Boston is a medical center like no other with three major medical school and about 27 hospitals. Immensely diverse and vibrant, Boston is a city of some 20 neighborhoods with Cambridge and Brookline as bordering communities.
Persons of color comprise over 40 percent of the city's population, and over one third of all students enrolled in Boston Public Schools speak a language other than English at home.
Boston is blessed with excellent public transportation. The MBTA subway system (or just "the T") extends throughout Boston, most of Brookline and Cambridge, parts of Newton, and to near north and south shore suburbs. More distant towns are served by commuter rail. The Longwood Medical area is centered within 2-3 blocks of two different Green line routes.
There is also an extensive bus system, including a shuttle bus from Harvard University to the Medical School. Parking is expensive in the Longwood area, but residents who drive can park in cheaper outlying lots and use Children's shuttle buses. Residents can park in the patient lot across from Children's for free at nights and on weekends. Residents who leave the hospital late at night can also obtain free taxi vouchers.[read more]
Boston was founded in 1630 and is central to American history. History buffs can trek the Freedom Trail, which connects many historically important sites, from the Old State House, where the Declaration of Independence was first read, to Paul Revere's House to the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides").
Sites of pivotal battles at Bunker Hill, and in Lexington and Concord, are also national monuments and nearly every town has an historical society. Old Sturbridge Village is an authentic recreation of a colonial village, with historic housing and costumed inhabitants that is located in Sturbridge, an hour west of Boston. Plimoth Plantation is a similar recreation of the original Plymouth Colony just South of Boston. And touristy Salem, home of the infamous witch trials, lies to the north.
Arts and Culture
Boston is a cultural Mecca. The Boston Symphony is world-renowned, as is the Boston Pops, but there are several other professional symphonies and innumerable civic and college orchestras. In fact, the medical area has it's own orchestra, the Longwood Symphony, composed mostly of physicians, that is very high quality.
There are also over 100 amateur choral groups, including many outstanding ones: the Cantata Singers, the Boston Cecelia and the Handel and Hayden Society to name just three. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum are world-class fine art museums and are only a 3-block walk from Children's Hospital. The Institute of Contemporary Art and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard are two others of note.
The Museum of Science and the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum are also outstanding. The Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Boston highlight a growing opera scene, and the Boston Ballet is one of the country's best. There are numerous theater companies including the American Repertory Theater, The Huntington Theater Company and the Lyric Stage of Boston. Plus, Boston is a frequent venue for pre-Broadway tryouts and touring national companies. [read more]
Boston is a great sports town. The Red Sox and Patriots have been world class in recent years, the Celtics reached that pinnacle last year, and the Bruins have returned to competitive excellence. The Revolution (soccer) are also among the top teams each year. Fenway Park is only a 10-minute walk from the hospital (~5 blocks) and the TD Garden, where the Celtics and Bruins play, is a short subway ride. The Patriots and Revolution play in Foxboro, MA, which is about 20 miles south of the city.
Fenway Park is only 5 blocks from Boston Children's Hospital!
For those who prefer participatory sports, the Harvard University Athletic Facilities and Harvard Medical School Athletic Facilities are available for a small fee. Harvard University offers facilities for indoor and outdoor tennis, swimming and diving, ice skating, jogging, squash, basketball, baseball, field hockey, lacrosse, rugby, volleyball, rowing, and sailing, plus others, and extensive exercise and weight training.
The Medical School has a gymnasium, squash courts, cardiovascular and strength training equipment and an outdoor tennis court. Groups like the Boston Ski and Sports Club organize year round sports leagues, as well as sporting trips. Boston is a great running and biking city. There are numerous Bikeways, particularly along the Charles River and through the 'Emerald Necklace' string of parks, which lies just 3 blocks from the Longwood area.
The same routes are popular for running. For serious runners, the famous Boston Marathon occurs each spring on Patriots Day, which is a local holiday, allowing those who wish to run, to participate. Many housestaff and faculty do. Golfers have many opportunities in the Boston area. There are 102 18-hole public courses within an hour of Boston including many award winning courses, such as Pinehills in Plymouth, Red Tail in Devens, Shaker Hills in the town of Harvard, and George Wright in Hyde Park, a Boston Municipal course designed by Donald Ross.[read more]
Housing and Schools
Housing is relatively expensive in Boston, roughly equivalent to Seattle, though less than New York City, Washington DC, or the major cities in California. To compensate, the BCRP offers higher than average salaries. Real estate information is available from a number of sources including the Boston Globe, which also publishes a useful rental search engine.
