I have always thought Boston was the most likely choice. The thing most big tech cos want most is more good programmers, and by moving to Boston they can get at the supply upstream of most other big tech cos. Plus it's a nice place. (I lived there for many years.)
This conflates two things.
1. Amazon is (already) leasing a big building in Seaport. It's mostly Alexa, ~500-1k staff.
2. Amazon is shopping cities for a 50k-person second headquarters; one candidate site is the old Suffolk Downs in revere.
For many reasons, i hope (2) does not come to pass.
If one of the motivators for Boston is proximity to top tier universities, as a data point of one I had zero desire to stay in Boston after school and didn't think to get a job in the area. I doubt I would have stayed for Amazon.
Wikipedia lists 52 colleges and universities in the boston metro area. The anecdotal number I've heard is 65-ish, which must go out into the suburbs a bit beyond wikipedia's bounds.
Amazon is a polarizing force, for sure. Some locals are concerned that their presence will drive up the cost of living further. Others want the broader economic impacts introduced by more tech jobs.
Maybe the other positives Boston has in its favor outweigh the downsides, but you’d think Amazon would use this opportunity to pick a city with lower cost of living. Boston is one of only a few places more expensive than Seattle, which raises the question of what is the point of doing this at all.
Glad it’s not coming to my city!