This city has reached 350 years of age, and a binge of birth events befitting the occasion has been planned.
The year-long celebration has been christened Jubilee 350 and will include multifaceted commemorative and cultural events, forums and public outings. Most will take place from May 1 through Sept. 30.
Boston, first capital city of colonial America to reach the distinguished 350th anniversary, was founded in 1630 by English Puritans who had met at Cambridge University and formed a chartered company. Before they left England, they elected a 40-year-old lawyer, John Winthrop, as the first governor. During the first six months of 1630, more than 1,000 English citizens in some 15 ships sailed to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Boston always has welcomed opportunities to celebrate its colorful history. The city's first celebration, the centennial in 1730, was attended by many of its 16,000 residents, who listened to "great ocations" by prominent personages at Old South Meeting House. By its bicentennial the Boston population had grown to 60,000, and Mayor Josiah Quincy delivered a special address at Faneuil Hall.
By 1880, anniversary events had assumed a spectacular scale. A torch-light parade with 1,000 uniformed torchbearers and 16 floats represented important events in the city's history. A Jubilee Chorus entertained crowds from a specially built structure near Copley Square.
For the 300th birthday in 1930, Boston's Jubilee was broadened to a summer-long celebration, during which historic houses were opened and national and international dignitaries paid visits. Boston Week, held in September, was highlighted by an eight-hour parade of 40,000 marchers, 200 floats and a million spectators. At Faneuil Hall, Mayor James Michael Curley sealed a time capsule to be opened by the mayor of Boston in 1980.
This year there again will be a Boston Week in September, the month in which Winthrop actually arrived and named the city. The 1930 time capsule will be opened and another buried for 50 years hence. The most outstanding day of celebration for Jubilee 350 will be Sept. 21, and will be highlighted by a parade, public picnicking on Boston Common and a free concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra on the Charles River Explanade followed by fireworks.
A month of special activities related to Boston Harbor will begin May 30, with a five-day visit by the "tall ships." There will be flotillas, led by the Boston-berthed frigate, USS Constitution, and opportunities to board the vessels.
July has been designated as New England Month and will feature daily events on Boston Common. Outdoor historic museums and sites in the six-state region, including Stourbridge Village and Plimoth Plantation, will be represented.
August is international Month. Each day an ethnic group that is represented by Boston residents will share its culture with the public at City Hall Plaza.
The city of Boston changed substantially in 3 1/2 centuries. Of the three original hills of the city, only a much-reduced Beacon Hill remains. In the 17th, 18th and much of the 19th centuries, there was much less land and considerably more harbor than there is today. Boston expanded when landfill formed Back Bay. The harbor shrank when water areas were filled between islands, five of which were used to form the land that now is Logan Airport.
More than physical change in the city will be conveyed through the many Jubilee 350 exhibits. "The Boston Tradition" will reveal how Boston and Bostonians have influenced the nation and the world in a dozen areas of endeavor.