With my time in Boston slowly getting away from me, I decided to explore my city. Last time, I went walking through its parks and historic Beacon Hill section. This time, I was going to explore Boston’s historic side.
Boston is one of the oldest cities in America and has played an important role throughout the history of the United States. The first university was founded here (Harvard 1636), the Revolution began here, the first public school was built here, and the first state constitution was written here. We’ve produced the Kennedys, Sam Adams, his beer, and Aerosmith. Boston is steeped in history.
The historic sights of Boston are best seen by walking the city’s Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail begins in Boston Commons and takes you through the historic downtown and harbor area. A red brick line guides your way so you’ll never get lost. The walk takes you through 16 historic sites and is about 2.5 miles long. So let’s go for a walk:
The trail begins at Boston Commons:
Walk through the park as the trail stops at this historic statehouse and the Robert Shaw Memorial. The State House is home to the legislature and is recognized by its golden dome. The Shaw memorial commemorates the 54th Massachusetts regiment, the first black military regiment. They fought for the Union in the Civil War and were known for their valor and spirit. Most, including Commander Shaw, were killed at the Battle of Fort Wagner.
Afterwards, we turn back around and walk to the Park Street Church. Built in 1809, it was the site of many fire and brimstone revivalist speeches during the Second Great Awakening. It is also the first place the song “America” was sung on July 4, 1831.
Next to the church is a burial ground that contains some of Boston’s most famous citizens – like John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and victims of the Boston Massacre. Markers here date as far back as the early 1700s.
Walking down the street, we next encounter King’s Chapel, which was founded in 1688. Paul Revere made the bell that is in the church today, and next to it is another burial site containing John Winthrop (first Governor) and Mary Chilton (first woman to set foot off the Mayflower.) This burial site is one of the oldest in America.
We continue and walk past Ben Franklin’s birthplace to the Old State House. The old statehouse was used until 1789, when the new one was built, and it was here that many of the debates about freedom and liberty took place prior to the Revolution. Outside these walls was where the Boston Massacre took place in 1770. The balcony in the photo is where the Declaration of Independence was read to the citizens of Boston.
Then it is into Faneuil Hall. Faneuil Hall is still a busy place today. No matter what time of the day you go, crowds of locals and tourists will be wandering around. The Old Quincy Market building is now teeming with restaurants and, during lunch time, this place is wall-to-wall people. Outside, street performers entertain the lunchtime crowds, and at night the people flood into the many bars for some after-work drinks. Faneuil Hall has a number of bars and is a major nightspot in the city.
After catching a quick bite to eat, we head north for a long walk through the historic North End, now Boston’s Italian section. Here we can see where Paul Revere was born and the famous Old North Church. This church was immortalized in the poem about Paul Revere’s Ride. It was here that he supposedly got the message about the British troops so he could warn his fellow colonists.
Continuing north, we begin to near the end of our journey. After crossing the Charlestown Bridge over the Charles River, we hit our final stops. We walk around the oldest warship still in service, the USS Constitution, nicknamed Old Ironsides. This warship is still managed by an active Naval crew and has been in service since 1797.
Finally, we end at the Bunker Hill Memorial. The memorial commemorates the famous Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, where the ill-equipped colonists held their own against the British troops. Wave after wave of soldiers were turned back by the colonists. Eventually, though, time and gunpowder ran out, and the colonists were defeated.
Wow! That was a long walk. I’m tired now. I think I might take a cab back to Faneuil Hall for a drink.
As you can tell, Boston has a lot of history in it. Nice parks, posh living area, historic downtown – now you can see why Boston is so great.
For more information on the United States, visit my country and city guide to US travel.