Greater Boston

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Boston Combined Statistical Area
Metropolitan region
Location of Boston Combined Statistical Area
Coordinates: 42°21′29″N 71°03′49″W / 42.35817°N 71.06369°W / 42.35817; -71.06369Coordinates: 42°21′29″N 71°03′49″W / 42.35817°N 71.06369°W / 42.35817; -71.06369
Country  United States
Principal cities
Population (2014)
 • Total 4,732,161 (MSA) or 8,099,575 (CSA)
 • Rank
Time zone EST
Area code(s) 617, 781, 857, 339, 978, 508, 351, 774, 603, 401

Greater Boston is the metropolitan region of New England encompassing the municipality of Boston, the capital of the U.S. state of Massachusetts and the most populous city in New England, as well as its surrounding areas. The region forms the northern arc of the U.S. northeast megalopolis and as such, Greater Boston can be described as either a metropolitan statistical area (MSA), or as a broader combined statistical area (CSA). The MSA consists of most of the eastern third of Massachusetts, excluding the South Coast region and Cape Cod; while the CSA additionally includes the municipalities of Manchester (the largest city in the U.S. state of New Hampshire), Providence (the capital of the U.S. state of Rhode Island), Worcester, Massachusetts (the second largest city in New England), as well as the South Coast region and Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Greater Boston's most impactful contributions to human civilization involve the region's higher education institutions, innovation, and scientific research. Greater Boston constitutes a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry.[1] The region and the state of Massachusetts are global leaders in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.[2]

Over 80% of Massachusetts' population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan region. Greater Boston is ranked tenth in population among U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, home to 4,732,161 people as of the 2014 U.S. Census estimate, and sixth among combined statistical areas, with a population of 8,099,575.[3] The area has many people and sites significant to American culture and history, particularly American literature,[4] politics, and the American Revolution.

Plymouth was the site of the first colony in New England, founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, passengers of the Mayflower. In 1692, the town of Salem and surrounding areas experienced one of America's most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem witch trials.[5] In 1777, General Henry Knox founded the Springfield Armory, which during the Industrial Revolution catalyzed numerous important technological advances, including interchangeable parts.[6] In 1786, Shays' Rebellion, a populist revolt led by disaffected Revolutionary War veterans, influenced the United States Constitutional Convention.[7] In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which swept the Atlantic world, originated from the pulpit of Northampton preacher Jonathan Edwards.[8] In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty"[9] for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution.

The Greater Boston region has played a powerful commercial and cultural role in the history of the United States. Before the American Civil War, the region was a center for the abolitionist, temperance,[10] and transcendentalist[11] movements.[12] In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Boston.[13] Many prominent American political dynasties have hailed from the Boston region, including the Adams and Kennedy families. Harvard University in Cambridge is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States,[14] with the largest financial endowment of any university,[15] and whose Law School has spawned a contemporaneous majority of United States Supreme Court Justices.[16] Both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also in Cambridge, have been ranked among the most highly regarded academic institutions in the world.[17]


Light Blue represents the area in Massachusetts known as Greater Boston, while Dark Blue represents the Metro-Boston area[specify][citation needed] and Red represents the City of Boston.

Metropolitan Area Planning Council[edit]

The most restrictive definition of the Greater Boston area is the region administered by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).[18] The MAPC is a regional planning organization created by the Massachusetts legislature to oversee transportation infrastructure and economic development concerns in the Boston area. The MAPC includes 101 cities and towns that are grouped into eight subregions. These include most of the area within the region's outer circumferential highway, I-495. The population of the MAPC district is 5,414,140 (as of 2010), which is 68% of the total population of Massachusetts.,[19] in an area of 1,422 square miles (3,680 km2),[18] of which 39% is forested and an additional 11% is water, wetland, or other open space.[20]

The eight subregions and their principal towns are: Inner Core (Boston), Minuteman (Route 2 corridor), MetroWest (Framingham), North Shore (Lynn), North Suburban (Woburn), South Shore (Route 3 corridor), SouthWest (Franklin), and Three Rivers (Norwood).

Notably excluded from the MAPC and its partner planning body, the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, are the Merrimack Valley cities of Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill, much of Plymouth County, and all of Bristol County; these areas have their own regional planning bodies. Northern Bristol County is part of the Greater Boston CSA, as part of the Providence MSA.

