Greater Boston

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Boston Combined Statistical Area
Metropolitan region
Location of Boston Combined Statistical Area
Country  United States
Principal cities
Population (2014)
 • Total 4,732,161 (MSA) or 8,099,575 (CSA)
 • Rank Ranked 10th in the US for Metropolitan Statistical Areas Ranked 6th in the US for Combined Statistical Areas
Time zone EST
Area code(s) 617, 781, 857, 339, 978, 508, 603, 401,

Greater Boston is the area of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts surrounding the city of Boston, consisting most of the eastern third of Massachusetts, excluding the South Coast and Cape Cod. The area can be characterized as the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or the combined statistical area (CSA), the latter which includes the metro areas of Manchester, New Hampshire; Providence, Rhode Island and Worcester, Massachusetts.

By contrast, Metro Boston is usually reserved to signify the "inner core" surrounding the City of Boston, while "Greater Boston" usually at least overlaps the North and South Shores, as well as MetroWest and the Merrimack Valley.

Greater Boston is tenth in population among U.S. metropolitan statistical areas in the United States, home to 4,732,161 people as of the 2014 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau and is ranked sixth among CSAs, having 8,099,575.[1]

Greater Boston has many sites and people significant to American history and culture, particularly the American Revolution, civil rights, literature,[2] and politics, and is one of the nation's centers of education, finance, industry, and tourism, with the ninth-largest GDP in the country and fifteenth-largest in the world.


Light Blue represents the area in Massachusetts known as Greater Boston, while Dark Blue represents the Metro-Boston area[specify][citation needed] and Red represents the City of Boston.

Metropolitan Area Planning Council

The most restrictive definition of the Greater Boston area is the region administered by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).[3] The MAPC is a regional planning organization created by the Massachusetts legislature to oversee transportation infrastructure and economic development concerns in the Boston area. The MAPC includes 101 cities and towns that are grouped into eight subregions. These include most of the area within the region's outer circumferential highway, I-495. The population of the MAPC district is 3,066,394 (as of 2000), in an area of 1,422 square miles (3,680 km2),[3] of which 39% is forested and an additional 11% is water, wetland, or other open space.[4]

The eight subregions and their principal towns are: Inner Core (Boston), Minuteman (Route 2 corridor), MetroWest (Framingham), North Shore (Lynn), North Suburban (Woburn), South Shore (Route 3 corridor), SouthWest (Franklin), and Three Rivers (Norwood).

Notably excluded from the MAPC and its partner planning body, the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, are the Merrimack Valley cities of Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill, much of Plymouth County, and all of Bristol County; these areas have their own regional planning bodies. Northern Bristol County is part of Greater Boston, even though it is part of the Providence MSA.

New England City and Town Area

The urbanized area surrounding Boston serves as the core of a definition used by the U.S. Census Bureau known as the New England city and town area (NECTA). The set of towns containing the core urbanized area plus surrounding towns with strong social and economic ties to the core area is defined as the Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH Metropolitan NECTA.[5] The Boston NECTA is further subdivided into several NECTA divisions, which are listed below. The Boston, Framingham, and Peabody NECTA divisions together correspond roughly to the MAPC area. The total population of the Boston NECTA was 4,540,941 (as of 2000).

  • Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division (92 towns)
  • Framingham, MA NECTA Division (12 towns)
  • Peabody-Salem-Beverly, MA NECTA Division (4 towns)
  • Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, MA NECTA Division (Old Colony region) (8 towns)
  • Haverhill-Newburyport-Amesbury, MA-NH NECTA Division (Merrimack Valley region) (21 towns)
  • Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, MA-NH NECTA Division (part of Merrimack Valley region) (4 towns)
  • Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH NECTA Division (Northern Middlesex region) (15 towns)
  • Nashua, NH-MA NECTA Division (21 towns)
  • Taunton-Middleborough-Norton, MA NECTA Division (part of Southeastern region) (9 towns)
  • Lynn-Saugus-Marblehead, MA NECTA Division (5 towns)

Metropolitan Statistical Area

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 650,357
1860 830,998 27.8%
1870 978,346 17.7%
1880 1,205,439 23.2%
1890 1,515,684 25.7%
1900 1,890,122 24.7%
1910 2,260,762 19.6%
1920 2,563,123 13.4%
1930 2,866,567 11.8%
1940 2,926,650 2.1%
1950 3,186,970 8.9%
1960 3,516,435 10.3%
1970 3,918,092 11.4%
1980 3,938,585 0.5%
1990 4,133,895 5.0%
2000 4,391,344 6.2%
2010 4,552,402 3.7%
Est. 2014 4,732,161 3.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

An alternative definition defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget, using counties as building blocks instead of towns, is the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is further subdivided into four metropolitan divisions. The metropolitan statistical area has a total population of approximately 4,640,802 and is the tenth-largest in the United States. The components of the metropolitan area with their estimated 2012 populations are listed below.

  • Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area (4,640,802)

Combined statistical area

A wider functional metropolitan area based on commuting patterns is also defined by the Office of Management and Budget as the Boston–Worcester–Providence combined statistical area. This area consists of the metropolitan areas of Manchester, Worcester, Providence, as well as Cape Cod, in addition to greater Boston. The total population (as of 2013) for the extended region is 8,041,303. The following areas, along with the above MSA, are included in the combined statistical area:

Principal cities and towns

Cities and Towns

Boston metropolitan area

The Census Bureau defines the following as principal cities in the Boston NECTA[5] using criteria developed for what the Office of Management and Budget calls a Core Based Statistical Area:[6]

Largest cities and towns

Cities and towns in the Boston CSA with at least 50,000 residents:

Rank City 2000
% change
(2010 to 2014)
1 Boston 589,141 617,594 655,884 +6.20%
2 Worcester 172,648 181,045 183,016 +1.09%
3 Providence 173,618 178,042 179,154 +0.62%
4 Manchester 107,006 109,565 110,448 +0.81%
5 Lowell 105,167 106,519 109,945 +3.22%
6 Cambridge 101,355 105,162 109,694 +4.31%
7 New Bedford 93,768 95,072 94,845 −0.24%
8 Brockton 94,304 93,810 94,779 +1.03%
9 Quincy 88,025 92,271 93,397 +1.22%
10 Lynn 89,050 90,329 92,137 +2.00%
11 Fall River 91,938 88,857 88,712 −0.16%
12 Newton 83,829 85,146 88,287 +3.69%
13 Nashua 86,605 86,494 87,259 +0.88%
14 Warwick 85,808 82,672 81,963 −0.86%
15 Cranston 79,269 80,387 81,037 +0.81%
16 Somerville 77,478 75,754 78,901 +4.15%
17 Lawrence 72,043 76,377 78,197 +2.38%
18 Pawtucket 72,958 71,148 71,499 +0.49%
19 Framingham 66,910 68,318 70,068 +2.56%
20 Waltham 59,226 60,632 63,014 +3.93%
21 Haverhill 58,969 60,879 62,488 +2.64%
22 Malden 56,340 59,450 60,859 +2.37%
23 Brookline 57,107 58,732 59,115 +0.65%
24 Plymouth 51,701 56,468 57,463 +1.76%
25 Medford 55,765 56,173 57,437 +2.25%
26 Taunton 55,976 55,874 56,544 +1.20%
27 Weymouth 53,988 53,743 55,643 +3.54%
28 Revere 47,283 51,755 54,157 +4.64%
29 Peabody 48,129 51,251 52,376 +2.20%
30 Methuen 43,789 47,255 52,044 +10.13%


Population density

The most densely populated census tracts in the Boston CSA (2010):[8]

Rank City or Neighborhood Census Tract Population Population density
/sq mi /km2
1 Fenway–Kenmore 10404 5,817 110,108 285,180
2 Fenway–Kenmore 10403 3,003 87,828 227,470
3 Fenway–Kenmore 10408 1,426 85,137 220,500
4 Beacon Hill 202 3,649 80,851 209,400
5 North End 301 1,954 66,288 171,690
6 North End 302 1,665 64,642 167,420
7 North End 304 2,451 58,435 151,350
8 Cambridge 3539 7,090 56,819 147,160
9 Back Bay 10801 2,783 56,534 146,420
10 East Boston 502 5,231 55,692 144,240

Race and ethnicity

The 40 most diverse Census tracts in the Boston CSA.[8]

The 40 census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino.[8]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Black American.[8]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Asian American.[8]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Irish American.[9]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Italian American.[10]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with the highest percentage of residents who identify as Portuguese American.[11]

Census tracts in the Boston CSA with French or French Canadian listed as first ancestry.[12]


Greater Boston has a sizable Jewish community, estimated at between 210,000 people,[13][14] and 261,000[15] or 5–6% of the Greater Boston metro population, compared with about 2% for the nation as a whole. Contrary to national trends, the number of Jews in Greater Boston has been growing, fueled by the fact that 60% of children in Jewish mixed-faith families are raised Jewish, compared with roughly one in three nationally.[13]

The City of Boston also has one of the largest LGBT populations per capita. It ranks fifth of all major cities in the country (behind San Francisco, and slightly behind Seattle, Atlanta, and Minneapolis respectively), with 12.3% of the city recognizing themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.[16]

Selected statistics

Changes in house prices for the Greater Boston area are publicly tracked on a regular basis using the Case–Shiller index; the statistic is published by Standard & Poor's and is also a component of S&P's 10-city composite index of the value of the residential real estate market.

