Fun at the Tea Party Museum, or Simba (King George III) and Scar (Samuel Adams) Visit Boston Harbor

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

The Boston Tea Party Museum is a fun, entertaining, educational, hour-long historical extravaganza. It provides a good overview of Revolutionary-era Boston history, a climb-aboard visit to a recreated tea-ship (complete with simulated tea chest tossing), the chance to see one of two remaining tea chests from the fateful night (pretty cool), holographic-enhanced reenactments of key events and personalities, and a ten minute film of the events of April 18-19th, 1775 (Paul Revere’s Ride, the battles of Lexington & Concord, and the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”). Good fun, but unless you crave Disney-style entertainment or are purchasing a package that includes the Museum, it is pricey.

Is it worth the time and expense? Does Boston need Disneyesque historical entertainment? Is the Tea Party “The single most important event leading up to the American Revolution?” Read on…

The Visit

Boston Tea Party Museum New Identity Card

Boston Tea Party Museum Identity Card

Once you arrive at the museum and have a ticket, you are invited to join the next available tour queue. Tours run every ½ hour and can be pretty full in the summer, so when it’s busy you may want to arrive ½ hour before your desired start. You are then ushered into the “Meeting House” and given a card by a colonial-garbed actor. The card holds the pseudo-identity of an actual revolutionary-era citizen (you may be asked to read a line from card later). Once the meeting starts, and in great in theatrical fashion, your guides explain events leading up to the Tea Party.

[Note that you are kept moving from station to station – there is not much time to linger or explore; virtually every step is choreographed. The guides are well trained, personable, and happy to answer questions, but they speak quickly; pay attention as it is easy to miss something.]

Boston Tea Party Museum Ramp

Boston Tea Party Museum Ramp

Leaving the Meeting House, you proceed down a gangplank to visit one of the replica tea ships. The replicas are close to the actual Tea Party ships and are amazing. On board, you learn more about the ships and their context, then go below deck to experience what life aboard was like – very tight quarters for the eight men who lived aboard, and these must have been awful in rough seas.

Boston Tea Party Museum Ship Deck

Boston Tea Party Museum Ship Deck

(Click for a wonderful Boston Globe video on the recreation of the ships.)

Boston Tea Party Museum Tea Toss

Boston Tea Party Museum Tea Toss

To make it more interactive for the kids, simulated chests of tea are heaved overboard. (A full tea chests weighed well over 300 pounds.)

Boston Tea Party Museum Ship Captains Quarters

Boston Tea Party Museum Ship Captains Quarters

On exiting the ships, and while waiting on the dock for your group’s turn to enter the museum, your guide provides additional context to the events and personalities.

Entering the museum, the first stop is a short holographic reenactment of a conversation between two colonial women – one with patriot, and the other with loyalist leanings. The technology is impressive, but the content seems more for show than substance.

The next room houses the Robinson Half Chest. This half chest (a half-chest contained about 100 pounds) was found by teenager John Robinson the morning after the Tea Party. It remained a Robinson family heirloom until it was purchased by the folks who run the museum. After viewing and learning about the chest, visitors turn around and view a holographic-enhanced conversation between the portraits of King George III and Samuel Adams. This is technically innovative and fun, but a little over the top. The pre-recorded reenactors are entertaining, and what they say is true to the history, but a lot is taken out of context.

The last room, the Minuteman Theater, shows a +/- 10 minute film, “Let it Begin Here,” that dramatizes the events of April 18 and 19, 1775. The film wraps around the audience and is complete with air puffs to simulate musket balls flying by. The tie in is that these events were directly as result of the Tea Party. The reenactments are good and historically accurate, the layout and feel of Lexington Green is particularly good; but the portrayal of the participants is overdone and stilted – the actor portraying John Hancock in Lexington is particularly amusing. (Click for an excerpt.)

After the film, you are encouraged to partake in refreshments at Abigail’s Tea Room & Terrace and visit the Gift Shop, which is stocked with every revolutionary-themed tchotchke imaginable. The only thing missing was the chance to purchase a photo of the visitors with a smiling Samuel Adams reenactor.

Historical Accuracy and Quality

Quite good. The Museum provides a solid and largely accurate overview of the events leading up to the Tea Party and the American Revolution as well as useful context of life in this period. The recreation of the tea ships alone is a marvel and worth the visit.

That being said, the events and people are simplified and hyperbolized – both for effect and to pump up the presentation of the Tea Party as “The single most important event leading up to the American Revolution.” No doubt, the Tea Party was a very key event. But it is not the entire story.

I realize that everyone loves a myth with a hero and a villain (Cinderella vs Evil Queen Grimhilde?) – here Samuel Adams vs King George III. But reality is always more nuanced, and the museum makes only anemic attempts to balance their presentation. While this is not necessarily bad, and perhaps even appropriate for a theatrically-themed venue, it is misleading. Suitable for Orlando or Las Vegas, I had hoped Boston might be more thoughtful, or visitors given time to ponder a counterpoint.

Value

Normal admission is $25 for adults, $15 for children – which means a family of four would pay $80 for a one hour show, not including the encouraged refreshments and souvenirs.

Is it worth it? It depends how much you value this type of entertainment. If cash is tight, there are many better values in town – such as the free Freedom Trail Tours run by the National Park Service, a visit and climb through Old Ironsides, the modestly priced visits to the Old State House or Old South Meeting House, or the behind the scenes visits to King’s Chapel or Old North Church, just to name a few.

If you are considering a visit, a much better deal can be found bundled with the purchase of a ticket from the hop-on-off Old Town Trolley (trolleytours.com), which includes admission to the Tea Party Museum. Historic Tours of America owns both the Tea Party Museum and Old Town Trolley, and they also offer packages with admission to the Aquarium, Fenway Park, and other Boston sites that might be on your short list. Check online as tickets are available at a discount.

The Verdict

I had fun and found it worth my time. My visit was fun, participative, educational, and entertaining.

Is it a “must see?” IMHO, it doesn’t fit that category as there are many other places where you will learn and experience more, are more authentic, and are much better values. If I was bringing children, I would weight it a little more positively as its technology and interactivity will hold a child’s attention and memory more than some other sites; but still not in the must see category.

But I had fun, Huzzah!

Freedom Trail Boston – El Recorrido Más Completo y Guía Histórica

Conseils Pratiques

1. Il n’ya aucune raison historique à faire les Stops du Freedom Trail dans l’ordre – organisez votre temps de manière à visiter ce qui vous passionne le plus. Parcourez les descriptions des Stops afin d’aider à évaluer votre intérêt.
2. Veuillez vérifier afin de confirmer les modifications des heures d’exploitation – il peut y avoir des différences d’accès pendant les vacances, certains stops accueillent des événements spéciaux, ou peuvent être fermés pour rénovation. Voir le lien «Aujourd’hui, dans le parc” dans le Chapitre des Ressources.
3. Bien que seulement 2,5 miles (4 km) de bout en bout, il est difficile de voir l’ensemble du Freedom Trail en une journée – surtout si vous voulez entrer et visiter l’un des Stops.
4. Il ya d’excellents tours gratuits offerts par les rangers en uniforme du National Park Service (NPS). Les visites partent des Centres NPS à Faneuil Hall (Stop 11) ou depuis l’USS Constitution (Stop 15).
5. Boston est une ville à pied, et le Freedom Trail ne fait pas exception. Apportez des chaussures confortables, de l’eau, de la crème solaire etc. Bien que les excellents transports publics de la ville de Boston peut vous emmener à la plupart des Stops du centre-ville (Stops 1-11), ceux de la North End et Charlestown ne sont pas bien déservis.
6. Une façon amusante et peu coûteuse de se rendre ou de partir de Charlestown et du centre ville est la Navette Aquatique. Celle-ce traverse l’arrière-port entre Long Wharf (par l’Aquarium) et le Charlestown Navy Yard (près de l’USS Constitution).
7. Les “Trolley Tours” du genre monte-et-descends sont de bons moyens de se déplacer, mais ils ne naviguent pas dans les rues du North End – vous aurez besoin de marcher vers / depuis la maison de Paul Revere, du Old North Church et Copp’s Hill.
8. Conseils les restaurants: les promos de homard sont souvent disponibles dans le bloc de Blackstone; une aire de restauration est dans le bâtiment principal de Quincy Market (par Faneuil Hall) avec des articles pour tous les goûts; Durgin Park, dans le bâtiment Quincy Market North Market est actif depuis 1827 et sert les mets favoris de la Nouvelle-Angleterre; l’Union Oyster House dans le bloc de Blackstone est le plus ancien restaurant en activité de l’Amérique, depuis 1826; le Chart House à Long Wharf est situé dans ce qui était la maison de comptage de John Hancock, datant de 1760; près de Bunker Hill, le Warren Tavern a été l’un des premiers bâtiments soulevés après que Charlestown ai été brûlée pendant la bataille de Bunker Hill, et a servi à acceuillir Paul Revere, George Washington et Benjamin Franklin; et il y a l’incomparable North End, où vous pouvez trouver n’importe quel type de festin à l’italienne imaginable.

