Boston: birthplace of modern America
Fed by ocean breezes and almost 400 years of history, the capital of Massachusetts gives travellers no shortage of reasons to put down their suitcases and stay awhile. Forward-thinking and cosmopolitan yet with all the charm and atmosphere of the Old World, Boston is a vibrant gateway to America.
For some inexplicable reason, Boston, just 300 kilometres from New York, immortalised by Dennis Lehane's crime novels and this year's Oscar-winner Spotlight, is unjustly neglected by travellers. Yet the roots of America run deeper here than anywhere else in the country. The largest city in New England, it's just a short hop from where the Mayflower docked in 1630. From the Boston Tea Party to the reading of the Declaration of Independence, the fight for women's rights to the civil rights movement, Boston is the crucible in which today's United States was forged. Walking the Freedom Trail, a four-kilometre circuit from the charming gas-lit streets of Beacon Hill to the huge port, will acquaint you with many of the key spots where this tumultuous history unfolded and bring you face to face with monuments dear to the hearts of all Americans.
One of the city's dominant myths lies in three letters: JFK. Boston was the birthplace of the 35th president of the United States, and the city abounds in his shrines, from the JFK Library to the Omni Parker House Hotel, where he proposed to Jackie. This grand hotel is famous for another reason: the city's star dessert, the Boston Cream Pie. For Boston knows how to preserve its gastronomic traditions. Its oyster bars are world famous, not only for the oysters but also for lobster and local seafood, and, of course, New England Clam Chowder. More adventurous restaurants in the city are reinventing the culinary landscape, and contributing to its modern multicultural identity.
From the islands of Boston Harbor, caressed by sun and sea breeze, to the concept stores and chic trattorias in its urban areas, the good life of the city is ineluctably connected to the ocean. Its rolling surf, so beloved by JFK, has brought to these shores people from around the world. The most elegant addresses uptown coexist with Chinatown and the Italian and Irish enclaves in North End, while the old red brick factories of South End have been remodelled into hip eateries and boutiques. This attractive melting pot is reflected in the eclectic yet harmonious architecture of Boston, which spans four centuries. It is equally reflected in its rich cultural scene, which includes some of the finest museums in the world and a year-round calendar chock-a-block with rock, pop, and jazz concerts.
This perceptible effervescence owes much to the universities in Cambridge: Harvard, the oldest in the country; and MIT, which puts Boston at the forefront of the high-tech digital world. The country's future is being built here, in a city that cultivates excellence at all levels.