15 interesting facts about Boston

How well do you know Boston? We’re bringing you some fun facts about the city and its history. If you’re a trivia master (or local enthusiast), give this a try.

A team of four rowers going under the Boston University Bridge.

The Boston University Bridge is unlike any other in the world.

Photo by @paulcanottaggio

Did you know that Boston’s nickname is Beantown?

Nah, just kidding. If you know us, you know we’re here for the deep cuts — and there’s plenty of interesting factoids to go around. As connoisseurs of the quirky and unconventional, we put together a list of Boston’s history, oddest characteristics, and more. Maybe you’ve lived here your whole life and know some of this, or maybe you’ll learn something new.

Either way, test your local knowledge with these 15 interesting facts.

  1. The MBTA’s Tremont Street subway was the first subway tunnel in America and is the third oldest still in use worldwide. It opened to the public in 1897 and the original five-mile track ran from an entrance at the Public Garden and an entrance near Haymarket Square.
  2. The Boston Public Garden is America’s first public botanical garden. The Boston Common was established in 1634 and the Public Garden, located right across the street, came later in 1837. The historic green space was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
  3. The Zakim Bridge is the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world. It stands 745 ft over the Charles River, and measures 1,407 ft long and 183 ft wide. Construction began on Oct. 1, 1997 and cost $115 million.
  4. Boston is the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train going under a vehicle driving under a plane. Visit the Boston University Bridge to see this phenomenon.
  5. The biggest art heist in history happened in March 1990 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Twelve paintings worth over $500 million were stolen by two thieves impersonating cops and the stolen art has never been recovered.
  6. Boston is one of two capital cities in the US that features coastline. Boston has approximately 47 miles of shoreline and 34 harbor islands. Here are 10 beaches to explore in and around the city.
  7. The Ted Williams Tunnel takes drivers approximately 90 ft under the surface of Boston Harbor, making it the deepest connection in North America. The Big Dig highway project was completed in 2007 and cost a whopping $14.6 billion.
  8. The first American lighthouse was built in Boston Harbor in 1716. The original Little Brewster Island lighthouse is gone now, and the current lighthouse is the second-oldest working lighthouse in the US, featuring a 76-step climb.
  9. It’s no secret that Boston runs on Dunkin’ — but did you know the first Dunkin’ Donuts location opened in Quincy, about 11 miles outside of Boston, in 1948? Today, there are over 1,100 locations across Massachusetts, though we know there are none in Stow.
  10. Who doesn’t love a fluffernutter? The classic sandwich spread, marshmallow fluff, was invented in Somerville, and has gone on to become a New England staple. Fluff dates back to the early 20th century, when it was sold door-to-door by the inventor Archibald Query.
  11. Fenway Park is the oldest MLB stadium that is still in use, and it features a signature color. The Red Sox patented the color “Fenway Green” for the iconic Green Monster, which stands 37 ft tall.
  12. The Internet wouldn’t be the same without two local students. The Facebook algorithm was created by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 while he was a student at Harvard University. The World Wide Web was founded by Tim Berners-Lee at MIT in 1994.
  13. The decadent Boston Cream Pie was created at the Omni Paker House in the late 19th century. It’s actually a cakenot a pie — and we’d like to think the unofficial dessert of Boston is a cannoli.
  14. Sometimes you want to go to the place where everyone knows your name, and you can in Boston. The pub that inspired the 1980s television show “Cheers” was previously known as the Bull & Finch Pub. The show only used the Boston location for filming twice, but you can take a break from all your worries and see it for yourself at 84 Beacon St.
  15. Boston wasn’t always as big as it is today. Literally, the land that we know as the Boston peninsula nearly doubled in size. The project began in the early 1800s, when workers moved land from the tops of Copps Hill and Beacon Hill to fill in an area called Mill Pond until completion in 1882.

Your turn. Think you can get one over on us? Let us know your favorite local trivia tidbit and you just might make it into the newsletter.

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