Boston is the capital of Massachusetts and its largest city and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial “Capital of New England” for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. Greater Boston as a commuting region is home to 7.6 million people.
The city has a number of ornate theatres, including the Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston Opera House, Citi Performing Arts Center, the Colonial Theater, and the Orpheum Theatre. Renowned performing-arts organizations include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Ballet, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Lyric Opera Company, OperaBoston, and the Handel and Haydn Society (one of the oldest choral companies in the United States). The city is also a major center for contemporary classical music, with a number of performing groups, some of which are associated with the city’s conservatories and universities. There are also many major annual events such as First Night, which occurs on New Year’s Eve, the annual Boston Arts Festival at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, Italian summer feasts in the North End honoring Catholic saints, and several events during the Fourth of July period. These events include the week-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, several historic sites relating to that period are preserved as part of the Boston National Historical Park. Many are found along the Freedom Trail, which is marked by a red line of bricks embedded in the ground. The city is also home to several prominent art museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In December 2006, the Institute of Contemporary Art moved from its Back Bay location to a new contemporary building designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro located in the Seaport District. The University of Massachusetts Boston campus on Columbia Point houses the John F. Kennedy Library. The Boston Athenaeum (one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States), Boston Children’s Museum, Bull & Finch Pub (whose building is known from the television show Cheers), Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium are within the city.