Greater Boston facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Boston Combined Statistical Area
Metropolitan region
Location of Boston Combined Statistical Area
Country  United States
Population (2014)
 • Total 4,732,161 (MSA) or 8,099,575 (CSA)
 • Rank
  • Ranked 10th in the US for Metropolitan Statistical Areas
  • Ranked 6th in the US for Combined Statistical Areas
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 US 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 US 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 US state of New Hampshire), Providence (the capital of the US 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.

Some of Greater Boston's most well-known contributions to human civilization involve the region's higher education institutions and sports culture. Greater Boston has been influential upon American history and industry. The region and the state of Massachusetts are global leaders in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

Over 80% of Massachusetts' population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan region. Greater Boston is ranked tenth in population among US metropolitan statistical areas, home to 4,732,161 people as of the 2014 US Census estimate, and sixth among combined statistical areas, with a population of 8,099,575. The area has hosted many people and sites significant to American culture and history, particularly American literature, 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. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" 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, and transcendentalist movements. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first US state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Boston. 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, with the largest financial endowment of any university, and whose Law School has spawned a contemporaneous majority of United States Supreme Court Justices. Kendall Square in Cambridge has been called "the most innovative square mile on the planet", in reference to the high concentration of entrepreneurial start-ups and quality of innovation which have emerged in the vicinity of the square since 2010. 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.


Greater Boston Lg
Light Blue represents the area in Massachusetts known as Greater Boston, while Dark Blue represents the Metro-Boston area, and Red represents the City of Boston.

Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)

The most restrictive definition of the Greater Boston area is the region administered by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). 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, in an area of 1,422 square miles (3,680 km2), of which 39% is forested and an additional 11% is water, wetland, or other open space.

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 (NECTA)

MIT Charles River aerial
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 US 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. 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 (MSA)

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%
US 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 (CSA)

Providence, RI skyline 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

Winthrop ma
Winthrop, MA
Cities and towns

Boston metropolitan area

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

Largest cities and towns

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

Rank City 2000
% change
(2010 to 2014)
1 Boston 589,141 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
2 Worcester 172,648 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
3 Providence 173,618 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
4 Manchester 107,006 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
5 Lowell 105,167 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
6 Cambridge 101,355 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
7 New Bedford 93,768 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
8 Brockton 94,304 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
9 Quincy 88,025 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
10 Lynn 89,050 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
11 Fall River 91,938 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
12 Newton 83,829 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
13 Nashua 86,605 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
14 Warwick 85,808 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
15 Cranston 79,269 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
16 Somerville 77,478 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
17 Lawrence 72,043 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
18 Pawtucket 72,958 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
19 Framingham 66,910 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
20 Waltham 59,226 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
21 Haverhill 58,969 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
22 Malden 56,340 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
23 Brookline 57,107 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
24 Plymouth 51,701 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
25 Medford 55,765 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
26 Taunton 55,976 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
27 Weymouth 53,988 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
28 Revere 47,283 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
29 Peabody 48,129 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff
30 Methuen 43,789 Template:Change/rowIoffSoff


St. Patrick Day's Parade, Scituate MA
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. Irish Americans constitute the largest ethnicity in Greater Boston.
Boston Chinatown Paifang
Boston's Chinatown, with its paifang gate, is home to many Chinese and also Vietnamese restaurants.
Were a gay and happy family wagon
Boston gay pride march, held annually in June

Population density

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

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

The 40 most diverse Census tracts in the Boston CSA:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Greater Boston has a sizable Jewish community, estimated at between 210,000 people, and 261,000 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.

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.