Le Freedom Trail Boston Guide en français

Conseils Pratiques

  1. Il n’ya aucune raison historique à faire les Stops du Freedom Trail dans l’ordre – organisez votre temps de manière à visiter ce qui vous passionne le plus. Parcourez les descriptions des Stops afin d’aider à évaluer votre intérêt.
  2. Veuillez vérifier afin de confirmer les modifications des heures d’exploitation – il peut y avoir des différences d’accès pendant les vacances, certains stops accueillent des événements spéciaux, ou peuvent être fermés pour rénovation. Voir le lien «Aujourd’hui, dans le parc” dans le Chapitre des Ressources.
  3. Bien que seulement 2,5 miles (4 km) de bout en bout, il est difficile de voir l’ensemble du Freedom Trail en une journée – surtout si vous voulez entrer et visiter l’un des Stops.
  4. Il ya d’excellents tours gratuits offerts par les rangers en uniforme du National Park Service (NPS). Les visites partent des Centres NPS à Faneuil Hall (Stop 11) ou depuis l’USS Constitution (Stop 15).
  5. Boston est une ville à pied, et le Freedom Trail ne fait pas exception. Apportez des chaussures confortables, de l’eau, de la crème solaire etc. Bien que les excellents transports publics de la ville de Boston peut vous emmener à la plupart des Stops du centre-ville (Stops 1-11), ceux de la North End et Charlestown ne sont pas bien déservis.
  6. Une façon amusante et peu coûteuse de se rendre ou de partir de Charlestown et du centre ville est la Navette Aquatique. Celle-ce traverse l’arrière-port entre Long Wharf (par l’Aquarium) et le Charlestown Navy Yard (près de l’USS Constitution).
  7. Les “Trolley Tours” du genre monte-et-descends sont de bons moyens de se déplacer, mais ils ne naviguent pas dans les rues du North End – vous aurez besoin de marcher vers / depuis la maison de Paul Revere, du Old North Church et Copp’s Hill.
  8. Conseils les restaurants: les promos de homard sont souvent disponibles dans le bloc de Blackstone; une aire de restauration est dans le bâtiment principal de Quincy Market (par Faneuil Hall) avec des articles pour tous les goûts; Durgin Park, dans le bâtiment Quincy Market North Market est actif depuis 1827 et sert les mets favoris de la Nouvelle-Angleterre; l’Union Oyster House dans le bloc de Blackstone est le plus ancien restaurant en activité de l’Amérique, depuis 1826; le Chart House à Long Wharf est situé dans ce qui était la maison de comptage de John Hancock, datant de 1760; près de Bunker Hill, le Warren Tavern a été l’un des premiers bâtiments soulevés après que Charlestown ai été brûlée pendant la bataille de Bunker Hill, et a servi à acceuillir Paul Revere, George Washington et Benjamin Franklin; et il y a l’incomparable North End, où vous pouvez trouver n’importe quel type de festin à l’italienne imaginable.

Freedom Trail Boston Visit Planning Video

Posted this as an intro for folks planning to visit the Freedom Trail.  Hope that it is helpful to visualize the trail length and breadth as well as some of the Stops.

Enjoy and have a great visit.

 

Freedom Trail Boston – Ultimate Tour & History Guide – Tips, Secrets & Tricks


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

Boston Harbor Islands – Fantastic Day Trip For All Ages

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

View from Georges Island Artillery Observation Tower

View of Boston across the Harbor from Georges Island Artillery Observation Tower

A fantastic trip and relaxing change from Revolutionary Boston is a visit to the Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. At the Islands you can visit a Civil War era fort, swim, picnic, hike, bird watch, camp, enjoy a concert, or just delight on the wonderful, narrated cruise through the Harbor. For the younger visitors there is even a playground with an amazing view of the Boston skyline. The Islands are a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and various Commonwealth, City and private groups.

The park itself features 12 islands and peninsulas, and even the oldest active lighthouse station in the United States (used since 1716, only accessible via a special “Lighthouse Tour”); practically, you can visit a maximum of two Islands per day – visiting a single Island requires at least ½ day, but don’t rush. There is a snack shack with a seafood menu on Georges Island, but the food quality can be variable – so you may want to pack a lunch. There is an expertly-staffed pavilion on the Rose Kennedy Greenway between Quincy Market and Long Wharf to help plan your visit, purchase ferry tickets, etc.

Although ferries run from several suburban locations, most visitors will take the ferry the north side of Long Wharf (by Christopher Columbus Park); the ferries take you to either George’s or Spectacle Island. From George’s Island, during the summer, there are connections to other islands. Fares are: Adults, $15; children 4-11, $9; over 65, $11, inter-island, $3. Regular service runs May through Columbus Day in the fall, but there are various winter visit opportunities. Definitely visit the website for current and detailed visiting and transportation information.

There is a very well done Visitor Center on Georges Island with interpretive exhibits highlighting the Islands’ history, their role in the defense of Boston, the impacts of changing military technology, even the respective diets of enlisted men and officers – fascinating even for the non-military-oriented visitor. Unless you know you want your stop to be Spectacle Island, stop here first, watch the eight minute video and plan the rest of your visit. Rangers are there to help.

There are excellent Ranger-led tours of the Civil War era Fort Warren, which was built between 1833 and 1861 (self-guided tours are also available). During the Civil War, the fort served as a prison for over 1,000 Confederate personnel, the most famous the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. Fort Warren remained active through the Spanish-American War and World War I. During World War II, it was part of the harbor’s defense from German U-boats. Over the years it was modified to accommodate changing cannon technology. It was permanently decommissioned in the 1950’s when guided missiles obsoleted cannon for coastal defense.

A visit is highly recommended and suitable for all ages. Handicap access, however, is limited; please check the website for detailed information.

Useful links for a Boston Harbor Islands visit:

  • The official Boston Harbor Islands website.

  • National Park Service website.

  • National Park Service map of the Islands, download here.

  • Boston Harbor Islands YouTube channel, here.

  • Ferry website.

  • The Boston Harbor Island Alliance website.

