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
Jamaica Plain: "J.P.". Middle class/working class neighborhood.
"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.
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
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
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 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
"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.
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
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
"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
"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
"Rogue Island" or "Little Rhoady". The other satellite state of Massachusetts. The epicenter
of Mafia activity in New England.
"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
And there it is. If anyone has any more, please let me know.