What makes Boston such a special city?

An iced over Charles River that thousands of Boston Marathon runners likely spent many hours running next to Over the past few years I've had many discussions and given lots of thought to specific reasons why I love Boston so much.  It's hard to quantify what makes me love a city so much despite the cold winters, bad drivers, and unfriendly people (compared to other regions of the US).  Despite all of this, it is a city that so many people furiously defend as the only place they ever want to live.  So what is it that makes Boston so special?

Many great cities have a core competency or passion that is usually a source for jobs, government policies, and overall spirit.  Boston's is health care and education; it is the home to many of the world's best hospitals and colleges.  When you contrast that to what other cities revolve around (Technology/entrepreneurship in SF or Wall Street in NY), health care and eduction both center around helping others above all else.  As a result, Boston attracts and retains people that want to share their knowledge with others and treat those who are unhealthy.  It attracts the best of the best for education and medicine, along with thousands of people in supporting roles.  It is this focus on two of the most humanistic industries that I believe is what makes Bostonians so special, even if they won't say hello when you walk by them.

It is also this spirit of caring for others that is coming through in how Boston has so far responded to the horrific tragedy yesterday at the Marathon.  The typical Bostonian might not come off as the most friendly person, but deep down Boston is a city that truly cares.  I really wish I could be there with my friends and family now, but I know next time I step foot in Boston the spirit of the city will only be stronger than I left it.