interesting facts about Boston

7 Interesting Facts About Boston

It’s the capital of Massachusetts and one of the United States’ most famous cities, but how much do you know about Boston beyond baked beans and Cheers? From the nation’s first-ever Thanksgiving celebration to the country’s first public beach, here are a few interesting facts about Boston that you might not have heard before. 

Interesting facts about Boston

1. Boston is home to the oldest park in the United States

Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States. Located in downtown Boston, the park dates back to 1634. Originally, the park was used by William Blaxton, the city’s first European settler, as a cow pasture. Affluent townspeople decided to introduce a tax of six shillings to purchase the land from him, to use it as a community common. For a short period, the British used the site as a camp in the American Revolutionary War, then for public hangings. It gained “park” status in 1804. Today, it encompasses 40 acres and is part of the Emerald Necklace of parks from Common south to Franklin Park in Jamaica Plain. It’s a popular spot for concerts, protests, and ice skating. 

interesting facts about Boston

2. Boston built America’s first subway

London might boast the oldest underground subway network in the world, but when it comes to the United States, Boston was first. The city opened its first station – Tremont Street Subway – in 1897. It ran to the entrance of Boston Public Garden and Haymarket Square. Park Street opened in 1897, followed by a handful of other stations including Scollay Station. It became “Government Center” station in 1963 and still operates today. 

Boston had serious issues with overcrowding and congestion, and frequent blizzards and storms would clog up the streets, so introducing an alternative form of transport became a planning priority. 

interesting facts about Boston
Editorial credit: cdrin / Shutterstock.com

3. Boston boasts the United States’ first public beach 

Revere Beach, billed as the first public beach in America, is five miles north of Boston. In 1895, the Metropolitan Park Commission was entrusted with nearly three miles of sandy shores from a private owner. They chose Charles Eliot to design the beach, who moved the railroad from the beach to its current position and demolished 100 structures in the process. Revere Beach opened as a public beach in July 1896. Records claim that as many as 45,000 people descended onto the sandy stretch on its only day.

Over the next few decades, restaurants, ballrooms, dance halls, bowling alleys, and theme parks sprung up along the beach. In 1920, it was the site of the Revere Beach riot. It saw a period of decline from the 1950s, though things are looking up for the historic beach thanks to a major regeneration project.

interesting facts about Boston
Editorial credit: PhillipJR / Shutterstock.com

4. The world’s biggest art heist happened in Boston 

The Isabella Stewart Garner Museum saw the biggest art heist in history. In March 1990, thieves impersonating police officers took off with 13 celebrated paintings amounting to more than 500 million dollars. The mystery has never been solved and the government is still offering a bounty of USD 10 million for the recovery of the lost art. 

5. Boston claims it hosted the first-ever Thanksgiving celebration

The nation’s first official Thanksgiving feast took place in Boston in 1621.  According to local lore, the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts in 1620 but faced a harsh winter. They celebrated Thanksgiving in Boston in the autumn of 1621 to celebrate the first harvest. 

However, according to the Texas Society Daughters of American Colonists, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and an army of over 1,000 men observed the first thanksgiving in 1541. 

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6. Boston is named after a small English town 

Boston is named after a little-known town around 100 miles north of London, in Lincolnshire. Many of the Puritans who arrived here in the early 17th century originated from the tiny town. 

Before this, Boston, originally inhabited by Algonquian Tribes, was Shawmut Peninsula. Shawmut means “living waters” in Algonquian. 

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7.  Boston banned Happy Hours 

On the lookout for cheap booze deals in Boston? You’ll need to hotfoot out of the city. Authorities banned Happy Hours in 1984 in Boston following a particularly bad spell of drunken driving accidents. Governor Michael Dukakis signed a ban prohibiting bars and restaurants from selling discounted alcoholic beers – and the law is still in effect today.

 

Allie D'Almo

Allie is a passionate traveller with a hearty interest in great food and stories. She likes to travel slowly, particularly to underrated and underloved places. She’s lived in Italy and is now based in London, where she spends most of her time either plotting her next trip or writing about her last one.

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