Great Boston vs. Greater Boston

If they can say Great Britain, then we can say Great Boston!

Framed Boston map in Clocktower office.

I have a great deal of affection for Boston, where I was born, where I went to college, and where I call home. When people ask me where I’m from, I never say, “Well, I live in Acton, work in Maynard, both of which are about 20 miles west of Boston. You know Concord? Just west of that.” What I do say is, simply, “Boston.”

The Boston MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area), or so-called Greater Boston, basically includes areas within commuting distance of Boston proper. When I lived in Eliot ME (in the very southern tip of Maine), I still commuted to Boston and was still in the Boston MSA.

I grew up with an old map of Boston (a gift to my grandfather, George, from one of his patients) hanging on the wall of our living room in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The Boston map was designed and drawn by Blake Everett Clark (1900-1979) and Edwin Birger Olsen (1902-1996) in the mid 1920s. Blake Clark and Edwin Olsen made similar maps, published by Boston-based publishing firm Houghton Mifflin Co., for Philadelphia and Washington DC.

I recently restored that old map (pictured above), which now hangs in my office, along with lots of Boston Red Sox memorabilia.

The Clark and Olsen Boston map states:

What It's All About! 

This is a map of Boston Town /
A histried city of wide renown /
Rather like a crazy quilt /
of interesting facts and fanc- /
ies built /
Tis no engineering feat /
of surveyed miles and build- /
ings neat /
But in some corner if you search /
You'll find out where to go /
to church /
Baptist, Episcopal Unitarian /
And for the dusty Antiquar- /
ian.. /
Who seeks the spots of legend & fame /
The Cradle of Liberty - illustrious name /
The old North church and State House grand /
And for burial grounds there's quite /
a demand /
For the intellectually inclined /
Libraries and halls we've kept /
in mind /
Theatres, hotels and City Hall /
narrow streets and wider Mall /
Docks, wharves, ferry boats /
swans, cows and billy goats /
... /
All this before your eyes /
Notwithstanding the small /
size /
we offer in this ditty /
of colour of an Old City.

Studying that map on rainy childhood days is likely why I ended up attending school and living in Boston.

When I moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1998, I told folks there that the move was temporary and that I was moving back home to Boston. “But nobody moves away from Denver after moving here,” they told me. Somebody did, just two years later.

One of my lawfirm’s trademarked taglines (The Law Firm Where Everybody Knows Your Name) pays homage to the Boston-based TV show Cheers, whose theme song was “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.”

So yeah, no more Greater Boston. From now on, it’s Great Boston, because Boston is Great!

Drawing That Explains ErikJHeels Blog

Technology, Law, Baseball, Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Why do I write about more than one thing? Because I think single-subject blogs are, for the most part, boring.

Do you like musicians who play only one note? Artists who use only one color? OK then.

So I drew the above drawing to explain this blog. I’m pretty sure that:

  • technology + law = patents
  • law + baseball = umps
  • baseball + music = organs
  • music + technology = MP3s

But I’ve not yet figured out the following:

  • A = music + technology + law
  • B = technology + law + baseball
  • C = law + baseball + music
  • D = baseball + music + technology

Let me know if you figure it out.

I do know this. As soon as I stopped caring what the “experts” said and started writing about whatever was on my mind, my blog started producing results. Your mileage may vary.

Erik J. Heels is a trademark and patent lawyer, Boston Red Sox fan, MIT engineer, and musician. He blogs about technology, law, baseball, and rock ‘n’ roll at