19 Nicknames for Boston and the Reasons for Them

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Aerial shot of a river with a bridge over it in the middle of an urban city
The city of Boston is referred to by many names, each with an interesting origin

Boston, Massachusetts, the largest city in New England, is located in the northeast region of the United States on Massachusetts Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean. The gorgeous waterfront is what attracts many people to live in and visit Boston.

This waterfront also has a deep history as it's where the Boston Tea Party protest occurred. You can see this location, as well as 17 other cultural sites along the Freedom Trail. Along with Boston's rich history, the city has plenty to offer, like unique baked beans, baseball games at Fenway Park, and stunning architecture.

Some of the most popular nicknames for Boston come from these offerings, like Beantown because of the dried bean trade or the Olde Towne as an ode to Boston's old-fashioned architecture. Boston has many more nicknames to learn about, so keep reading to learn more about their origin and uses today.

19 Boston Nicknames

Boston Nicknames Video

Check out our highlights video of Boston nicknames.

A park with flowers, a walking path, trees, and a statue of a man on a horse
Boston is a walkable city with good public transit and urban parks

America's Walking City

One of the most well-known Boston names is America's Walking City. Boston is quite a compact city, so it's easy for pedestrians to get around.

Since Boston traffic can be brutal, especially after a Red Sox game, lots of people choose to walk to work, school, or different cultural sites when visiting the city. If walking isn't your thing, public transport in Boston is excellent, so you won't be left behind.

The Athens of America

The Athens of America is a nickname that's based on Boston's culture and intelligent population. Athens, the capital city of Greece, is well-known as an intellectual and artistic city.

American founders were inspired by this, which encouraged them to establish a similar city in Boston. The city has since produced well-known artists, philosophers, and writers, leading to this nickname. However, some say that Philadelphia may have been the Athens of America first. Today, the moniker isn't very well-used for Boston or Philadelphia, except in literary circles.

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A large building with glass panels and a sign saying "TD Garden" near roads and cars
Boston is home to successful sports teams that have won many championships

City of Champions

One of the most popular nicknames for Boston among sports fans is the City of Champions. Boston is home to many iconic sports teams, including the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and New England Patriots.

Each team has won multiple national championships, earning Boston this nickname. It's important to note that this is an unofficial nickname that numerous other cities claim for themselves. Since cities like Edmonton, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Detroit, and Pittsburgh all have champion sports teams as well, this nickname may always be under debate.


If there's one Boston nickname a lot of people know, it's Beantown (or Boston Beantown). But if you're wondering, "Why is Boston called Beantown?" it's simple! This nickname comes from the city's most popular dish: Boston baked beans.

Boston had a lot of beans available in the 1600s, and pilgrims would eat them with maple syrup. When molasses was made available in the 1700s, people started putting it in their baked beans, creating Boston baked beans. The dish is still popular today, but the nickname is less so, particularly among Bostonians. Interestingly, the Massachusetts nickname, the Baked Bean State, also exists.

Wooden benches on a lawn in front of old buildings near trees during fall
Boston is also known for its intellectual culture and being home to Harvard

City of Notions

Many people consider Boston a cultured, intellectual city, which led to the creation of the Boston slogan, the City of Notions. Of course, a well-known Massachusetts fact is that Boston is home to one of the most prestigious and oldest Ivy League schools, Harvard.

This intellectual culture started in the 1800s after the city recovered from the Siege of Boston. Boston had renewed economic success, allowing it to become the educational, intellectual, and medical center of the United States. Although the nickname isn't as popular today, lots of Bostonians remember its origin.

Dirty Water

A less favorable nickname of Boston is Dirty Water. It was coined by the band The Standells, as they released a song called Dirty Water in 1965.

The song is about the Boston Harbor and Charles River as they used to be polluted. Although they're no longer polluted, the song is still popular among Bostonians. Traditionally, Boston sports teams play Dirty Water when they have a home victory as an ode to the city's history.

Aerial shot of a bay near a city under a blue sky
Boston's nickname "Dot" was based on its largest neighborhood, Dorchester


The largest neighborhood in Boston is called Dorchester, or the Dot. It was named after the town of Dorchester in England as it was founded by Puritans who made it a separate town. It later became part of Boston in 1870.

People that grew up in Dorchester often affectionately refer to themselves as a Dot Rat. But unlike other names for Boston on this list, the Dot isn't a Boston-wide slogan.


Another neighborhood in Boston with its own nickname is East Boston, or Eastie. The East Boston Trade Company started construction on East Boston in 1833, as it was primarily swamp land.

In the 1900s, the East Boston Immigration Station was built. The center welcomed immigrants from Europe, predominantly from Russia, Ireland, and Italy. These immigrants are likely responsible for shortening East Boston to Eastie to make it easier to say. Locals still use the name, but it's not very well-known among other Bostonians.

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The interior of a baseball stadium with red seating
Fenway Park in Boston is the home of the Red Sox

Home of the Red Sox

This popular nickname, the Home of the Red Sox, is pretty self-explanatory. Boston's beloved baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, play in the city at the famous Boston landmark Fenway Park (the physical home of the Red Sox).

The team was founded in 1902 and has since won nine World Series championships, which is the third-most of any Major League Baseball team. The team's success has created Red Sox fans across the country, leading to the creation of the nickname "The Home of the Red Sox" for Boston.


Bostonians are known for having a unique accent, dropping the r's from some words, like saying cah instead of car, or adding r's to other words, like idea becomes idear. This accent influenced the creation of the nickname Bawstan, as it's what the city's name sounds like coming from a Bostonian.

Boston has a rich history, so it's hard to narrow down the accent to one source. However, most people believe it came from Irish immigrants who settled in the south side of Boston in the 19th century.