Georges Island Visitor Center

Georges Island Visitor Center

 

Introduction to Lexington Battle Green

Virtually every visitor to historic Lexington will start at the Battle Green, the site of the first fight and the ‘Shot Heard ‘Round the World” on the British’ fateful march to capture Colonial military supplies stored in Concord. This short video provides useful context, military dispositions, and pictures of the attractions on and surrounding Lexington Battle Green. 
Enjoy.
[embedplusvideo height=”300″ width=”450″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1eWpJmb” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/TMrDDcpeG_4?fs=1&hd=1″ vars=”ytid=TMrDDcpeG_4&width=450&height=300&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=1&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep7250″ /]
 

Musket Firing Demo at Minuteman National Historical Park

Attended a wonderful 3.5 hour walk, led by Ranger David Hannigan, of the Battle Road between Concord and Lexington.  When passing by the Hartwell Tavern, we had the opportunity to view this Musket Firing Demo by Ranger Charlie Webster. It was done according to the standard British 1764 Manual of Arms, which was used by both British and Colonial forces.
[embedplusvideo height=”281″ width=”450″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/16CebLT” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/1ZzBaBad75Q?fs=1&hd=1″ vars=”ytid=1ZzBaBad75Q&width=450&height=281&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=1&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep8490″ /]

Click for the Minuteman National Historical Park schedule of events. The 3.5 hour Battle Road Walk, wonderful for those interested in detailed Battle information, is given monthly, June through October.

Guide to Boston’s Unique Geography and Changing Landscape

Boston Primary Landfill Projects Since 1775

Annotated 1895 Boston Map Illustrating Landfill Projects

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

One of the most fascinating and overlooked aspects of Boston is how much the land-form has changed over the years.  What you experience today is over 50% landfill.  Places you walk, such as the area around Faneuil Hall, were actually part of the harbor when Boston was founded in 1630.

When the first visitors arrived, they found a salamander-shaped, rocky, hilly, peninsula that was formed by erosion at the end of the last ice age.  Called Shawmut by the Native Americans, it was small, two miles long and only a mile wide.  It’s only connection to the mainland was the low-lying, narrow, wind-swept Boston Neck, which often flooded at high tide and was impassable during stormy weather – meaning the peninsula became an island.  During the siege of Boston, the British troops were effectively blockaded into this tiny island, without adequate food or firewood.

The peninsula was dominated by three hills, hence its early name of Trimountaine, which was later shortened to Tremont – a name that lives on in today’s Tremont Street. There was Copp’s Hill (in the North End), Beacon Hill (which had three summits and was almost twice as high) and Fort Hill (which was located in today’s financial district).

[embedplusvideo height=”365″ width=”450″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/y3QlGzJW27c?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=y3QlGzJW27c&width=450&height=365&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep8086″ /]

 

Today’s Boston was created by a series of land reclamation projects, which started in a small way soon after the Puritans arrived in 1630 (you can see the 1630 water line marked in the pavement near the Samuel Adams Statue behind Faneuil Hall).

The major landfill projects took place between 1807 and about 1900, although some reclamation projects extended until almost 2000. Much of the land for the early projects came from the leveling of Fort Hill and from Beacon Hill. The largest project, the filling in of the Back Bay took, spanned several generations between 1856 and about 1894. For that project, gravel was transported in on a specially built train line from Needham, a suburb about nine miles away.  One of the first of the second generation steam shovels was used to fill the gravel cars for the trains, which ran around the clock for almost fifty years.

For a fantastic website, which was used to create the animations in the video above, visit the Boston Atlas. It is simply the best place to play with Boston’s changing topography, and was a great source for this post. Also visit the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library – a wonderful source of historic Boston maps, many of which were used in the creation of this post and the accompanying video.  For those interested in learning more, there is another interesting post from Professor Jeffery Howe at Boston University; for that post, click here.

Gardner Museum – Venice In Boston

Courtyard at the Gardner Museum

Courtyard at the Gardner Museum

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

For those wishing an amazing and intimate taste of Italy while in Boston, a visit to the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum is a must. Designed to mimic a 15th century Venetian palace, it was opened by wealthy socialite Isabella Stuart Gardner in 1903 to house her amazing collection of European Art. A meaningful visit can take a little as two hours. For the Gardner’s, website, click here.

Isabella Stuart Gardner was born in 1840 in New York City to a wealthy family and was educated in New York and Paris. In 1860 she married John (“Jack”) Lowell Gardner Jr. and they moved to Boston, Jack’s hometown. After the death of their only child in 1865, the couple traveled extensively in Europe. Their favorite destination became Venice, and they were frequent guests at the Palazzo Barbaro, the home of some fellow Bostonians and a gathering place for artistic of American and English expatriates. The Palazzo Barbaro was to become a major inspiration for the Gardner Museum.

After inheriting a large sum from her father in 1891, Ms. Gardner Isabella began to collect art seriously. She and Jack dreamed of building a museum to hold the collection, which was to grow to over 2,500 pieces – including paintings, sculpture, drawings, manuscripts, ceramics, from all over the world. They were unable to accomplish this together as Jack died in 1898.

Soon after the conclusion of the filling in of Boston’s Back Bay, Isabella Gardner purchased land for the museum and, with architect Willard T. Sears, designed a museum that would evoke a 15th century Venetian palace. The museum opened to the public in 1903. Mrs. Gardner occupied a 4th floor apartment above the museum until her death in 1924. She left an endowment of $1 million that stipulated that the collection be permanently exhibited substantively in the manner that she left it. This is what you visit today.

Gardner Museum Nighttime View

Gardner Museum Nighttime View – Old & New

Perhaps the greatest treasure is the old building itself. Certainly, the art, sculpture and other objects are important and fascinating. But, strolling the building, gazing at sculptures and flowers in the pink-hued central courtyard (supplied from their own greenhouses), the substantial yet ethereal sensations you get walking the medieval halls, is a close as one can get Venice and old Europe in the Americas. It is a unique and accessible opportunity.

Boston Gardner Museum's Calderwood Hall

Calderwood Hall at Boston’s Gardner Museum

In 2012 an expansion wing opened, presenting a surprising contrast to the old building. Visitors enter through the new wing – while there, make sure to walk up the stairs and take a quick look at the Gardner’s unique concert venue, Calderwood Hall. Seating only 300 people across four levels, concert goers are never more than one row back from the performers; the acoustics are superb. For concert information, click here – if you can, plan early as concerts are often sold out.

 

World-Class Roasted Lamb Sandwich at Flour

Roasted Lamb Sandwich at Flour Bakery + Cafe

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

Readers know that I’m a big fan of the Myers & Chang family from my previous post – wonderful food, fun and informal atmosphere, friendly people – overall world class. Their Flour bakeries provide sensational and spirited places for baked goods, or a reasonable and delicious lunch or dinner.

One thing not to miss is the Roasted Lamb sandwich. It is a favorite of the Boston foodie blogging establishment, and it lives up to the hype. The Roasted Lamb is served with tomato chutney and goat cheese on a choice of white or wheat bread for $7.99. It is sublime – the lamb tender and not gamey, the lettuce just enough to add a little crispness, balance provided by the tangy rich goat cheese, and then there is Joanne’s bread… But if you are not into lamb, there are plenty of choices.

Menu Board at Flour – Fort Point Channel

Owned by Joanne Chang along with her husband Christopher Myers, there are now four Flour baker + cafes:  one in Fort Point Channel (these pictures, very near the Boston Tea Party Museum), one near Copley Square, one in the South End, and one in Central Square, Cambridge.

Flour Bakery + Cafe at Fort Point Channel

World-class food at a bargain, they make fantastic destinations for lunch or dinner sandwiches and plates. Seating can be challenging at lunch or around dinner times. If you go, don’t forget to try one of her famous sticky buns.

 

 

Myers+Chang – John Hancock Never Had Flavors So Exciting

Occasionally, you have a meal that is really exciting.  Not necessarily fancy or expensive, just exhilarating with memorable, often new and intense flavors. It might have been at a street vendor in Singapore, the bistro where you took shelter from the rain outside of Paris, the first time you had Thai food, or even that little restaurant where you first tried ceviche in Lima.

View Larger Map
I’ve had these meals, and I just had another one here in Boston at Myers+Chang in the South End. They have been around for a few years, and I can’t believe that it took this long to get here! It is a little out of the way for most Freedom Trail visitors, but the trek is worth it if you like exciting, Asian influenced food.

