Boston has long been regarded as New York’s dowdy cousin. Despite continuously serving for more than 200 years as the political, economic and cultural hub of New England, the city has retained its reputation as a staid municipality stuck in a Puritan past. But with the completion of the Big Dig, the arrival of international luxury hotels and an economic boom that has gradually transformed run-down neighborhoods into centers as hip as their counterparts in more stylish cities, travelers are starting to take notice.
When I moved to Boston from Madrid, I traded an apartment next to the Retiro Park for a walk-up near Harvard Square—hardly a thrilling change. As I came to know the city, though, I realized that my fear of living in a place known primarily for its sports teams was unfounded (unfortunately, my apprehension about the weather was dead on). While the shopping and dining in the Hub will never be on par with that in New York or San Francisco, the city’s attributes outshine its shortcomings. Despite their reputation as hardened New Englanders, Bostonians are welcoming and are happy to share tips for enjoying it with newcomers. And its innumerable number of universities (Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Boston University and the Berklee College of Music, to name a few) as well as some of the country’s best hospitals and most powerful investment funds draw a constant influx of smart, interesting people from around the world.
Culturally, the symphony competes with the great ones of Europe, and ambitious young chefs continue to expand their repertoires in restaurants, like O Ya, which are garnering awards from the nation’s toughest critics. Even Hollywood has embraced the town; a rash of movies have been filmed there in the past few years, and there are more to come. Sure, the weather could be better. But on a brisk fall day, as the river reflects the changing colors of the leaves or an early snow transforms the historic lanes of Beacon Hill into a winter wonderland, it’s hard to resist Boston’s charms. And whether visitors come to explore the birthplace of the American Revolution, to ogle cutting edge art in the new ICA or to wile the night away in a hip lounge, I’m certain the city’s balance of past and present, history and modern taste, will win them over as thoroughly as it did me.
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