Let's Go to Boston!
So, you’re ready to take a vacation. How about……Boston! One of our oldest cities. No, it’s not a stuffy, old political place. It’s actually quite fascinating. Especially if you follow the Freedom Trail’s line. The what? You ask.
The Freedom Trail’s Line.
Boston's Freedom Trail takes you to places where history was made! This is a two and a half mile line that will lead you on a walk to some of our nations most significant historical sites. The trail was established by the citizens of Boston in 1951 and is a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burial grounds, parks, ships and historical markers that will tell you the story of the American Revolution and more. And all along the way you can visit unique and interesting shops, restaurants, bakeries and more.
To begin your trek along the Freedom Trail, just follow the marked bricks and cobblestones (shown in the above picture). This well worn trail will take you into a fascinating day of history. Many shops you pass will have pamphlets and books to further enhance your tour. You may see sidewalk entertainers and reenactors, bagpipe players and magicians. Visit a restaurant or a bar and imagine Samuel Adams sitting next to you, or Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, or President Kennedy. All were here, and so many more.
And don’t forget to follow the trail into the north section of Boston which is the Italian section and you feel like you have stepped into Italy itself. Just eat your way up the streets. There is no bad food being sold in the Italian section. If you can arrange to go on a Sunday you will likely find yourself in a parade for one of the Saints complete with an Italian band. Let the trail take you to all the wonderful landmarks and then end your day at the harbor with a cup of gelato. Oh, and don’t forget Mike’s Italian Pastry.
Oh my, cannoli’s you’ve always dreamed about, biscotti to tease your taste buds, cookies, cakes, pies….yummmmmm! And did I forget to mention that they do mail order too! What more could you ask?
Some of the things you can see are on the Freedom Trail :
- Boston Common
- Massachusetts State House
- Park Street Church
- Granary Burying Ground
- King’s Chapel
- King’s Chapel Burying Ground
- Benjamin Franklin Statue & Boston Latin School
- Old Corner Book Store
- Old South Meeting House
- Old State House
- Site of Boston Massacre
- Faneuil Hall
- Paul Revere House
- Old North Church
- Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
- Bunker Hill Monument
- USS Constitution
And if that’s not enough history for you, a few steps off of the trail will bring you even more sites to see.
The Central Burying Ground and Liberty Tree At the Boylston/Tremont corner of the Boston Common is the Central Burying Ground, dating from 1757. This is the final resting place of Gilbert Stuart, painter of George Washington’s portrait which appears on the one dollar bill. Also interred here are 15 Mohawks who took part in the Boston Tea Party, as well as many British Redcoats who died in the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Siege of Boston.
One block further down Boylston Street is the site where the Liberty Tree once stood. (it is marked by a large bronze plaque on the sidewalk.) Hanging effigies of tax collectors on the tree in 1765 was one of the first provocative events of the American Revolution. Unfortunately the tree was felled by Redcoats in 1775 because it had become a meeting place for rallies and protests by the Sons of Liberty against the British rule.
Dorchester Heights In 1902 this monument was built in commemoration of the placement of cannon in early March 1776. The placement of these cannons forced the British to evacuate Boston ten days later on March 17. It was the last leg of Major Gen. Henry Knox’s monumental trek, The Noble Train of Artillery, with a cache or armaments and 59 much-needed cannons from Fort Ticonderoga. The password in Washington’s camp in nearby Cambridge the password that day was Boston and the countersign was St. Patrick. Dorchester Heights was annexed into Boston in the 19th century and the neighborhood became home to many of Boston’s Irish. Today the annual Evacuation Day - on March 17, the Feast of St. Patrick - celebrates the end of English rule in Boston.
The Black Heritage Trail
Beginning on Beacon Hill, The Black Heritage Trail intersects the Freedom Trail at the monument to the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts on Beacon Street. Eight years after the city was founded, African-Americans arrived in Boston in February of 1638. They were brought to Boston as slaves purchased in Providence Isle, a Puritan colony off the coast of Central America. By 1705, there were over 400 slaves in Boston , but by then there was also the beginnings of a free Black community in the North End. The American Revolution brought a turning point in the status of Africans in Massachusetts. Many fought at the battles of Bunker Hill and Lexington and Concord. Slavery ended in Massachusetts when the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 adopted the principle that all men have certain inalienable rights. The first federal census in 1790 indicated that Massachusetts was the only state in the Union to record no slaves.
Boston Navy Yard
The Charlestown Navy Yard is an active naval base and home to many historic buildings. It is also the headquarters for Boston National Historical Park. A good example of Navy-Georgian style buildings is The Commandant’s House, built in 1805. The USS Cassin Young is a permanently docked Second World War destroyer. The Visitor Center offers an entire history of the Navy Yard from 1800 to the present.
USS Constitution USS Constitution Museum is a few yards from the USS Constitution and a must see for everyone visiting Boston. This is an interactive adventure, with hands-on-galleries taking all ages on a 200 year voyage through history. Learn how Old Ironsides earned her nickname and how she has remained undefeated since her launch in 1798.
The Blackstone Block
At the corner of Union and Hanover Streets, the Blackstone Block is the oldest extant city block in the country and a preserved piece of Boston’s history, dating to the 18th Century. The Capen House, which is now the Union Oyster House restaurant was built in the early 1700s to house an importer’s shop that sold silks. During the American Revolution Isaiah Thomas printed the radical newspaper The Massachusetts Spy from this building before he was forced to flee Boston, taking his precious printing press with him and crossing the Charles River in a row boat. Established in 1826, the Union Oyster House is the oldest continuously run restaurant in the country.
Two doors from the Union Oyster House is the Ebenezer Hancock House. The house was built in the late 1760’s by John Hancock who transferred the title to his younger brother Ebenezer. Ebenezer served as deputy paymaster of the Continental Army and at one point 2.5 million silver crowns, which were loaned by the French to help pay Washington’s troops, were stored in this building.
Charlestown was settled a few years before Boston and is home to many historic sites, and is now a neighborhood of Boston. In its City Square Park are the foundations of the Great House, built for Governor John Winthrop in 1629 and destroyed by the British during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. On Pleasant Street near the Bunker Hill Monument is the Warren Tavern built in 1780 and believed to be one of the first buildings raised after the bombardment. Named for revolutionary leader and Bunker Hill casualty, Dr. Joseph Warren, the tavern became the home of Charlestown’s first Masonic Lodge in 1794, of which Paul Revere was an active member and later Grandmaster. Revere called the tavern his most favorite place. The Warren Tavern today is a thriving restaurant and bar. Make sure you stop in for a drink. Who knows who might join you.
Now, have I made you curious enough to visit Boston and see all of this? Hopefully, because it is really a fascinating place. Well here's a couple of maps to give you a little glimpse of your route: Happy Trails!