20 fun facts you didn’t know about Boston

BostonCultureNorth America

Boston is a city full of history, most of which is pretty common knowledge you learned about in elementary school. But there’s a lot about this city that’s not so well known.

Below are 20 fun facts you most likely didn’t know about Boston.

1. Boston is actually named after a town in England

Fun Facts Boston: Named after British town

Source: Flickr

It’s true! The city that’s an icon of the American Spirit is named after a town in England. Many of Boston’s early settlers were from Boston, England, and decided to keep the name.


2. The first American lighthouse was built in Boston Harbor in 1716

Fun Facts Boston: First American Lighthouse

Source: Flickr

Little Brewster Island is where the first lighthouse was ever built in what is now the United States. While that lighthouse is long gone, the current island resident pictured above is actually the second-oldest working lighthouse in the United States, dating back to 1783.


3. Boston is home to the oldest public park in the U.S.

Fun Facts Boston: Oldest Public Park

Source: Getty Images

Boston Common is stretch of green sanctuary within the city of Boston dates back to 1634. It’s the oldest public park in the United States and continues to welcome residents and tourists alike.


4. “Happy Hours” are against the law

Fun Facts Boston: Happy Hour is Illegal

Source: Flickr

You won’t find any “Happy Hour” signs in the local Boston pub. The typical post-work drink deals have been banned since 1984.

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5. The Fig Newton is named after a Boston suburb

Boston Fun Facts: Fig Newtons named after the town Newton

Source: Flickr

A favorite American sweet snack for decades, the Fig Newton is actually named after the Boston suburb of Newton, Massachusetts.


6. The Red Sox have a patent on a color

Boston Fun Facts: Green Monster has its own color

Source: Flickr

Fenway Park is another American icon found in Boston. It’s Green Monster is so renowned, The Red Sox have actually patented the shade “Fenway Green.”


7. Boston was home to the first U.S. chocolate factory

Boston Fun Facts: First Chocolate Factory

Source: Flickr

Rejoice, chocolate lovers! The very first chocolate factory in the United States was build in the Lower Mills section in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston.


8. A deadly wave of molasses once flooded the North End

Boston Fun Facts: Molasses Flooding

Source: Flickr

In January 15, 1919, a storage tank holding more than 2 million gallons of molasses burst, sending a giant wave of the hot syrupy substance through the North End of Boston. It killed 21 people and several horses and injured more than 100 others, making it the worst molasses-related accident in history.


9. In turn-of-the-century Boston, you didn’t need to take a test to receive a driver’s license

Boston Fun Facts: No Driver's License Needed in 1903

Source: Flickr

Massachusetts started issuing driver’s licenses and registration plates in 1903, but didn’t make people take a driving test beforehand. In 1920, Boston began requiring a driving test before issuing someone a license.


10. The first U.S. subway was build here

Boston Fun Facts: First Subway in America

Source: Flickr

Boston built America’s first subway, the Tremont Street Subway, back in 1897.

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11. The Boston University Bridge is the location of a globally-unique phenomenon

Boston Fun Facts: Boston University Bridge

Source: Flickr

The Boston University Bridge’s claim to fame is that it’s the only place anywhere in the world where a boat can sail under a train going under a vehicle driving under an airplane.


12. Beantown really is about baked beans

Boston Fun Facts: Beantown means Baked Beans

Source: Flickr

The city’s nickname is Beantown due to the popularity of the baked beans in molasses among it’s early residents.


13. You can drive 90 feet below the earth’s surface in Boston

Boston Fun Facts: Drive 90 Feet Below Surface

Source: Flickr

Boston’s Ted Williams Tunnel is the deepest in North America, running nearly 90 feet underneath the earth’s surface.


14. Christmas was once banned

Boston Fun Facts: Christmas banned 1659 to 1681

Source: Flickr

Bostonians couldn’t celebrate Christmas between 1659-1681. It was against the law because the Pilgrims believed it to be a corrupted holiday.


15. Boston is home to the first U.S. public beach

Boston Fun Facts: First Public Beach

Source: Flickr

Who doesn’t love a day at the beach? The United States’ first public beach was Revere Beach in Boston (and now home to the International Sand Sculpting Festival).


16. Boston gave us candlepin bowling

Candlepin bowling

Source: Flickr

In 1880, candlepin bowling was invented in Boston. Candlepin bowling is similar to the tenpin bowling most are familiar with, with a few key differences in equipment.


17. $100 million in paintings was stolen from a Boston museum

Boston Fun Facts: Biggest Art Heist in History

Source: Flickr

The biggest art theft to date occurred in Boston on March 18, 1990. Two thieves posing as cops stole 12 paintings worth a total of $100 million from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

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18. Some of Hollywood’s most recognizable stars are Bostonians

Boston Fun Facts: Celebrities born, Mark Wahlberg

Source: Flickr

Celebrities Mark Wahlberg, James Spader, Jasmine Guy, Uma Thurman, Chris Evans, Madeline Kahn, Matt Damon, Connie Britton, Leonard Nimoy, Taylor Schilling, Uzo Aduba, Eliza Dushku and Barbara Walters are all born in Boston.


19. Bostonians get the weather from a skyscraper

Boston Fun Facts: John Hancock Tower for Weather

Source: Flickr

Colored lights on top of the old John Hancock Tower (now called 200 Clarendon) tell Bostonians the daily weather forecast. The options are solid blue, meaning it’s a clear day; flashing blue, signifying a cloudy day or clouds are coming; solid red, saying there’s rain coming; and flashing red, meaning snow is coming. In the summer, flashing red means the Red Sox game is rained out.


20. The city is full of walkers

Boston Fun Facts: Walking commuters

Source: Flickr

As of 2012 and according to U.S. Census Bureau data, 15.1% of Bostonians walked to work — the highest percentage among the major U.S. cities.

See what other fun facts you can discover in this dynamic city on the East Coast. We have dozens of hotels in Boston to choose for your next trip and you can read our other posts about Boston’s 6 Must-Have Foods, 7 Days in Boston, and Why Sports Fans Can’t Ignore Boston’s Big Four.

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