What Is Boston Known for? 13 Things Bostonians Love About Themselves

Paul revere Statue and the Old North Church, Boston, Massachusetts
DArthurBrown/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Carlee Parsley

Updated: February 27, 2024

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Boston, MA, is one of America’s oldest cities. Founded in 1630, the city served as the landing site for many early colonists and, as time went on, the seat of revolutionary ideals. The Boston of today simultaneously celebrates that history while also looking to the future. There’s a lot to love about Boston, both for the residents and the visitors. Let’s explore the top 13 things Bostonians love about their city.

“City of Firsts”

Another first, the Bunker Hill monument commemorates the first major battle of the Revolutionary War.

Thanks to a longer history than most other U.S. cities, Boston has an advantage when it comes to “firsts.” The city’s dedication to innovation and growth led to the creation of several institutions we take for granted today. For example, Boston residents championed the first public school, Boston Latin School, in 1635 as a way to encourage formal learning in their children. Other firsts include the Boston Common as the first public park, the first lighthouse in America, the first telephone call, the first annual marathon, and the first American subway system!

Boston Harbor

The view of Boston’s skyline from the Harbor can’t be beat.

Boston is a city built on the water. In fact, Boston Harbor, its waters, and the 34 islands within it make up nearly half of the city’s area! The Harbor has impacted the Bostonian way of life since the colonists arrived on the Shawmut Peninsula. The Boston Harbor once served as the primary lifeline for early settlers, where supply ships would dock and unload necessary goods. Ample seafood from the Harbor also helped feed its community and give rise to the city’s penchant for seafood even today. Soon enough, Boston Harbor became a shipping hub for a growing America. Today, it serves more as a cultural and recreational hub for the city, with a 43-mile Harborwalk to connect areas of the waterfront.

Boston Tea Party

Boston Harbor and Financial District at sunset and Tea Party Ships & Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

The museum honoring the Tea Party also features replicas of the ships used at the time.

The Boston Tea Party stands as a huge moment of defiance in America’s history. In fact, it’s thought of as one of the main sparks leading to the American Revolution. December 1773 saw a group of colonists protesting the high tax rate imposed on British imports by dumping 340 chests of tea into the harbor. The group, known as the Sons of Liberty, destroyed the whole shipment of tea. The British government saw this as an act of treason. Today, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum commemorate the Tea Party at the Boston Harbor. 

The U.S.S. Constitution

The huge, three-masted ship protected merchant ships and America’s shipping efforts.

Also, in the Boston Harbor, the U.S.S. Constitution floats as the oldest naval warship in the world. The three-masted ship remains in service, and the U.S. Navy still uses it for training and special occasions. The U.S.S. Constitution, also known as “Old Ironsides,” was built in a Boston shipyard and served as a protector of American shipping. She served in two wars — the First Barbary War in 1801 and the War of 1812 — as well as the Quasi-War with France in 1789. Admirers can still visit the U.S.S. Constitution in Boston Harbor and take a tour of the ship during museum hours.

Boston Massacre

The cobblestone circle is all that’s left of the original road where the Boston Massacre took place.

Many events added fuel to the pyre that would become the Revolutionary War, with the Boston Massacre one of the first in 1770. On a night filled with anger, tension, and confusion, colonists harassed the British guards of royal money kept at the Custom House. The guards escalated, and, in the end, five Americans died. This event fueled anti-British rhetoric among colonists, continuing the young colony’s march toward war. Today, you can visit the Boston Massacre Monument in the Boston Common, the Old State House as the site of the incident, and the grave of the five fallen men in the Granary Burying Ground.

Freedom Trail

The Old South Meeting House’s steeple is a prominent stop on the Freedom Trail.

With so many historic sites to see in Boston, visiting can be daunting. The Freedom Trail makes it easy to explore the city’s history by connecting nearly 20 sites and monuments in a 2.5-mile tour. Developed in 1951, the Trail aims to educate and entertain guests and residents alike with stories of the past. The Trail’s stops include the Boston Common, the Granary Burying Ground, the Boston Latin School, Faneuil Hall, the U.S.S. Constitution, and many more.

