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Boston is a city steeped in a rich history that dates back to colonial times. It still embraces its past and has a number of customs that sometimes fascinate people visiting Boston. You might not be able to pass for a native, but with a little research, you’ll still be able to get.
Boston dates back to early colonial times, founded by Puritans from England in 1630. This early settlement thrived and eventually became the birthplace of the movement for independence from their mother country. Famous patriots like John Adams, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Otis, John Hancock, and Paul Revere all hailed from Boston.
Boston grew both before and after the revolution by filling in mud flats and marshy land to make usable stretches of property. The original settlers were joined by immigrants, including the Asian workers who settled in what is now known as Chinatown, and nearly 37,000 people from Ireland fleeing the Potato Famine. These immigrants brought their own customs to the city and eventually became of part of Boston's fabric, despite initial prejudice.
Today, Boston is a thriving city that is still home to Harvard University, America's original institute of higher learning, and other highly regarded schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It has a bustling financial district, research hospitals, a theater district, renowned museums, a bustling harbor, and plenty of shopping, dining, and hotels. The city still embraces its history and has preserved or restored many sights tied to the American Revolution.
Boston still shows many vestiges of its past, from colonial times to more recent history. For example, people in Boston still speak with an accent that owes its original to their original British speech. It's a custom in Boston to drop the “r” in words in which it is preceded by the letter “a.” However, an “r” gets added to words that would normally end with an “uh” sound. Words that normally have an “ah” sound are pronounced with an “aw” instead.
Bostonians also have a custom of using an abbreviated name for certain locations. The most common examples are saying “Wuhster” for “Worchester.” “Gloster” for “Glouchester,” and “Hayvrull” for “Haverhill.”
There are many Boston slang terms that sometimes confuse tourists. For example, if a local refers to “The Monster,” it means the large, green wall at Fenway Park. If you're told to take “The Pike” when someone gives you directions, take the Boston Turnpike, and turn left if you're ever advised to 'bang.” “Wicked” is a very common Boston slang word, which simply means “very” and is used for emphasis.
Boston has some driving customs that seem will also odd to visitors. For example, while most states reserve the shoulder (or “breakdown lane” in local slang) for emergencies, it's legal to drive on the shoulder on some expressways at rush hour. If you visit the city on a snowy winter day and luck into a prime parking spot, but there is a chair sitting in it, don't move the blockage. Local tradition dictates that chairs are how residents save the spots they shoveled.
“Beantown” is not an acceptable way to refer to Boston by anyone who actually lives in the city. It is more customary to refer to it as “The Hub” if you want to blend in.
Boston is an excellent place to visit for its historical treasures, museums, parks, diverse neighborhoods and events. For example, if you want to immerse yourself in America's origins, you'll find many sites of interest on the Freedom Trail. There are hotels in virtually every neighborhood, including many along the Freedom Trail and on the Charles River Waterfront.