New England City and Town Area[edit]

Cambridge and Boston; MIT and Kendall Square in the foreground, and Boston's Financial District in the background

The urbanized area surrounding Boston serves as the core of a definition used by the U.S. Census Bureau known as the New England city and town area (NECTA). The set of towns containing the core urbanized area plus surrounding towns with strong social and economic ties to the core area is defined as the Boston–Cambridge–Nashua, MA–NH Metropolitan NECTA.[21] The Boston NECTA is further subdivided into several NECTA divisions, which are listed below. The Boston, Framingham, and Peabody NECTA divisions together correspond roughly to the MAPC area. The total population of the Boston NECTA was 4,540,941 (as of 2000).

  • Boston–Cambridge–Newton, MA NECTA Division (92 towns)
  • Framingham, MA NECTA Division (12 towns)
  • Peabody–Salem–Beverly, MA NECTA Division (4 towns)
  • Brockton–Bridgewater–Easton, MA NECTA Division (Old Colony region) (8 towns)
  • Haverhill–Newburyport–Amesbury, MA–NH NECTA Division (Merrimack Valley region) (21 towns)
  • Lawrence–Methuen–Salem, MA–NH NECTA Division (part of Merrimack Valley region) (4 towns)
  • Lowell–Billerica–Chelmsford, MA–NH NECTA Division (Northern Middlesex region) (15 towns)
  • Nashua, NH–MA NECTA Division (21 towns)
  • Taunton–Middleborough–Norton, MA NECTA Division (part of Southeastern region) (9 towns)
  • Lynn–Saugus–Marblehead, MA NECTA Division (5 towns)

Metropolitan Statistical Area[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 650,357
1860 830,998 27.8%
1870 978,346 17.7%
1880 1,205,439 23.2%
1890 1,515,684 25.7%
1900 1,890,122 24.7%
1910 2,260,762 19.6%
1920 2,563,123 13.4%
1930 2,866,567 11.8%
1940 2,926,650 2.1%
1950 3,186,970 8.9%
1960 3,516,435 10.3%
1970 3,918,092 11.4%
1980 3,938,585 0.5%
1990 4,133,895 5.0%
2000 4,391,344 6.2%
2010 4,552,402 3.7%
Est. 2014 4,732,161 3.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

An alternative definition defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget, using counties as building blocks instead of towns, is the Boston–Cambridge–Newton, MA–NH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is further subdivided into four metropolitan divisions. The metropolitan statistical area had a total population of approximately 4,732,161 as of 2014 and is the tenth-largest in the United States. The components of the metropolitan area with their estimated 2012 populations are listed below.

  • Boston–Cambridge–Newton, MA–NH Metropolitan Statistical Area (4,640,802)

Combined statistical area[edit]

Providence, Rhode Island

A wider functional metropolitan area based on commuting patterns is also defined by the Office of Management and Budget as the Boston–Worcester–Providence combined statistical area. This area consists of the metropolitan areas of Manchester, Worcester, Providence, as well as Cape Cod, in addition to greater Boston. The total population as of 2014 for the extended region was estimated at 8,099,575. The following areas, along with the above MSA, are included in the combined statistical area, with their estimated 2012 populations:

Principal cities and towns[edit]

Winthrop, MA
Cities and towns

Boston metropolitan area[edit]

The Census Bureau defines the following as principal cities in the Boston NECTA[21] using criteria developed for what the Office of Management and Budget calls a Core Based Statistical Area:[22]

Largest cities and towns[edit]

Cities and towns in the Boston CSA with at least 50,000 residents:

Rank City 2000
% change
(2010 to 2014)
1 Boston 589,141 617,594 655,884 +6.20%
2 Worcester 172,648 181,045 183,016 +1.09%
3 Providence 173,618 178,042 179,154 +0.62%
4 Manchester 107,006 109,565 110,448 +0.81%
5 Lowell 105,167 106,519 109,945 +3.22%
6 Cambridge 101,355 105,162 109,694 +4.31%
7 New Bedford 93,768 95,072 94,845 −0.24%
8 Brockton 94,304 93,810 94,779 +1.03%
9 Quincy 88,025 92,271 93,397 +1.22%
10 Lynn 89,050 90,329 92,137 +2.00%
11 Fall River 91,938 88,857 88,712 −0.16%
12 Newton 83,829 85,146 88,287 +3.69%
13 Nashua 86,605 86,494 87,259 +0.88%
14 Warwick 85,808 82,672 81,963 −0.86%
15 Cranston 79,269 80,387 81,037 +0.81%
16 Somerville 77,478 75,754 78,901 +4.15%
17 Lawrence 72,043 76,377 78,197 +2.38%
18 Pawtucket 72,958 71,148 71,499 +0.49%
19 Framingham 66,910 68,318 70,068 +2.56%
20 Waltham 59,226 60,632 63,014 +3.93%
21 Haverhill 58,969 60,879 62,488 +2.64%
22 Malden 56,340 59,450 60,859 +2.37%
23 Brookline 57,107 58,732 59,115 +0.65%
24 Plymouth 51,701 56,468 57,463 +1.76%
25 Medford 55,765 56,173 57,437 +2.25%
26 Taunton 55,976 55,874 56,544 +1.20%
27 Weymouth 53,988 53,743 55,643 +3.54%
28 Revere 47,283 51,755 54,157 +4.64%
29 Peabody 48,129 51,251 52,376 +2.20%
30 Methuen 43,789 47,255 52,044 +10.13%


