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 Beacon Hill. This time, I explored Boston’s historic side.
Boston is one of the oldest cities in America and has played an important role throughout our history. The first university was founded here (Harvard in 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.
You can best see the historic sights of Boston 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 easily 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, a Protestant revival movement. 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—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 church bell, which is still in use today, and the church’s cemetery is the burial site of 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. It 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, 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.
Next up is Faneuil Hall, which is still a busy place today. No matter what time of day you go, crowds of locals and tourists will be wandering around. The Old Quincy Market building is now teeming with restaurants, and during lunchtime, this place is wall-to-wall people. Outside, street performers entertain the lunchtime crowds, and at night, 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 Paul Revere’s birthplace and the famous Old North Church. Immortalized in a famous poem, this church is supposedly where Revere got the message about the British troops so he could warn his fellow colonists.
Continuing north, we’re nearing 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. Still managed by an active Naval crew, this warship 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. The colonists turned back wave after wave of soldiers. 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. Nice parks, posh neighborhoods, historic downtown—now you can see why Boston is so great.
For more information on the United States, visit my country and city guides to US travel.