My feet hurt! Warning: long day, long blog.
The number one tourist attraction in Boston is the Freedom Trail. In the 1870s Bostonians prudently began saving colonial and Revolutionary era buildings that were critical in the struggle against British rule.
In 1951 a member of Old North Church suggested to a reporter that a trail would help visitors to find Boston’s historic places and would boost tourism; and the Freedom Trail was born. In June 1951 with the support of the mayor and the Chamber of Commerce the city placed identifying signs at 12 historic sites. Over the years the Freedom Trail has expanded (there are now 16 sites) and the signs have been augmented by a red strip of brick in the sidewalk or sometimes a red line. The trail runs from the Boston Common through the Government Center and the North End, and across the bridge over the Charles River to the Navy Yard in Charlestown – a distance, they say, of 2 1/2 miles. Of course that does not take into account the steps through the museums, churches, burying gounds, houses and historic buildings.
We left our condo about 11 and took the T back to the stop at the Aquarium just as we did yesterday. Once there we located the T Water Taxi stop and waited about 15 minutes for the boat to arrive that would take us up the Boston Inner Harbor over to Charlestown. It was a beautiful warm sunny day again with temperatures expected to be around 30C (90ish F). The city skyline looked great from the boat.
The Freedom Trail,’properly’done starts in the Common and ends at the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument. (not a rule, of course, but the brochures always list the sites in that order). We decided to do it in ‘reverse order’ so we would be walking closer to our living area as we travelled. Then if we tuckered out we could quit and start at the Common end and go back to where we left off on another day.
As it happened we managed to go the distance all in one day – but we may pay the price tomorrow when we try move. Some of our success has to be attributed to our walk with Mike, Anne and Christina yesterday as a few of the places we checked out are listed on the Freedom Trail and we did not need to do them again today.
My head is crammed full of American Revolutionary history and I was reminded all day of the large report I did on the subject for 12th grade history class. I refuse to type all night so you are just going to have to read some of the information yourself.
It is our policy when travelling to take a photograph of the signs at places so we remember what photos belong where and I often also take a photo of the ‘description’ plaque. Today you will need to read some of those plaques if you want more information. I am not going to type it all out in this blog. Did I mention my feet hurt? I will need to get them elevated for awhile before I will be able to sleep tonight. You can read or not – your choice.
- USS Constitution – one of six ships authorized by the Naval Act of 1797 and built in the North End of Boston. She is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate and was launched in 1797. She saw action against the Barbary pirates at Tripoli to open American trade routes in the Mediterranean, in the War of 1812 when she captured numerous merchant vessels and defeated five British warships, and In 1840 after the ship was decommissioned from active war service she circled the world on a part-diplomatic, part-scientific mission. Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. She is currently in dry dock undergoing a major restoration and will not be open for touring until 2018. We did however go through the Constitution museum. The Constitution (aka Old Ironsides) is the epitome American symbol of freedom and courage and is revered by the nation.
2. Bunker Hill Monument (technically the final/first stop of the Freedom Trail after the Constitution). Dedicated in 1843 (on the 100 anniversary of the battle) the monument is 221 feet tall, made of granite and has 294 steps to the top. It sits atop Breed Hill, the site of the first battle of the Amerian Revolution. (Unfortunately due to the heat of the day the Park Rangerhad just closed the tower to climbers. Maybe we can get back out there another day before we leave and climb to the top.) Bunker Hill was an American defeat against superior British forces – 2000 against 1000 colonialists. Although the British won the battle 1,000 of her men were wounded or killed. British General Clinton said, “It was a hill too dearly bought.” The colonists realized they had fought one of the finest armies in the world and and had turned them back twice. It was a pivotal event and was a tremendous encouragement to the revolutionary movement and symbolizes American determination and fortitude.
3. Copp’s Burying Ground – Opened in 1660 it is the burying ground of thousands of free Africans who lived nearby. The cemetery was used by the British for target practice before the revolution and from here they rained heavy fire upon the colonists on Breed Hill.
