Boston, MA - Among US cities, Boston is #21 in population, with the city-proper's geographic area encompassing about 48.3 miles2. Dubbed one of the great 'college towns,' universities own a large portion of the city's land. It is largely utilize under tax-exempt status.
It is estimated that Boston metro area is home to over 340,000 people who are enrolled in an educational institution.citylab.com These students attend classes, eat meals, visit gyms, and often live on properties which are owned by their schools, spread across the city. To accommodate this, universities utilize their significant endowments and budgets to purchase more and more land and buildings.
In fact, much of Cambridge is owned by just MIT and Harvard. Boston University and Boston College have spread further in their respective areas over the years, as well. The map below is a visual representation of just which schools control which land in the Greater Boston Area.
This certainly has been a point of contention in the past. In 2017, Brookline considered seizing college-owned property from Pine Manor College’s front lawn through eminent domain for the purpose of building an elementary school.
In addition, some Boston residents believe the tax-free ownership of large swaths of
land negatively effects non-students. One individual posed a concern that these properties added no tax revenue to the city or state. Another pointed out the high-cost of housing and living in Boston.