Adjacent bricked Victorian houses near trees in spring
Boston's neighborhoods, like Back Bay, are known for their uniqueness and diversity

The City of Neighborhoods

Boston is made up of 23 unique and distinct neighborhoods, such as Beacon Hill, South End, and Back Bay. This led to the creation of the nickname the City of Neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its own architecture, culture, history, and community, creating a unique identity that you can observe just by walking from one neighborhood to another.

This gives residents and visitors the opportunity to experience different cultures without even leaving the city. Although every city is made up of different neighborhoods, the distinct difference between each one in Boston earned the city this nickname.

The City on a Hill

One of the oldest city nicknames, The City on a Hill, came from John Winthrop's 1630 sermon. He delivered this sermon to English settlers before they reached New England. In it, he said he expects the Massachusetts Bay colony, which included Boston, to be a city on a hill and an example to the rest of the world.

Winthrop expected the colony to be a godly society or a religious utopia, but Boston and the rest of the colony became more secularized than he expected. This isn't a popular nickname in Boston, but historians use it to refer to the city.

A red building near a decorated boardwalk, a ship, and a body of water
Boston was important in the Revolutionary War as the location of the Boston Tea Party

The Cradle of Liberty

Many historical events from the American Revolution took place in Boston, especially in the 1700s, such as the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre. This inspired multiple Boston slogans, including the nickname the Cradle of Liberty, which is a tribute to Boston's early leaders and activists who advocated for independence from British rule.

Bostonians were, and still are, committed to freedom, liberty, and self-governance. Today, the city's history is proudly displayed in museums, monuments, and landmarks, showcasing Boston's role in shaping the history of the United States. This nickname is still used among historians, but it more commonly refers to Faneuil Hall now, a public marketplace and meeting hall in Boston.


Another sports nickname that's up for debate is Titletown. Boston sports teams have seen plenty of success in their time. The New England Patriots have won six Super Bowls, the Boston Red Sox have won nine World Series, and the Boston Bruins have won six Stanley Cups. The Boston Celtics have the most success in the city, having won 17 NBA titles.

All these sporting championships have earned the city the nickname of Titletown. Wisconsin often tries to take this nickname from Boston as the Green Bay Packers have won multiple championships and Super Bowls, but Bostonians fight for the right to claim it.

A building with columns and a gold dome-shaped top near flagpoles
The Massachusetts State House was originally referred to as "The Hub of the Universe"

The Hub of the Universe

In 1858, writer Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. sarcastically called the Boston State House the Hub of the solar system in The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table. He was implying that Boston was the center of everything intellectual and commercial at the time.

The nickname was originally offensive, but as time went on, more and more people referred to the iconic Massachusetts landmark, the Massachusetts State House, and Boston as a whole as the hub of the solar system. The name was then expanded to be the Hub of the Universe. People still use this name to refer to Boston, generally forgetting the controversial origin.

The Hub

The Hub is a shortened version of the previous nickname, "Hub of the Universe." As the nickname became more popular, Bostonians likely shortened it to make it more catchy. It's commonly used in sports broadcasts, so it's a nationwide nickname.

Due to its well-preserved history, nicknames for Boston include things like Olde Town
Nicknames for Boston, like the Olde Towne, are based on its well-preserved history

The Olde Towne

Boston is frequently called the Olde Towne because it's one of the oldest cities in the United States. The oldest city in the United States is St. Augustine, Florida, as it was founded in 1565. Boston was later founded in 1630 after cities like Jamestown, Santa Fe, and Albany.

Many neighborhoods in Boston have preserved their Colonial-era architecture, which gives the city of a more historic feel. The historical landmarks and museums are what draw numerous tourists to the city each year. So, this century-old nickname is still popular among residents and visitors.

The City of Kind Hearts

In the book The Story of My Life, Hellen Keller called Boston The City of Kind Hearts. Hellen was born in Easton, Connecticut, but was a student at Perkins School for the Blind in South Boston between 1888 and 1892.

She wrote an essay about her time in Boston, titled My Recollection of Boston and published the entire memoir in 1903. She wrote positively about the people in Boston, which influenced her experience in the city and her creation of the nickname. Although this isn't a common nickname for Boston, many Bostonians look upon it fondly.

A park with grass and trees with skyscrapers in the background
Boston Common is the first public park in the city built by Puritans

The Puritan City

Another historical Boston nickname is Puritan City, named after the city's founders. Puritan settlers led by John Winthrop founded Boston in 1630. They came from Plymouth, England, aboard the Mayflower to seek more religious freedom, and although Boston later became more secular, the Puritans still had an impact on the city's early development.

The Puritans arrived in Cape Cod in 1620 and didn't make it to present-day Boston until 1630. When they arrived, they found Reverend William Blackstone, an Englishman who left his country to find peace and quiet. He welcomed the Puritans, who later gave him 50 acres of land. Since Boston is so diverse now with lots of different cultures and religious beliefs, it's rarely referred to as The Puritan City.

In Summary

Boston has so many unique nicknames because it's a city full of culture, delicious baked beans, and champion sports teams. Bostonians and people from around the world have a deep love for the city, which led to the creation of lots of of these nicknames. Although not all of them are in use today, their origins add to the city's rich history.

Hopefully, this list has taught you something about Boston, whether you knew all of these nicknames, some of them, or none at all. If it's not already on your travel bucket list, it should be, so you can experience the Red Sox, Boston baked beans, and the Freedom Trail for yourself.

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Written by Rebecca Low

rebeccalow WRITER After travelling around the world and living abroad in Spain and Singapore, freelance writer and editor Rebecca has settled down in her hometown, Toronto, to write about her unique travel experiences.

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