suspicious object." The city responded in force, and reporters swarmed to watch demolition experts blow up the ad.
Tom Payzant had an extraordinary ten-year run as superintendent of schools in Boston, as described in Alexander Russo's fine story ("The Bostonian," features, Summer 2006).
The exhibit book captures this man's modus operandi nicely: "Cheverus spent 27 years inviting, but not pressing, Bostonian believers to join him in his faith, to explore their fascination with Catholicism."
The Post called McGrory, who as a Washington Star columnist won a Pulitzer Prize for her commentary during the Watergate scandal, "a major figure in 20th century journalism (and) a writer of lasting influence" After working for a brief stint at the Boston Herald, McGrory, a native Bostonian, found her home at the Star in 1947 as a book reviewer, according to The Associated Press.
Randall's 1964 biography of Balch, Improper Bostonian. I also read Balch's original report, Occupied Haiti.
Bostonian: Bostonian shoes are for those successful individuals on the "go" and who want a stylish dress shoe that can keep up with their variety of needs and activities.
The book describes the experience of a wealthy Bostonian named Julian West who somehow lapses into a hypnotic trance in 1887, awakening in 2000 to discover that America was part of a world union of socialist republics.
David Walker, a prominent black Bostonian, was perhaps reacting to Jefferson's life of unabashed hypocrisy when in 1829 he warned African Americans that they should remember the third president as their greatest enemy.
Editors credit the well-educated Bostonian populace, who smoke less, exercise more, and eat a healthy diet.