Inspired by Boston's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, historian Douglass Shand -Tucci recalls the superiority complex of the city's Brahmin overclass, and the competing inferiority complex of its Irish immigrants.  

I've thought a lot about Brahmin Boston's superiority complex, still alive and well in its parts of town, as Bostonians have been assailed yet again by the debate about whether or not ours is a "world-class" city, whatever that may mean, a debate occasioned by the selection of Boston as the American entry for the 2024 winter Olympics.

On the one hand, there is the legacy of the ever confident and optimistic 19th century Brahmin Ascendancy that always insisted, never mind Henry Adams, that the positive Unitarian voice of Boston be heard worldwide.

On the other hand, however, there is the very negative narrative of early 20th century immigrant Boston, also still alive and well in its part of town, a narrative which achieved its literary peak in George Higgins "The Friends of Eddie Coyle," the apotheosis in the minds of some of Irish-Catholic Boston, and which resounds still in pop culture in a song entitled "Dirty Water."