4. Old North Church – Built in 1723. Where the two lanterns were hung in the steeple to warn of the advancing British army. We toured the inside yesterday.
5. Paul Revere House. The goldsmith (silversmith really) and engraver and patriot lived in this house. His first wife died not long after the birth of their 8th child and Revere married again 6 months later and fathered 8 more children. Even after they moved out of the house Revere continued to own it and rented it out. It was built about 1680 and the Revere’s owned it from 1770-1800. It was saved from demolition by a member of Paul Revere’s descendants and is maintained and staffed by the Paul Revere Memorial Association. No photographs were allowed inside.
6. Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. Been there, done that yesterday.
7. and 8. Old State House and the Boston Massacre Site. Built in 1713 this landmark was the seat of colonial and state government as well as the merchants exchange. Here, on March 5, 1770 British soldiers fired into a crowd of patriot Bostonians, killing five. Paul Revere’s printed engraving of the site sparked much antagonism against the ruling British. A circle of cobblestones depict the original site. The first reading of the Declaration of Independance was given from the balcony of the Old State House in July 1776 by John Hancock.
This sign was above the door on the building across the street from the Old State House.
9. Old South Meeting House. Built in 1729 as a Congregational (Puritan) Church this building is famous for the fiery meeting that led to the Boston Tea Party incident, which caused the port to be closed and brought the country a step closer to rebellion. It was saved from destruction in 1876 and was the first successful historic preservation effort in New England. The building is now a haven for free speech, an active meeting place and a museum. We did not do the tour inside.
Nearby the Meeting House was the poignant Irish Famine Memorial.
10. Old Corner Bookstore. Built in 1712 for Thomas Crease it was the literary center of the mid-1800s. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Oliver Wendall Holmes, Louisa May Alcott, Nathanial Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau and many others brought their manuscripts here to be published by Ticknor and Fields Co. It is now an Italian restaurant.
11. Franklin Statue and Boston Latin School Site. There is a plaque on the wall commemorating the location of the first school in Boston. The Latin School, the oldest public school in America, was established by Puritans in 1635. Sam Adams, John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin all attended the school. Franklin’s statue graces the courtyard of the old City Hall that was erected on the site and is now a swanky steak house.
12. King’s Chapel Burying Ground. Boston’s original burying ground. The King’s Chapel Anglican Church at the corner of the cemetery was built much later and graves were dug up to make room for the church and again later to make an addition to the buildings. It was an Anglican church and very unpopular with Bostonians even before the cemetery desecration – and very much so afterward.
13. Granary Burying Ground. Boston’s most famous cemetery. Many notable patriot’s are buried here: Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Robert Treat Paine, James Otis, and the five men killed in the Boston Massacre. Also Mother Goose, Ben Franklin’s parents and whole families of settlers ravaged by fire and plague are interred here next to the Park Street Church.
14. Park Street Church. The spire of this 200 year old church (built in 1809) has long been a landmark for downtown shoppers. The carillon sounds twice a day and the hymn “America” was first sung here July 4, 1831. William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist, gave his first anti-slavery speech here in 1829. The church was not open to the public since it was a weekday, but Sunday services are still held. It was also almost impossible to get a photo of because of the close streets and neighbouring buildings.
15. State House. Built on land originally owned by John Hancock the new State House was designed by renowned architect Charles Bulfinch. It was built in 1795 (Samuel Adams and Paul Revere laid the cornerstone) and has 23.5 carat gold leaf covering the original copper dome that was placed by Paul Revere. The State House is open daily for tours but we were too tired by this time to trek through it.
16. Boston Common. America’s first public park. Originally purchased in 1634 as a training field for militia and for feeding cattle. Been there. Plan to go back and explore the Public Gardena and the Frog Pond.
I AM ALL DONE – AND ALL DONE IN. But it was a very good day.