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Boston Was An Economic Mess. Now, It's A Booming City. What Happened?20:25

In Boston, what started as a colony has become a hub of international innovation. (Emmanuel Huybrechts/Flickr)MoreCloseclosemore
In Boston, what started as a colony has become a hub of international innovation. (Emmanuel Huybrechts/Flickr)

Sixty years ago, Boston was a basket case, facing a bleak economic future. After peaking in the 1950s, the city's population collapsed. It was an almost catastrophic exodus, as 30 percent of its residents — wage-earners and tax payers — left, many of them to the suburbs.

Jump forward to today, and it's a dramatically different story: Boston in 2015 has the highest concentration of startup companies in America, it's at the center of the global biotech industry and it's home to a booming tourist trade and a red hot real estate market.

So, what explains this transformation? What brought Boston back from the brink? The Massachusetts Historical Society is exploring these questions in a series of discussions, beginning Wednesday, called "Transforming Boston: From Basket Case to Innovation Hub."


Tunney Lee, professor emeritus in urban studies and planning at MIT, and a former chief of planning and design at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

David Luberoff, lecturer in sociology at Harvard and a senior project adviser at the Boston Area Research Initiative.


Massachusetts Historical Society: Transforming Boston Series

  • "Sixty years ago, the city of Boston was not a tourist destination and residents were facing a bleak economic future. Boston’s heyday as a center of manufacturing passed decades before and the post-WWII exodus of wage earners and tax payers to the suburbs hit the city hard."

This segment aired on October 14, 2015.

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