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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"

Dirty Water by The Standells[1]

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.

See also Southies and Hollywood New England for more information. The latter is more often than not averted in real life.

Notable Pop Culture Things From or Set in Boston:



  • 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.
  • The second half of The Fortune of War, sixth of the Aubrey-Maturin series, is set in Boston during the War of 1812.

Live Action Television


Tabletop Games

  • 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.



Western Animation

  • 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.
  1. Ironically enough, The Standells were actually from Los Angeles.