Calling this quaint and charming city the 'Athens of America' might seem a bit braggadocio（自夸）, but the city's 19th-century glory radiates through its grand architecture, its population of literati（文人）, artists and educators and its world-renowned academic and cultural institutions.
Disastrous 'urban renewal'（城市重建）in the 1950s provoked such a furious backlash that Boston now has some of the best preserved historic buildings and neighbourhoods in the country. Compact, walkable, historic and clean, the city blends old-world beauty and modern convenience.
Boston is on a small peninsula in the middle of Massachusetts' Atlantic Coast, a little over 320km northeast of New York City. Most of the city's sights are contained in less than 8 sq km. Cambridge (home of Harvard and MIT) is a short drive or subway ride north across the Charles River.
Called Trimountain (from its three hills) in its earliest days, Boston took its permanent name from the English town. The vanguard（先驱）of English settlers, led by Reverend William Blaxton, arrived in 1624 - less than four years after the Pilgrims arrived in nearby Plymouth（普利茅斯）.
The colony of Massachusetts Bay was established six years later in 1630 when the elder John Winthrop, official representative of the Massachusetts Bay Company, took up residence. From the beginning this was the centre of Puritan culture and life in the New World.
Puritanism was intellectual and theocratic, and so the leading men and women of early Boston society were those who understood and followed Biblical law - and could explain in powerful rhetoric why they did. Thus it comes as no surprise that the Boston Public Latin School was established in 1635 (and continues as an elite public high school today). A year later, Harvard College (now Harvard University) was founded in neighbouring Cambridge. By 1653 Boston had a public library as well, and by 1704 the Thirteen Colonies' first newspaper, the News-Letter.
Though the New England coast had many excellent natural ports. Boston was blessed by geography with the best of all. By the early 1700s it was well on its way to being what it remains today: New England's largest and most important city.
As the chief city in the region, it drew London's attention. When King George III and Parliament chose to burden the colonies with taxation without representation, the taxes were first levied（征收）in Boston. When resistance surfaced, it was in Boston. The Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party were signal events in the development of revolutionary sentiments, and the Battle of Bunker Hill solidified colonial resolve to declare independence from the British crown.
Following the Revolutionary War, Boston suffered economically as the British government cut off American ships' access to other ports in the British Empire. But as new trading relationships developed, Boston entered a commercial and industrial boom which lasted from the late 1700s until the mid-1800s. Fortunes were made in shipbuilding, maritime trade and manufacturing textiles and shoes. Chartered as a city in 1822, Boston's Beacon Hill was soon crowned with fine mansions built by the leading families, and Back Bay was filled in to make room for more.
These same prominent families also patronised arts and culture heavily. Though conservative and traditionalist in their general outlook, Bostonians were firm believers in American ideals of freedom and firm supporters of the abolition of slavery and the activities of the Underground Railroad.
As the 19th century drew to a close Boston's prominence was challenged by the growth of other port cities and the westward expansion of the national borders, and New England's economic boom turned into a bust when the textile and shoe factories moved to cheaper labour markets in the South.
In the 20th century the city became more culturally diverse than ever before. The city's ethnic and economic profile had already been significantly altered by the 19th-century arrival of thousands of Irish immigrants, driven from home by devastating potato famines. The cultural mix grew more diverse with 20th century arrivals from Italy, the Ottoman Empire and Portugal.
Economically, Boston became more of a satellite than a hub, although it remained a prominent centre for medical education, treatment and research, and USA's premiere university centre. Many graduates choose to remain in the Boston area, which has helped fuel a local booming commerce in computer research, development and manufacturing.
For all its ties to the past, Boston has always looked forward. The new millennium saw Boston entering a renaissance, thanks to the near-completion of the 'Big Dig' - an ambitious public works project to place the Central Expressway underground. Wealthy young professionals are moving back to the city in droves and, since the demise of rent control in the mid-1990s, they are the only ones who can reasonably afford to live there! Affluent and comfortable, Boston remains at the centre of US intellectual life.