Tech City Spotlight: Boston
Boston has been described as one of the US’s most forward-thinking and barrier-breaking cities, and it’s certainly a city with a lot to it. From sports and history to food, arts and architecture it has it all, and the students are what keep the city growing, moving and creating the future.
Several decades ago Boston was a hotbed of innovation, leading the way in then cutting edge technologies like minicomputers, storage and network equipment. Despite cooling down since then, today Boston is ready to regain its former glory as a tech centre.
There are a number of factors that lead to startup ecosystems flourishing. These include a broad infrastructure of talent, knowledge sharing, a community of entrepreneurs and companies, and access to venture capital. Thanks to its strong academic situation and history of tech, Boston scores highly in all of these areas.
Being home to university heavy-hitters – i.e. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – means that Boston enjoys enhanced quality of labour force, which attract and fuel knowledge based industries. Many notable tech entrepreneurs including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates got their start as students in the Boston area and Facebook and Dropbox were born in the city. Now Boston has a generation of experienced entrepreneurs and companies that have the knowledge and tools to assist and support the young startups.
Today robotics and mobile and SaaS based businesses have become the biggest driver of tech growth, although digital healthcare, fintech and edtech are all looking promising too. As it stands, Massachusetts is home to over 1,000 robotics companies, one of the most interesting being jibo, the world’s first social robot. Jibo can sense and respond, and learns as you engage with him.
There is no doubt that Boston is on the cusp of something, and it’s only going up from here. It’s been ranked first out of 25 startup hubs in the US by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, meaning it’s best positioned to lead the digital economy. So watch this space!
Where to live
Home to the Boston Red Sox, Fenway/Kenmore has been ranked as Boston’s best neighbourhood for living well. This is also very much a studenty area so there’s an abundance of cool food joints and late night bars. You’ll also find the famous museum of fine arts here. Over in Brighton you’ll be drawn in by the contrasting architecture, from old to new, ragged to refined, it’s a vibrant mix. There’s something to suit everyone from hard working entrepreneurs to late night frat boys. Dorchester is situated by the waterfront and is Boston’s largest and most diverse neighbourhood. There’s a real community spirit here, and the area is really starting to thrive. The North End has an old Europe vibe with an intimate atmosphere. Rusted iron fire escapes make it a photographer’s dream. The mix of high end shops and restaurants, world-renowned architecture and central location make Back Bay the most sought after area.
Where to eat
Juliet is a friendly little neighbourhood restaurant and cafe, perfect for an off the beaten track date spot. The menu changes so often that it’s impossible to know what to expect, but trust it will be good! One of the best New England Clam Chowders can be found at Summer Shack. This restaurant has a fun, casual atmosphere, but they’re serious about the seafood they serve. Any Boston local will tell you that Santarpio’s has best pizza in town. Established in 1903, they know what they’re doing when it comes to New York style pies. Neptune Oyster has an old world feel to it, but the focus is on the New England seafood it serves. Enjoy refined coastline cooking – both raw and cooked – in classic American surroundings. Tenoch Mexican serves up authentic Mexican street food and has become famed for its tortas – pressed Mexican sandwiches. It’s wallet friendly and you can eat in or takeaway.
Where to drink
Parlor sports low key and intimate, there’s no better place to kick back with a beer and a pepperoni roll to watch the game on the HD screens. Beer geeks should check out Bukowski Tavern – one of the best dive bars in town – and work through the selection of more than 100 beers. Don’t be fooled by Dbar’s darkwood interiors and boujie cocktail menu, after 10pm on weekends the smoke machines are turned on, microphones come out and it turns into one of the liveliest karaoke bars. Legal Harborside turns on the charm with its spectacular views over the harbour, kick back with a wine and something to nibble on from the unfussy food menu. Although hard to find, Backbar is well worth the search. Meticulously crafted cocktails and outstanding service in understated surroundings.
What to do
Watch a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Wander the Freedom trail – a 2.5 mile stretch with 16 sites and monuments relating the the Revolutionary War. The Harvard Museum of Natural History has more than 12,000 specimens to spend an afternoon examining. Catch a comedy show at The Wilbur – keep an eye out for A-list comedians taking the stage. Take a tour of Sam Adams Brewery. It might be touristy but it’s one of America’s favourite beers and it was founded right in Boston. Pop into Milk Street Cafe, downtown Boston to see some 3D printing latte-art!