What Does It Take To Say: ‘I’m From Boston’?

Longfellow bridge and Boston skyline.
Longfellow bridge and Boston skyline. –DAVID L. RYAN/ THE BOSTON GLOBE

Are you OK with people who live in Brookline, which is surrounded on three sides by Boston saying “I’m from Boston’’? What about someone who lives in, say, Newton or Wellesley? Is a Mainer who is a Red Sox fan taking the “I’m from Boston’’ phrase too far?

Last week, Facebook and Twitter users wrote messages beginning with “I’m so Boston,’’ explaining why they were a true local.

But shouldn’t this claim be reserved for the people from Boston proper?

In a recent article, CityLab gave a few reasons why maybe you shouldn’t yell at the person from Springfield who claims to be “from Boston.’’


There has always been a very thick line drawn between suburban and urban life, one factor being the higher level of diversity in cities.

According to CityLab, many suburbs surrounding cities no longer lack the diversity they once did:

“A large and growing percentage of the national population live in extraordinarily diverse outer city rings, whose growth has been anchored by a metropolitan core. The stereotypes of the suburban/urban dichotomy in most cases no longer hold true. So why insist on cordoning off a city name from a sub/exurbanite who wants to use it? Very possibly, they’ve chosen to use that city name in order to avoid the outdated assumptions that may fuel our rejection of it.’’

So that may explain the towns just outside the city that claim Bostonship. What about the places that are further away? CityLab also said:

“And there are different kinds of stigmas that might be attached to places just outside the city—places with high crime rates, or unglamorous forms of industry… You might have good reasons to choose to identify with a city-name that carries more positive associations, so that the person you’re conversing with doesn’t jump to conclusions about what your life might be like.’’

Whether it is how they really feel or merely out of convenience, people have their reasons when they say, “I’m from Boston’’ and Boston may means something totally different to each person who considers him or herself a Bostonian.

Also, does it matter how far from Boston you are when you are having this conversation? If you are in Australia, are you going to say you are from Revere instead of Boston and confuse your new friend?

There are many lists that define what it means to be a Bostonian, including this one form the radio show Car Talk.

Do you abide by these guidelines? Do you have to love the Red Sox or say “wicked pissah’’? Do you have to be able to know how the MBTA works or how to manuver a car through the twisting and turning streets? What does it take to say “I’m from Boston’’?

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