Welcome back! A Boston primer from Ideas

For those new to the city and those returning after a summer break, here’s a tour of the geography, history, culture, and language of Boston through recent stories from the Ideas section.


Demolition of the New York Streets in progress in 1956. From left to right, Troy Street, Rochester Street, Genesee Street, Oswego Street, Oneida Street, and Seneca Street.


Boston’s vanished New York Streets

What the strange name of a long-gone neighborhood reveals about the city’s changing ambitions.


How Boston powered the gay rights movement

In the 1970s, a small, staid city laid the intellectual groundwork for the change to come.

The earliest-known photograph of Abraham Lincoln, taken at age 37.

How Boston changed Lincoln

On a visit to this abolitionist hotbed, a young congressman had a revelation that would change history.


Boston’s lost island neighborhood

How a never-built floating wonderland could spark ambitions for the city’s future.

View of the water celebration on Boston Common October 25th 1848.

Boston’s water: public or private?

Should big social services be public or private? Beneath the streets of Boston flows one answer.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2013/09/03/BostonGlobe.com/Special/Images/megaboston.jpg Welcome to Megaboston

How a small city almost became gigantic.


//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2013/09/03/BostonGlobe.com/Special/Images/BostonCityHall2.jpg How Boston City Hall was born

Fifty years after a groundbreaking competition, two architects look back at the project that polarized the city — and gave it a new lease on life.

Alfred Barr

The young Wellesley professor who invented contemporary art

How one seminar in the Boston suburbs helped transform American culture.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2013/09/03/BostonGlobe.com/Special/Images/operahouse.jpg Why Boston is ‘not an opera town’

A century-old collapse reveals volumes about the city’s arts culture.

Everybody do the Boston—the world’s best dance!

A century ago, the hottest moves hailed from a very unlikely city.

The novels of Boston’s squares

What happens when you distill neighborhoods into (fake) fiction?

How Boston changes in summer — by the numbers

Each June, a bustling student metropolis gives way to a warmer, sleepier city. Here’s a look at the anatomy of the change.

Mourners attended a candlelight vigil for Martin Richard at Garvey Park, near his home in Dorchester.


We are all Bostonians now

What is it that causes us to pull together in a tragedy?


Traffic at an intersection near Suffolk Downs in East Boston.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2012

The Word

Boston driving: So bad it needs its own lingo?

Terrible road maneuvers, from the “Boston left” to the “California roll.”

The Word

A pahticulah way of talking

As Richard Bailey’s new book. “Speaking American.” demonstrates, 350 years ago, Massachusetts was already assembling Puritan language rules and Native American and foreign influences into a distinctively American speech pattern.

The Word

The warty, drunken heirloom vegetables of New England

Why does our local produce have such blunt, weird names?

The word

“Boston Strong,” the phrase that rallied a city

How’d we find a unifying phrase so fast? It’s been evolving for years.

Maps and population

SOURCE: “Understanding Road Usage Patterns in Urban Areas,” MIT and UC Berkeley.


Traffic: Which Boston-area neighborhoods are to blame?

A big new study reveals something intriguing: a huge amount of Boston commuter congestion arises from just a few neighborhoods trying to get from there to here.

Boston’s neighborhoods: the consensus map

With so much history and loyalty attached to Boston’s neighborhoods, you might think it would be easy to say where they begin and end. You’d be wrong.

Boston’s population boom speeds up

What happened to make the city lose hundreds of thousands of people—and why it’s now growing at its fastest pace in years.

Introducing Bostonhenge (and where to see it)

A geographical and temporal guide to Boston’s henges--those mystical, blinding moments when the sun’s path perfectly matches the angle of a street.