The “Wicked Smaht” History Of Boston
Having to explain Boston life, culture, and vernacular to people who have never been there has made me realize just how unique and amazing of a place it is. Non-locals always seem to be intimidated by the confusing capital of Massachusetts, wondering why words are never pronounced the way they are written (think Worcester, Billerica, and Gloucester). The famous “Boston accent” where “R”s are dropped at the ends of words still remains a mystery. But if its uniqueness has captured your curiosity, I assure you that Boston is truly WICKED awesome and has stolen the hearts of many.
WAS FOUNDED ‘CAUSE:
Boston is not only the largest city in New England, but it’s one of the oldest cities in the US. Founded in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England, it was nicknamed “City on a Hill” by the state’s first governor, John Winthrop, reflecting his dream of creating a model city in a biblical sense while referring to the hills of Boston.
The city was crucial in the American Revolution, as it was the site of the Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Battle of Bunker Hill and the Siege of Boston. Its rich colonial history is present in street names and even in the Boston Lager: Sam Adams, named after the Boston born Founding Father.
As an originally Puritan city, Boston gave rise to many schools and churches during industrialization. Literary pursuits led to the creation of many local magazines and newspapers, giving Boston the nickname, the “Athens of America.” In the 1800s, many writers, including transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, wrote in Boston. Walden, published in 1854 by Henry David Thoreau, was a celebration of nature and the simplicity of things. This love of nature and the environment lives on today in Boston with its strong views on climate change.
From about 1840, when textile mills were the growing form of industry, immigrants from Britain, Ireland and northern Europe came to the Boston area to work in the mills. Most of the Irish who left Ireland in the 1840s because of the Great Famine settled in South Boston, now known as Southie. The Irish influence was so strong that even today, non-Irish Bostonians and tourists get together in Southie for the city’s famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
In recent years, Boston has been in the news for several major events, most notably the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Though this was a shocking and scary time for everyone affected, only hours after the incident, the term Boston Strong was coined, showing unity and solidarity among Bostonians, even in the face of tragedy.
Boston is also often recognized for its excellence in sports. In 2013, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918. The Bruins have won six Stanley Cup Championships and the New England Patriots won their fifth Super Bowl this year in 2017. The competitive spirit and winning streaks of these teams has fed into the Boston pride, though in other parts of the country, it has created many sport rivalries. Alas, Bostonians have a lot of haters, but it’s all in good fun.
But Boston pride is not a new phenomenon, as people from the Greater Boston Area are sometimes referred to as “Massholes,” commonly drawing attention to the way in which Bostonians behave on the road. Unlike, New York that uses a neat, numbered grid system for its streets and avenues, Boston’s roads are a curved mess of one way streets that only Boston natives can understand.
Today, Boston continues to be a city that celebrates and takes pride in its rich history. With its Boston slang and confident attitude, giving locals the nickname “Massholes,” the truth is that Boston excels in history, character, sports but also in education, raising some of the best and the brightest. Boston boasts many of the finest institutions for higher education, making it an educational world leader, holding a reputation as the “intellectual capital of the US.”
The city also celebrates the arts, music and food scene. Boston is famous for its creamy New England clam chowder and other seafoods, dairy products and baked beans. Supposedly Boston’s beans gave the city the nickname, Beantown in the colonial era when they were baked in molasses. Boston natives, however, don’t refer to it as this and might opt instead for “The Hub,” later expanded into the “Hub of the Universe.” (There’s that Boston pride.) Local attractions include the Top of the Hub, Duck Tours, the Museum of Science, Quincy Market and Fanueil Hall, among others.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra celebrates classical music and is one of the “Big Five” of the greatest American orchestras. The Boston Ballet that performs at the Boston Opera House is also famous for its celebration of dance.
Traditionally, each year, First Night is celebrated on the night of December 31st, ringing in the New Year with fireworks over Boston Harbor. Other famous events include Boston Calling Music Festival, the Boston Marathon, and many more annual events at the TD Garden.
For whatever reason Boston has enticed you, I assure that you are not alone. Augustana famously wrote the song “Boston.” And if like the singer in the song, you need a sunrise and are tired of sunsets, then Boston is the place for you.