Ahhh....Boston. The hub of the universe. Many speak of trying to get to some Bostonian destination here or there, only to get lost within the city's labyrinthine meshes. In cases like this, the only hope of enlightenment is to ask directions from one of the city's many proudly insular citizens. It helps to know a little of the local lingo concerning Boston's many neighborhoods, surburbs, and exurbs. Note that this is by no means a universal list covering all areas and names, and may be appended. So, with no further ado, let's begin.


"The Hub", "Beantown", "The Nexus of the Universe"

The hub and references to lococentrality were coined by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Beantown has its source in Boston Baked Beans, a delicious local aliment.

Beacon Hill: "The Hill". The last remaining stronghold of Brahmins within the city limits. Also the seat of state government. "Business as usual on the Hill" implies political hackery and graft.

South Boston: "Southie". The Irish enclave just east of Dorchester. Popularized by Donny Wahlberg and Damon/Affleck movies.

South End: The area along Mass. Ave., recently gentrified. Note that this is not to be confused with South Boston, by any means.

East Boston: "Eastie". The impossible-to-get-to peninsula that hosts Logan Airport.

Back Bay: Several different areas have nicknames, such as the "Fens/Emerald Necklace" area of parklands, and the "Prudential" for Copley Square.

The Financial District: "Downtown", the part other than Copley Square where there are skyscrapers, east of the Common and north of Chinatown. Note that "downtown" is also considered Government Center and the Faneuil Hall area.

The Combat Zone: Ah, the Combat Zone. The former red light/sketchy district south of Downtown Crossing. Much cleaned up of late.

Allston: "The Spur". This refers to the area of Allston near the Masspike exit. See the Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace for additional details.

Dorchester: "Dot". Often shows up in the news as the scene of some gang-related "incident".

Jamaica Plain: "J.P.". Middle class/working class neighborhood.

The Inner Surburbs

"The Inner Surburbs" is more commonly found on maps than anywhere else, but generally refers to the areas inside Route 128 that are north and west of Boston.

Cambridge: "The People's Republic", "Over the river". The former is mainly inspired by the city's left-leaning denizens, the latter is a Bostonian, slightly less acerbic version of "bridge and tunnel". The true equivalent to this term will be mentioned later.

Sommerville: "Slummerville". It was inevitable for someone to come up with this.

Medford: "Meffa/Meffid". See the relevant writeup for more on this.

Newton: "The Garden City". Some shameless self-promotional appellation.

Within Newton there is "the Lake", another name for the neighborhood of Nonantum

Chestnut Hill: A kind of DMZ between Newton and Boston, parsed in between the two like Kansas City.

The North Shore

The name is obvious, but liberally applied to a collection of towns in eastern Essex/extreme eastern Middlesex Counties. Towns like Reading and Wakefield qualify as "North Shore".

Lynn: "The City of Sin". Taken from that famous refrain: "Lynn Lynn, City of Sin/You never come out the way you came in". Tried to change its name to "Ocean Park" based on this, but was unsuccessful.

Salem: "The Witch City". Obvious reasons.

Danvers: Contains "Salem Village", where the witch trials actually happened.

Woburn: "The Woo".

Gloucester: Also known as "Gloucester-by-the-Smell" due to its fish rendering facilities. The nomenclature comes from Gloucester's toney neighbor, Manchester-by-the-Sea.

The Merrimack Valley

"The Valley". Truly a source of wonder and majesty. Also incinerates half the trash of the state.

Lawrence: "Lawtown", "All America City", "The Birthplace of Leonard Bernstein". The carcass of an industrial city, kind of like a poor man's Lowell, if that's possible. The first name is the more commonly used derogatory term, while the latter names are placed on celebratory signs on 495. Note: Leonard Bernstein left as soon as he could.

Haverhill: "Hillvegas". Not the more commonly used "x+Vegas" construct (see below), but still equally valid.

"The Andovers": Fictional construct. Apparently Andover/North Andover and any area within 1/2 mile of the borders. Used by real estate brokers to trick unsuspecting home buyers: "Why, this says our address is in Lawrence!"

Lowell: Don't know, but I suspect it's rich in names. "The Acre" is a shady area on the north side of the mighty Merrimack.

The South Shore

Again, obvious etymology. Also liberally applied, though I'm not sure how far it extends.

Brockton: "The City of Champions". Source: The municipal water tower's proud proclamation.

Metro West

This is an old, 80's-era term for the outer suburbs directly west of the city. Not sure if it's still in use. The area must have some name.

New Hampshire

"The Granite State", "Cow Hampshire", "New Hampster", "the Great Concavity". The state that Bostonians love to hate. From their state(!) owned liquor stores to their nickel-and-dime tolls, New Hampshire is truly the New Jersey of Boston. (Well, that and Rhode Island.)

Manchester: "Manchvegas". No idea where this came from. People just started saying it. Somehow appropriate.

"The Hamptons": The region around Hampton and Seabrook. This must be NHDOT's idea of a joke. More like Asbury Park than Montauk, especially with the nuclear power plant looming in the backgrond.

Rhode Island

"Rogue Island" or "Little Rhoady". The other satellite state of Massachusetts. The epicenter of Mafia activity in New England.

Terra Incognita

"Westawoostah". Somewhere west of 495, civilization grows hazy. Some hold that the world ends there, with leviathan-like dragons flailing up and down in the Ocean stream. Some hardy adventurers have gone on, to find that the state continues, bringing back strange tales.

Northampton: "Noho". Derived from London's "Soho". Northampton would be more like a combination of Brixton and Camden Town, methinks.

Amherst: "The People's Republic". Hmm....seems like communism is rife in the Bay State.

Belchertown: No nicknames. Merely the ugliest town name in the state. (Though Seekonk is not much better).

And there it is. If anyone has any more, please let me know.

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