1. 1630: Boston Founded

Under the leadership of John Winthrop, English Puritans moved from overcrowded Charlestown and colonized the Shawmut Peninsula. Permission was granted from its sole English inhabitant, Anglican cleric William Blaxton. Their city on the hill was named Boston in honor of the native English town of their leaders.

2. 1636: Harvard Created

Boston’s Puritan leaders established a college at Newtowne (later Cambridge) to educate future generations of clergy. When young Charlestown minister John Harvard died two years later and left his books and half his money to the college, it was renamed Harvard in his memory (see John Harvard Statue).

3. 1775: American Revolution

Friction between colonists and the British Crown had been building for more than a decade when British troops marched on Lexington to confiscate rebel weapons. Fore-warned by Paul Revere, local militia, known as the Minute Men, skirmished with British regulars on Lexington Green. During the second confrontation at Concord, “the shot heard round the world” marked the beginning of the Revo lution, which ended in American independence with the 1783 Treaty of Paris.


Battle of Concord Bridge, 1775

4. 1845: Irish Arrived

Irish citizens, fleeing the devastating potato famine in their country, arrived in Boston in tens of thous ands, many eventually settling in the south of the city. By 1900, the Irish were the dominant ethnic group in Boston. They flexed their political muscle accordingly, culminating in the election of John F. Kennedy as president in 1960.

5. 1848: Boston Public Library Founded

The Boston Public Library was established as the first publicly supported municipal library in the US. In 1895 the lib rary moved into the Italia nate “palace of the people” on Copley Square (see Boston Public Library).


Carved detail, Boston Public Library

6. 1863: Black Boston Went to War

Following decades of agitation to abolish slavery, the city sent the country’s first African-American regiment to join Union forces in the Civil War. The regiment was honored by the Shaw Memorial on Boston Common.

7. 1897: Subway Opened

The Tremont Street subway, the first underground in the US, was opened on September 1 to ease road congestion. It cost $4.4 million to construct and the initial fare was five cents. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) now transports 1.2 million people daily.

8. 1958: Freedom Trail Opened

This historical walking tour connects the city’s sights. It was based on a 1951 Boston Herald Traveler column by William Scofield, and was the first of its kind in the US (see The Freedom Trail).

9. 2007: The Big Dig

The $15 billion highway project to alleviate traffic congestion was completed in 2007, leaving in its place the Rose Kennedy Greenway Park and the soaring Zakim Bridge, the world’s widest cable-stayed bridge.


Zakim Bridge, part of the Big Dig

10. 2013: Boston Marathon Bombing

On April 15, 2013, two terrorist bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 264. Following the attack, one bomber was killed in an encounter with the police; the other was convicted and sentenced to death in 2015.


Boston Marathon bombing tributes


1. Sewing Machine

Elias Howe invented the sewing machine in Cambridge in 1845, but spent decades securing patent rights.


Howe’s sewing machine

2. Surgical Anesthesia

Ether was first used to anesthetize patients at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846.

3. Telephone

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in his Boston laboratory in 1876.

4. Safety Razor

Bostonian King Camp Gillette invented the safety razor with disposable blades in 1901.

5. Mutual Fund

Massachusetts Investors Trust opened in 1924 as the first modern mutual fund that pooled investors’ money to purchase portfolio stocks.

6. Programmable Digital Computer

A Harvard team built the first programmable digital com puter, Mark 1, in 1946. Its 750,000 components weighed about 10,000 lb (454 kg).

7. Microwave Oven

A Raytheon company engineer placed popcorn in front of a radar tube in 1946 and discovered the principle behind the microwave oven.

8. Instant Film

Cambridge, Massachusetts, inventor Edwin Land devised the Polaroid camera, launched in 1948.

9. Email

Ray Tomlinson, an engineer at Bolt, Beranek, and Newman in Cambridge, sent the first email message in 1971.

10. Facebook

Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg posted the first message to Facemash (social network site Facebook’s predecessor) in 2003.

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