15 Boston

PopulationMetro: 7,315,000
America’s oldest city has never been more current.

Boston’s boundless character has always radiated as much from its residents as from its Old World cobblestone and redbrick.

This is America’s oldest big city, the symbol for prosperity and the promise of new beginnings for centuries of immigrants.

That heritage of American excellence still draws the best in the world, from all over the world. They gravitate to Harvard, the planet’s #1 University according to our rankings, as well as Boston’s density of other world-class universities and colleges—from MIT to Boston University.

Place 40
Product 55
Programming 10
People 86
Prosperity 64
Promotion 21

New students flock here, arguable the planet’s largest university town, by the tens of thousands every year and become smitten with the crooked, narrow streets and the storied pubs, blended with American optimism and East Coast connectivity. This is the birthplace of America, after all. And Facebook.

No wonder Boston ranks #7 for People, including #3 for Education Attainment and #32 for Foreign-Born residents. Unsurprisingly, the city made the shortlist for Amazon HQ2.

The promise of wealth and leaving your mark has always been a part of Boston’s DNA. Stroll the city’s effortlessly walkable streets and ornate gifts, designed to bestow on Boston a standing as lauded as the classic capitals.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT

One spin in the center of Copley Square makes it clear why Boston was known as the “Athens of America” in the 19th century. The city’s residents are also, not coincidentally, enjoying their #12 spot in global Prosperity.

The city is building at a scale not seen since the founding of New England. There are more than 35 new hotel projects planned in greater Boston in the next few years, a buildout that would add 5,000 new hotel rooms. More than half are slotted for the Seaport District, which is emerging as the neighborhood of choice on the Boston Harbor for both start-up and established companies like Reebok, GE, and PwC. “This is a piece of a great American city, and great cities are composed of great streets, public places, and social spaces that happen to have buildings built between them,” says Yanni Tsipis, senior vice president of Seaport development at WS Development. “That is a very important philosophy for us as the stewards of the Seaport.”

Visitors to the city who are neither a prospective recruit or freshman will also find plenty that’s new. For one, the city finally has a public market worthy of its heritage, the three-year-old Boston Public Market. It is the first in the United States with an all-local food requirement, whereby all vendors must sell food and other products that are produced or originate in New England.