Boston was founded on 17 November 1630 by Puritans from England seeking religious freedom – on a peninsula that was called Shawmut by Native American inhabitants. The early European settlers first called the area ‘Trimountaine’, later re-naming it after the town of Boston, England – from which several colonists had emigrated. The Puritans established a stable and well-structured community and founded America’s first public school in 1635 as well as its first college, Harvard, in 1636. Boston was America’s largest, most influential and wealthiest city until the 1760s.
In the early 1770s, as the British attempted to exert more stringent control on the thirteen colonies, primarily via taxation, the citizens of Boston prepared for revolt. The early battles of the American Revolution occurred in and around Boston – including the Boston Massacre, the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Bunker Hill. After the Revolution, the city became one of the most successful trading ports in the world, as it was the closest major port to Europe.
In 1822, Boston was granted a city charter, and by the mid-1800s industrial manufacturing had become the predominant economic force – remaining so until the early 1900s. It was noted for its garment production, leather goods, and machinery industries. From the mid-to-late-19th century, Boston flourished culturally as well.
By the early years of the 20th century, the city of Boston began to struggle and faced economic downturn as a large number of factories became obsolete, and businesses moved to find cheaper labor. Boston’s response was to initiate numerous urban renewal projects. By the 1970s, the city was booming again after more than thirty years of economic downturn – this time becoming a leader in the mutual fund industry. Additionally, the excellence of the health care system and hospitals, and universities such as Harvard, MIT and Boston University attracted many people to the area.