Population in Urban Area, now
- World: 99th
- North America: 15th
- United States: 11th
Population in City Area, mid 2020
- World: 433rd
- North America: 38th
- United States: 20th
Boston Population Graphs
- Urban Area
- City Area
Boston Population Review
Boston is the capital of the state of Massachusetts in the United States. As of 2020, it had 4.3 million people in the Great Boston Area and 708,000 people in the city area. It is the most populous city in Massachusetts and the 21st most populous city in the United States. The city itself spans across 49 square kilometers with a population density of 5,344 people per square kilometer.
Boston is one of the United States’ oldest municipalities. Puritan settlers from England who hailed from a town of the same name founded it in 1630. It’s age and location has meant that it plays an important role in several events of historical importance for the United States, including the American Revolution, the Boston massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston.
One of the highest costs of living
Boston is a notoriously expensive place for people to call home. In fact, it’s one of the priciest cities in the USA to rent or own a home. The average cost of a single square foot of living space in Boston is around $742; this is even more expensive than New York City.
Much of this is attributed to the city’s renowned post-secondary institutions, including Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, and Boston University—as well as 60 others. There are also 15 healthcare facilities in the city. All of this, combined with the fact that Boston is the nation’s second-smallest city with less than 50 square kilometers in total—and half of that being reserved for public and institutional spaces—helps explain the exorbitant rate of Boston’s real estate.
A walking city
Boston commuters are a bit different than the average American commuter. A recent study that looked at 30 major cities in the United States found that Boston commuters are, on average, younger, walk more, and when they do drive, they drive alone. Around 14% of Boston commuters walk to work, which is the highest percentage in the USA. The city also ranks third highest for the amount of people who take public transit to work, with 33% of commuters choosing to take public transit.
A changing demographic
In 1950, Boston was overwhelmingly white, with 94.7% of the population identifying as such. Between then and the 20th century, the amount of whites in the city declined. By 2000, non-Hispanic whites made up less than 50% of the city’s population.
The city’s significant gentrification has seen many whites move to traditionally non-white areas of the city. The non-white population has rebounded with Latin American and Asian populations increasing.
The Boston Marathon
The annual marathon hosted in Boston is world-famous. It attracts over 500,000 spectators and about 30,000 participants—making it one of the largest marathons in the world. It is one of the oldest marathons in the country, and the fastest, with a median time of 3:44 and a founding date of 1897.
On April 13, 2013, two bombs were detonated within 12 seconds of each other near the marathon’s finish line. This killed three people and injured at least 264. The bombs were contained in pressure cookers, which were hidden in backpacks, which were left amongst spectators by the Tsarnaev brothers.
Great Molasses Flood
The Great Molasses Flood or the Boston Molasses Disaster occurred on January 15, 1919, when a large storage tank filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses that weighed around 13,000 tons burst and flooded the streets of Boston. The molasses roared through the streets at 35MPH, killing 21 people and injuring 150.
Popular folklore in the city says that, on hot days, you can still smell the scent of molasses rising from the streets and buildings in the areas affected by the flood.