Boston, Massachusetts was established on a peninsula known as Shawmut by the American Indian tribes native to the area. Several prehistoric American Indian archaeological sites excavated in the city have shown that the peninsula was inhabited as early as 5,000 BC. Boston's early European settlers first called the area Trimountaine, but later renamed the town after Boston, Lincolnshire , England, from which several prominent colonists emigrated. The city was founded on the Puritan ethics of community service that evolved into an extremely stable and well-structured society in Boston. Shortly after Boston's establishment, Puritans founded America's first public school, Boston Latin School (1635),and America's first college, Harvard College (1636). Boston was the largest town in British North America until the mid-1700s.
Today, Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with an approximate 596,638 citizens (2005) and the center of the eleventh-largest metropolitan area with over 4.4 million residents. The city, through land reclamation and municipal annexation, has expanded throughout the peninsula. It has become one of the most culturally significant cities in the country with its more than 100 universities and colleges. Some of these include, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston University, Northeastern University,Wheelock College, Simmons College, Emmanuel College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Suffolk University, New England School of Law, Emerson College, and Boston College. Boston is also home to several conservatories and art schools, including the Art Institute of Boston, Massachusetts College of Art, the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston Conservatory, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, andBerklee College of Music.
Tourism comprises a large part of Boston's economy with an approximate 8 billion annually generated in 2004, it is one of the ten most popular tourist location site the country. Other important industries include financial services corporations like Fidelity Investments Bank of America and Sovereign Bank. Publishing companies likeHoughton-Mifflin , Martins' Press, Beacon Press, and Little, Brown and Company also call Boston home and have made it a printing and publishing center. Boston's colleges and universities also have a major impact on the region's economy. Beyond employment, they attract high-tech industries to the city and surrounding region, including computer hardware and software companies as well as biotechnology companies like Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co.,Millipore, Genzyme, and Biogen Idec.
The city has several ornate theaters, including the Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston Opera House, the Wang Center for the Performing Arts,Shubert Theater, and the Orpheum Theater. Renowned performing arts groups include the Boston Ballet, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Boston Lyric Opera Company, and the Handel and Haydn Society (one of the oldest choral company in the United States). There are also many major annual events such as First Night, which occurs during New Year's Eve, and several events during the Fourth of July. These events include theweek-long Harborfest festivities and a Boston Pops concert accompanied by fireworks on the banks of the Charles River.
Because of the city's prominent role in the American Revolution, the Boston National Historical Park contains many sites along what is known as the "Freedom Trail." The city is also home to several prominent art museums, libraries and popular attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the John F. Kennedy Library, The BostonAthenaeum , Boston Children's Museum, Bull & Finch Pub (whose building is known from the television show Cheers), Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium.