If you were to measure a city’s greatness by its monikers, Boston would take some beating. Over the centuries it has been dubbed “The Athens of America” and “City of Notions”. Today, it is making a name for itself as an innovative financial powerhouse.
Financial pulling power
New York’s Wall Street might wear the US finance crown, but 220 miles to the north-east, Boston is a major global financial centre in its own right. This March, it was ranked the 10th most competitive city for business in the world in the Global Financial Centres Index — one place higher than Beijing and bettered in the US only by San Francisco and New York.
The state capital’s thriving job market drives Massachusetts’ economy; with 9 per cent of the state’s population living in Boston, it makes up 16 per cent of the state’s employment and accounts for 24 per cent of gross state product.
The city is home to Vertex Pharmaceuticals and General Electric, while online retailer Amazon, which plans to open a new 430,000 square feet office in Boston in 2021, has shortlisted the city for its proposed $5bn second headquarters.
Cradle of bright ideas
A big part of Boston’s economic success story is its leadership in research and development, born out of the world-leading academic institutions on its doorstep. Having the intellectual powerhouses of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology across the river Charles in neighbouring Cambridge means Boston has innovation on tap.
As a result, Boston’s Seaport district has a booming tech scene and the city boasts several unicorns (start-up companies valued at more than $1bn), including TripAdvisor, Wayfair, HubSpot and Athenahealth.
History round every corner
Founded in 1630 by New England’s Puritan settlers, Boston — also the birthplace of the American Revolution — is one of the oldest cities in the US. As such, it is a history buff’s dream.
The Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walking route in the city, takes in landmarks such as the Paul Revere House (the oldest surviving structure in downtown Boston), a statue of US founding father Benjamin Franklin and the site of the Boston Massacre — when British troops fired on a mob in 1770 during the American Revolution.
An hour’s drive away is Plymouth on Cape Cod Bay, the colony set up in 1620 by Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower. Settlement life is recreated at Plimoth Plantation.
Boston may be best known for its clam chowder, but the port city’s true claim to gastronomic fame should be its wider offering of fresh Atlantic seafood.
Moments away from where fishing crews unload their daily catch at the dock in the Seaport district, Row 34 draws crowds for its oysters, lobster rolls and craft beers. In Back Bay, Michael Serpa’s Select Oyster Bar marries New England seafood with Mediterranean cooking, while the Saltie Girl serves up brunches of bagel benedict with lobster, and soft scrambled eggs with caviar.
Room to grow
At a glance, it might seem like the Boston property market is looking overcooked. Property values are at an all-time high thanks to limited supply and pent-up demand. Prices have doubled in 10 years as a result of cheap credit, rapid population growth and a strong jobs market. Indeed, the city ranked third in property listings site Realtor.com’s hottest US market list in June, with homes selling in 33 days on average.
However, analysis by property data company CoreLogic suggests that, far from peaking, Boston’s rampant price growth remains sustainable with more to come. More than this, it suggests the city’s high prices reflect fair value. The company’s June report showed that unlike 52 per cent of major US markets, which are “overvalued”, Boston’s prices, while expensive, are “at value” and can be supported by the city’s prosperous economy.
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