The history of Boston plays a central role in American history. In 1630, Puritan colonists from England founded Boston and helped it become the way it is today. Boston quickly became the political, commercial, financial, religious and educational center of the New England region. The American Revolution erupted in Boston, as the British retaliated harshly for the Boston Tea Party and the patriots fought back. They besieged the British in the city, with a famous battle at Bunker Hill in Charlestown on June 17, 1775 (which was lost by the colonists, but inflicted great damage against the British) and won the Siege of Boston, forcing the British to evacuate the city on March 17, 1776. However, the combination of American and British blockades of the town and port during the conflict seriously damaged the economy, and the population fell by two thirds in the 1770s.
The city recovered after 1800, re-establishing its role as the transportation hub for the New England region with its network of railroads, and even more important, the intellectual, educational and medical center of the nation. Along with New York, Boston was the financial center of the United States in the 19th century, and was especially important in funding railroads nationwide. In the Civil War era, it was the base for many anti-slavery activities. In the 19th century the city was dominated by an elite known as the Boston Brahmins. They faced the political challenge coming from Catholic immigrants. The Irish Catholics, typified by the Kennedy Family, took political control of the city by 1900. The industrial foundation of the region, financed by Boston, reached its peak around 1950; thereafter thousands of textile mills and other factories were closed down and the city went into decline. By the 21st century the city's economy had recovered and was centered on education, medicine, and high technology—notably biotechnology, while the many surrounding towns became residential suburbs.
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