Boston, Massachusetts is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It is considered the economic and cultural center of New England, and is sometimes referred to as the unofficial "capital of New England." Boston city proper has an estimated population of 616,535 as of the 2008 census. It is also the anchor for a larger metropolitan area, which houses 4.4 million people, making it the tenth largest metropolitan area in the country. With many colleges and universities in the area, Boston is known as a center for higher education, as well as a center for medicine. Research, finance, and technology is the basis for the city's economy, and although the cost of living is high, Boston remains high on the charts of livability.
Different areas of Boston include: Back Bay, South End, the Financial District, Government Center, South Boston Waterfront, Downtown Boston, and Boston Harbor. Back Bay and South End are built mainly on reclaimed land, where much of the earth from the original hills were used for landfills. The Financial District, Government Center, and South Boston Waterfront are also known for their notable high-rises. Downtown Boston consists of Federal Style buildings and architecture, as well as low-rise brick or stone buildings, which gradually mix in with the high-rises in the other districts. Boston Harbor is made up of a collection of islands, and houses the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.
Some cultural roots in Boston are shared with greater New England. This includes a regional cuisine with a large emphasis on seafood, rum, salt, and dairy products. Politics and religion are also greatly influenced by Irish Americans. Boston is said to have a strong cultural and intellectual identity. Most of the culture originates from its universities. There are several theatres in the city, including the Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston Opera House, Citi Performing Arts Center, and the Orpheum Theatre. Boston is also home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and the Boston Lyric Opera Company. There are also several historic sites in Boston, due to it's prominent role in the American Revolution. Several sites relating to this period are preserved in the Boston National Historic Park. Housed inside the city are several art museums as well, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston is also the home to several renowned sports teams such as the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, and the New England Patriots.