Photo of Old State House on Boston's Freedom Trail, backed by Financial District towers
What are the key events in Boston history?
And why should you care?
Almost 400 years have passed since the first group of English Puritans set foot on the small peninsula that they named "Boston" and built into one of America's biggest and best cities.
During those 400 years, Boston has led the nation in fighting for independence, in establishing great civic institutions, and finally in rejuvenating city neighborhoods.
Millions of people visit Boston each year to experience its top attractions, excellent hotels, and renowned restaurants.
Old red brick buildings blend seamlessly with the soaring steel and glass business towers of today.
Walk around the city and you'll see evidence of Boston's history everywhere.
But who remembers the difference between a Puritan and a Pilgrim? What things happened first in Boston? And why did Red Sox fans once moan about the "Curse of the Bambino?"
You can certainly enjoy Boston without knowing any of these things.
But in case you're planning a visit and want to learn more, use this Boston history timeline to find out how our spectacular 21st century waterfront city began, grew, and flourished.
No, not by a long shot. In the almost 10,000 years before their arrival, melting Ice Age glaciers formed New England's landscape, Native Americans arrived ... and that's just the beginning.
Find out about how they laid the foundations for what makes our city great today - schools, parks, libraries, taverns - and find out why Boston history has so many "firsts." in the New World.
Discover why the Colony and Boston begin to revolt by 1750 - even though the Revolutionary War is 25 years away.
When British troops fire into a hostile crowd and kill 5, anger explodes and revolution fills the air. Discover why "No Taxation without Representation" can be heard throughout Boston by 1750.
When the king sends ships full of English tea to Boston and blockades the harbor to force the colonists to unload the cargo and pay taxes, Patriots Samuel Adams and other Sons of Liberty decide to hold a Tea Party - in Boston Harbor. To retaliate, the Redcoats move the state capital to Salem and occupy Bostonians' houses.
On the evening of April 18, Paul Revere and William Dawes set forth on horseback to warn that British troops are coming to Concord to try to capture John Hancock and Sam Adams. On the following day in Lexington, an important day in Boston history unfolds as shots ring out and the American Revolution begins. A few months later, the Battle of Bunker Hill rages.
Samuel Whittemore fought three times for the British, and moved from England to the Colonies. Now he's settled down on his farm outside of Boston. When he sees British militia moving across the countryside, he grabs some weapons. He wants his grandchildren to grow up free, and he plans to do his part. He is 81 . . . but not too old to fight!
Longfellow wrote "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" almost 100 years after the fateful gallop across the countryside. It's not quite accurate - but he captures the courage of the women and older men left to defend their farms, and he gives us the memorable line, "The British are coming!"
With Boston in a state of siege, General George Washington expels the British from Boston on March 17, 1776. Within a few years, Bostonians celebrate Independence, write the Massachusetts State Constitution, sign the U.S. Constitution, and join the Federal union. Massachusetts becomes the first state to abolish slavery.
A different type of revolution - the American Industrial Revolution - begins when Bostonian Robert Cabot Lowell builds the nation's first textile mill. Boston becomes a city. The City of Boston grows by annexation and by filling mudflats to create land as Irish and other immigrants swell the population. Anti-slavery speeches heat up, putting Boston at the center of a growing national debate.
Annexation, land fill, and Irish immigration continue. Massachusetts fights to preserve the Union in the Civil War. Many of Boston's great cultural institutions form and flourish. Back Bay is built, literature blooms, and in a dark moment in Boston history, three Harvard graduates found the Immigration Restriction League. The Boston Marathon begins.
The Boston Pilgrims, soon to be known as the Boston Red Sox, win a world series but all too soon comes a dreadful moment in Boston history: Babe Ruth places the Curse of the Bambino on the city, causing generations to despair. The Cocoanut Grove fire kills 490. Threatening clouds gather over the city after World War II as a slow decline begins.
The Great Molasses Flood - perhaps the ghastliest event in Boston's history - occurs when exceptionally warm January weather causes a huge, already-leaking vat of molasses to burst in the North End. The ensuing flood of what witnesses describe as "goo" kills 21 people plus a number of animals.
Urban renewal fervor razes the West End and brutalist-style Government Center is built. The elevated Central Artery goes up, bisecting the city. Dirty Water, the Standells' pop song, commemorates the Charles River. John F. Kennedy is elected U.S. President, and assassinated 3 years later. Urban regeneration revives the city.
The Big Dig sinks the Central Artery, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway reunites the city. Massachusetts leads the nation in legalizing same-sex marriage and enacting healthcare reform. The Red Sox reverse the Curse and win two World Series. The Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots also win championships.
Two bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. For five surreal days, police conduct a massive manhunt for the two bombing suspects, who kill another man, throw pipe bombs, and engage in a huge gunfight in a residential neighborhood. One suspect accidentally kills the other, before finally being capture. Boston Strong becomes the city's mantra.
More to explore: Books about Boston
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