Boston has been first too many times -- the first public library, the first public schools, the first subway system -- to concede an inch of civic pride to bigger and bolder cities. It still sees itself as a pioneer in culture -- both popular and rarefied. In 1858, Oliver Wendell Holmes -- philosopher and author of The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table -- called Boston "the hub of the solar system"; social inflation, however, soon raised the ante to "hub of the universe." For Bostonians that still feels about right.
Like a multitiered wedding cake, the city of Boston consists of discrete layers. The deepest layer is the historical base, the place where musket-bearing revolutionaries vowed to hang together or hang separately. The next tier, a dense spread of Brahmin fortune and fortitude, might be labeled the Hub. The Hub saw only journalistic accuracy in the hometown slogan "the Athens of America" and felt only pride in the label "Banned in Boston." Over that lies Beantown, home to the Red Sox faithful and the raucous Bruins fans who crowded Boston GAHden; this is the city whose ethnic loyalties -- Irish, Italian, Asian, and African-American -- account for its many distinct neighborhoods. Crowning these layers are the students who throng the city's universities and colleges every fall, infuriating not a few but pleasing the rest with their infusion of high spirits and dollars from home.
Burton Holmes Travelogues:
The Greatest Traveler of His Time, 1892-1952
Una Grande Storia Italiana. Valentino Garavani
(Special Limited Edition)
100 All-Time Favorite Movies
(25th Anniversary Special Edtn)
Boston Guides on Amazon
Boston On the Map
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