Championship Teams

Fenway Park Boston - home of the Boston Red Sox - BOSTON / MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 3, 2017

Boston’s different teams have won championships in each of the four major sports in America today.

A different type of history has long called Boston home. Sports fans everywhere know of Boston’s teams — the Red Sox, the Bruins, the Patriots, and the Celtics. Amazingly, the Red Sox have played baseball at Fenway Park since 1912! Fenway Park has hosted the World Series 11 times and is a Boston icon for many. Meanwhile, basketball fans recognize the Boston Celtics as one of the most successful teams in the NBA. The team has won the championship title 17 times since its founding in 1946. The Bruins, founded in 1924, are the oldest NHL team in the country and have won six championships. Lastly, the New England Patriots — based in the Boston area — are tied for the most Superbowl wins and have sold out every home game since 1994!

Higher Education

Sanders Theatre Harvard University

Harvard University opened in 1636, making it the oldest university in the United States.

Boston’s history of innovation and trail-blazing extends to its educational standards. Two of the U.S.’s most prestigious schools chose Boston as their campus. Both Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) attract thousands each year and have solidified Boston as a hub for tech, robotics, research, law, and many other disciplines. Harvard University stands as America’s oldest school for higher education, while MIT spurred the nation’s industrial revolution.

Museum of Fine Arts

The MFA Boston features art from a vast array of styles and artists.

The 20th-largest museum in the world, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, contains one of the most comprehensive art collections in the country. Nearly 500,000 pieces bedeck the museum’s halls with a mission to stir emotion, create community, and prompt thought. The Museum moved to the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood in 1909 after 39 years at its original location in Copley Square.

Seafood

Lobsters and other seafood make up a huge part of Boston’s diet.

Located right on the water, Bostonians have always had access to abundant seafood. Clams, lobsters, and oysters play a particularly large role in the economy and food culture, and many fantastic seafood-focused restaurants call the city home. Though many places around New England claim to be the originators of dishes like New England clam chowder or lobster rolls, Boston’s claims hold more water than most. The Hotel St. Francis Cook Book, published in 1912, contains a recipe for “Clam chowder, Boston Style.”

Candlepin Bowling

The weight of the balls and pins varies between candlepin and tenpin bowling styles.

A uniquely New England take on bowling, candlepin bowling really only exists today in New England and eastern Canada. This style of bowling features tall, skinny pins that weigh more than the 2.5-pound ball. Fans of the sport claim candlepin bowling requires more skill and precision than tenpin bowling, which relies more on strength. The greater Boston area is home to a large proportion of these candlepin alleys, many of which also feature some of Boston’s best pizza.

Leaf Peeping

Fall in America’s first public park attracts many pedestrians and leaf peep is one of the things Boston is famous for.

Leaf peeping, or admiring the color-changing fall foliage, is an increasingly popular pastime in the fall. Thanks to an abundance of diverse deciduous tree species, New England — and the Boston area in particular — serves as a sort of leaf-peeping capital. Just picture it: the historic buildings, all white paint and red bricks, surrounded by trees shining with color that ranges from green to red and hits every color in between. Moreover, Boston foliage is dense. According to the Boston Parks and Recreation office, there are a staggering 160,000 trees within the city. This arboreal density and diversity make for a very colorful fall for all to enjoy. 

Every Season But Winter

Being so close to the water brings buckets of precipitation to Boston.

Speaking of the fantastic autumns in Boston, Bostonians love just about every season…except for their frigid, snow-filled winters. Spring, summer, and fall bring all the beauty of nature and the comfortable temperatures to match. Winter temperatures can dip to below freezing on top of feet of falling snow. However, if you have to get somewhere in the winter, Boston has you covered! The Winter Street Concourse is an underground walkway for foot traffic that connects the Park Street and Downtown Crossing subway stations.


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About the Author

Carlee is a writer and researcher with nearly a decade of experience that ranges from fiction to business. She loves to write about the outdoors, weird and lesser-known animals, and all types of flora.

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