The City of Boston is situated in the state of Massachusetts. With a population of 675,647, it is ranked as the 24th most populous in the United States. It is considered one of the oldest municipalities in the US, having been founded in 1630 when it was known initially as Shawmut Peninsula.
On September 1, 1897, Boston became the first US city to open a subway station, with over 100,000 people taking a trip that day. Today, it serves over 1.3 million passengers daily across the system.
America’s oldest university, Harvard University, which is in Boston, has a famous statue supposed to be of its founder John Harvard which you can find in Harvard Yard. However, did you know that no one knows what he actually looked like as this was in the 1600s? Instead, a student named Sherman Hoar sat in for the sculpture.
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List of Boston Nicknames
That said, let’s explore the most famous nicknames for Boston.
1. The City on a Hill
“A City on a Hill” is a phrase from the bible in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. It was invoked as a nickname for Boston by English-born Puritan leader and first governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop. It also refers to the original three hills of Boston.
Boston is nicknamed “Beantown” after the local popularity of its baked beans. This worldwide dish has many variations, with the Boston version being navy or white pea beans sweetened with molasses and baked on a low heat for hours. However, not everyone likes this name.
3. Athens of America
A lesser-known nickname for Boston is the “Athens of America,” used mainly in literary circles during the first half of the 20th century. The origin is believed to be in a letter written in 1764 by Samuel Adams. Like ancient Athens, Boston was predicted early on to be a city of great statesmen, inspiring artists, and profound thinkers, headed by members of the “happy and respectable classes” who would assume responsibility for the safety, welfare, and education of the “less prosperous portions of the community.”
4. The Hub
Boston is often referred to as “The Hub,” which is short for “The Hub of the Solar System” or “The Hub of the Universe.” The name is based on a physical place, the Massachusetts State House. The author, Oliver Wendell Holmes, mockingly described the State House in Boston by that name in 1858.
5. City of Notions
The nickname “City of Notions” is one that Boston earned in the early 19th century for being a font of innovation and ideas.
6. Cradle of Liberty
Boston was at the center of several important historical events, meetings, and revolutionary activities in the mid-to-late-1700s, including the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. These events helped shape the United States that broke away from the British colonies. Consequently, Boston’s moniker as the “Cradle of Liberty” became established.
7. City of Champions
The “City of Champions” is one nickname that Boston residents are certainly proud to be associated with. It is so named because of the overwhelming success of its sports teams. The New England Patriots are the most successful team in American football, having won 6 Super Bowl titles and 11 American Football Conference (AFC) championships. Other relatively successful sports franchises include the Boston Celtics, the Boston Bruins, and the Boston Red Sox.
8. America’s Walking City
Boston is regarded as “America’s Walking City” because of its compactness and high density, making walking a common mode of transit in the City. It ranks as the seventh-highest percentage of pedestrian commuters of any city in the United States.
“Dot” is originally a moniker for Dorchester, a neighborhood in Boston. It is often referenced as the origin of the stereotypical Boston accent, which may explain why it has grown to become an adopted nickname for Boston as a whole.
10. Puritan City
Boston’s alias as the “Puritan City” speaks to its history of originally being inhabited by Puritans. Originally called Tremontaine for the three hills in the area, the Puritans later changed the settlement’s name to Boston, after the town in Lincolnshire, England, where many Puritans originated.
For Boston’s historical dominance in professional sports, specifically the Boston Celtics, who have won 17 NBA Championships, and the New England Patriots, who have won six Super Bowl Titles.
12. The Olde Towne
Because Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It is also used in reference to one of its sports teams, the Boston Red Sox.
For obvious reasons.
14. Da Bean
Following its more common nickname as Beantown.
15. Bean City
Same as “B-Town.”
Based on how locals pronounce the name of the City.
17. Home of The Red Sox
After Fenway Park, home of Boston’s favorite baseball team, The Red Sox.
18. Old Reveretown
After one of the oldest towns in downtown Boston
19. Dirty Water
Based on a song by the American rock band The Standells, written by their producer Ed Cobb. It is a mock paean to the City of Boston.
20. City of Kind Hearts
In the book “The Story of Red Feather: A Tale of the American Frontier” by Edward Sylvester Ellis, Helen describes William Endicott’s kindness. He opened up his house, talked to her as a close friend, and they enjoyed each other’s company. The love and compassion made her call Boston the “City of Kind Hearts.”
21. The Big Crabapple
For its longevity and historicity.
Are there any other nicknames for Boston we may have left out? Let us know in the comments below.