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Boston HistoryRevering Boston's place in History
As the capital of the Massachusetts colony and the center of trade, politics and culture for the entire New England region, Boston played a central role in American Revolutionary War against Britain and in the establishment of the United States as an independent nation. Several key events of the Revolution took place in Boston, including the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and the “midnight ride” of Paul Revere. In the 1700s, Boston was the center of a thriving seafaring trade. After the Revolution and the War of 1812, Boston and the New England region shifted focus away from whaling and international trade and developed into a center of manufacturing thoughout the 1800s and into the 20th century. The 1800s also saw rapid expansion of Boston's population, especially through several waves of immigration from Europe, especially the Irish. These influxes of immigrants give Boston its unique cultural heritage.
After WWII, Boston struggled (along with the rest of the country) with issues of racial integration. The 1970s saw an economic boom that carried Boston through significant growth into the 1980s and beyond. Its economy centered on law and commerce, education and medicine. With its neighbor across the Charles River, Boston is home to the largest concentration of colleges and universities in the nation, including Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Tufts and many others. This spawned the two emerging industries in the Boston region at the end of the 20th century: biotechnology and high-tech/internet companies.
Boston is still tiny compared to other cities, with only 50 square miles. However, with a greater metropolitan are population of nearly 5 million, it now ranks as the 10th largest metro in the United States and the sixth largest economy among the nations cities.
Boston is a significant beacon in the history of this country, so it's difficult to come here and be oblivious to the people and the landmarks that have laid the foundations of the nation (like the Boston Tea Party, pictured right).
While we may have mentioned a couple of things you might want to see or do if you're in Boston for a few days, this section will give you a grander look at how much the city and people of Boston have shaped the rest of the country. The Boston National Historic Park groups of many of the landmarks that were crucial in the lead up to the American Revolution.
A good starting point, like we said before, is the Freedom Trail which showcases seven of the eight landmarks. A red brick line cemented into the ground will lead you through the greatest historic landmarks of the city. Starting off at Boston Common (though you can join up later at any point), your guide in traditional colonial dress will talk you through the facts on each location.
You then travel to Paul Revere's original house (where he lived during his famous midnight ride), and onto the statue of Benjamin Franklin (left) and the site of the Boston Massacre.
Some really fantastic tours and trails are also in the area, depending on what your interests are and how you want to go about it. Land or sea or both? The Boston Duck Tour uses WWII style tour buses that double up as boats! Drive along the Boston city streets and then seamlessly float your way along the Charles River where you get great views of the city.
Take your own midnight ride, hire a Boston rental car!
The Harbor Walk follows the Boston Harbor shoreline, a fairly long, self guided tour so you can take it at your own pace.
For a different kind of Boston city history, the old Bull & Finch Pub on Beacon Street was once the famous exterior of Sam Malone's bar in Cheers. It's now actually called the Cheers Beacon Hill, so it's even harder to miss if you were a fan of the show. You can find it on Beacon Street.
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