Dos and Don'ts
Accent: Although there are still plenty of accents to be heard, it’s not charming or inventive to ask if you can “pahhk the cahh in Hahhvad Yahhd.” So don’t. You can’t even drive into Harvard Yard. Also, don’t try to order the “chowdah” or a “lobstah.”
Transportation: Boston is a small city with limited parking. Don’t drive. Your best bet is to take the “T” (subway) or the local buses.
Sports: To paraphrase a popular local T-shirt, only root for two teams: The Boston Red Sox and whoever beats the Yankees. And when the Sox are playing, don’t be surprised if there is a TV tuned to the game, even in the most upscale places.
History: Take a moment to stop and appreciate the history. Bostonians are rightfully proud of their city’s role in the birth of American democracy and many of the most important sites have been well preserved and protected. So even if you can’t tell your Breed’s Hill from your Bunker Hill, try to learn a little about what went on here.
The Hub: Oliver Wendell Holmes referred to the Massachusetts State House as “the Hub of the Solar System.” Bostonians have run with this for years and now refer to the entire town as “the Hub.”
Beantown: A nickname for Boston referencing a signature local dish—Boston baked beans.
The T: Boston’s subway system.
Southie: South Boston, the traditionally Irish, blue-collar neighborhood south of Boston. Think Good Will Hunting.
Boston Brahmin: Boston’s old money elite class, often associated with Beacon Hill or Commonwealth Avenue.
The Cape: Boston has a cape to the north (Ann) and to the south (Cod), but “The Cape” is Cape Cod.
The Pike: The Massachusetts Turnpike. It’s Interstate 90, a toll road running east to west across the state from Boston to the New York State line outside of Albany.
Wicked: An intensifier, as in “Boston is wicked cool.”
Hoodsie: A kiddie-cup container of vanilla/chocolate ice cream and accompanying mini-wooden spoon made popular by the Hood Ice Cream company. Available in multi-packs at local supermarkets.
Square: Boston is full of them: Harvard Square, Kenmore Square, Liberty Square, and almost none of them are squares; they are intersections where three or more streets happen to come together.
The Big Dig: Boston’s approximately $15 billion construction project. Predominantly completed by 2006, new underground routes replaced elevated highways, opening vast areas of downtown to sunlight and tourism.
Subscribe to Nat Geo Traveler
Available in print and for iPad®! See destinations come alive with 360-degree photos, videos, and more!