Public transportation is via the Silver line bus to the East Berkley Street station – SL5 Bus 9, link here. Metered parking is readily available on Washington and East Berkeley Streets. It is also walkable from the Theater District downtown. Although there is seating at the counter/bar, make a reservation, which you can do at Opentable.com, or call them at 617.542.5200.

It feels like a hip diner, e.g., it is not fancy and you don’t need to dress. But, it is fun, funky and has its own style and vibe. Food comes out when it is ready, so don’t plan on traditional coordinated courses. Order dishes to share – two to three per person. Save room for desert.

We ordered a number of the “standards.” The braised pork belly buns came out first. These are little sandwiches of tender pork belly, bao (a green) and hoisin sauce served on dough that almost had the consistency of memory foam – cool and delicious. The taiwanese-style cool dan dan noodles were in a creamy piquant peanut sauce; a great balance to the pork buns. The red miso glazed carrots (serendipitous, as we couldn’t decide what to order) provided perfect contrast. But the piece du resistance was the tiger’s tears (supposedly hot enough to make a tiger cry) – grilled sliced steak in a fiery sauce with plenty of basil and lime. It was not as hot as we expected, but it lingered in our mouths for a while, but not long enough.

Joanne Chang is a fantastic baker (visit one of her four “flour” bakeries if you get a chance), and we elected to share a sticky date pudding w/ginger crème anglaise. Whatever of the crème anglaise wasn’t used on the pudding, I ate with a spoon. I had a Patron XO Café (coffee flavored tequila) and my wife had a Fernet Branca (an herbal aromatic liquor), both on the rocks.

The bill with two drinks with dinner and the after dinner drinks was under $100. On the way out we chatted with the owners, who were both humble and charming; everyone was was welcoming and helpful. The pace on a busy Saturday night was a little frenetic, but it just added to the texture.

All in all, it was a fantastic blending of flavors; unexpected, pungent, sublime and a fun night. Go.

For bargain hunters, Meyers+Chang feature a Cheap Date Night on Monday and Tuesday nights with a $40 prix fixe “themed” menu for 2 people. This is a steal for an amazing culinary experience.

Divine Paradox at King’s Chapel: the Puritan – British Disputes & Role Reversals

King’s Chapel

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

It is universally acknowledged that the Puritans who founded Boston in 1630 left England fleeing religious persecution from the Anglican Church majority (Anglican was England’s official state religion). But the religious freedom they sought was self-centered; they did not seek universal religious tolerance, but rather freedom to practice their own brand of Protestantism (which became Congregationalism), and to build a closed religious-political society around it. Nowhere was this more visibly noted than in US President William Howard Taft’s 1909 address, where he said “We speak with great satisfaction of the fact that our ancestors – and I claim New England ancestry – came to this country in order to establish freedom of religion,” declared Taft. “Well, if you are going to be exact, they came to this country to establish freedom of their religion, and not the freedom of anybody else’s religion.”

In Puritan New England, citizens had to conform to the Puritan religion and rules, or they were at best second class citizens. Those who did not accept the constraints were prosecuted, often ruthlessly. Roger Williams (in 1635) and Anne Hutchinson (in 1638) were both banished over what today would be considered trivial infractions, but at the time were considered heretical. Later, the Puritans tried to peaceably drive out the Quakers, but when peaceable means failed, whipping and execution followed. Catholics were treated little better and were universally hated and harangued. Only members of the Puritan church could hold office, vote, or even own property. And, the Puritans ability to operate in this manner – largely free from normal English oversight and freedoms – was guaranteed by a unique Royal Charter which gave them significantly more autonomy than was enjoyed by other English colonies.

But, the most intriguing conflict was between the Puritans and their Anglican fellow Englishmen. Even though they professed loyalty to the Crown, the Puritans despised the Anglicans, resisted their involvement in New England’s political affairs, and actively fought the establishment of Anglican houses of worship. One of the key issues was that the Anglican form of Protestantism was much closer to the hierarchical ornateness and ceremony of Catholicism than the ascetic, Calvinistic Congregationalism, the defining standard of Puritan society. Even though Puritan government was open only to Church members, it had a representative assembly and established the Town Meeting management process, with relative autonomy and decision authority given to the local church and town.  This is a sharp contrast to the hierarchical British Royal/Parliamentary system, where power was held centrally. The Puritan New Englanders did their best to avoid English meddling or oversight for as long as possible; and they managed to do this for almost fifty five years.

No place in historic Boston does the Puritan:Anglican struggle better play out than with King’s Chapel, the first official Anglican congregation in Boston (King’s Chapel is Stop 4 on Boston’s Freedom Trail and can be visited on the corner of Tremont and School Streets).  Anglicans were present in Boston from the beginning, but they were second class citizens without many rights. As early as 1646, Anglican Dr. Robert Child and several others sent a “Remonstrance and Petition” to the Massachusetts General Court, claiming among other things, that they were not free to pursue their religion. In response, the Court admonished and fined them – e.g., their request was summarily rejected. In 1662, a letter from King Charles II to the colony was direct in requiring that “the freedom and liberty should be duly and allowed to all such as desired to use the Book of Common Prayer, and perform the devotions in the manner established in England, and that they might not undergo any prejudice and disadvantage…” The King’s letter was ignored. In a 1664 follow-up, Royal commissioners were sent to Boston to see that the King’s instructions were followed. This delegation also was ignored and King Charles became too involved with issues in Europe to pursue it further.

Finally, in 1676, to follow-up on multiple complaints, King Charles sent Edward Randolph to Massachusetts to investigate. His reports to the King and key ministers clearly noted, along with many other issues, the religious persecution of Anglicans, and included a discussion of British subjects being put to death for religious reasons and the Puritan laws against the celebration of Christmas. Randolph’s campaign against New England ultimately led to the revocation of the Massachusetts Charter in 1684, and the installation of Sir Edmund Andros as Governor in 1686.

King’s Chapel was officially established by the authority of the Lord Bishop of London in mid-1686. The first public service was conducted at the Boston Town House (the precursor of the Old State House) in June, and the official “King’s Chapel” congregation was established soon thereafter. But, the congregation did not have a chapel, and use of the Town House was inappropriate. The same day as his arrival in Boston in December of 1686, Governor Andros started aggressive steps to find a suitable place for worship. Rebuffed by peaceable requests to share space in one of the Puritan meeting houses, in March Andros demanded the keys to Old South Meeting House and commandeered the building for Anglican services – from this point, the building would be shared by both congregations, with priority going to the Anglicans. His requests for land on which to build an Anglican Chapel rebuffed, Andros sized a portion of the town’s burying ground, had the bodies moved, and a Chapel started. The original wooden King’s Chapel was ready in 1689, and the Old South congregation returned to their normal service schedule.

The current granite chapel was started in 1749 when the original became too small. The new chapel was built around the old wooden one so as not to disturb the services. But more importantly, Puritan and Bostonian law also indicated that if the walls were knocked down, the land would revert back to Puritans control. When the new chapel was finished, the old one was dismantled and tossed out through the windows, boxed up and sent to Halifax, where it was reassembled. The new chapel opened for services in 1754.

King’s Chapel Interior

Far more opulent than austere Congregationalist meeting houses, King’s Chapel was the recipient of many lavish gifts from the British monarchy. King William III and Queen Mary II (1689 – 1702) sent money, communion silver, altar cloths, carpets and cushions. Queen Anne (1702 – 1714) gave vestments and red cushions. King George III (1760 – 1820) donated more silver communion pieces. The silver pieces vanished when over half of the parishioners fled (they were Royalists) when the British left after the Siege of Boston was lifted in 1776.