Boston and Cambridge schools are variable but the schools in Brookline, Newton and many other suburban communities are outstanding. The Greatschools website contains considerable information about individual schools.
Boston is a great city for kids because there are so many things to see and do in the city and nearby, and because the transportation system is safe and extensive. The Children's Museum and the Museum of Science are each among the best in the country.
At right: Kids playing at the New England Aquarium
The nearly free Community Boating Program is also outstanding. A good list of activities for kids can be found at Go City Kids3 and at Boston Central4. The latter site also contains lots of useful information about Boston suburban communities.[read more]
Resturants and Nightlife
Boston is a world-renowned center for ideas and learning. Some 65 colleges, universities and other institutions of higher education attract more than 200,000 students.
No other major city has such a high proportion of students. Their energy invigorates the city's restaurant and nightlife, from club hopping on Lansdowne Street to the live music scene in the cafes and coffeehouses.
Live music includes Latin, jazz, blues, gospel, folk and classical. Boston is a great restaurant town. There are many outstanding restaurants and enormous variety. The restaurant reviews in the Boston Globe and Zagats are particularly useful.
Downtown Boston is a peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides: the harbor on the east and north, and the Charles River on the west. Unlike many cities, much of the waterfront is recreational space. The harbor offers boating of all kinds, fishing, and a number of community beaches. There is a Harborwalk with many parks and other venues.
The Harbor Islands are part of the National Park system and are accessible by ferry for day trips and picnicking. The Charles River side is even more scenic, with a 17-mile Esplanade along the shore, the Hatch Shell for summer concerts, the famous Duck Boat Tours and a Community Boating Program that allows individuals or families to sail any of a fleet of 113 boats in the Charles River Basin for a remarkably low fee and that provides children with sailing instruction and all-summer sailing for $1.
Every July 4th, the Esplanade is packed with crowds for a spectacular Boston Pops concert and fireworks show. The Charles River is also known for its rowing and sculling. The famous Head of the Charles regatta, the world's largest 2-day rowing event, is held every year in October.
Boston Neighborhoods and Communities
Boston is a city of neighborhoods. Beacon Hill dates from the 18th century and features cobblestone streets, gaslights and brick front Georgian townhouses. Back Bay was built a century later by the Boston elite and contains gorgeous Victorian townhouses with wide streets and small front gardens. It also includes the fanciest shopping area in Boston, along lower Newbury and Boylston streets plus the Prudential Center and Copley Place shopping centers.
The old North End, which dates from Colonial times, still retains much of its strong Italian heritage. The South End is a vibrant newly restored, cosmopolitan district and includes the Theater District and many of the best restaurants. Bay Village is a charming historic part of the South End.
The Harbor area is also newly renovated. Many wharves have been recycled as high-end condominiums. Chinatown is Boston's center for the Asian community. The Fenway area, which is closest to the hospitals and includes Fenway Ball Park, has a particularly high concentration of student housing, cultural organizations and parkland. Charlestown, Brighton, Allston, South Boston, East Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Hyde Park and Roslindale are other Boston neighborhoods.
These are described in more detail at the Boston Neighborhoods website5. Some housestaff have recently purchased homes in parts of Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and Dedham, which are reasonably close to the Longwood Medical Area. Brookline is a very high quality suburb that begins just 3 blocks west of the Longwood Medical Area. It has superb schools and shops and multiple subway lines. Although homes in Brookline are extraordinarily expensive, condominiums and apartments are more reasonably priced, and many interns and residents live there.
Cambridge lies just across the Charles River from Boston and is home to Harvard University and MIT. Many housestaff enjoy the intellectual ferment of Cambridge and live in the residential areas near Harvard Square. There is a regular shuttle bus from Harvard Square to Harvard Medical School and good subway connections.
Greater Boston is actually a conglomerate of over 100 small to medium-sized towns and villages, most of which were incorporated in the 17th and 18th centuries. As such it differs greatly from the more homogeneous towns in many other parts of the country, because each of the Greater Boston communities has its own character, government and school system.
The range of variation is quite remarkable. Marblehead is centered on sailing, Lincoln and Hamilton on horseback riding, Lexington and Concord on colonial history, and so on. Individual towns are well described in a website devoted to Massachusetts Towns and in a section of the online Boston Globe.