Newton, Massachusetts

Encompassing 13 villages, Newton is known for its high-quality public schools, historic homes, and leafy green streets. Runners of the Boston Marathon, however, know it for something quite different: the brutal Heartbreak Hill, one of the most difficult sections of the 26.2-mile course.

Less than 10 miles west of Boston, the so-called Garden City is an affluent, desirable commuter town with a thriving economic life of its own. Unemployment is low, and median household income is higher than $121,000 a year. Along with the town’s own municipal government, Newton’s biggest employers include Boston College and Newton-Wellesley Hospital. (Newton is also home to a few other colleges, including Lasell and Mount Ida.)

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Many of Newton’s villages have their own parks and central shopping districts, and the winding streets are safe and largely quiet. Newton boasts low crime and a 96% high school graduation rate. It also has one final claim to pop-culture fame—as the namesake of the Fig Newton cookie. —Sergei Klebnikov

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