Welcome To Boston!
Boston is one of the nation’s oldest cities, and one of its best preserved.
Even the streets and expressways follow the original horse and cattle paths
formed in the 1600s, which is why drivers new to the town find maneuvering
Boston with its many one-way streets and circles almost inscrutable. Fortunately,
Boston is an excellent town to leave your car behind and walk. The city has established
many self-guided walking tours in and around national historical landmarks. When you
tire of walking, MBTA, known by residents as “the T,” the oldest and some say the best
public transportation system in the country, will take you to within a couple of blocks
of any point in the city. Some of Boston’s neighborhoods have the original cobblestone streets,
which still are lit by the restored, original gaslights. Because of its roots in pre-Revolutionary
history, Boston is an excellent place to conduct genealogical research, particularly for families of
English, Irish, Italian or African descent. One of Boston’s nicknames is “bean town,”
probably due to the popularity of its port which hosted ships on long voyages where dried beans
were a staple food. All-day baked beans was a favorite hands-free recipe of early Americans,
which enabled them to prepare enough on Saturday to avoid cooking on the Sabbath, and dried beans
traveled well on cross-country trips.
Many of the names which have defined American literature and history, Longfellow, Poe, Eliot
and Emerson for example, were residents of the Boston area. Paul Revere and Cotton Mather
also flourished here. The houses where they lived, and familiar landmarks associated with
their routine activities, have all been faithfully preserved and provide the basis for many
informative tours and programs illustrating American and pre-Colonial history. Boston also
is home to the Kennedy family, and some of the oldest families in America who can trace their
lineage back to the Mayflower and to England before the exodus to the New World.
Also called the “flat on the hill,” Beacon Hill is headquarters for the Unitarian-Universalist
Church and home of the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers), two of the oldest religious
organizations in the country, where Emerson, Thoreau and other early Americans promulgated their
humanist and naturalist departure from Anglican trinitarianism, and is the birthplace of free
religious and philosophical debate interwoven with the early American politics that produced the
American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence. One of the oldest neighborhoods in Boston,
Beacon Hill also is the home of the Boston “Brahmins,” the oldest and wealthiest of American
families, whose row-mansions still stand on the original gas-lit, cobblestone streets.
Along the Charles River, separating Boston from Cambridge, you can enjoy a picnic,
skateboarding, rollerblading, biking or running in Boston’s largest park which runs
all along the shore.
Step back in time when you visit this largely Italian neighborhood, where you can
still buy groceries from open-air markets, fruit stands and small butcher shops.
Visit Newbury Street, the high-fashion, chic section of Boston, where the shops
are the most exclusive, and Commonwealth Avenue where real estate prices are about the highest.
Dorchester was founded before Boston, and now is the city’s oldest neighborhood,
having a mixture of wealthy Victorian style mansions as well as more common
housing built by the later influx of immigrants.
The South End hosts Boston’s more Bohemian persona, with its art galleries and cafes
perfect for late night snacking, and a growing community of gays and artists.
Cambridge and the North Side
Just across the Charles River bridge from Boston you will find Harvard University,
the nation’s oldest college, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and many
other schools with national reputations, in a relatively young community of scholars
and artists, which has earned Cambridge its nickname of Boston’s Left Bank. In
several “squares” that comprise Cambridge you will encounter antiquarian book shops with
one of a kind items, coffee shops with exotic blends and grinds known only to a few connoisseurs,
an international array of outstanding restaurants and a variety of live music venues each
specializing in a particular genre or culture. Cambridge is a multicultural town, and is a
microcosm of the worldwide academic community. The hotels and inns along the River are
some of the finest in the city, and offer the best views of Boston.
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