Boston’s first settlers arrived over 350 years ago. The area was founded by Governor Winthrop and the Puritans; it was a small peninsula joined by the mainland to a narrow causeway. It was originally called “Trimountain” for its three large hills, and later was renamed “Botulph’s Town” after a monk from the settler’s home village. The name “Boston” came much later, and is actually a corruption of the name “Botulph’s Town” (say it six times, really fast!).
Much of Boston, particularly the Back Bay, is filled swamp land. Lining the Charles River, the area became prime property for building large family mansions in the 19th century. Two of the original three mountains were leveled, with the dirt being used as landfill in the Back Bay area. The third mountain, only slightly leveled, became Beacon Hill, where you can still run across the occasional cobblestone road.
Boston has an estimated population of 600,000. However, as the home of over 60 colleges and universities, the population increases by approximately 250,000 during the school year.