Greater Boston

Map of Greater Boston

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
State(s)  Massachusetts
New Hampshire
 - 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. Due to ambiguity in usage, the size of the area referred to can be anywhere between that of the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) of Boston and that of the city's combined statistical area (CSA) which includes the metro areas of Providence, Rhode Island and Worcester, Massachusetts.

By contrast, Metro Boston is usually reserved to signify the "inner core" surrounding the City of Boston,[citation needed] 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 fifth among CSA's, having over 7.6 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 12th-largest in the world.



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 Boston proper, the City of Boston.

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.

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. 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-Quincy, 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-Quincy, MA NECTA Division (97 towns)
  • Framingham, MA NECTA Division (13 towns)
  • Peabody, MA NECTA Division (7 towns)
  • Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, MA NECTA Division (Old Colony region) (12 towns)
  • Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, MA-NH NECTA Division (Merrimack Valley region) (25 towns)
  • Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, MA-NH NECTA Division (part of Merrimack Valley region) (3 towns)
  • Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH NECTA Division (Northern Middlesex region) (9 towns)
  • Nashua, NH-MA NECTA Division (21 towns)
  • Taunton-Norton-Raynham, MA NECTA Division (part of Southeastern region) (6 towns)

Metropolitan statistical area

An alternative definition used by the U.S. Census Bureau, using counties as building blocks instead of towns, is the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, 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.

  • Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area (4,411,835)

Combined statistical area

A wider functional metropolitan area based on commuting patterns is also defined by the Census Bureau as the Boston-Worcester-Manchester, MA-RI-NH Combined Statistical Area. This area consists of the metropolitan areas of Manchester, Worcester, and Providence, 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 only

Major companies



Greater Boston has a sizable Jewish community, estimated at between 210,000 people,[11][12] and 261,000[13] 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.[11]

The City of Boston also has one of the largest LGBT populations per capita. It ranks 5th 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.[14]


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 None
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 7-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
6-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 MBTA district, with Commuter Rail lines in purple

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



  1. ^, Retrieved November 30, 2009
  2. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population of Combined Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2009" (CSV). 2007 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  3. ^ a b "About MAPC". Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Archived from the original on 2007-02-21. Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  4. ^ "Transportation Plan – Overview". Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  5. ^ a b "New England City and Town Areas and Principal Cities". U.S. Census Bureau. November 2008. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Standards for Defining Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas". Office of Management and Budget. December 27, 2000. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Table 5: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Minor Civil Divisions in Massachusetts, Listed Alphabetically Within County: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008" (Microsoft XLS). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  8. ^ "Table 5: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Minor Civil Divisions in New Hampshire, Listed Alphabetically Within County: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008" (Microsoft XLS). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
  9. ^ "2009 Globe 100 – Top Massachusetts-based employers – The Boston Globe". The Boston Globe. 2010-01-19. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Michael Paulson (2006-11-10). "Jewish population in region rises". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  12. ^ "Cities with the Largest Jewish Population in the Diaspora". Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  13. ^ "Metro Area Membership Report". The Association of Religion Data Archives. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  14. ^ "12.9% in Seattle are gay or bisexual, second only to S.F., study says". The Seattle Times (The Seattle Times Company). 2006. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 

Further reading

  • Wilson, Susan (2005). The Literary Trail of Greater Boston: A Tour of Sites in Boston, Cambridge, and Concord, Revised Edition. Commonwealth Editions. ISBN 1889833673.  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.
  • Warner, Sam, Jr. (2001). Greater Boston: Adapting Regional Traditions to the Present. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0812217691. 

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