Selected statistics

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


  • Companies along, inside or outside I-495:
    • Abbott Laboratories, in Worcester (pharmaceutical laboratory)
    • Advanced Cell Technology, in Worcester (research laboratory)
    • AMD, in Boxborough
    • Analog Devices, in Norwood
    • Atlantic Broadband, in Quincy
    • Atlantic Tele-Network, in Beverly
    • Avid Technology, Inc, in Burlington (headquarters)
    • Azimuth Systems, in Acton
    • Bain & Company, in Boston (headquarters)
    • Bain Capital, in Boston (headquarters)
    • Bertucci's Corporation, in Northborough (headquarters)
    • BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc., in Westborough (headquarters)
    • Bose Corporation, in Framingham (headquarters)
    • Boston Properties, Inc., in Boston (headquarters)
    • Boston Scientific Corporation, in Marlborough
    • Boston Scientific Corporation, in Natick (headquarters)
    • Charles River Laboratories, in Wilmington (headquarters)
    • Cisco Systems, in Boxborough
    • Converse, in North Andover (headquarters)
    • CommunityRoot, in Boston (headquarters)
    • David Clark Company, in Worcester (manufacturer of space suits)
    • Diebold, in Marlborough (regional headquarters)
    • EMC Corporation, in Hopkinton (headquarters)
    • Evergreen Solar, in Marlborough (headquarters)
    • Genzyme Corporation, in Framingham
    • Hewlett-Packard, in Marlborough

(regional headquarters)

    • Schneider Electric, in Andover, Massachusetts
    • HourlyNerd, in Boston
    • Innerscope Research, in Boston (headquarters)
    • Intel Corporation, in Hudson
    • Kronos Incorporated, in Chelmsford, Massachusetts (headquarters)
    • Marshalls, Inc, in Framingham (headquarters)
    • The MathWorks, in Natick
    • MITRE Corporation, in Bedford (headquarters)
    • Morgan Construction Company, in Worcester (rolling steel mill technology)
    • National Amusements, in Norwood (headquarters)
    • Novartis, headquartered in Cambridge, with locations worldwide (a Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company based in Basel)
    • Philips Electronics North America, in Andover (regional headquarters)
    • Philips Healthcare, in Andover (global headquarters) and Framingham
    • Red Hat, in Westford (engineering headquarters)
    • Reed & Barton in Taunton (factory and headquarters)
    • Saint-Gobain, in Worcester
    • Sepracor, Inc., in Marlborough (headquarters)
    • Staples, Inc., in Framingham (headquarters)
    • Stop & Shop, in Quincy (headquarters)
    • TJX Corporation, in Framingham (headquarters)
    • Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., in Boston (headquarters)
    • UniFirst, in Wilmington (headquarters)
    • WB Mason, in Brockton (headquarters)
    • Wyman-Gordon, in Grafton (complex metal components and products)
  • Companies along or inside I-95 (Route 128), not including Boston:
    • Akamai Technologies, in Cambridge (headquarters)
    • AstraZeneca, in Waltham (R&D)
    • BBN Technologies, in Cambridge (headquarters)
    • Biocell Center, in Medford (North American headquarters)
    • Biogen Idec, in Weston (North American headquarters)
    • Carl Zeiss SMT, in Peabody (North American headquarters)
    • Constant Contact, in Walthem
    • Dunkin' Brands, in Canton (headquarters)
    • Facebook, in Cambridge
    • General Electric Aviation, in Lynn
    • Genzyme Corporation, in Cambridge (headquarters)
    • Genzyme Corporation, in Waltham (R&D)
    • Google Inc., in Cambridge
    • Haemonetics, in Braintree
    • IBM, in Waltham, Cambridge and Littleton
    • InterSystems Corporation, in Cambridge (headquarters)
    • iRobot Corporation, in Burlington (headquarters)
    • Keurig, in Reading (headquarters)
    • Meditech, in Westwood (headquarters)
    • Microsoft Corporation, in Cambridge
    • Millennium Pharmaceuticals, in Cambridge
    • National Amusements (Parent company of CBS and Viacom), in Dedham (headquarters)
    • National Grid, in Waltham (US headquarters)
    • NetApp Inc, in Waltham
    • NetBlazr, in Watertown
    • Nokia, in Burlington
    • Novartis AG, Inc, in Cambridge (research headquarters)
    • Novell, Inc., in Waltham
    • Nuance Communications, in Burlington
    • Oracle Corporation in Burlington
    • Osram Sylvania in Danvers (headquarters)
    • Parametric Technology Corporation in Needham (headquarters)
    • Philips Lighting in Burlington
    • Progress Software in Bedford (headquarters)
    • Raytheon, in Waltham (headquarters)
    • Reebok, in Canton (US headquarters)
    • SunSetter Products, LP, in Malden (headquarters)
    • Teradyne, in North Reading (headquarters)
    • Thermo Fisher Scientific, in Waltham (headquarters)
    • TripAdvisor, LLC, in Needham (headquarters)
    • Twitter, in Cambridge
    • Vistaprint, in Lexington (North American headquarters)
  • Major companies inside Boston proper:
    • American Tower (headquarters)
    • Au Bon Pain (headquarters)
    • Bain & Company (headquarters)
    • Bentley Motors (US headquarters)
    • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (headquarters)
    • Boston Consulting Group (headquarters)
    • Fidelity Investments (headquarters)
    • The Gillette Company, now owned by Procter & Gamble (headquarters)
    • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (headquarters)
    • John Hancock Financial Services, Inc, now the United States division of Canada's Manulife Financial
    • Liberty Mutual (headquarters)
    • LogMeIn (headquarters)
    • LPL Financial (headquarters)
    • New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. (headquarters)
    • Putnam Investments (headquarters)
    • Sapient Corporation (headquarters)
    • Sonesta International Hotels Corp. (headquarters)
    • State Street Corporation (headquarters)
    • Steward Health Care System (headquarters)
    • Toast, Inc. (headquarters)
    • Vertex Pharmaceuticals (headquarters)
    • Wayfair (headquarters)
    • Wellington Management Company (headquarters)
    • Zipcar (headquarters)


