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Compact, walkable, historic and clean, Boston blends old-world charm and modern convenience better than many American cities. Disastrous 'urban renewal' in the 1950s provoked such a furious backlash that Boston now has some of the best preserved historic buildings and neighborhoods in the country. In some cases, preservation has crossed the line into Disneyfication: the North End is as neat and tidy as Frontierland, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a combo theme park and shopping mall unto itself. But the varnish doesn't stay on too long: with over 50 colleges and universities in the area, Boston's cultural juices are always flowing.

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