Major companies



Club Sport League Stadium Established League Titles
Boston Breakers Soccer National Women's Soccer League Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium (Boston) 2008
Boston Bruins Ice hockey National Hockey League TD Garden (Boston) 1924 6 Stanley Cups
7 Eastern Conference Titles
Boston Cannons Lacrosse Major League Lacrosse Harvard Stadium (Boston) 2001 1 MLL Championship
Boston Celtics Basketball National Basketball Association TD Garden (Boston) 1946 17 NBA Championships
21 Eastern Conference Titles
Boston Lobsters Team tennis World TeamTennis Manchester Athletic Club (Manchester-by-the-Sea) 2005 (1974)
Boston Pride Ice hockey National Women's Hockey League Bright Hockey Center (Boston) 2015
Boston Red Sox Baseball Major League Baseball (American League) Fenway Park (Boston) 1901 8-time MLB World Series Champions
13 American League Pennants
New England Patriots Football National Football League (American Football Conference) Gillette Stadium (Foxboro) 1960
(as Boston Patriots)
4-time Super Bowl Champions
8-time AFC Champions
New England Revolution Soccer Major League Soccer Gillette Stadium (Foxboro) 1995 1 US Open Cup
1 SuperLiga

Annual sporting events include:

Higher education

A long time center of higher education, the area includes many community colleges, two-year schools, and internationally prominent undergraduate and graduate institutions. The graduate schools include highly regarded schools of law, medicine, business, technology, international relations, public health, education, and religion.



Bridges and tunnels


Rail and bus

File:Mbta district.svg
The MBTA district, with Commuter Rail lines in purple

The first railway line in the United States was in Quincy. See Neponset River.

The following Regional Transit Authorities have bus service that connects with MBTA commuter rail stations:

Ocean transportation

File:Salem Ferry.JPG
The Salem Ferry, 92 ft. Catamaran is photographed approaching its dock off Blaney Street at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site in Salem, Massachusetts, USA.


See also


  1. Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "American FactFinder - Results". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Will Joyner (9 April 1999). "Where Literary Legends Took Shape Around Boston". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "About MAPC". Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Archived from the original on 2007-02-21. Retrieved 2007-05-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Transportation Plan – Overview". Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. 2009. Archived from the original on August 29, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Principal cities of New England city and town areas (NECTAs)" (XLS spreadsheet). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved April 26, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Standards for Defining Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas" (PDF). Office of Management and Budget. December 27, 2000. Retrieved September 14, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "City and Town Population for 2013". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved September 19, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 "Mapping the 2010 U.S. Census". U.S. Census Bureau.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Irish as First Ancestry Population Percentage Rank of Census Tract within 100 miles of Zip Code 02176". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Italian as First Ancestry Population Percentage Rank of Census Tract within 100 miles of Zip Code 02176". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. [1][dead link]
  12. "French as First Ancestry Population Percentage Rank of Census Tract within 100 miles of Zip Code 02176". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 Michael Paulson (2006-11-10). "Jewish population in region rises". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-11-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Cities with the Largest Jewish Population in the Diaspora". Retrieved 2009-11-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Metro Area Membership Report". The Association of Religion Data Archives. Retrieved 2009-11-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "12.9% in Seattle are gay or bisexual, second only to S.F., study says". The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company. 2006. Retrieved 2009-05-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "2009 Globe 100 – Top Massachusetts-based employers". The Boston Globe. 2010-01-19. Archived from the original on May 22, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. [2] Archived March 10, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  19. "Top Companies in Massachusetts on the Inc. 5000 -". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. [3] Archived October 10, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  21. "Who We Are & About Us - Vistaprint". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Wilson, Susan (2005). The Literary Trail of Greater Boston: A Tour of Sites in Boston, Cambridge, and Concord, Revised Edition. Commonwealth Editions. ISBN 1-889833-67-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> An informative guidebook, with facts and data about literary figures, publishers, bookstores, libraries, and other historic sites on the newly designated Literary Trail of Greater Boston.
  • Warner, Sam, Jr. (2001). Greater Boston: Adapting Regional Traditions to the Present. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-1769-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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