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Greater Boston is the metropolitan region of New England encompassing the municipality of Boston, the capital of the U.S. 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 either as 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 Providence, Rhode Island, Manchester (the largest city in the U.S. state of New Hampshire), Worcester, Massachusetts (the second largest city in New England), as well as the South Coast region and Cape Cod in Massachusetts. While the small footprint of the city of Boston itself only contains an estimated 685,094, the urbanization has extended well into surrounding areas; the CSA is one of two in Massachusetts, the only other being Greater Springfield. Greater Boston is the only CSA-form statistical area in New England which crosses into three states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island).

Some of Greater Boston's most well-known contributions involve the region's higher education and medical institutions. 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.[1]

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 4,875,390 people as of the 2018 US Census estimate, and sixth among combined statistical areas, with a population of 8,285,407.[2] The area has hosted many people and sites significant to American culture and history, particularly American literature,[3] 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.[4] In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty"[5] for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution.

The Greater Boston region has played a powerful scientific, 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,[6] and transcendentalist[7] movements.[8] In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Boston.[9] 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,[10] with the largest financial endowment of any university,[11] and whose Law School has spawned a contemporaneous majority of United States Supreme Court Justices.[12] 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.[13][14] 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.[15]

Definitions

Light Blue represents the area in Massachusetts known as Greater Boston, while Dark Blue represents the Metro-Boston area[specify][citation needed] 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.[16] 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. In 2013, the population of the MAPC district was 3.2 million, which was 48% of the total population of Massachusetts,[17] in an area of 1,422 square miles (3,680 km2),[16] of which 39% is forested and an additional 11% is water, wetland, or other open space.[18]

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. Bristol County is part of the Greater Boston CSA, as part of the Providence MSA.

New England City and Town Area (NECTA)

higher education and medical institutions. 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.[1]

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 4,875,390 people as of the 2018 US Census estimate, and sixth among combined statistical areas, with a population of 8,285,407.[2] The area has hosted many people and sites significant to American culture and history, particularly American literature,[3] 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.[4] In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty"[5] for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution.

The Greater Boston region has played a powerful scientific, 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,[6] and transcendentalist[7] movements.[8] In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Boston.[9] 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,[10] with the largest financial endowment of any university,[11] and whose Law School has spawned a contemporaneous majority of United States Supreme Court Justices.[12] 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.[13][14] 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.[15]

The most restrictive definition of the Greater Boston area is the region administered by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.[16] 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. In 2013, the population of the MAPC district was 3.2 million, which was 48% of the total population of Massachusetts,[17] in an area of 1,422 square miles (3,680 km2),[16] of which 39% is forested and an additional 11% is water, wetland, or other open space.[18]

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. Bristol County is part of the Greater Boston CSA, as part of the Providence MSA.

New England City and Town Area (NECTA)

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, along with surrounding towns with strong social and economic ties to the core area, is defined as the Boston–Cambridge–Nashua, MA–NH Metropolitan NECTA.[19] 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.
1850650,357
1860830,99827.8%
1870978,34617.7%
The most restrictive definition of the Greater Boston area is the region administered by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.[16] 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. In 2013, the population of the MAPC district was 3.2 million, which was 48% of the total population of Massachusetts,[17] in an area of 1,422 square miles (3,680 km2),[16] of which 39% is forested and an additional 11% is water, wetland, or other open space.[18]

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. Bristol County is part of the Greater Boston CSA, as part of the Providence MSA.

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, along with surrounding towns with strong social and economic ties to the core area, is defined as the Boston–Cambridge–Nashua, MA–NH Metropolitan NECTA.[19] 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 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 three metropolitan divisions. The metropolitan statistical area had a total population of approximately 4,875,390 as of 2018 and is the tenth-largest in the United States. The components of the metropolitan area with their estimated 2018 populations are listed below.

  • Boston–Cambridge–Newton, MA–NH Metropolitan Statistical Area (4,875,390)

Combined Statistical Area (CSA)

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 2018 for the extended region was estimated at 8,285,417. The following areas, along with the above MSA, are included in the combined statistical area, with their estimated 2018 populations:

Principal cities and towns

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 2018 for the extended region was estimated at 8,285,417. The following areas, along with the above MSA, are included in the combined statistical area, with their estimated 2018 populations:

The Census Bureau defines the following as principal cities in the Boston NECTA[19] using criteria developed for what the Office of Management and Budget calls a Core Based Statistical Area:[20]

Largest cities and towns

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

Rank City 2000
population
2010
population
2014
population[21]
% change
(2010 to 2014)
1 Boston 589,141 617,594 655,884 +6.20%
2 Worcester 172,648 181,045 183,016 +1.09%
3 Providence 173,618 178,042 179,154 +0.62%
4 Manchester 107,006 109,565 110,448 +0.81%
5 Lowell 105,167 106,519 109,945 +3.22%
6 Cambridge 101,355 105,162 109,694 +4.31%
7 New Bedford 93,768 95,072 94,845 −0.24%
8 Brockton 94,304 93,810 94,779 +1.03%
9 Quincy 88,025 92,271 93,397 +1.22%
10 Lynn 89,050 90,329 92,137 +2.00%
11 Fall River 91,938 88,857 88,712 −0.16%
12 Newton 83,829 85,146 88,287 +3.69%
13 Nashua 86,605 86,494 87,259 +0.88%
14 Warwick 85,808 82,672 81,963 −0.86%
15 Cranston 79,269 80,387 81,037 +0.81%
16 Somerville 77,478 75,754 78,901 +4.15%
17 Lawrence 72,043 76,377 78,197 +2.38%
18 Pawtucket 72,958 71,148 71,499 +0.49%
19 Framingham 66,910 68,318 70,068 +2.56%
20 Waltham 59,226 60,632 63,014 +3.93%
21 Haverhill 58,969 60,879 62,488 +2.64%
22 Malden 56,340 59,450 60,859 +2.37%
23 Brookline 57,107 58,732 59,115 +0.65%
24 Plymouth 51,701 56,468 57,463 +1.76%
25 Medford 55,765 56,173 57,437 +2.25%
26 Taunton 55,976 55,874 56,544 +1.20%
27 Weymouth 53,988 53,743 55,643 +3.54%
28 Revere 47,283 51,755 54,157 +4.64%
29 Peabody 48,129 51,251 52,376 +2.20%
30 Methuen 43,789 47,255 52,044 +10.13%

Demographics

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.[22] Irish Americans constitute the largest ethnicity in Greater Boston.
Boston's Chinatown, with its paifang gate, is home to many Chinese and also Vietnamese restaurants.
Boston gay pride march, held annually in June

Population density

The most densely populated census tracts in the Boston CSA (2010):[23]

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
Rank City 2000
population
2010
population
2014
population[21]
% change
(2010 to 2014)
1 Boston 589,141 617,594 655,884 +6.20%
2 Worcester 172,648 [23]

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:[23]

The 40 census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino:[23]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Black American:[23]

The 40 most diverse Census tracts in the Boston CSA:[23]

The 40 census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino:[23]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Black American:[23]