Boston is sometimes accused of having an inferiority complex compared to New York City, its larger, louder neighbor to the south. There’s a hint of jealousy in one of Boston’s many nicknames, “the hub of the universe,” but Beantown, a more humble moniker that refers to a dietary staple during colonial times, has several sides to its personality. Today, Boston has more art and culture venues per capita than its southern neighbor—and architecture that’s every bit as good. This is reflected in yet another sobriquet: “The Athens of America.”
The Puritans founded Boston in 1626, just six years after the Mayflower landed in nearby Plymouth, Massachusetts. In the nearly four centuries since, the city has grown to encompass 49 square miles. While this compact area is home to roughly 570,000 people, the larger metropolitan region—which includes the adjacent cities of Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, and others—counts nearly 6 million.