As the first Anglican foothold in Boston, King’s Chapel presents a number of fascinating and almost poetic paradoxes relating to the Puritan:Anglican conflict. George Washington attended two services at the Chapel: the first in 1753 when he was a British Colonel and guest of Royal Governor Shirley, and second when he was President of the United States in 1789 – he sat in the “Governor’s Pew”. As a replacement for some of the silver that vanished in 1776, Paul Revere crafted several new silver pieces for the congregation as thanks for King’s Chapel hosting the belated funeral for Doctor/General Joseph Warren in April of 1776; Warren died at the Battle of Bunker Hill in June of 1775. Finally, and to come full circle, King’s Chapel became the temporary home for the Old South Meeting House congregation, whose meeting house was undergoing repairs; Old South had been so emblematic of the Patriot cause that during the Siege of Boston, the British ripped out the pews and pulpit, used them for fuel and turned the vacant meeting house into a stable and riding school for British cavalry. The Old South Congregation held services at King’s Chapel for five years, much longer than the King’s Chapel parishioners had held the keys to Old South.

In 1782 the remaining Chapel’s parishioners (there were many Anglicans who were Patriots, not Loyalists) resumed regular services; and in 1787, the first Anglican church in Massachusetts became the first Unitarian church in America. Today, the Church is an independent congregation affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association (which in New England was largely an outgrowth of Congregationalism), but offers a unique liturgy that combines Unitarianism with Anglican traditions. Perhaps this now represents the fitting marriage of Puritan and Anglican traditions and cultures. Huzzah, or perhaps Hurray!

 

Long Wharf – the Heart of Colonial & Revolutionary Boston

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

From the beginning, Boston was a town linked to the sea, with its success dependent on maritime trade and industry. And, its most important gateway to the sea in colonial times was Long Wharf. Originally called Boston Pier, Long Wharf construction began in 1711 (when Boston was the largest city in the Colonies), completed by 1715, and at its peak was almost 1,600 feet in length, 54 feet wide, and capable of docking up to 50 vessels. It was, by far, the largest and most significant wharf in Boston and was to play a major role in Boston’s economic and Revolutionary history.

Bonner’s 1722 Map illustrating Long Wharf & the Old State House

The heart of Colonial Boston was the Town House, Boston’s official town hall, which was at the base of King Street (King Street’s name was changed to State Street after the Revolution). The first Town House was built in 1657 and burned down during the Great Fire of 1711. It was replaced by the current “Old State House” in 1713, and was the location for the British Government until they evacuated Boston 1776. From the Town House, a viewer could look directly down King Street to the end of Long Wharf, see ships coming and going, and keep the pulse of the town.

Paul Revere’s 1768 Engraving of British Troops Landing on Long Wharf

As illustrated in the famous Paul Revere engraving above, British Troops landed on Long Wharf to help enforce the Townshend Acts in 1768. The oldest structure remaining on Long Wharf today, dating from around 1760 is a building that served as John Hancock’s “counting house” (primary place of business), who in, addition to being the famous signer of the Declaration of Independence, was one of the richest men and a leading merchant in Boston. Today John Hancock’s counting house is the Chart House restaurant.

British troops departed from Long Wharf when they left Boston in March of 1776. It was the landing place for the ship from Philadelphia bringing the Declaration of Independence (first read to the citizens from the balcony of the Old State House on July 18the 1776), privateers and blockade runners sailed from its docks, and its warehouses held military stores.

Water Shuttle Landing on Long Wharf

Today, Long Wharf is a great place to gather tourist information, take cruises of the harbor, and is the docking location for the water shuttles to the harbor islands and the Charlestown Navy Yard (USS Constitution). For an excellent posting on Long Wharf from a series by the National Park Service on maritime Boston, click here. The Aquarium is located at the end of Long Wharf.

Prospect Hill – Key Fortress in the Patriot Lines

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

When on the night of April 18th the British left Boston on their fateful expedition to capture Patriot munitions in Concord and the “shot heard round the world,” they marched by a hill just outside of Union Square, in what today is the city of Somerville. In 1775, Somerville was part of Charlestown and was located “just beyond the neck” that separated the Charlestown peninsula from the mainland. The hill is called Prospect Hill, and it was to play a key role in America’s fight for freedom from Great Britain.
In the British retreat back to Boston on April 19th, they diverted to go via Charlestown and they again passed by Prospect Hill, but this time in hurried flight and under constant fire from American militia that had gathered from over 30 miles away. (Prospect Hill was one of the last landmarks to pass before the British could reach sanctuary in Charlestown.) There was a major skirmish at the foot of the hill, leading to death on both sides. At the end of the day, American troops were posted on the hill to observe the British as they ferried troops across the harbor between Charlestown and Boston.

Two months later, immediately after the Battle of Bunker Hill, Prospect Hill was the sight of major American fortification and became the central position of the Continental Army’s chain of emplacements north of Boston. Its height and commanding view of Boston and the harbor had tremendous strategic value and the fortress became known as the “Citadel”.

On July 1st, 1776, George Washington had the new “Grand Union Flag,” the first official flag that represented the united colonies, raised at the top of the Hill. It combined the familiar British Union Flag with 13 red and white stripes. (It was not until 1777 that the more familiar flag with stripes and thirteen stars was adopted.) During the winter of 1777-8, after his defeat at Saratoga, General Burgoyne and 2,300 of his troops were housed as prisoners of war in barracks on the hill.In 1903, a castle shaped monument was erected at the sight of the primary American fortifications. Today, the view of Boston and the surrounding towns is still impressive.

View Prospect Hill – Site of Fighting and Patriot Fortifications in a larger map

Jason Russell House – Site of the Bloodiest Fighting in the Battles of Lexington & Concord

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

Arlington, then known by the Native American name of Menotomy, was the sight of the most intense fighting during the British retreat after the Battles of Lexington and Concord. About half of those who lost their lives, about 25 of the Americans and 40 of the British, died in Arlington. Of the American causalities, about half of the deaths took at the Jason Russell House.

The house was built by Jason Russell between 1740 and 1745, but had been doubled in size by the time of the 1775 battle. As it is located on Concord Road (now Massachusetts Avenue), the main street connecting Cambridge and Concord, it was strategic and was gathering site for Minute Men, as well as Jason and some of his neighbors, who wished to contest the British retreat. At the time the British were passing, about two dozen men had gathered around the Russell house and created a mini-fortress.

Although the group had effectively fortified themselves to be able to take pot shots at the main British column marching down Concord Road, they left themselves open to the flankers, who caught them by surprise. Trying to reach sanctuary in his house, Russell was shot down and died on his doorstep. Eight Patriots were cornered and bayoneted. About eight other Patriots effectively barricaded themselves in the basement. Although there were multiple British casualties, a total of twelve Patriots died in and around the Russell house – making this the bloodiest spot in a bloody day.

Bullet holes can still be seen in several parts of the house, which is open for visitors and part of the Arlington Historical Society. There is a wonderful and detailed write-up of the house and its history as part of the Historic New England’s Old-Time New England Articles section, available here.


View Jason Russell House – Site of the Bloodiest Fighting in the Battles of Lexington & Concord in a larger map

 

Adams National Historical Park

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

John Adam's Birthplace

John Adam’s Birthplace in Quincy MA

An easy, rewarding, and often-overlooked Freedom Trail side-trip is to the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy. The park includes the homes of American presidents John Adams (the famous Patriot and 2nd US President), his son, John Quincy Adams (the 6th president), and their descendants from 1720 to 1927. The park is right off of the MBTA Red line and is a simple, quick, and inexpensive trip from Boston. The park is open from mid-April until mid-November. Check their website here or call 617-770-1175.

A visit starts at the NPS visitor center – access to the homes is only permitted via ranger-led tours. Tours run two hours and cost $5 for adults; children under 16 and holders of a National Park Passes are free. Before leaving the visitor center, view the excellent short film, “Enduring Legacy,” that overviews the Adams’ lives and accomplishments.

The first stop is at the presidents’ birthplaces. To start, you will visit the wonderful, sparse, “saltbox” house (c. 1681) where John was born in 1735. Only 75 feet away is the house where John and Abigail gave birth to John Quincy in 1767. That house also holds the law office where John drafted the Massachusetts Constitution, which later served as the model for the US Constitution.

