In an effort to create international understanding and goodwill after World War II, President Eisenhower called for massive exchanges between Americans and people of other countries. The Sister Cities Program began as a national concept in 1956, a form of legal and social agreement between communities from different nations to promote cultural and commercial ties. Boston currently has nine Sister Cities, as different as they are similar.
1. Kyoto, Japan
SISTER CITY TIES ESTABLISHED: 1959
As a gesture of friendship, Boston’s first Sister City donated a “Japan House” to the Boston Children’s Museum. The authentic two-story silk merchant’s home was brought to the U.S. in pieces on the 20th anniversary of the sister city relationship and reconstructed by Japanese carpenters upon arrival. It is considered the most generous gift from a foreign Sister City to an American community.
Average price per square foot for a downtown apartment in Kyoto: ¥43,354.39 ($374.36)
2. Strasbourg, France
SISTER CITY TIES ESTABLISHED: 1960
Strasbourg is a center of government, economy, culture, education, and medicine. It hosts the Council of Europe, the European Council of Human Rights, and the European Parliament. Similar to Boston, Strasbourg is known for its majestic churches, beautiful historic landmarks, and méchant génial (“wicked good”) hockey team, the Étoile Noire (“Black Star”).
Average price per square foot for a downtown apartment in Strasbourg: €331.35 ($369.09)
3. Barcelona, Spain
SISTER CITY TIES ESTABLISHED: 1980
Barcelona is a striking twin of Boston, its port is where Columbus began his historic journey. The narrow, winding streets of the historic Barrio Gotico — or “Gothic Quarter” — exist side-by-side with the modern office towers of its commercial district. Like Boston, Barcelona is no stranger to long term projects: the Sangrada Familia church has been under construction for over 130 years! (Really puts the Big Dig in perspective, doesn’t it?)
Average price per square foot for a downtown apartment in Barcelona: €343.12 ($382.06)
4. Hangzhou, China
SISTER CITY TIES ESTABLISHED: 1982
Hangzhou, the capital of China’s Zhejiang province, is generally regarded as China’s most scenic city, described by Marco Polo as “Paradise on Earth.” Today, Hangzhou is considered an important manufacturing base and logistics hub for coastal China. Like Boston, Hangzhou is no stranger to the tech startup community, cultivating such companies as the e-commerce monolith Alibaba Group.
Average price per square foot for a downtown apartment in Hangzhou: ¥2,805.65 ($426.75)
5. Padua, Italy
SISTER CITY TIES ESTABLISHED: 1983
Padua shares Boston’s commitment to excellence in education. The city’s fine universities include the renowned eight-centuries-old University of Padua, where Galileo Galilei once lectured. This capital province is the setting for Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and the economic and communications hub of the area.
Average price per square foot for a downtown apartment in Padua: €301.93 ($336.12)
6. Melbourne, Australia
SISTER CITY TIES ESTABLISHED: 1985
Boston’s most distant Sister City, Melbourne, Australia, may be the most visually similar. This coastal city features historic 19th century buildings, tree-lined boulevards, museums, and esteemed universities. At the center of Victoria’s capital is the strikingly modern Federation Square development with plazas, bars, restaurants, and cultural events along the Yarra River.
Average price per square foot for a downtown apartment in Melbourne: A$766.74 ($542.56)
7. Taipei, Taiwan
SISTER CITY TIES ESTABLISHED: 1996
Taipei used to be the political, economic, and cultural capital of the Republic of China on Taiwan. Today it is the capital city of Taiwan, a modern metropolis, home to various world-famous architectural and cultural landmarks, with busy shopping streets, and contemporary buildings. Its skyline is crowned by the LEED Platinum certified, bamboo-shaped Taipei 101 skyscraper, the tallest and largest green building in the world.
Average price per square foot for a downtown apartment in Taipei: NT$35,787.48 ($1,071.38)
8. Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana
SISTER CITY TIES ESTABLISHED: 2001
Boston’s 8th international and first African Sister City comprises of the twin cities of Sekondi and Takoradi. Sekondi has a Dutch fort and a colonial railway station in what is still known as ‘European Town’, and Takoradi is one of Ghana’s most popular cities. The chief industries include lumber, shipbuilding, harbor and railway repair, and recently, crude oil.
Average price per square foot for a downtown apartment in Sekondi- Takoradi: GH¢817.52 ($204.38)
9. Belfast, Northern Ireland
SISTER CITY TIES ESTABLISHED: 2014
The birthplace of the Titanic and home of the HBO hit “Game of Thrones,” Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and Boston’s newest Sister City. At a ceremony commemorating the agreement, Lord Mayor and Belfast City Councilor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir proclaimed Boston the “Irish-American capital of America” — which may explain why our city has nine siblings!
Average price per square foot for a downtown apartment in Belfast: £185.80 ($267.16)
Source: City of Boston, Numbeo
Currency exchange rate as of February 2016