Population density[edit]

The most densely populated census tracts in the Boston CSA (2010):[24]

Rank City or neighborhood Census tract Population Population density
/sq mi /km2
1 Fenway–Kenmore 10404 5,817 110,108 285,180
2 Fenway–Kenmore 10403 3,003 87,828 227,470
3 Fenway–Kenmore 10408 1,426 85,137 220,500
4 Beacon Hill 202 3,649 80,851 209,400
5 North End 301 1,954 66,288 171,690
6 North End 302 1,665 64,642 167,420
7 North End 304 2,451 58,435 151,350
8 Cambridge 3539 7,090 56,819 147,160
9 Back Bay 10801 2,783 56,534 146,420
10 East Boston 502 5,231 55,692 144,240

Race and ethnicity[edit]

The 40 most diverse Census tracts in the Boston CSA:[24]

The 40 census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino:[24]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Black American:[24]

Boston's Chinatown, with its paifang gate, is home to many Chinese and also Vietnamese restaurants.

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Asian American:[24]

St. Patrick's Day Parade in Scituate, Massachusetts, in Plymouth County, the municipality with the highest percentage identifying Irish ancestry in the United States, at 47.5% in 2010.[25] Irish Americans constitute the largest ethnicity in Greater Boston.

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Irish American:[26]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Italian American:[27]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Portuguese American:[28]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with French or French Canadian listed as first ancestry:[29]

Boston gay pride march, held annually in June


Greater Boston has a sizable Jewish community, estimated at between 210,000 people,[30][31] and 261,000[32] or 5–6% of the Greater Boston metro population, compared with about 2% for the nation as a whole. Contrary to national trends, the number of Jews in Greater Boston has been growing, fueled by the fact that 60% of children in Jewish mixed-faith families are raised Jewish, compared with roughly one in three nationally.[30]

The City of Boston also has one of the largest LGBT populations per capita. It ranks fifth of all major cities in the country (behind San Francisco, and slightly behind Seattle, Atlanta, and Minneapolis respectively), with 12.3% of the city identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.[33]

Higher education[edit]

Harvard University and MIT are both widely regarded as in the top handful of universities worldwide for academic research in various disciplines.[17]

A long established center of higher education, the area includes many community colleges, two-year schools, and internationally prominent undergraduate and graduate institutions. The graduate schools include highly regarded schools of law, medicine, business, technology, international relations, public health, education, and religion.

Selected statistics[edit]

Changes in house prices for the Greater Boston area are publicly tracked on a regular basis using the Case–Shiller index; the statistic is published by Standard & Poor's and is also a component of S&P's 10-city composite index of the value of the residential real estate market.

Major companies[edit]


(regional headquarters)



Main article: Sports in Boston
Club Sport League Stadium Established League titles
Boston Breakers Soccer National Women's Soccer League Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium (Boston) 2008
Boston Bruins Ice hockey National Hockey League TD Garden (Boston) 1924 6 Stanley Cups
7 Eastern Conference Titles
Boston Cannons Lacrosse Major League Lacrosse Harvard Stadium (Boston) 2001 1 MLL Championship
Boston Celtics Basketball National Basketball Association TD Garden (Boston) 1946 17 NBA Championships
21 Eastern Conference Titles
Boston Lobsters Team tennis World TeamTennis Manchester Athletic Club (Manchester-by-the-Sea) 2005 (1974)
Boston Pride Ice hockey National Women's Hockey League Bright Hockey Center (Boston) 2015 1 Isobel Cup
Boston Red Sox Baseball Major League Baseball (American League) Fenway Park (Boston) 1901 8-time MLB World Series Champions
13 American League Pennants
New England Patriots Football National Football League (American Football Conference) Gillette Stadium (Foxboro) 1960
(as Boston Patriots)
4-time Super Bowl Champions
8-time AFC Champions
New England Revolution Soccer Major League Soccer Gillette Stadium (Foxboro) 1995 1 US Open Cup
1 SuperLiga

Annual sporting events include:



Bridges and tunnels[edit]


Rail and bus[edit]

The MBTA district, with Commuter Rail lines in purple

The first railway line in the United States was in Quincy. See Neponset River.

