Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America, North America

Founded: 1630; Incorporated: 1822
Location: Eastern Massachusetts on the Atlantic coast; United States, North America
Flag: Adopted in 1917, the flag features the city seal in white with a creamy beige border on a dark blue field.
Time Zone: 7 am Eastern Standard Time (EST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White 63%; Black 26%; Hispanic origin (of any race) 11% (numbering 34,200 in 1990)
Elevation: 6.1 m (20 ft) above sea level. Much of Boston's once-hilly peninsula at the head of Massachusetts Bay was leveled to fill in the tidal flats of the Back Bay. Now the city lies mostly on gently rolling terrain.
Latitude and Longitude: 42°35'N, 71°06'W
Climate: Generally mild summers and cold, damp winters. The city's climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, which moderates winter cold, increases fog and humidity, and makes Boston one of the country's windiest cities. With frequent spring and summer showers and regular snowfall in the winter, Boston is also one of the wettest cities in the country.
Annual Mean Temperature: January–1°C (30°F); July 23°C (74°F).
Seasonal Average Snowfall: Over 101.6 cm (40 in)
Average Annual Precipitation (total of rainfall and melted snow): 1,120 mm (44 in)
Government: Mayor and nine-member city council
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 617, 781
Postal Codes: 02101–02125; 02127–28; 02133–63; 02199; 02201–22


Three major interstate highways lead to and from Boston: I-95 runs northward along the Atlantic coastline in New Hampshire and Maine, and south to Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and beyond; the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) runs westward from Boston through Massachusetts and connects with the New York State Thruway; and I-93 extends northward (the Northeast Expressway) to Canada and southward (the Southeast Express-way) toward Cape Cod.

Bus and Railroad Service

Buslines serving Boston include Greyhound, Bonanza, American Eagle, Concord Trailways, and Peter Pan. Boston's main bus station is the South Station Transportation Center at 700 Atlantic Avenue. Travel times to Boston via Greyhound are four to five hours from New York; 11 hours from Washington, D.C.; and 24 to 27 hours from Chicago. Amtrak passenger trains arrive and depart from South Station and Back Bay Station. Express trains travel between New York and Boston in four hours.

Boston Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 574,283 (1990 Census)
Area: 125 sq km (48.4 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 63% white; 26% black

Metropolitan Area

Population: 5,690,000 (1990 Census)
Description: Five-city New England County Metropolitan Area (Boston-Worcester-Lawrence-Lowell-Brockton), including all or part of seven counties in Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire
Area: 16,800 sq km (6,450 sq mi)
World population rank1: 102
Percentage of total US population2: 1.1%
Average yearly growth rate: 0.5%
Ethnic composition: 91% 2hite; 6% black; 3% other


  1. The Boston metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of the total US population living in the Boston metropolitan area.


Major domestic airlines running flights to and from Boston's Logan International Airport include American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, and TWA. Many international airlines also fly directly into Logan, which is five kilometers (three miles) northeast of downtown Boston.


With 40 kilometers (25 miles) of docking area, Boston's outstanding natural harbor is the largest port in New England, handling over 18 million metric tons (20 million tons) of freight annually. Port operations are managed by the Massachusetts Port Authority.

3. Getting Around

Many of Boston's major roads—including Beacon Street, Storrow Memorial Drive, Commonwealth Avenue, Marlborough Street, and Boylston Street—converge at the Boston Common, the famous park near the center of the city. The major arteries of Charles Street and Atlantic Avenue form a semi-circle bordering the city's wharves.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA, known locally as "the T") operates buses, subway trains, and trolleys throughout Greater Boston, as well as running two ferry systems. Boston's subway system, the nation's oldest, was completed in 1897. The subway lines are color-coded Red, Green, Blue, and Orange, and cars run from 5:15 AM until after midnight. A separate Purple Line, providing commuter rail service to the suburbs and beyond, extends as far as Providence, Rhode Island. The 85-cent fare is paid by purchasing a token. Trains are labeled "inbound" or "outbound," referring to their direction in relation to the Part Street station. Buses operated by the MBTA provide service across the city and to the suburbs; fares are 60 cents.


Walking tours to Boston's compact historic sites are very popular. The best-known route is the Freedom Trail, which connects 16 historic sites in a space of less than five kilometers (three miles). Several companies offer hour-and-a-half to two-hour trolley tours. One-hour and hour-and a-half cruises of Boston's harbor are offered by Boston Harbor Cruises, Massachusetts Bay Lines, and the Charles River Boat Company, and longer cruises in the surrounding waters are also available.

7. Government

Boston has a mayor-council form of government, with a nine-member council elected at large and a strong executive branch. The mayor is elected to a four-year term; council and school committee members are elected for two years. Municipal elections, held in November of odd-numbered years, are nonpartisan. Boston has traditionally been a strongly Democratic city.

22. For Further Study


Excite Travel. About Boston. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Welcome to Boston USA. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. Massachusetts: Take a Real Vacation. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Massachusetts Port Authority. Mass port. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999

Government Offices

Boston Redevelopment Authority
Boston City Hall, Ninth Floor
Boston, MA 02201
(617) 722-4300

Mayor's Office
City of Boston
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 725-3914

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau
P.O. Box 990468
Prudential Tower, Suite 400
Boston, MA 02199
(617) 536-4100; (888) SEE-BOSTON

Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism
100 Cambridge St., 13th Floor
Boston, MA 02202
(800) 227-6277; (617) 727-6525

Other Resources

The Bostonian Society
200 Washington St.
Old State House
Boston, MA 02110
(617) 242-5610

Boston Public Library
666 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02117
(617) 536-5400

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
125 High St.
Boston, MA 02110
(617) 426-1250


Boston Business Journal
200 High St.
Boston, MA 02110

The Boston Globe
P.O. Box 2378
Boston, MA 02110

Boston Herald
P.O. Box 2096
Boston, MA 02106

Boston Magazine
300 Massachusetts Avenue
Horticulture Hall
Boston, MA 02115


Appleberg, Marilyn J. I Love Boston Guide. Illustrations by Albert Pfeiffer. 3rd ed. New York: Collier Books, 1993.

Campbell, Robert. Cityscapes of Boston: An American City Through Time. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1992.

Formisano, Ronald P. Boston Against Busing: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Frost, Jack. Boston's Freedom Trail: A Souvenir Guide. 2nd ed. Chester, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 1986.

Harris, Patricia, and David Lyon. Boston. 2nd ed. Oakland, CA: Compass American Guides, 1999.

Hitzemann, Marietta, and Ed Golden. Newcomer's Handbook for Boston. 2nd ed. Chicago: First Books, 1998.

Kennedy, Lawrence W. Planning the City Upon a Hill: Boston Since 1630. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992.

Lukas, J. Anthony. Common Ground. 1st ed. New York: Knopf, 1985.

Meerwood, Anne. Frommer's Irreverent Guide to Boston. New York: Macmillan, 1999.

Moore, Barbara W. and Gail Weesner. Back Bay: A Living Portrait. Boston : Century Hill Press, 1995.

Morris, Jerry. The Boston Globe Guide to Boston. 4th ed. Old Saybrook, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 1999.

O'Connor, Thomas H. Boston Catholics: A History of the Church and its People. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998.

O'Connor, Thomas H. South Boston, My Home Town: The History of an Ethnic Neighborhood. Boston: Quinlan Press, c. 1988.

Waldstein, Mark. Mr. Cheap's Boston. Holbrook: Adams Pub., 1995.

Wilson, Susan. Boston Sites and Insights. Boston: Beacon Press, 1994.


Boston: The Way It Was. Produced and written by Lorie Conway. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, 1995.