Adams' Old House with Stone Library & Garden

Adams’ Old House with Stone Library & Garden

The next stop is at the “Old House.” Built in 1731, it was purchased by John and Abigail as a more suitable residence after their return from John’s diplomatic posting to London in 1788. The Adams family expanded the home from its original seven rooms to what you visit today. It was also home to John Quincy, his son Charles Francis (ambassador to Great Britain during the Civil War) and their descendants. It served as a summer White House and is full of original family artifacts and art that helps tell the Adams’ story – a real treasure to visit.

Next door to the Old House, set in a beautiful garden,  is the Stone Library, built in 1873. This serves as the John Quincy Adams presidential library and holds over 14,000 books, artifacts and family paintings.

United First Parish Church - Quincy MA - Tombs of John & John Quincy Adams

United First Parish Church in Quincy MA

Across the street from the visitor center, but not part of the National Park, is the United First Parish Church. The Church contains the tombs of John, Abigail, John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams, website here. Founded in 1636 as a branch of the Puritan church in Boston, this is the fourth Church building erected on this site. Designed by Alexander Paris (also designer of Quincy Market), it was completed in 1828, with granite and funding from John Adams. If you have time, take the brief tour of the church and the crypt; a small donation is requested. Tours are available on the same schedule as the National Historical Park, from mid-April through mid-November.

Cambridge, Lexington & Concord: Freedom Trail Day Trips

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

Cambridge

British Cannon on Cambridge Common

British Cannon on Cambridge Common

Cambridge, capitalized as “Newe Town” in 1632, is about five miles up the Charles River from Boston. It was established soon after Boston’s Puritan settlers arrived to provide a safe haven in event of an attack on the coastal Boston. The original village was located at the first convenient river crossing west of Boston, at what is now Harvard Square. Harvard College was founded here in 1636. The town served as the headquarters for the Patriot troops during the Siege of Boston.

Most tourists will want to visit Harvard University and take in the Revolutionary sites around Harvard Square. The best way to visit the area in a few hours is via a walking tour, which is offered by several companies.

I can recommend those from Cambridge Historical Tours, phone 617.520.4030, website here. The basic 90 minute walk covers the University and general Cambridge history; $12 for adults, $7 for children. For those interested in the Revolutionary-era, add the Tory Row option which extends the walk by ½ hour and costs an additional $3.

There are Free Student-Led & Self-Guided Walking Tours of Harvard Yard available directly from Harvard. For the self-guided tours, click here (includes a PDF map and audio files). For mobile phone versions of the self-guided tour, click here. For information about the free student-led tours, click here.

The Longfellow House, run by the National Park Service, is on Tory Row and is only a short walk from Harvard Square. In addition to being the home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, it was George Washington’s headquarters during the Siege of Boston. The NPS offers seasonal ranger-led tours, talks, and neighborhood walks. For hours and tour times, access the website here or call 617-876-4491. Admission is free.

Public transportation from Boston is easy and quick via the MBTA Red line to the Harvard Square station.

Lexington & Concord

Minuteman Statue on Lexiington Battle Green

Minuteman Statue on Lexington Battle Green

The nearby colonial towns of Lexington and Concord were the sites of the first significant battle of the American Revolution. A visit is highly worthwhile and an easy 1/2 to full day trip from Boston. Each year Massachusetts celebrates Patriots Day, around the April 19th anniversary of the battle, with reenactments and parades at many stops along the battle’s route. For more on the Battles of Lexington and Concord, click here. For a YouTube video intro to Lexington Battle Green, click here.

Most of the Lexington sites center on the Lexington Battle Green, at the site of the first skirmish. For maps and information, start at the Visitor Center, located next to the Battle Green. For Lexington information, click here or call 781-862-1450. There is a downloadable self-guided walking tour of the Battle Green area along with other information from the Lexington Historical Society, to download click here. Call 781-862-1703 to reach the Historical Society directly, website here. The Historical Society runs the Hancock-Clark House, Buckman Tavern, and Munroe Tavern. All offer tours by excellent docents and each offers a unique perspective. The Tourism Committee also runs free tours given by costumed guides, spring through fall . The narrated hop-on/off Liberty Ride, which runs to all the major sites from Lexington to Concord, is a fun way to travel and learn history at the same time.

Important visitor sites close to the Battle Green include the Minuteman Statue (paradoxically, Lexington never had minutemen, only militia), the Buckman Tavern (where the Minutemen gathered just prior to the battle), the Hancock-Clarke House (where Samuel Adams and John Hancock stayed the night before the battle), and the Old Belfry. The Historical Society runs the Hancock-Clark House, Buckman Tavern, and Munroe Tavern. All offer tours by excellent docents and each offers a unique perspective.

Just east of Lexington town center is the Munroe Tavern. The Munroe Tavern was the site of the British headquarters and field hospital during their retreat back to Boston. A packaged ticket for admission to the Munroe Tavern, the Hancock-Clarke House and the Buckman Tavern is available at any of the three houses: $12 for adults and $8 for children 6-16. Individual house admissions are $7 and $5 respectively. Contact the Lexington Historical Society to confirm the operating hours, which vary by season.

Concord was the site of the battle at North Bridge, but if you have time, it has a lot more to offer. For visitor information in the town center, go to the Concord Chamber of Commerce; open from the end of March until late October, and on the Thanksgiving weekend. Walking tours are available; admission is charged. The Chamber can be reached at 978-369-3120; to access their website, click here. To download a walking map of Concord, click here.

Important non-Revolutionary Concord sites include the Orchard House (home of Louisa May Alcott, where she wrote “Little Women;” admission charge), the Concord Museum (which has one of the two lanterns hung at Old North Church; admission charge), and The Wayside (home to the Alcotts, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Sidney; admission charge).

Most Revolutionary-centric visitors head directly to the Minuteman National Historical Park to visit the area around North Bridge. It is about 1/2 mile from the town center. For more on the Minuteman Park, see below.

For public transportation from Boston to Lexington, take the MBTA Red line to Alewife station and connect with either the #76 or #62 buses to Lexington. The ride from Alewife to Lexington is about 25 minutes. For the MBTA website, click here.

To Concord center, take the MBTA Commuter Rail from Boston’s North Station. The Fitchburg Line train stops at the Concord Depot on Thoreau Street. From the Depot, the North Bridge is a 1.5-mile walk.

For visitors to both Lexington and Concord traveling without cars, the best option is to travel to Lexington and take the Liberty Ride trolley mentioned above. The trolley stops near all major sites in both towns and provides hop-on and off service, giving the opportunity to hike portions of the Battle Road. It runs on weekends in April and May, then daily until October 28. Adult tickets are $25, children 5-17 are $10. It also includes admission to the Lexington houses mentioned above. For Liberty Ride information, call 781 781-862-0500, website here.

Minuteman National Historical Park

North Bridge from  NPS Visitor Center

North Bridge from NPS Visitor Center

North Bridge seen from the NPS Visitor Center

The Minuteman National Historical Park, run by the National Park Service, has two sections. The eastern section follows the Battle Road from just outside Lexington into Concord. The western section covers the area around North Bridge, just beyond Concord center. Both have visitor centers and ranger-guided tours and talks. All programs are free, with the exception of an admission charge to the Wayside; $5 for adults, free for children 16 and under. For full park information visit the NPS website here or call 978-369-6993. For an interesting website on the Battle Road, click here.

The visitor center at the eastern end of the park (nearest Lexington) features a very good multi-media show, “The Road to Revolution,” especially entertaining for children. The center also has exhibits, dioramas, and other battle-related information. Rangers are on duty to answer questions and there is a small gift shop.

