Boston, the ‘Cradle of Modern America’ and ‘Hub of the Solar System’! In the beginning, when the settlement took root in 1624, it was simply called ‘Trimountain’, given its location beside three hills at the mouth of the Charles River. This was before being named after the small English town in Lincolnshire.
The ‘Cradle of Modern America’ sums up its relationship to the country as a whole—as the capital of the original Massachusetts Bay Colony founded in 1630 and the place where the Revolutionary War against British Colonial rule was ignited, with the incident of the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
Harvard College was founded in 1638 in the Cambridge district over the river. Oliver Wendell Holmes, physician and writer born therein 1809, regarded Boston as the ‘Hub of the Solar System’ at the same time when others were calling it the ‘Athens of America’, during its literary and cultural flourishing of the 1850s. Today, the presence of such universities, colleges and research establishments as Harvard College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have attracted leading industries in cutting edge electronics, engineering, finance and biotechnology, and given the city a brilliant future.
Of Boston’s many famous sons, the statesman, scientist and inventor Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) stands in the highest regard. His Boston can be rediscovered on foot, and indeed, despite being in the acclaimed land of the motor car, Boston today refers to itself as the ‘Walking City’. The Freedom Trail is a physical manifestation of the birth of the modern American Republic— around 2 and a half miles of the city’s streets and sights. Also, Boston’s place in black American history can be discovered by following the 2.5km (1.6-mile) Black Heritage Trail, as the city was the destination of many black slaves escaping the South on the ‘Underground Railway’.
Boston’s sharp Puritan roots have been softened over the centuries, yet it retains an ethic of commitment to life as a whole, be that sports, pastimes, work, cafés, bars or culture. Boston has the typical East Coast climate of hot, humid summers and freezing winters. But, after all, the city that imported an English pub that became the model for TV’s Cheers, which hosts the Boston Pops concerts and gave the rock music world “Boston” is hardly going to be intimidated by the weather. Modern Boston is very much a reflection of New England on the whole. In autumn, the suburbs have white church steeples set against the turning colors of the trees.
Perhaps, after all, the city deserves to be called the ‘Rome of Massachusetts’, since all New England roads, physical and historical, lead to it.