See also: Boston Transportation


Bridges and tunnels

  • Callahan Tunnel, carrying Route 1A Northbound
  • Charles M. Braga Jr. Memorial Bridge, carrying Interstate 195
  • Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge, carrying Route 138
  • Fore River Bridge, carrying Massachusetts Route 3A
  • Sumner Tunnel, carrying Route 1A Southbound
  • Ted Williams Tunnel, carrying I-90
  • Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Tunnel, carrying I-93 and Routes 1 and 3 concurrently
  • Tobin Bridge, carrying Route 1
  • Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, carrying Interstate 93, Route 1 and Route 3 concurrently


Rail and bus

MBTA Commuter Rail and funding district map
The MBTA district, with Commuter Rail lines in purple
  • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA, generally known as the "T") rapid transit lines:
  • MBTA Commuter Rail
    • Old Colony Lines serving Plymouth County
    • Providence/Stoughton Line serving northern Bristol County, western Norfolk County, Kent County, and Washington County, connecting to Providence, Rhode Island
    • Fairmount Line shuttle service from South Station
    • Franklin Line serving western Norfolk County
    • Greenbush Line serving Boston's South Shore
    • Needham Line serving Boston suburbs and Needham
    • Framingham/Worcester Line serving southwestern Middlesex County, connecting to Worcester
    • Fitchburg Line serving northwestern Middlesex County, connecting to Fitchburg
    • Lowell Line serving northern Middlesex County
    • Haverhill/Reading Line and Newburyport/Rockport Line serving Essex County & Boston's North Shore
  • Amtrak service to New York City and Washington, D.C.
  • Amtrak Downeaster service to Maine from North Station

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:

  • Brockton Area Transit Authority
  • Cape Ann Transportation Authority
  • Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority
  • Lowell Regional Transit Authority
  • Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority
  • MetroWest Regional Transit Authority
  • Montachusett Regional Transit Authority
  • Rhode Island Public Transit Authority
  • Worcester Regional Transit Authority

Ocean transportation

Salem Ferry
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.
  • Port of Boston (Massport)
  • Cape Cod Canal


  • Rivers
    • Charles River
    • Concord River
    • Ipswich River
    • Merrimack River
    • Mystic River
    • Neponset River
    • Sudbury River
    • Taunton River
    • Weymouth Fore River
  • Hills


Climate data for Boston (Logan Airport), 1981−2010 normals, extremes 1872−present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 72
Average high °F (°C) 35.8
Average low °F (°C) 22.2
Record low °F (°C) −13
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.36
Snowfall inches (cm) 12.9
trace 1.3
Humidity 62.3 62.0 63.1 63.0 66.7 68.5 68.4 70.8 71.8 68.5 67.5 65.4 66.5
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 11.3 9.8 11.6 11.2 12.0 10.9 9.6 9.4 8.6 9.4 10.6 11.6 126.0
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 6.7 5.3 4.2 0.7 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 0.8 4.6 22.4
Sunshine hours 163.4 168.4 213.7 227.2 267.3 286.5 300.9 277.3 237.1 206.3 143.2 142.3 2,633.6
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961−1990)

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