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"Down by the river, down by the banks of the River Charles (aww that's where it's happening baby)
That's where ye'll find me, along with the lovers, muggers and thieves (aww, but they're cool people really)
Oh I love that dirty water, oh, Boston, you're my home"
Boston is the largest city in Massachusetts and New England, the capital city of MA, and one of the oldest cities in North America. Along with New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington DC, it is one of the four major cities of the northeastern United States.
Infamous for aggressive drivers, but you can't blame us really as the streets are currently a mess. You see, the "Big Dig" really seemed like a great idea at the time ("We'll swap all those ugly overpasses out for underground tunnels where we won't have to look at them! And where the overpasses were, we will plant trees and have big parks for the kids!")
That said, Boston's city center is quite walkable and perhaps best enjoyed on foot or bike; downtown is really not that large and there are many wide tree-lined sidewalks. If you can walk across EPCOT Center, you can handle the Freedom Trail, the city's most popular walking tour. Just a warning though, you will probably want to visit in summer. Real Life New England winters aren't always as pretty as fiction depicts.
Public transportation actually works, though you may need to ask a local to help you navigate the esoterically named "T" stops (the most baffling appears to be the "Museum" T stop. Have fun guessing which of the six or seven popular museums it's named after). There is the caveat that it closes at midnight, which can be a problem because last call is at two.
Speaking of locals, Hollywood depictions to the contrary, they are generally very nice people. Just remember not to bring up the Yankees. Otherwise, thou shalt know the true meaning of Serious Business.
Expect to see more of Boston and suburbs in the years to come. Massachusetts has been aggressively courting filmmakers for years, which has paid off big time in the last five years or so under governors Romney and Patrick. We confidently expect the "Hollywood East" (officially, Plymouth Rock) movie studio to open any decade now.
Nicknamed "the Hub", as in "the hub of the universe", which gives you an idea what Bostonians think of
themselves their city; or "the hub of the New England road network", which anyone who's ever tried to plot the least zigzag-y course between Burlington, Vermont and Portland, Maine will attest to.
Notable Pop Culture Things From or Set in Boston
- The Departed
- Fever Pitch
- This was an Americanization of a British movie about football, which itself was a fictionalization of an autobiographical book relating to the Arsenal Football Club. And quite frankly, we the people of Red Sox Nation really wish they chose someone else to use for the American version.
- Boondock Saints
- Gone Baby Gone
- Good Will Hunting
- Mystic River
- The (largely unnecessary) modern-day Book Ends in the otherwise terrific The Forbidden Kingdom are set in a wildly inaccurate version of Boston. Probably because they had a list of American cities with a sizable Chinese-American population, and Boston is where the dart landed.
- The Women -- No, wait, that was filmed in Boston but took place in New York.
- The Friends Of Eddie Coyle.
- Surrogates is set in a near-future (but still very recognizable) Boston.
- The Verdict.
- Most of the action in The Social Network takes place in and around Harvard University -- although many of the scenes in question were filmed at another school.
- The Evie Scelan novels are set in Boston, with enough name drops that you could probably map the city from the narrative in Spiral Hunt
- Robert B. Parker's Spenser and Sunny Randall novels are largely set in Boston, with many real life locations featured.
- Dennis Lehane (author of Mystic River above) sets many of his works in and around Boston. The Given Day is historical fiction revolving around the Boston Police Strike in the 1910s and Shutter Island also takes place on one of the Boston Harbor Islands.
- David Foster Wallace's epic Doorstopper Infinite Jest is mostly set in Metro Boston, and most of that is in the fictional suburb of Enfield (it's fairly obviously a Fictional Counterpart to Brighton).
- There was a MA town called Enfield, but it was in the Western part of the state. It was one of several town flooded to make the Quabbin Resevoir. There is also an Enfield in Connecticut, but that one is not particularly near Boston either.
- The based-on-a-true-story courtroom drama about a cancer cluster in Woburn, MA, A Civil Action.
- Neal Stephenson's Zodiac
- The fantastic city of Kadath Randolph Carter dreams about in The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath is actually Boston.
- Lovecraft's story Pickman's Model is set in the North End of Boston.
- Charles Stross's Merchant Princes series is set hereabouts (with an interdimensional mob headquartered in Belmont), as well as in an alternate Boston and an alternate New York.
- William Dean Howells' classic The Rise Of Silas Lapham is set in 19th century Boston.
- Strong Motion by Jonathan Franzen is set in Boston and refers to several real institutions and locations.
- Most everything David E. Kelly had anything to do with, including:
- Crossing Jordan
- Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman
- St Elsewhere
- Spenser For Hire
- Soap opera Days of Our Lives's Salem was originally explicitly set in the infamous suburb north of Boston; however, given the extreme flakiness of the setting, the only thing it has in common with Salem, MA now is that the TV Salem is predominantly Catholic like much of southern New England.
- Power Rangers RPM takes place in a Boston rechristened as "Corinth", the last remaining city in a post-apocalyptic world. However, it suffers from New Zealand Doubling.
- So far, two reality shows: "Boston Medical", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and the inevitable The Real World season.
- We would be remiss not to mention the Jimmy the Cabdriver interstitials that ran on MTV in 1994.
- He was almost copied wholecloth by the current Olympia Sports ad campaign.
- Rizzoli and Isles
- Leverage isn't only set in Boston, but it's where the team is based.
- Anal Cunt (from Allston, which is a Boston neighborhood)
- Boston (natch)
- The Cars (technically started by two guys from Cleveland, but embraced as Boston's own)
- Dropkick Murphys - founded in nearby Quincy, perform in Boston each St. Patrick's Day; parts of the 2002 and 2010 concerts were released as live albums.
- New Kids on the Block
- The Dresden Dolls
- The Pixies
- Famous hardcore band Gang Green
- Ska-punk bands The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Allstonians
- Dinosaur Jr. (actually from Amherst, but moved to Boston when their career began)
- Augustana isn't from Boston, but they wrote a song about going there to start a new life.
- If they count, then, for great justice, so do the Standells. They love "da rivuh Chawlz" after all.
- The J. Geils Band
- James Taylor
- Mission of Burma
- New Edition
- They Might Be Giants - Founding members John Flansburgh and John Linnell are both originally from nearby Lincoln, and they still occasionally lapse into the accent (for example, "A Self Called Nowhere" and "Wicked Little Critta").
- Mage: The Awakening uses Boston (and the rest of Massachusetts) as a sample city for gameplay, complete with a strong historical power base in Salem, some horrible things happening up in the abandoned Danvers asylum, and a small cabal that watches over Northampton and is keen to do their own thing.
- NPR's Car Talk, one of the rare Real Life(ish) items that does not avert Hahvahd Yahd in My Cah. This is especially funny, given that their studio is right near Harvard!
- The 21st-century parts of The Dreamer are in Boston.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force is worth a mention here. Though the series itself is set in New Jersey and has nothing to do with Boston, it's notorious for being indirectly involved in a Real Life bomb scare in the city with a bizarre ad campaign. Said campaign involved planting Lite-Brites bearing the image of a Mooninite in odd places in major cities--one of these was spotted under a highway overpass in Boston and mistaken for a bomb.