By the 1970s, the city's economy boomed after 30 years of economic downturn. A large number of high rises were constructed in the Financial District and in Boston's Back Bay during this time period. This boom continued into the mid-1980s and later began again. Boston now has the second largest skyline in the Northeast (after New York) in terms of the number of buildings reaching a height of over 500 feet (150 m). Hospitals such as Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Brigham and Women's Hospital lead the nation in medical innovation and patient care. Schools such as Boston University, the Harvard Medical School, Northeastern University, Wentworth Institute of Technology and Boston Conservatory attract students to the area. Nevertheless, the city experienced conflict starting in 1974 over desegregation busing, which resulted in unrest and violence around public schools throughout the mid-1970s. In 1984, the City of Boston gave control of the Columbia Point public housing complex to a private developer, who redeveloped and revitalized the property from its rundown and dangerous state into an attractive residential mixed-income community called Harbor Point Apartments, which opened in 1988 and was completed by 1990. It was the first federal housing project to be converted to private, mixed-income housing in the United States, and served as a model for the federal HUD HOPE VI public housing revitalization program that began in 1992.
The North End has been experiencing gentrification since the completion of the Big Dig in the early 2000s, which moved the elevated Central Artery freeway mostly into tunnels. This has also been changing the traditional Italian American culture of the area.
In the early 21st century, the city has become an intellectual, technological, and political center. It has, however, experienced a loss of regional institutions, which included the acquisition of The Boston Globe by The New York Times, and the loss to mergers and acquisitions of local financial institutions such as FleetBoston Financial, which was acquired by Charlotte-based Bank of America in 2004. Boston-based department stores Jordan Marsh and Filene's have both been merged into the New York–based Macy's. Boston has also experienced gentrification in the latter half of the 20th century, with housing prices increasing sharply since the 1990s. Living expenses have risen, and Boston has one of the highest costs of living in the United States, and was ranked the 99th most expensive major city in the world in a 2008 survey of 143 cities. Despite cost of living issues, Boston ranks high on livability ratings, ranking 35th worldwide in quality of living in 2009 in a survey of 215 major cities.
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