Boston

Boston

[baw-stuhn, bos-tuhn]
Boston, town (1991 pop. 26,495), 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 the town 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.
Boston, city (1990 pop. 574,283), 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.

Economy

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.

History

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.

Bibliography

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).

Breed of dog developed in the late 19th century in Boston. Bred from the English bulldog and a white English terrier, the Boston terrier is one of the few breeds to have originated in the U.S. It has a terrier-like build, dark eyes, a short muzzle, and a short, fine coat of black or brindle, with white on the face, chest, neck, and legs. It stands 14–17 in. (36–43 cm) high and ranges in weight from 15 to 25 lbs (7–11 kg). The breed is characteristically gentle and affectionate.

Learn more about Boston terrier with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Incident on Dec. 16, 1773, in which American patriots dressed as Indians threw 342 chests of tea from three British ships into Boston Harbour. Their leader was Samuel Adams. The action was taken to prevent the payment of a British-imposed tax on tea and to protest the British monopoly of the colonial tea trade authorized by the Tea Act. In retaliation, Parliament passed the punitive Intolerable Acts, which further united the colonies in their opposition to the British.

Learn more about Boston Tea Party with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Skirmish on March 5, 1770, between British troops and a crowd in Boston. After provocation by the colonists, British soldiers fired on the mob and killed five men, including Crispus Attucks. The incident was widely publicized by Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and others as a battle for American liberty, and it contributed to the unpopularity of the British in the years before the American Revolution.

Learn more about Boston Massacre with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Seaport city (pop., 2000: 589,141), capital of Massachusetts, U.S. Located on Massachusetts Bay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, it is the state's largest city. Settled in 1630 by Puritan Englishmen of the Massachusetts Bay Company, Boston became the hub of the self-governing Massachusetts Bay Colony under the leadership of Gov. John Winthrop. At the forefront of the opposition to British trade restrictions on its American colonies, Boston was a locus of events leading to the American Revolution: it was the scene of the Boston Massacre (1770) and Boston Tea Party (1773). It was the centre for the antislavery movement (1830–65). As the Industrial Revolution took hold in the U.S., Boston grew as an important manufacturing and textile centre. Today financial and high-technology industries are basic to the economy of the Boston area. Numerous institutions of higher education are located there, including Boston University. Seealso Cambridge.

Learn more about Boston with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Search another word or see Bostonon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature