Interesting facts about Boston

115 Fun Facts About Boston

Find out what “Beantown” is famous for with these fun and interesting facts about Boston. Also, see our fun facts about Massachusetts, where Boston is found.

Boston is one of the oldest cities in America. It is the home of Harvard University and the birthplace of the American Revolution.

General Boston Facts

  • Boston is the capital and largest city in the US state of Massachusetts, New England.
  • With 675,647 residents, Boston is the 24th largest city in the United States, putting it between El Paso, Texas and Portland, Oregon in terms of population.
  • Boston is the most densely populated US state capital.
  • During working hours, the city can swell to 1.2 million, or to 2 million during major events.
  • Boston is similar in size to Genoa, Italy.
  • The Greater Boston Area, which includes Cambridge and Newton, has a population of 4,899,932 million, making it the 11th largest metropolitan area in the United States, between Greater Phoenix, Arizona and Riverside–San Bernardino, California.
  • Around 64% of all Bay Staters (Massachusetts residents) live in the Greater Boston Area.
Boston Harbor
  • Boston is located at the eastern end of the state, build around Boston Harbor on Massachusetts Bay of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The city sits at the same latitude as Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in Boston was 104°F (40°C) in 1911, while the lowest was −18°F (−27.8°C) in 1934.
  • Boston was named after the city of Boston in Lincolnshire, England. The name also derives from the patron saint of travelers, Saint Botolph.
  • One common nickname for Boston is “Beantown”, after the Native American snack of beans with maple syrup, venison and corn, which passing merchants and sailors developed a love for. The city has long been famous for its baked beans.
Exterior of Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts State House, the capitol building in Boston
  • Boston is also called “The Athens of America” after its leaders in the 1800s tried to make it a city of “happy and respectable classes”. The city has historically been known for its famous writers and thinkers.
  • Other nicknames for Boston have included “The Cradle of Liberty” and “The Hub of the Universe.”
  • Tourism slogans for Boston have included “You don’t know beans until you come to Boston” (in the early 1900s), “It’s all here”, and “We are strong. We are Boston. We are Boston strong.”
  • People from Boston are called Bostonians, though they don’t often use the term. There are some slang words for people from certain areas of Boston, such as “townies” from Charleston.  
  • 15.8% of Bostonians are of Irish ethnicity, the largest cultural group. Over 50% of residents of non-white.
  • The Boston accent is a local version of the New England accent. It is known for dropping of the ‘r’ sound and replacing ‘o’ with ‘aw’, for example, ‘hawkey’ instead of hockey. There is also a rich vocabulary of Boston slang.
The official city flag of Boston
The Boston city flag
  • The Boston flag features the seal of the city in the center against a sky blue field. Sometimes the flag is flown in a darker shade of blue or in a turquoise color.
  • Boston has 10 sister cities, including Kyoto (Japan), Strasbourg (France), and Barcelona (Spain).

Interesting Facts about Boston Places

  • The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mi (4 km) trail through Boston that connects 16 historically significant sights. These include Boston Common (see below), Massachusetts State House (the state capitol), Paul Revere House, a statue of Benjamin Franklin (who was born in Boston), the Boston Massacre site, historic churches, graveyards, and more.  
  • There are 57 National Historic Landmarks in Boston, a list that includes Harvard Stadium, Boston Athenaeum (one of the country’s oldest libraries), Brook Farm (site of a former utopian community), the Old City Hall, and more more.
A statue of Benjamin Franklin in Boston
Benjamin Franklin statue outside of the Boston Old City Hall
  • The Boston subway system is the oldest still-running subway system in America. It first opened in 1897 (New York City had an older one that only ran for a short time).
  • The tallest building in Boston is 200 Clarendon Street, previously called the John Hancock Tower, which has 62 floors and stands 790 ft (240 m) tall.
  • Other iconic buildings in Boston include the Prudential Tower, Winthrop Center, Boston City Hall, Old State House, Trinity Church, and Kresge Auditorium.
  • Faneuil Hall, often called the “Cradle of Liberty”, was built in 1742 for the city under the condition that it should remain as a public market hall. Today, it still is.
A historic building at Harvard University in Cambridge, Boston
Harvard University is the country’s oldest.
  • Some of the most well-known neighborhoods in Boston are South End, Back Bay, North End, Beacon Hill, Jamaica Plain, Charlestown, and Downtown.
  • Boston Common is America’s oldest public park. It was established in 1634 and remains as popular as ever before. It is known for its swan boats, which were made famous by Robert McCloskey in the children’s book Make Way for the Ducklings.
  • The first lighthouse in America was built in Boston in 1716 – Boston Light on Little Brewster Island. It was rebuilt in 1783, so the current building in the country’s second oldest, after Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey.
  • The nation’s first chocolate factory was opened in Boston in 1765 by Walter Baker. Today, the Baker brand is owned by Kraft Heinz, which is headquartered in Chicago.
  • The African Meeting House is the oldest still existing Black church in America. It was built in 1806 as an African Baptist Church.
  • Established in 1896, Revere Beach in Greater Boston is America’s first public beach.
Resorts by the sea at Revere Beach in Boston
Revere Beach, the country’s first public beach
  • The Museum of Fine Arts Boston houses nearly half a million objects, making it the 20th largest art museum in the world. It received 1.2 million visitors annually.
  • The USS Constitution is the world’s oldest ship that is still being used. Parked at Pier 1 at the head of Boston Harbor, it was first ordered in 1794 and is still used by the US Navy today. She has a crew of 75 Navy officers and sailors.
  • At the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, visitors can reenact throwing tea into the Boston Harbor at the same spot where the Sons of Liberty did in the famous 1773 historical event.
  • Humpback and fin whales can be spotted off the coast of Boston.

Boston Economy and Society Facts

  • The Greater Boston area has the 8th largest economy in the United States, between Houston and Philadelphia.
  • Boston is home to 7 Fortune 500 countries, including General Electric, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, and Wayfair.
A mosaic of logos of famous brands from Boston
Famous Boston brands
  • Other famous companies and restaurants that started in Boston include Facebook, Marshalls, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, Timberland, CVS Health Corporation, City Sports, Friendly’s, and Boston Market.
  • Samuel Adams, often considered one of the first craft beers that started a beer revolution, is made by the Boston Beer Company, founded by Jim Kock in his Cambridge home in 1984. “Sam Adams” is named after one of the founding fathers of the US, who was said to be a brewer. It
  • There are 35 colleges and universities in Boston, with the largest being Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the largest in Boston city proper being Boston University.
  • Boston has seen such a large drop in crime and murder rates since 1990 that it has been called the “Boston Miracle.” Still, its murder rate today is twice as high as high as that of Seattle, Washington.
  • The General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport is the 16th busiest airport in the US. It served 42,522,411 million passengers in 2019.
  • The Natick Mall is the largest shopping mall in Boston.
An airport flying over the sea beside Boston with some skyscrapers in the background
Airplane taking off from Boston Logan International Airport
  • Boston has 10 billionaires, which have a combined net worth of 33.9 billion USD.
  • In fact, Boston has the 14th highest number of billionaires in the US.
  • The richest person in Boston is Abigail Johnson, with a net worth of 21.4 billion USD.
  • 20.5% of people in Boston live below the poverty line.
  • Boston has the 10th highest percentage of LGBTQ+ people in the US, at 12.3% of the city’s population.
  • 65.5% of Massachusetts residents voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
A whole Boston cream pie with one slice cut out
Boston cream pie, the city’s signature dessert
  • Bostonians have made numerous significant discoveries and inventions, including disposable razor blades, Tupperware, the microwave, the telephone, the electronic voting machine, and the World Wide Web Consortium.
  • Justin White invented candlepin bowling, a kind of bowling in which the pins are tall and skinny like candles, in 1880. He was a local bowling center owner in Boston.
  • The Boston cream pie, the official state dessert, was invented at the Omni Parker House in Boston in 1856. It is technically a cake, but pies and cakes were cooked in the same pan at the time.
  • Besides baked beans and Boston Cream Pie, Boston is known for its clam chowder, lobster, frappes, cannoli, and roast beef sandwiches.
A ceramic dish full of baked beans
Baked beans are commonly associated with Boston
  • Some famous movies filmed partially or fully in Boston include Little Women, The Social Network, Gone Baby Gone, The Departed, Patriots Day, The Town, Black Mass, Manchester By The Sea, and I Feel Pretty.
  • The Cheers pub, which was the setting for the 1982 to 1993 TV series Cheers, is still welcoming guests for a pint at the bar in Boston, located across the street from Boston Public Garden, a park next to Boston Common.

Boston Sports Facts

  • Boston has been ranked America’s number 1 sports city.
  • The New England Patriots have the longest winning streak in pro football history. They made an NFL record by claiming 21-straight regular and postseason wins from 2003 to 2004.
The logos of five professional sports teams from Boston
Boston’s 5 pro sports teams
  • The New England Patriots also made history by appearing in the Super Bowl on 11 different occasions – more than any other NFL team. They compiled a 6-5 all-time record.
  • In the history of the NBA, the Boston Celtics are the most successful franchise, with 17 championships.
  • The Boston Celtics have played at four different arenas, with their present one being TD Garden (along with the Bruins). Before that, they played at Boston Arena, Boston Garden, and the Hartford Civic Center.
  • Chuck Cooper was the first African American player to be drafted in the NBA, by the Boston Celtics.
  • The Boston Red Sox were not always called by this name. Before the team was named the Red Sox in 1907, they were called the Puritans, Somersets, Plymouth Rocks, Americans, and Pilgrims.
  • Only two teams have played over 100 seasons in the MLB, and the Boston Red Sox is one of them (the other is of course their rival, the New York Yankees).
Aerial view of Boston, with Fenway Park visible on the right
Fenway Park from above
  • Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, is often called “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.” One of its trademark features is Green Monster, at 37-foot green wall that is a popular target for right-handed hitters.
  • In 1988 a stationary red seat was added at Fenway Park to represent the 502-foot home run hit by Ted Williams in 1946. The longest home run in the park’s history, 502 feet from the home plate, it hit a fan in the head in the 33rd row.
  • On October 27, 2004, the Boston Red Sox put an end to the so-called “Curse of the Bambino” after capturing their first World Series in 86 years.
  • One of the most successful teams in MLS history is the New England Revolution. They advanced to the MLS Cup 5 times in the league’s first 20 years.
  • The New England Revolution share the Gillette Stadium with the New England Patriots.
  • The Boston Bruins are one of the oldest teams in the history of the NHL. In 2024 they will be celebrating their 100th year as a team.
Gillette stadium in Boston full of fans during a soccer game
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough-Game Day” by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
  • The Boston Bruins are 26-time division winners, three-time Conference Championship winners, three-time President Trophy winners, and six-time Stanley Cup winners.
  • 12 championships have been won since the turn of the century by Boston’s professional sports teams: the Patriots won 6, the Celtics won 1, the Red Sox won 4 and the Bruins won 1.
  • Boston’s sports teams have also made the league’s finals on 11 occasions: 3 times by the Patriots, 1 time by the Celtics, 5 times by the Revolution, and 2 times by the Bruins.
  • The sporting success of the city’s sports teams has given rise to Boston’s monikers of “Titletown” and “City of Champions”.
  • The Boston Marathon is one of the world’s oldest annual marathons. The 26.2 mi (42.2 km) run from Hopkinton to Copley Square takes place on Patriots’ Day (3rd Monday) in April.
A fence at the location of the start of the Boston Marathon
The Boston Marathon starting location in Hopkinton
  • Boston made a privately backed and controversial bid to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Massachusetts. Eventually, Paris was chosen as the host city of the 2024 Summer Olympics instead.
  • Olympic Gymnasts Aly Raisman (gold, 2012) and Alicia Sacramone (silver, 2008) are from Boston.

Other Famous Boston People

  • US presidents George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, Rutherford B. Hayes, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George W. Bush, George H.W Bush, Barack Obama, Calvin Coolidge, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and William Howard Taft were born and/or lived in Boston at some point in their lives.
  • Actresses Uma Thurman, Jennifer Coolidge, Geena Davis, Maura Tierney, Eliza Dushku and Elizabeth Banks were born in Greater Boston.
  • Actors Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon, Chris Evans, John Krasinski, Kurt Russell, and Ben and Casey Affleck, as well as TV show host Conan O’Brien, were born in Grater Boston.
A mosaic of famous people from Boston
Famous Bostonians JFK, New Kids on the Block, Donna Summer, Uma Thurman, Aerosmith and Conan O’Brien (clockwise from top-left)
  • Singers James Taylor, Donna Summer, Rob Zombie, and Bobby Brown were born in Boston.
  • Bands formed in Boston include Boston (yes, the band), Aerosmith, Pixies, The Cars, New Kids On The Block, Extreme, The Mighty Might Bosstones, The Lemonheads, and Bell Biv DeVoe.
  • Boston has produced 10 Nobel Prize Winners: Robert B. Woodward and Walter Gilbert (chemistry), Emily G. Balch (peace), Henry W. Kendall (physics), Merton H. Miller, William F. Sharpe, and Roger B. Myerson and Eugene F. Fama (economics).

Boston History Facts

  • The Boston area was originally inhabited by the Massachusetts tribe of Native Americans going back to around 2400 BC.  
  • Boston city was founded in 1630 by English Puritans, practitioners of Church of England who wanted to “purify” the religion of Roman Catholic elements.
  • Mass transit began in the form of a family-owned and operated ferry in the early 1630s.
An old stamp showing people throwing tea into the harbor during the Boston Tea Party
Stamp commemorating the Boston Tea Party
  • Over the following decades, the Puritans built up the “Massachusetts Bay Colony”, including several “firsts” in America, such as first public park, lighthouse, etc.
  • Harvard University was founded on September 6, 1636, making it the country’s oldest institution of higher learning.
  • In 1770, England sent troops to Boston to quell unrest there, resulting in the Boston Massacre. 5 colonists were killed in the shooting,
  • On December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty dumped some 92,000 pounds of tea into Boston Harbor to protest against British taxes on tea, called the Boston Tea Party. The event would escalate into the American Revolutionary War (1765 to 1784).
  • In 1775, Paul Revere supposedly rode through local towns, famously shouting “The British are coming!”, although historical sources says he probably didn’t actually do that.
A statue of George Washington riding a horse in Boston Common
Statue of George Washington in Boston Common
  • George Washington expelled the British from Boston on March 17, 1776.
  • In 1793, ground transportation began in the city with private stagecoach operation.
  • In the early 1800s, Boston resident Robert Cabot Lowell built the country’s first textile mill, sparking the American Industrial Revolution.
  • Boston was incorporated as a city on March 19, 1822.
  • The population of Boston reached 100,000 in the early 1840s.
  • The first railway line in Boston started running on March 26, 1856. It was horse-powered.
  • The Great Boston Fire of 1872 caused $1.5 billion in damage (modern-day equivalent) and killed 30. It was one of the most devastating fires in US history.
  • Long Island (not to be confused with Long Island in New York state) became part of Boston in 1882.
A subway car in Boston running beside a road with a car on it
The Boston subway is America’s oldest
  • The first Boston Marathon was held on April 19, 1897.
  • America’s longest running subway was opened to the public in Boston in 1897 – the Tremont Street Subway. It was the 3rd subway in the world to use electric traction.
  • Logan International Airport, formerly known as Boston Airport, first opened on September 8, 1923.
  • The population of Boston peaked at 800,000 in 1950, but it has dropped significantly since then.
  • Boston Airport was renamed Logan International Airport in 1956.
  • On April 23, 1965, 22,000 people gathered on Boston Common to listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Glass walls of the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston
New England Holocaust Memorial
  • Facebook was founded in Cambridge, Greater Boston, on January 4, 2004.
  • The Boston Marathon Bombing took place on April 15, 2013. Islamic terrorists ignited two bombs near the finish line, killing 3 and seriously injuring over 200.  
  • In 2014, Boston submitted its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, but lost to Paris.
  • In 2021, Taiwanese-American Michelle Wu was elected as mayor, becoming the first female mayor of the city.

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