The following Regional Transit Authorities have bus service that connects with MBTA commuter rail stations:

Ocean transportation[edit]

The Salem Ferry, 92 ft. Catamaran is photographed approaching its dock off Blaney Street at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site in Salem, Massachusetts, United States.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Douglas, Craig. "Greater Boston gains population, remains 10th-largest region in U.S.". Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Housing and Economic Development:Key Industries". Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  3. ^ "2014 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 18, 2016. 
  4. ^ Will Joyner (9 April 1999). "Where Literary Legends Took Shape Around Boston". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  5. ^ "The 1692 Salem Witch Trials". Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Springfield Armory: Technology in Transition" (PDF). National Park Service United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Shays' Rebellion". Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  8. ^ "The First Great Awakening – Jonathan Edwards". Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Faneuil Hall". Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  10. ^ "The Temperance Issue in the Election of 1840: Massachusetts". Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  11. ^ Packer, Barbara. The Transcendentalists. University of Georgia Press; First Edition edition (April 25, 2007). ISBN 978-0820329581. 
  12. ^ "Images of the Antislavery Movement in Massachusetts". Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Massachusetts court strikes down ban on same-sex marriage". Reuters. November 18, 2003. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  14. ^ "History of Harvard University". Harvard University. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  15. ^ Tamar Lewin (January 28, 2015). "Harvard's Endowment Remains Biggest of All". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  16. ^ Richard Wolf (March 16, 2016). "Meet Merrick Garland, Obama's Supreme Court nominee". USA Today. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b [1] Accessed May 9, 2016.
  18. ^ a b "About MAPC". Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Archived from the original on 2007-02-21. Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  19. ^ "MetroBoston DataCommon Population 05 - 14 years with Projections, analysis of data related to towns within the planning area". Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  20. ^ "Transportation Plan – Overview". Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. 2009. Archived from the original on August 29, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  21. ^ a b "Principal cities of New England city and town areas (NECTAs)" (XLS spreadsheet). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Standards for Defining Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas" (PDF). Office of Management and Budget. December 27, 2000. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
  23. ^ "City and Town Population for 2013". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  24. ^ a b c d e "Mapping the 2010 U.S. Census". U.S. Census Bureau. 
  25. ^ Jane Walsh (November 25, 2015). "The most Irish town in America is named using US census data". Irish Central. Retrieved May 8, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Irish as First Ancestry Population Percentage Rank of Census Tract within 100 miles of Zip Code 02176". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  27. ^ "Italian as First Ancestry Population Percentage Rank of Census Tract within 100 miles of Zip Code 02176". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  28. ^ [2][dead link]
  29. ^ "French as First Ancestry Population Percentage Rank of Census Tract within 100 miles of Zip Code 02176". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  30. ^ a b Michael Paulson (2006-11-10). "Jewish population in region rises". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  31. ^ "Cities with the Largest Jewish Population in the Diaspora". Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  32. ^ "Metro Area Membership Report". The Association of Religion Data Archives. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  33. ^ "12.9% in Seattle are gay or bisexual, second only to S.F., study says". The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company. 2006. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  34. ^ "2009 Globe 100 – Top Massachusetts-based employers". The Boston Globe. 2010-01-19. Archived from the original on May 22, 2009. 
  35. ^ [3] Archived March 10, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  36. ^ "Top Companies in Massachusetts on the Inc. 5000 -". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  37. ^ [4] Archived October 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  38. ^ "Who We Are & About Us - Vistaprint". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Wilson, Susan (2005). The Literary Trail of Greater Boston: A Tour of Sites in Boston, Cambridge, and Concord, Revised Edition. Commonwealth Editions. ISBN 1-889833-67-3.  An informative guidebook, with facts and data about literary figures, publishers, bookstores, libraries, and other historic sites on the newly designated Literary Trail of Greater Boston.
  • Warner, Sam, Jr. (2001). Greater Boston: Adapting Regional Traditions to the Present. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-1769-1.