The city of Boston has acquired multiple names throughout its history. We decided to dig deeper into the origins and meanings of some of the most popular nicknames.

Bean Town

Transient explains the nickname of Bean Town as originating from the Plymouth Colony's traditional bean bake dinners. In 1907, the bean pot stickers (above) and postcards appeared all over Boston in order to publicize Old Home Week. Source

This historic staple can still be found at restaurants like the Island Creek Oyster Bar as well as Faneuil Hall's Durgin Park. Yum!

The Hub (of the Universe)


According to Universal Hub, Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Massachusetts State House "The Hub of the Solar System," and Bostonians soon adjusted the name to something more fitting. Source

Fortunately, you can see sweeping views of the city at the Skywalk Observatory or enjoy a romantic dinner at The Top of the Hub in the Prudential Tower.

America's Walking City


City of Boston's website touts the Freedom Trail to be the nation's first historic walking tour. It's not certain, however, if this trail or the nickname came first. Source

According to the 2012 US Census, about Suffolk County commuters walk at 4X the rate of commuters in other parts of Massachusetts.

Cradle of Liberty


WiseGeek provides a detailed explanation of how this nickname came about. In short, this nickname arose from the revolutionary events that led to America's independence from Great Britain. Source

Liberty carried into modern times, as Massachusetts was the first state in the US to grant same-sex couples marital rights. Source

City Upon a Hill


Despite one's initial thought that the origins of this nickname lie in geographical descriptors, claims it came about through the words of John Winthrop as he spoke the purpose of the British journey to the US: "We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us." Source

As recent as January 2014,  Mayor Walsh adopted Winthrop's words to segue into the meat of his Inaugural Address. 


If you come up with other nicknames for Boston, let us know in the comments!