Culture in Boston, Massachusetts

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Swan boats in the Boston Public Garden.
The culture of Boston, Massachusetts, shares many roots with greater New England, including a dialect of the Eastern New England accent popularly known as Boston English. The city has its own unique slang, which has existed for many years. Boston was, and is still, a major destination of Irish immigrants. Irish Americans are a major influence on Boston's politics and religious institutions and consequently on the rest of Massachusetts.

Many consider Boston a highly cultured city, perhaps as a result of its intellectual reputation. Mark Twain once wrote of it, In New York they ask "how much money does he have?" In Philadelphia, they ask, "who were his parents?" In Boston they ask, "how much does he know?"[1] Much of Boston's culture originates at its universities.

Performing arts

The Theater District, south of Boston Common, contains a number of ornate theatres, including the Boston Opera House, the Cutler Majestic Theatre and The Wang Center for the Performing Arts. The most prominent professional theater companies are located at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge and at the Huntington Theatre, but small companies and theaters are scattered throughout the city, including at the Boston Center for the Arts and the Calderwood Pavillion in Boston's South End. The Boston Ballet is a world-renowned classical dance company. Street performers can be found in and around Quincy Market near Faneuil Hall. Every summer, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company performs on the Boston Common.
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Outside view of Jordan Hall, an important Boston concert venue located at The New England Conservatory

Boston is also home to a wide array of dancing - from bands like Boston and Aerosmith - to the world-renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra, the famed Boston Pops, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, the Boston Philharmonic, the Boston Chamber Music Society, Boston Lyric Opera Company, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, OperaBoston, and the Handel and Haydn Society (the oldest choral company in the U.S.). Major venues include Jordan Hall, Symphony Hall, and the Berklee Performance Center, as well as venues at each of the colleges and universities. Several important music schools are located in Boston, including the New England Conservatory for classical music, the Boston Conservatory for classical music, dance, and musical theater, and the Berklee College of Music for jazz. Every two years, the city hosts the Boston Early Music Festival, an international gathering for people interested in historical music.

There are also countless lesser known local musicians, thanks to a thriving underground music scene. In contrast to what might be considered the more "refined" aspects of Boston's culture, the city is also one of the birthplaces of hardcore punk and ska. Boston also had one of the leading local ska scenes in the ska revival of the mid-1990s with bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Allstonians, and Skavoovie and the Epitones.

Boston was also the center of a thriving and influential indie rock, college rock, post-punk and new wave scenes throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including bands like The Cars, The Pixies, 'Til Tuesday, Throwing Muses, Mission of Burma, The Lemonheads, Human Sexual Response, Galaxie 500, Damon & Naomi, Helium, The Pernice Brothers and Swirlies. Bands formed and located in the western part of Massachusetts in the college towns of Amherst and Northampton also had a major impact on the Boston music scene: important bands from western Massachusetts include Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr., Buffalo Tom, and Scud Mountain Boys. Other current notable bands and musicians who have been or are still based in Boston include Neil P. Howlett, Young Astronauts Club, T.W. Walsh, The Chainletter, Evan Dando, and many others.

Current music venues support a diverse array of live music throughout Boston. Venues support local bands, and showcase national touring acts. Clubs include the Middle East, T.T. the Bears, P.A.'s Lounge, Great Scott, The Abbey Lounge, The Paradise (a larger venue), and Avalon (a nightclub that features almost entirely national touring acts, and often shuts off the live music at 9PM in order to make room for the nightclub scene later that night). This scene is supported by local press including The Boston Phoenix and the Weekly Dig, musicians from local colleges including the Berklee School of Music, and more recently Boston-based weblogs and podcasts such as Band in Boston Podcast.

Further information: Boston hardcore

Visual art

Museums dedicated to the cultural art in Boston or Cambridge include the Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Afro-American Art, the Institute for Contemporary Art and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, as well as art museums associated with Harvard University, Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston College and other schools. Numerous art galleries are located on Newbury Street, in the South End and in the Fort Point Channel area. Some of the most influential and longest running galleries in these areas include the Bernard Toale Gallery, Barbara Krakow Gallery, Howard Yezerski Gallery and the formerly cooperative space Gallery NAGA. The Boston Art Dealers Association sponsors artist talks, panels and awards ceremonies on a seasonal basis.

