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Boston metropolitan area


Boston metropolitan area


Common name: Greater Boston
Largest city Boston
Other cities Cambridge
Population  Ranked 10th in the U.S.
 – Total 4,522,858 (2008 est.)[1]
 – Density 947 /sq. mi. 
366 /km2
Area 4,674 sq. mi.
12,105 km2
Country  United States
State(s)  Massachusetts
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
 – Highest point 635 feet (194 m)
 – Lowest point 0 feet (0 m)

Greater Boston is the area of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts surrounding the city of Boston, consisting most of the eastern third of Massachusetts, excluding the South Coast, Cape Cod & The Islands. The area can be characterized as the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or the combined statistical area (CSA), the latter which includes the metro areas of Manchester, New Hampshire; Providence, Rhode Island and Worcester, Massachusetts.

By contrast, Metro Boston is usually reserved to signify the "inner core" surrounding the City of Boston, while "Greater Boston" usually at least overlaps the North and South Shores, as well as MetroWest and the Merrimack Valley.

Greater Boston is tenth in population among U.S. metropolitan statistical areas in the United States, home to over 4.6 million people as of the 2010 U.S. Census and is ranked sixth among CSAs, having almost 8 million people.[2]

Greater Boston has many sites and people significant to American history and culture, particularly the American Revolution, civil rights, literature, and politics, and is one of the nation's centers of education, finance, industry, and tourism, with the sixth-largest Gross metropolitan product in the country and twelfth-largest in the world.


Metropolitan Area Planning Council

The most restrictive definition of the Greater Boston area is the region administered by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).[3] 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 3,066,394 (as of 2000), in an area of 1,422 square miles (3,680 km2),[3] of which 39% is forested and an additional 11% is water, wetland, or other open space.[4]

The eight subregions and their principal towns are: Inner Core (Boston), Minuteman (Route 2 corridor), MetroWest (Framingham), North Shore (Peabody), 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 Greater Boston, even though it is part of the Providence MSA.

New England City and Town Area

The urbanized area surrounding Boston serves as the core of a definition used by the U.S. 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.[5] 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

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 has a total population of approximately 4.4 million and is the tenth-largest in the United States. The components of the metropolitan area with their estimated 2005 populations are listed below.

Combined Statistical Area

A wider functional metropolitan area based on commuting patterns is also defined by the Office of Management and Budget as the Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT 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 2005) for the extended region is 7,427,336. The following areas, along with the above MSA, are included in the Combined Statistical Area:

Principal cities and towns

Boston metropolitan area

The Census Bureau defines the following as principal cities in the Boston NECTA[5] using criteria developed for what the Office of Management and Budget calls a Core Based Statistical Area:[6]

These, in decreasing order of population, are the ten largest cities in the Boston NECTA (2008):

City 2008
Boston 620,535
Cambridge 105,596
Lowell 103,615
Brockton 93,007
Quincy 92,339
Lynn 86,957
Newton 82,139
Somerville 75,662
Lawrence 70,014

Satellite areas

These larger cities fall within the CSA definition of Greater Boston

Major companies


Selected statistics

Greater Boston has a sizable Jewish community, estimated at between 210,000 people,[13][14] and 261,000[15] 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.[13]

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 recognizing themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.[16]

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.


Main article: Sports in Boston
Club Sport League Stadium Established League Titles
Boston Bruins Ice hockey National Hockey League TD Garden (Boston) 1924 6 Stanley Cups
7 Eastern Conference Titles
Boston Cannons Lacrosse Major League Lacrosse Harvard Stadium (Boston) 2001 1 MLL Championship
Boston Celtics Basketball National Basketball Association TD Garden (Boston) 1946 17 NBA Championships
21 Eastern Conference Titles
Boston Red Sox Baseball Major League Baseball (AL) Fenway Park (Boston) 1901 8-time MLB World Series Champions
12 American League Pennants
New England Patriots Football National Football League (American Football Conference) Gillette Stadium (Foxboro) 1960
(as Boston Patriots)
3-time Super Bowl Champions
7-time AFC Champions
New England Revolution Soccer Major League Soccer Gillette Stadium (Foxboro) 1995 1 US Open Cup
1 SuperLiga

Annual sporting events include:

Higher education

A long time center of higher education, the area includes many community colleges, two-year schools, and internationally prominent undergraduate and graduate institutions. The graduate schools include highly regarded schools of law, medicine, business, technology, international relations, public health, education, and religion.



Bridges and tunnels


Rail and bus

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:

Ocean transportation



Further reading

Boston portal
  • An informative guidebook, with facts and data about literary figures, publishers, bookstores, libraries, and other historic sites on the newly designated Literary Trail of Greater Boston.

Coordinates: 42°21′29″N 71°03′49″W / 42.35817°N 71.06369°W / 42.35817; -71.06369

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