Boston is the capital city and most populous municipality of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km²) with an estimated population of 685,094 in 2017, making it also the most populous city in the New England region. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States.
Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England. It was the scene of several key events of the American Revolution, such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston. Upon U.S. independence from Great Britain, it continued to be an important port and manufacturing hub as well as a center for education and culture. The city has expanded beyond the original peninsula through land reclamation and municipal annexation. Its rich history attracts many tourists, with Faneuil Hall alone drawing more than 20 million visitors per year. Boston's many firsts include the United States' first public or state school (Boston Latin School, 1635), first subway system (Tremont Street Subway, 1897), and first public park (Boston Common, 1634).
The Boston area's many colleges and universities make it an international center of higher education, including law, medicine, engineering, and business, and the city is considered to be a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, with nearly 2,000 startups. Boston's economic base also includes finance, professional and business services, biotechnology, information technology, and government activities. Households in the city claim the highest average rate of philanthropy in the United States; businesses and institutions rank among the top in the country for environmental sustainability and investment. The city has one of the highest costs of living in the United States as it has undergone gentrification, though it remains high on world livability rankings.
Boston has an area of 89.63 square miles (232.1 km²)—48.4 square miles (125.4 km²) (54.0%) of land and 41.2 square miles (106.7 km²) (46.0%) of water. The city's official elevation, as measured at Logan International Airport, is 19 ft (5.8 m) above sea level. The highest point in Boston is Bellevue Hill at 330 feet (100 m) above sea level, and the lowest point is at sea level. Situated onshore of the Atlantic Ocean, Boston is the only state capital in the contiguous United States with an oceanic shoreline.
In 2016, Boston was estimated to have 673,184 residents (a density of 13,841 persons/sq mi, or 5,344/km²) living in 272,481 housing units—a 9% population increase over 2010. The city is the third-most densely populated large U.S. city of over half a million residents. Some 1.2 million persons may be within Boston's boundaries during work hours, and as many as 2 million during special events. This fluctuation of people is caused by hundreds of thousands of suburban residents who travel to the city for work, education, health care, and special events.
In the city, the population was spread out with 21.9% at age 19 and under, 14.3% from 20 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males. There were 252,699 households, of which 20.4% had children under the age of 18 living in them, 25.5% were married couples living together, 16.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.0% were non-families. 37.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 3.08. Boston has one of the largest LGBT populations in the United States.
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