Top Nine Boston Firsts

Filed in Featured, Headline, Sports by on July 29, 2009 4 Comments
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The City of Boston has an immensely rich history, as it should being one of the first cities in the USA. Right from the start Bostonians began innovating and introducing new concepts to the United States and the world. The list of things Boston did first is extensive. Here’s a list of the top nine firsts Boston lays claim to.

  1. First Public High School in U.S.A. – Boston Latin School
  2. As a graduate of the Boston Latin School, where we proudly proclaim Sumus Primi (a Latin phrase meaning “we are first”), I had to start this list off with a nod to one of the best public high schools in the USA. Founded in 1635, one year before Harvard College, BLS students included five signers of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Paine, and William Hooper.

    Note:As Malcolm pointed out in the comments, BLS was the first public school. The honor for first public high school goes to the Latin rivals, Boston English High School, founded in in 1821.

  3. First College in the U.S.A. – Harvard University
  4. Well, the Latin students did need a place to go after graduating, so in 1636 Harvard University was founded. While technically not in Boston, (Harvard is in Cambridge, MA), it’s so close to Boston I’m including it.

  5. First Public Library in the U.S.A. – Boston Public Library
  6. There’s a reason Boston is often referred to as the Athens of America. With the first public high school, first college, and first public library, Boston had and continues to act as a bastion of educational opportunities. Not only was the BPL the first publicly funded library in the states, it was also the first to allow people to take books home with them.

  7. First Public Park in U.S.A. – Boston Common
  8. Sure Central Park is infinitely larger than the Common, but the Boston Common was here first. Founded in 1634, the park is used by residents daily and also used as a staging area for activists and events. To this day you can likely find activists handing out flyers, giving speeches or organizing large public rallies in front of the State House.

  9. First American Football Game
  10. First Organized Football Game in America

    Plaque for first organized football game in USA

    Speaking of the Boston Common, the park was the location of the first organized game of football ever played. That’s right, organized football began here in the City of Champions, Boston, Massachusetts. So next time you’re watching Monday Night Football, just remember who started the first football league.

  11. First U.F.O. Sighting
  12. For nearly a month in 1644, Bostonians were haunted by something strange flying above the Boston Harbor. Before you blow it off as some drunken colonial seeing things, this UFO report comes from John Winthrop, the Governor of Massachusetts!

    Winthrop wrote in his journal in January of 1644 that after a ship blew up in the North End, strange lights were seen in the sky. The locals quickly associated the lights with the spirit of one of the men. But the oddity didn’t last just that night. For the next three weeks Bostonians spotted strange lights hovering, rising out of the water, and even disembodied voices coming from the sky. Residents reported that the voice was last heard in the North End and then the strange lights and noises stopped.

  13. First World Series
  14. The Red Sox haven’t had the most prolific winning history in baseball, but we did win the first World Series ever held. Actually, we won the first two “World Series”!

    In 1894, the Red Sox beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 in a test playoff series. Nine years later, the two teams met again in the first official World Series between the American and National Leagues with the Sox again coming out on top 5-3.

  15. First Public Subway
  16. You won’t have to go far to find someone bad-mouthing the T, but hey at least we can add it to our list of firsts! Besides, for a system over a hundred years old it’s not that bad.

  17. First Computer
  18. Last but certainly not least, the first computer was created over at MIT in 1924. Again, technically in Cambridge, but close enough to Boston to include on this list.

    Thanks to latca and verifex for the photos.

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  1. Malcolm Flynn says:


    While you spent what are typically called the high school years at Boston Latin School, you did not graduate from the first public high school, but from the first public school and the oldest school in America, founded 1635. Boston Latin was and is strictly a college preparatory school. The high school was created in 1821, the oldest being Boston English High School.

  2. You’re right Malcom. Technically speaking, BLS is not a high school, as it encapsulates grades 7 and 8 too. I used the term loosely as a synonym for secondary school, which doesn’t quite fit the bill here.

    On the plus side, my error reveals another Boston first! The first public school AND the first public high school!
    .-= Adam Pieniazek´s last blog ..The Wine Riot: The Sequel =-.

  3. julies says:

    I loved this article – particularly the UFO sighting – who knew? Well, you apparently. Thanks for a very fun piece. We Bostonians love our bragging rights in any form!
    .-= julies´s last blog ..Demo: Concept Attainment Strategy =-.

  4. Thanks Julies! To be honest, I just found out about the UFO bit while writing this piece via some crafty Googling. 🙂

    It was my favorite tid-bit too. I love bragging about things Boston was/is first in, so love adding the UFO fact to my bragging repertoire!
    .-= Adam Pieniazek´s last blog ..Yingoo: The Yahoo-Microsoft Search Engine =-.

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