The Boston area is an amalgam of dozens of villages, towns, and cities stretching over much of eastern Massachusetts—even some of southern New Hampshire—and containing approximately 4.63 million residents, according to Census estimates.
The City of Boston is an amalgam of 23 neighborhoods with about 673,000 residents, according to the city and the Census Bureau.
So! When it comes to saying you’re “from Boston,” how close to the actual City of Boston do you have to be? Or can you claim a Boston identity only if you’re within the city limits in a neighborhood such as Brighton or Beacon Hill?
It’s an interesting point to ponder as the fall season brings a return of college students that swells the population of the densely packed region, where walking or biking to one or more cities and towns every day isn’t that unusual.
Lots of people will be explaining in the coming months to folks back home that they moved to or live in “Boston.” But they might mean Cambridge. Or Somerville. Or Brookline.
Related: Fear of immigrants helped thwart Boston’s expansion a century ago
Even longtime residents face this challenge. Say “Malden” or “Medford” or “Lincoln” or “Lexington” when asked where you’re from, and a blank stare is likely to follow. Say “Boston,” and people get it right away.
Boston is red-meat Americana. It’s iconic. People the world over get “Boston.” “Natick,” on the other hand, not so much.
So, dear reader, where do you stand? How close to Boston proper does one have to be to say one grew up in/lives in/hails from “Boston”?
- Boston’s 15 most iconic buildings, mapped [Curbed Boston]
- Boston Revolutionary War monuments: 11 key places, mapped [Curbed Boston]