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Boston, Massachusetts

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Alternate meanings: Boston (disambiguation)

Boston is the capital and largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the USA. It is also the business and cultural center of the entire New England region, and was founded in 1630. As of the 2000 census, its population is 589,141. The Greater Boston metropolitan area, including nearby cities like Cambridge, has about 3.5 million residents. Boston is the county seat of Suffolk County. It is located at 42°20'N, 71°W.

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History Founded in 1630, Boston is named for Boston, England, the town in Lincolnshire from which the Pilgrim Fathers originated. Boston grew rapidly and became wealthy as the primary port for ships bound to Great Britain and the West Indies from the colonies. During the first 200 years the city was primarily composed of English Puritans[?].

On March 20, 1760 the "Great Fire" of Boston destroyed 349 buildings.

Boston played a key role in the American Revolutionary War. The Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party and several of the early battles of the revolutionary war occurred near the city. During this period Paul Revere made his famous ride. As a result Boston is known as the Cradle of Liberty, and historic sites remain a popular tourist draw to this day.

After the revolutionary war, the city continued to develop as an international trading port, exporting products such as rum, fish, salt and tobacco. It was chartered as a city in 1822, and by the mid-1800s it was one of the largest manufacturing centers in the nation noted for its garment, leather goods, and machinery industries.

While wealthy families able to trace their roots back to the Puritans continue to be powerful in the city (some called the Boston Brahmins) by the 1840s waves of new immigrants began to arrive from Europe. These included large numbers of Irish, and Italians giving the city an unusually large Roman Catholic population. It is currently the third largest Catholic community in the United States (after Chicago and Los Angeles).

The first vaudeville theater opened on February 28, 1883 in Boston.

In 1950, Boston was slumping. Few major buildings were being built anywhere in the city. Factories were closing up, and moving their operations south, where labor was cheaper. The assets Boston had -- excellent banks, hospitals, universities and technical knowhow -- were minimal parts of the U.S. economy.

But all that changed in the next 50 years and Boston boomed. Financial institutions got far more latitude, many more people began to play the market, and Boston became a leader in the mutual fund industry. Health care became far more extensive and expensive, and such hospitals as Massachusetts General[?] became major profit centers in the city. Universities, such as Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Boston University and Tufts University brought thousands of bright students to the area; many stayed and became taxpayers.

Finally, MIT and other universities became a source of high-tech talent. Many MIT graduates, in particular, founded successful high-tech companies in the Boston area. Powerful politicians such as John and Teddy Kennedy[?] and Tip O'Neill made sure Boston got plenty of federal investment.

High tech, education, finance and medical research, and health care are key industries and Boston has world-renowned cultural attractions (including the Museum of Fine Arts and two famous orchestras, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops Orchestra).

Yet Boston suffers from a parochialism one would never see in New York or Los Angeles. City and state officials fret about whether or not Boston is really a "world-class" city (usually when trying to convince a skeptical electorate to back some expensive project or another).

The largest art theft in US history occurred in Boston on March 18, 1990 when 12 paintings, collectively worth $100 million, were stolen by two thieves posing as police officers from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum[?]. As of 2003 these paintings had not been recovered.

Geography According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 232.1 km² (89.6 mi²). 125.4 km² (48.4 mi²) of it is land and 106.7 km² (41.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 45.98% water.

Law and Government Boston has a "strong mayor" system in which the mayor is the dominant force in city government. The mayor is elected to a four-year term by plurality voting. The City Council is elected every two years. There are nine ward, or neighborhood, seats, each elected by plurality voting by the residents of that ward. There are four at-large seats. Each voter casts up to four votes for at-large councillors, no more than one vote per candidate. The top four vote-getters are elected. The President of the City Council is elected by the Councillors from within themselves. The School Committee is appointed by the mayor, as are city department heads.

In addition to city government, numerous state authorities and commissions play a role in the life of Bostonians, including the Metropolitan Water Resources Authority (water and sewer) and the Metropolitan District Commission (parks). The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is responsible for Boston Transportation.

Demographics As of the census of 2000, there are 589,141 people, 239,528 households, and 115,212 families residing in the city. The population density is 4,696.9/km² (12,165.8/mi²). There are 251,935 housing units at an average density of 2,008.5/km² (5,202.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 54.48% White, 25.33% African American, 0.40% Native American, 7.52% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 7.83% from other races, and 4.39% from two or more races. 14.44% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 239,528 households out of which 22.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.4% are married couples living together, 16.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 51.9% are non-families. 37.1% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.31 and the average family size is 3.17.

In the city the population is spread out with 19.8% under the age of 18, 16.2% from 18 to 24, 35.8% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $39,629, and the median income for a family is $44,151. Males have a median income of $37,435 versus $32,421 for females. The per capita income for the city is $23,353. 19.5% of the population and 15.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 25.6% are under the age of 18 and 18.2% are 65 or older.

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See also: Mandela

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