About This Place
As the capital of Massachusetts, the unofficial center of the New England region and one of the nation’s first cities, Boston is a major cradle of U.S. history. Covering slightly less than 50 square miles of land, the city is situated on an East Coast harbor that flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Boston was officially founded in 1630 and swiftly developed into a hub of commerce and culture, and later marked the front lines of the American Revolution.
Today, despite the modernity represented by its world-class academic and medical institutions, Boston’s deep history remains in plain view. Examples of American architecture—Colonial, Federal and Victorian, in particular—are plentiful and have much to do with the city’s reputation as a premier walking destination.
Popular Boston attractions include Trinity Church, an outstanding 19th-century structure located in Copley Square. Completed in 1877, the church’s dramatic Richardsonian Romanesque design stands in stark contrast to its contemporary neighbor, the John Hancock Tower. Sixty stories high, that glass-front building is the tallest in Boston and a visual anchor in the city’s skyline. Although its famed observation deck has closed, sightseers can head to the nearby Shops at Prudential Center for 360-degree vistas of the city from the 50th-floor Skywalk Observatory.
Those in the mood for hustle and bustle can visit Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Situated on nearly seven acres across the street from the waterfront, the market spans three buildings and includes shops, restaurants and food stalls. A landmark on Boston’s 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall is notable historically as the place where President George Washington toasted the nation on its first birthday. Faneuil Hall remains a forum for politics and ideas, and has hosted many famous speakers throughout its history, from Samuel Adams and Susan B. Anthony to former President Bill Clinton and author Ayn Rand.
Exploring Boston neighborhoods on foot is an ideal way to get a feel for their distinctive cultures and histories. Beacon Hill is home to the State House and to Boston Common, the oldest park in the U.S., which draws visitors to the tony shops and restaurants along the local tree-lined streets. Nearby Chinatown, the third largest Chinese neighborhood in the nation, welcomes visitors at its Beach Street entrance with a paifang, a traditional Chinese architectural form flanked by twin statues of mythical guardian lions.
Back Bay is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Boston, populated by elegant, and sometimes elaborate, residences. Highlights include Boston Public Library, a grand Victorian structure, and Newbury Street and Boylston Street for upscale dining, nightlife and shopping. The North End neighborhood—the Little Italy of Boston—is distinguished by its authentic Italian restaurants, markets and bakeries. Located in the North End are several Boston historical attractions, including Paul Revere's House, Old North Church and Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. Get over to the east side of town and keep on strolling through Piers Park. The East Boston neighborhood’s Harborwalk offers prime views of the skyline and grassy knolls for picnicking.