The five mile Battle Road makes for a great hike and much of it has been restored to a state similar to Revolutionary times. Be sure to visit the Hartwell Tavern, which is representative of an authentic period home-tavern and has ranger-programs from May through October. The Paul Revere Capture Site, just off Route 2A, is a frequent visitor stop.

West of Battle Road, and the closest stop to Concord center, is The Wayside. In Revolutionary times, The Wayside was home to the muster master of the Concord Minute Men. Later, it became the “Home of Authors,” with its residents including Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Harriett Lothrop (Margaret Sidney). As of this update, the Wayside has been closed for renovations. The Wayside is next door to Orchard House, which charges a separate admission fee and is not associated with the Park.

The western section around North Bridge has a small visitor center set spectacularly on the hill overlooking the bridge. It features a few small exhibits and a very good three dimensional map that illustrates the topography of the important battle sites. It is located in a mansion that once belonged to the Buttrick family. Major John Buttrick was the Patriot who ordered the colonials to fire on the British at North Bridge.

For public transportation to the eastern visitor center from Boston, take the MBTA Red line to Alewife station and connect with the #76 bus to the Old Mass Ave & Marrett Road stop in Lexington. Ask the driver to point out the stop. There is no service on Sunday. To the western section, follow the directions to Concord center, above. The Liberty Ride stops at both sections as well as at Hartwell Tavern, Meriam’s Corner, North Bridge and other park sites.

Adams National Historical Park

Birthplace of John Adams

Birthplace of John Adams

Birthplace of John Adams

An easy, rewarding, and often-overlooked Freedom Trail side-trip is to the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy. The park includes the homes of American presidents John Adams (the famous Patriot and 2nd US President), his son, John Quincy Adams (the 6th president), and their descendants from 1720 to 1927. The park is right off of the MBTA Red line and is a simple, quick, and inexpensive trip from Boston. The park is open from mid-April until mid-November. Check their website here or call 617-770-1175. For a web-translation of this section, click here.

A visit starts at the NPS visitor center – access to the homes is only permitted via ranger-led tours. Tours run two hours and cost $5 for adults; children under 16 and holders of a National Park America the Beautiful Passes are free. Before leaving the visitor center, view the excellent short film, “Enduring Legacy,” that overviews the Adams’ lives and accomplishments – it is excellent.

The first stop is at the presidents’ birthplaces. To start, you will visit the wonderful, sparse, “saltbox” house (c. 1681) where John was born in 1735. Only 75 feet away is the house where John and Abigail gave birth to John Quincy in 1767. That house also holds the law office where John drafted the Massachusetts Constitution, which later served as the model for the US Constitution.

The next stop is at the “Old House.” Built in 1731, it was purchased by John and Abigail as a more suitable residence after their return from John’s diplomatic posting to London in 1788. The Adams family expanded the home from its original seven rooms to what you visit today. It was also home to John Quincy, his son Charles Francis (ambassador to Great Britain during the Civil War) and their descendants. It served as a summer White House and is full of original family artifacts and art that helps tell the Adams’ story – a real treasure to visit.

Adams Old House  with Stone Library & Garden

Adams Old House with Stone Library & Garden

Next door to the Old House, set in a beautiful garden, is the Stone Library, built in 1873. This serves as the John Quincy Adams presidential library and holds over 14,000 books, artifacts and family paintings.

Across the street from the visitor center, but not part of the National Park, is the United First Parish Church. The Church contains the tombs of John, Abigail, John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams, website here. Founded in 1636 as a branch of the Puritan church in Boston, this is the fourth Church building erected on this site. Designed by Alexander Paris (also designer of Quincy Market), it was completed in 1828, with granite and funding from John Adams. If you have time, take the brief tour of the church and the crypt; a small donation is requested. Tours are available on the same schedule as the National Historical Park, from mid-April through mid-November.

Boston Harbor Islands

View from Georges Island Artillery Observation Tower

Boston from Georges Island Artillery Observation Tower

A fantastic trip and relaxing change from Revolutionary Boston is a visit to the Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. At the Islands you can visit a Civil War era fort, swim, picnic, hike, bird watch, camp, enjoy a concert, or just delight on the wonderful, narrated cruise through the Harbor. For the younger visitors there is even a playground with an amazing view of the Boston skyline. The Islands are a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and various Commonwealth, City and private groups.

The park itself features 12 islands and peninsulas, and even the oldest active lighthouse station in the United States (used since 1716, only accessible via a special “Lighthouse Tour”); practically, you can visit a maximum of two Islands per day – visiting a single Island requires at least ½ day, but don’t rush. There is a snack shack with a seafood menu on Georges Island, but the food quality can be variable – so you may want to pack a lunch. There is an expertly-staffed pavilion on the Rose Kennedy Greenway between Quincy Market and Long Wharf to help plan your visit, purchase ferry tickets, etc.

Although ferries run from several suburban locations, most visitors will take the ferry the north side of Long Wharf (by Christopher Columbus Park); the ferries take you to either George’s or Spectacle Island. From George’s Island, during the summer, there are connections to other islands. Fares are: Adults, $15; children 4-11, $9; over 65, $11, inter-island, $3. Regular service runs May through Columbus Day in the fall, but there are various winter visit opportunities. Definitely visit the website for current and detailed visiting and transportation information.

There is a very well done Visitor Center on Georges Island with interpretive exhibits highlighting the Islands’ history, their role in the defense of Boston, the impacts of changing military technology, even the respective diets of enlisted men and officers – fascinating even for the non-military-oriented visitor. Unless you know you want your stop to be Spectacle Island, stop here first, watch the eight minute video and plan the rest of your visit. Rangers are there to help.

There are excellent Ranger-led tours of the Civil War era Fort Warren, which was built between 1833 and 1861 (self-guided tours are also available). During the Civil War, the fort served as a prison for over 1,000 Confederate personnel, the most famous the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. Fort Warren remained active through the Spanish-American War and World War I. During World War II, it was part of the harbor’s defense from German U-boats. Over the years it was modified to accommodate changing cannon technology. It was permanently decommissioned in the 1950’s when guided missiles obsoleted cannon for coastal defense.

A visit is highly recommended and suitable for all ages. Handicap access, however, is limited; please check the website for detailed information.

Useful links for a Boston Harbor Islands visit:

  • The official Boston Harbor Islands website.

  • National Park Service website.

  • National Park Service map of the Islands, download here.

  • Boston Harbor Islands YouTube channel, here.

  • Ferry website.

  • The Boston Harbor Island Alliance website.

Georges Island Visitor Center

 

Freedom Trail Map & Tour App w/Auto Translate – Free!

Freedom Trail Boston Map & Tour App

 

The Freedom Trail Map & Touring App is now available on Google Play as well as Amazon  It is based on the interactive Google Map created for the Freedom Trail Boston – Ultimate Tour Guide – Tips, Secrets & Tricks eBook.

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

The app is much faster and easier to use than the browser version and it exposes all the most powerful features of Google Maps including street mode, local search, directions, and local transportation information. The map itself contains all 16 official Freedom Trail Stops and over 50 additional interesting sites on or close to The Freedom Trail.

An innovative ability for international travelers is the web-based auto-translate feature.  By selecting auto-translate on selected map entries, users with internet-access will access a web site where they can elect to read the entry in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean and other languages.

The app is the perfect companion for planning or when walking The Freedom Trail.

High-Resolution Photos from Freedom Trail Boston – Ultimate Tour & History Guide

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

One of the great frustrations in publishing an eBook is that the publisher is megabyte constrained – e.g., there is an incentive to keep eBooks small.

High resolution photos use up a lot of megs.  So, to keep things small, the photos in the eBook are either 800 x 600 or 640 x 480 and have been compressed. They are illustrative and fine for an eReader, tablet or phone, but this resolution does not do them justice as photographs.

