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Is Boston Too Boring For the Young and Hip? Like, Duh

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Broker John Keith unloads what we think is a particularly insightful missive re: that garment-rending question: Is Boston boring? Specifically, is it too boring to attract and keep the young and the tragically hip, like, say, cities such as New York and San Francisco can? The answer's a qualified yes, with the biggest qualifier being that the young actually make up a sizable portion of the populace: The population of 20-somethings jumped more than 20 percent in the 10 years up to 2010, and Boston has the largest proportion of people aged 20 to 34 of any major U.S. city. The colleges and universities explain a lot of this, of course.

We think Keith nails the city's rep for dullness with this observation about that much-vaunted economic and real estate engine, tech: It's really not that big of an industry here no matter how hard City Hall wills it so, and, besides, when we talk about tech we're talking about bio-tech mostly, which is something entirely different than caffeine-addled programmers (or, worse, bloggers).

During much of the 20th-century, Boston's economy relied on the FIRE industries: Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate. But, things have changed. Big banks such as Bank of America are cutting staff, while mutual funds companies such as Fidelity Investments have moved thousands of jobs out of state. In some U.S. cities, FIRE industries are being replaced with ICE industries: Information, Communication, and Entertainment. But it’s not going to happen in Boston—our strengths are in higher education and the medical/pharmaceutical/bio-tech industries.

Keith's syllogism is that people in these industries, while perfectly nice, are not all that exciting. Hence, Boston's dullness (we kind of like the quiet, having gotten to a certain age). As for real estate's role, we'll actually quibble with Keith a bit: He says transplants to San Fran or NYC would have to resign themselves to living away from the action of their big city, just like transplants to Boston often can't afford Back Bay, the North End, etc. We'll just say that living in Brooklyn can feel a heck of a lot more hip than living in Watertown. Ditto Oakland to San Fran. No offense, Watertown.

· I Want To Live Where the Hip People Live! [Patch]
· 6 Things You Should Realize About the Innovation District [Curbed Boston]
· About Those Micro-Apartments—Boston Now No. 3 in Tech [Curbed Boston]