In addition, the Boston Public Library and the Boston Athenæum each have large collections of art, books, and research materials, and regularly host cultural events and exhibits. The BPL collects and exhibits drawings by living Boston artists, and the Athenæum hosts annual shows by member artists.


Several major events occur annually in Boston. One of the best-known is the Boston Marathon, one of the oldest and most prestigious marathon races in the world. Taking place on the third Monday in April, the Marathon attracts professional runners from all over the world, and hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents gather to watch and cheer on the runners, who range from first-time participants to well-known athletes.

Boston was also the first major city to host the annual First Night festival, which occurs during New Year's Eve. It is a major arts and activity festival which attracts over 1.5 million people. Started in 1976, it has since been emulated in other cities worldwide. The Saint Patrick's Day Parade occurs in March and is popular with the city's large Irish population.

The Boston LBGT Pride parade and festival attracts approximately 400,000 participants each June. The Boston Globe Jazz and Blues Festival also takes place each June, and the Boston Early Music Festival takes place every odd-numbered year. During the summer, there are musical performances at the Bank of America Pavilion on the South Boston waterfront. Also during the summer is Harborfest, a week-long festival celebrating American independence. Independence Day itself (the Fourth of July) is celebrated on the Charles River Esplanade; sunbathers and a flotilla of boats move in during the day, followed by fireworks after dark accompanied by classical and patriotic music performed by the Boston Pops.

The Boston Film Festival is held annually in early September. Also, the weekend following Labor Day, the boutiques on Newbury Street close as over thirty art galleries spill out onto the street, providing access to their contents during Art Newbury Street.


Cuisine in Boston is similar to the rest of New England cuisine, in that it has a large emphasis on seafood and dairy products. Its most well-known dishes are New England clam chowder, fish and chips (usually with cod or scrod), baked beans, lobsters, steamed clams, and fried clams.

Boston has many restaurants, including those serving various ethnic cuisines. Since the 1980s Boston has been undergoing an unexpected Renaissance in its culinary life, spearheaded by chefs of national stature such as Jasper White, Ming Tsai, and Todd English. Their respective restaurants, Summer Shack, Blue Ginger, and Olives have greatly enhanced foodie options in Boston. Julia Child's influence, as a long-time Cambridge, MA resident and PBS TV star, lives on as well.

The Union Oyster House is the oldest operating restaurant in the United States.[2] Their menu includes oysters on the half-shell served straight from an oyster bar, New England clam chowder, and other seafood dishes. Quincy Market, part of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, has a variety of restaurants and food shops. Nearby Cheers is a popular tourist dining spot.

Chinatown has a variety of Asian restaurants, bakeries, and stores. In addition to dim sum, there are several Japanese, Korean and Thai restaurants in the neighborhood.

The North End has a variety of Italian restaurants. Newbury Street has many ethnic street cafes, while Copley Place houses a multitude of restaurants including a food court in Prudential Center, also the home of Legal Sea Foods, a New England institution that offers gourmet seafood dishes.

See also


1. ^ Phelan, Joseph (11-2004). Boston Marathon. Artcyclopedia. Accessed October 1, 2005.
2. ^ History of the Union Oyster House. Union Oyster House, Boston, MA at


  • The Boston Indicators Project (2004). The Boston Foundation.
  • Patricia Harris and David Lyon (1999). Boston. Oakland, CA: Compass American Guides. ISBN 0-679-00284-7. 
  • Rambow, John D. et. al (2003). Fodor's Boston. New York: Fodors Travel Publication. ISBN 1-4000-1028-4. 

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Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning "to cultivate,") generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significant importance.
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Boston, Massachusetts

Nickname: Beantown, The Hub (of the Universe), The Cradle of Liberty, City on the Hill, Athens of America
Location in Suffolk County in Massachusetts, USA
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New England

Political history
Chartering as Plymouth Council for New England 1620
Formation as United Colonies of New England 1643
Formation as Dominion of New England 1686
Admission to U.S.
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The Boston accent is the English dialect not only of the city of Boston, Massachusetts itself but also much of eastern Massachusetts. The Boston accent and closely related accents can be heard commonly in an area stretching throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.
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Irish people (Irish: Muintir na hÉireann, na hÉireannaigh, na Gaeil) are a European ethnic group who originated in Ireland, in north western Europe.
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Immigration is the movement of people from one place to another. While human migration has existed throughout human history, immigration implies long-term permanent residence (and often eventual citizenship) by the immigrants: tourists and short-term visitors are not considered
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35,975,855 Americans
[1] 12% of the US population (2006)

