Boston’s 50 Most Powerful People

As Boston grows richer and more international, power is in flux. But good luck unseating the old guard.

Edited by Carly Carioli & George Donnelly

power cover collage

Who runs this town? They all do. For the 2015 Power issue, design director Eric Mongeon created four covers featuring, clockwise from top, Ayanna Pressley, John Fish, Barbara Lee, and Mayor Marty Walsh. Collect them all! (Photographs by David Yellen)

Boston’s power structure can be ruthless and efficient, transformative and unforgiving. It’s also contradictory: We are building faster than ever, while our public transportation system crumbles beneath our feet. Only within our city’s notoriously tight circles of influence could a construction magnate engineer an Olympic bid out of thin air, then be unceremoniously gutted for it—and still wind up at number one on this list.

The city is changing, and not just physically. The seats of corporate, cultural, and political power have been upended. The old guard knows a new generation is ready to make its own rules. But good luck unseating the old guard.

As with any list, this one’s as much provocation as prognostication. We’re Bostonians: We love to argue. We surveyed dozens of insiders—and some outsiders, too—to debate who’s really got power and who just looks the part. Because ultimately, we’re looking for the people who can solve our biggest problems—transportation, housing, education, healthcare—and bring the best and the brightest along with them.

The List

power collage

A Closer Look

It Takes Two

Power sometimes comes in pairs, the one out front and the one behind the scenes. The power of one is obvious, but the influence of the other becomes apparent over time.

Olympics: Hot or Not?

Seven players to watch as we race toward a likely Olympic referendum in 2016.

Black Power

Why doesn’t Boston have more of it?

We Built This City

Development in Boston has become its own special kind of power. Here, a handful of big players who are feasting on the building frenzy of the century.