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“The Whites of Their Eyes”
The monument is located on Breed’s Hill at the site of the Patriot redoubt during the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was fought on June 17, 1775. The monument was dedicated in 1843.
Daily 9 – 5; last climb at 4:30. July and August 9 – 6; last climb at 5:30
Handicap access to the lodge next tomonument is via a ramp. The monument has 294 steps to the top.
Restrooms are in the lodge at the base of the monument..
The Bunker Hill Museum (recommended – across the street), is fully accessible with elevators and restrooms. Museum website.
Plan at least 1/2, 1 1/2 hours if visiting the museum.
Most visitors to the Bunker Hill Monument will stop at the Bunker Hill Museum, and we highly recommend visiting. Run by the National Park Service, the museum is just across the street from the steps to the base of the monument. It is excellent, featuring very well done interpretive displays and dioramas and ranger-led programs, which are often oriented to children. There are full bathroom facilities and it is handicap accessible. Everything is free.
Proceeding across the street from the museum and up the steps to the monument, you will pass the statue of Colonel William Prescott (pictured above), Patriot commander during the battle. Some legends identify Prescott as the man who uttered “don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” Two superior officers were present at the battle, Major Generals Israel Putnam and Joseph Warren, but both declined to take command from Prescott.
The current obelisk is the second monument erected to commemorate the battle. The first was an 18-foot wooden pillar with a gilt urn that was erected in 1794. In 1823, the Bunker Hill Monument Association was formed by a group of prominent citizens who desired a more fitting memorial.
The 221-foot high monument is located on Breed’s Hill, at the site of the Patriot redoubt during the battle. The monument is constructed of granite from Quincy, Massachusetts – the same site that provided the granite for Dry Dock 1 in the Charlestown Navy Yard. A special railroad, the first common carrier in the United States, was built to haul the granite from Quincy to Boston. The final leg of the granite’s journey across the harbor was by barge.
Construction started in 1827 but was not completed until 1843 as there were many funding-related delays. To finish the project, the Monument Association actually had to sell off part of their original land, leaving only the summit of Breed’s Hill that you see today.
The small exhibit lodge adjacent to the monument was constructed in the late 1800s and houses a few statues and paintings, including a particularly good one of Doctor/General Joseph Warren. The Bunker Hill Monument Association maintained the monument and grounds until 1919 when it was turned over to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 1976 the monument was transferred to the National Park Service.
To ascend the 294 steps to the top of the monument, pass through the lodge and head up. It is recommended that you be confident in your ability to complete the round trip as there is no elevator and no place to sit down, except on the staircase. Climbers to the top will enjoy a great view of Boston and the surrounding areas.