Regions with significant populations Throughout the entire Northeastern United States, much of the Northwestern United States, the West Coast, Southern United States and Midwestern United
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Boston Common is a popular public park in Boston, Massachusetts. Dating from 1634, it is the oldest city park in the United States. Its area is 50 acres (202,000 m²). The Common is bounded by Tremont Street, Park Street, Beacon Street, Charles Street, and Boylston Street, and
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The first Boston Opera House was built in 1901 on Huntington Ave. in Boston, Massachusetts. [1] It was described as a "perfect jewel-box of an opera house" and despite its smallish size, was the venue for many of the local opera companies, as well as the Metropolitan
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The Cutler Majestic Theatre at Emerson College, in Boston, Massachusetts, is a 1903 "Beaux Arts" style opera house, designed by the architect John Galen Howard. Originally built for Theatre, one of three theatres built in Boston by Eben Dyer Jordan, son of the founder of Jordan
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Citi Performing Arts Center, formerly the Wang Center for the Performing Arts, is located in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. It consists of two theatres, the Wang Theatre and the Shubert Theatre, both of which are neighbors on Tremont Street in Boston's Theatre District.
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The American Repertory Theatre (or A.R.T.) is housed in the Loeb Drama Center at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1980 by Robert Brustein . Its last artistic director was Robert Woodruff.
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The Boston Center for the Arts (BCA), in the South End, Boston, Massachusetts, is a
"four acre complex that includes: The Cyclorama, built in 1884 to display a panorama painting, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Location: Boston, MA

Built/Founded: 1848
Architect: Multiple
Architectural style(s): Greek Revival, Late Victorian, Italianate
Added to NRHP: May 8, 1973

NRHP Reference#: 73000324[1]

Governing body:
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The Boston Ballet is a professional ballet company based in Boston, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1963 by E. Virginia Williams and was the first professional repertory ballet company in New England.
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Quincy Market is a historic building in a shopping center called Faneuil Hall Marketplace in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It was constructed 1824–1826 and named in honor of Mayor Josiah Quincy, who organized its construction without any tax or debt.
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Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Coordinates: _ ]

Built/Founded: 1742
Architect: Smibert,John; Bulfinch,Charles
Architectural style(s): Georgian

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The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) was formed in 1996 by Artistic Director Steven Maler and associate Joan Moynagh to bring free, outdoor Shakespeare to the people of the city of Boston.
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Boston Common is a popular public park in Boston, Massachusetts. Dating from 1634, it is the oldest city park in the United States. Its area is 50 acres (202,000 m²). The Common is bounded by Tremont Street, Park Street, Beacon Street, Charles Street, and Boylston Street, and
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Boston is an American rock band that achieved its most notable successes during the 1970s and 1980s. Centered on guitarist, songwriter, and producer Tom Scholz, the band is a staple of classic rock radio playlists.
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Aerosmith is a prominent American hard rock band, regarded by some as "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band".[1][2][3]

Although they are known as "the bad boys from Boston"[4]
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The Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of the world's premier orchestras. Its home base is Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, usually considered to be one of the three finest concert halls in the world.


The orchestra was founded in 1881 by Henry Lee Higginson.
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The Boston Pops Orchestra was founded in 1885 as a subsection of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO), founded four years earlier. Careful examination of the rosters of “Pops" or “Festival" orchestras, which are associated with a co-resident symphony orchestra in the
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The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra (not to be confused with the Boston Symphony Orchestra) is a semi-professional orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1979.
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Boston Lyric Opera New England (BLO) is an opera company in Boston, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1976. Its home has been the Shubert Theatre in Boston since 1998.

BLO is the region's largest and oldest opera company producing a season of professional, fully staged opera.
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The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) was formed by artistic director Gil Rose in 1996 as a full professional orchestra in Boston, Massachusetts dedicated to performing and recording orchestral music of the last century, and frequently gives world premieres of
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The Handel and Haydn Society is a chorus and period instrument orchestra in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1815, it is one of the oldest performing arts organizations in the United States.
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Jordan Hall is a 1,019-seat concert hall in Boston, Massachusetts, USA and part of the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music. It is located one block away from Symphony Hall, and together they are considered two of America's most acoustically perfect performance spaces for
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Location: 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts

Coordinates: _ ]

Built/Founded: 1900

Architectural style(s): Renaissance
Added to NRHP:
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