Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   United States (
-   -   "Boston" : Now this is just plain CONFUSING! -Help! (

Wallace_and_Gromit Mar 20th, 2005 11:30 AM

"Boston" : Now this is just plain CONFUSING! -Help!
It seems like major cities are swallowing up the surrounding cities these days. Example, I live in Kennesaw, GA but if you ask me where I am from, I say Atlanta. I'm not lying to you... it's just that I live in the "metro-Atlanta" area.

It gets confusing when you try to plan a vacation though!! For example, while doing research on my Boston/Cambridge vacation I only have to search "Boston" (as if Cambridge is part of Boston... and it might as well be! Most people associate Harvard University with Boston, not Cambridge -it's true!)

It is getting trickier though ... I am starting to see many different city names and I just don't know where they are. For example, I was doing research on places I might want to eat at and saw a place in Brighton. I have never heard of Brighton, MA in my life and figured it wasn't anywhere near where I would be ... then come to find out it is in walking distance of Boston University (which is near Somerville where I will be staying.)

Do you understand my frustration? - I am sorry I am rambling so much. I am having trouble explaining myself today :-)

Can someone just give me some pointers on the cities of the metro-Boston/Cambridge area?(and is most of it accessible by the T)


allyeb Mar 20th, 2005 11:44 AM

Boston is a little confusing. Brighton is very easy to get to on the T, its on the B Green Line (there are the B, C, and D, lines which all head out to the west of Boston proper). Also on the Green line are Alston and Brookline. I'd check out a book, like Let's GO or Frommers for a map of the different areas.
Just a note, Brighton is not really near Somerville so much. They are on opposite sides of the River, Somerville is near Cambridge. The Brighton-Somerville trip on the T is actually pretty long (30 upto an hour), may be shorter on the bus but I'm not that familar with the bus!
Good Luck.

NorthwestMale Mar 20th, 2005 11:44 AM

Could be worse, you could read all about many of the spanish names of Southern California locales and then listen to people say them, and constantly think that there are twice as many hamlets as there really are.

Anonymous Mar 20th, 2005 12:28 PM

Boston also went through one of those phases of swallowing up nearby towns -- but that phase ended 100 years ago. Towns that were annexed, that are now technically part of the City of Boston, include Brighton, Allston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Charlestown, Hyde Park. Then Roxbury split off into Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury, which in turn begat Roslindale, initially as a Post Office. Parts of the city that have always been Boston include East Boston, which is north of the North End, South Boston, which is east of downtown, the South End, which is not the same as South Boston, and the West End, which pretty much doesn't exist anymore. Welcome to Boston history!

It's OK that people associate Harvard University with Boston, since about half of it IS in Boston.

The only thing that can possibly help you at this point is a very good map of the area, with the "T" subway lines and stations marked on it.

Jacqueline1212 Mar 20th, 2005 01:07 PM

BU is not near Somerville. It's across the river in Boston. You'll need to take the T. Somerville is next to Cambridge. There are some great restaurants in the Davis Sq. and Union Sq. areas of Somerville so you're in a good place. While it sounds confusing, the whole Boston area is fairly small and easily doable on public transporation, if you can figure the T out!

The_Editor Mar 20th, 2005 01:17 PM

Yes, you must get a good map. It will clarify much of this. Don't worry about what is technically part of Boston: as you've seen, Somerville, Cambridge, and Brookline are operationally parts of the city of Boston, even if they're not part of it politically.

All these various areas are very small, in terms of square miles. But if you're taking the T, then you need to understand that the subway lines are very radial and two places that might be close together on a map, or as the crow flies, can be very difficult to travel between especially on public transit.

I once lived in a southern part of Boston and worked in Cambridge 11 miles away; driving in the morning took a minimum of 40 minutes, double that for public transit.

The trip planner at the web site is pretty good, although it sometimes gives very different routes than I would use. Given a choice, use the subway rather than buses, they can be unreliable.

Wallace_and_Gromit Mar 20th, 2005 02:32 PM

Thanks to everyone who replied :)

Yeah, I need a map (I am just -unfortunately one of those "map illiterate" people ;) ) I think I will invest in a guidebook like someone suggested.

Also thanks for the 2 people who pointed out BU is not near Somerville - I actually got it confused with Tufts (which on the B&B homepage they said they were very close to)

Anyway, I still have some time to get all this straightened out. If I have any more questions, it is nice to know I can come on here. :)

gail Mar 20th, 2005 02:48 PM

One thing to consider for anyone making trip to Boston area. Hotels like to list themselves with cute names such as Waltham/Boston. Like many cities, while distance as crow flies may be short to any number of suburbs, travel time and inconvenience may be great. Since Boston hotels are so expensive, this unfortunate mistake is often made by people who think they have found an easy way to beat the high cost.

As confusing as it may sound, Anonymous has it correct. And these neighborhoods she lists are often similarly inconvenient to the part of Boston one is likely to want to visit while on vacation.

And even though I live about 20 miles from Boston, if someone from outside Massachusetts asks me where I am from, I generally say Boston.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:17 AM.