The gallery below contains the photos used in the “Freedom Trail Boston – Ultimate Tour & History Guide – Tips, Secrets & Tricks” eBook in 2048 x 1536 format compressed to +/- .5 meg each.  I’ve also include a few pictures that simply did not fit or that are representative of what you will see on and around the Freedom Trail. If anyone is interested in one in native format, 4000 x 3000 +/- 5 meg each, email me and we’ll figure something out.

Warmest regards,

Steve

Faneuil Hall – Freedom Trail Stop 11 Overview

Faneuil Hall - Freedom Trail Stop 11 - 1742/1805

Faneuil Hall – Freedom Trail Stop 11 – 1742/1805

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

 

The Cradle of Liberty

Given to the town by wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil in 1742, the Hall was host to many important Revolutionary-era meetings and events including speeches by James Otis and Samuel Adams, the establishment of the first Committee of Correspondence, and the first meeting to protest the tea tax that led to the Boston Tea Party.

Free The first floor is home to the National Park Service Visitor Center.

Open daily, 9-5 except during events; Ranger talks every thirty minutes.

Official website

617-242-5642617-242-5642

Handicap ramp and elevators are at the south side door near the Bostix booth. Enter through the Visitor Center.

Restrooms are in the basement and 2nd floor.

Public transportation: Green or Blue line to Government Center.

The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company (website), the oldest chartered military organization in North America, has a museum on the 3rd floor.

Be sure attend the Ranger discussion if your time permits. Allow at least 1/2 hour for your visit. The Quincy Market area next to Faneuil Hall is a good place to shop, eat, and wander. In the nice weather there are plenty of street performers and it is one of the most popular areas in Boston.

Background Information

As you approach Faneuil Hall from the Old State House, you will see a bronze statue of Samuel Adams (pictured above). This represents Adams as he defiantly confronted British Governor Hutchinson after the Boston Massacre. Before being moved here, the statue stood in Adams Square, which was demolished to create Government Center.

At the base of the statue, there are a number of markings in the pavement that represents the harbor’s water line in 1630. All the land from here to the current harbor has been filled-in.

Faneuil Hall was given to Boston by Peter Faneuil (1700-1743). Peter was the son of Benjamin and Anne Faneuil, wealthy French Huguenots(Protestants) who, along with Peter’s uncle Andrew, fled from religious persecution in 1685. Peter’s father died when he was 18. Uncle Andrew, a shrewd merchant and real estate investor, became one of the richest men in New England.

On his own, Peter became a successful merchant running a triangular trading operation shipping slaves from Africa to the West Indies in exchange for the molasses used to make New England rum. Boston and New England was the world’s largest rum producer during the colonial period.

In addition to his own success, Peter inherited a significant fortune from his Uncle Andrew. It is interesting to note that his Uncle’s estate came with the stipulation that Peter never marry. Peter accepted the conditions and remained a bachelor.

Uncle Andrew died in 1738 when Peter was thirty eight. Unfortunately, Peter was only able to enjoy his increased fortune for five more years as he was to die of dropsy (edema) when he was only 43. He did live well during his remaining time, living up to the name of one of his ships – The Jolly Bachelor. He left behind a cellar full of fine wine, cheese and beer.

The town’s decision to allow Faneuil Hall to be built was not without controversy. Even though Boston was a major seaport by the early 1700s, it did not have a large central market. Although a central market was a normal feature of English towns and would simplify things for most merchants, many vendors opposed developing the market. They believed that if their stalls were centrally located, it would lead to increased price competition.

In 1740, Peter proposed to build the central market for the town at his own expense. His proposal was not universally popular and passed by only seven votes, 367 to 360.

The original design had stalls facing out on all four sides – waterfront, fish market, hay market and sheep market. To help appease the opposition, Faneuil added a meeting hall above the market space.

Work began September 1740 and was completed in September 1742, only six months before Peter’s death. The first public use of Faneuil Hall was for Peter’s funeral, in March 1743. The building suffered a major fire in 1761. When it was rebuilt in 1762, the meeting hall was enlarged.

Quincy Hall & Faneuil Hall in 1838 (Note the Waterline)

Faneuil Hall received a major expansion between 1805 and 1806 based on Charles Bulfinch’s design. Both its height and width were doubled, and the cupola was moved to the opposite end of the building. The open arcades that served as the market areas were enclosed. Between 1898 and 1899 the building’s combustible materials were replaced.

One original fixture of the building is the grasshopper weather vane on top of the cupola. This was created by Shem Drowne, and is from copper and gold leaf with glass doorknobs for eyes. It was stolen in 1974, but was later found hidden in the cupola’s eaves wrapped in some old flags.

The grasshopper became such a Boston icon that it was used during the War of 1812 to screen for spies. If someone claimed to be from Boston and they did not know about the weathervane, they had to be a spy.

As a political venue, Faneuil Hall has more than earned the name “Cradle of Liberty”. During the Revolutionary period, it was the site of many important political events. In May of 1764 it hosted the first protest over the Sugar Act. Rallies were held here against the Stamp Act (1765), the Townshend Acts (1767), and the landing of British Troops that were sent to quell the associated disturbances (1768) – which ultimately led to the Boston Massacre in 1770. The funeral for Boston Massacre victims was held here.

Led by Samuel Adams, in 1772 the first Committee of Correspondence was established here. In 1773, Faneuil Hall hosted the first of the meetings to protest the tea tax. These meetings were so well attended they were moved to the Old South Meeting House.

During the British occupation in 1775 and 1776, it was a barracks for troops, then later a theater. In one incident, British General Burgoyne’s theatrical farce The Blockade of Boston was being performed at Faneuil Hall when it was interrupted by a small Patriot attack on Charlestown. It seems that the Patriots had learned of the play and precisely timed their attack to disturb the British performance.

After the war, Faneuil Hall continued to serve as a center of political activity. In the 1800s, it was a key rallying point in the anti-slavery movement, hosting abolitionists such as Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas. Jefferson Davis, later president of Confederacy, spoke here in defense of slavery.

Faneuil Hall was also host to events in support of the women’s rights movement and temperance. It was the sight of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s final campaign speech, made just prior to his election to the presidency in 1960. This tradition continues as the Hall hosts political debates and is a frequent campaign stop for both local and national politicians.

On third floor is the Armory Museum of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. The Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company is the oldest chartered military organization in North America. Today largely ceremonial, it was founded in 1637 to protect the colony against Indian attack. The Armory, located here since it moved from the Town House (the predecessor to the Old State House) in 1746, holds relics from all periods of American history.

Quincy Market / Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Quincy Market Central Building

When Boston incorporated as a city in 1822, the market around Faneuil Hall was not large enough to meet the city’s needs. Under the leadership of Boston’s second Mayor, Josiah Quincy III (a statue of Quincy stands outside of Old City Hall – Stop 6), Quincy Market was built to provide the additional market capacity. It was completed in 1826 and used initially as a foodstuff and produce shopping center. At the time of its construction, it was at the harbor’s edge. The North Market and South Market buildings, which stand on either side of Quincy Market, were built in the mid 1800’s.

By the middle 1970’s the whole area had deteriorated. It was revitalized as part of the preparations for the United States Bicentennial in 1976. Today, it is one of the busiest tourist destinations in Boston.

The Blackstone Block and the Holocaust Memorial

Marshall Street in the Blackstone Block

Marshall Street in the Blackstone Block by Green Dragon Tavern & Ebenezer Hancock House

As you proceed down the Freedom Trail from Faneuil Hall (a left out of the front door), you will cross North Street and walk down Union Street towards the North End and the next Stop, the Paul Revere House. The intersection of North and Union Street begins the Blackstone Block – bounded by Union, North, Hanover, and Blackstone Streets. These streets were among the first streets to be laid out in Boston, and date from the 1600s.

On the grass mall just to left of Union Street, you will see the six glass towers of the Holocaust Memorial, established by survivors of the Nazi concentration camps. Each of the six towers represents one of the six primary Nazi concentration camps.

The towers are set on a black granite path, and glow at night. Each tower rises over a black chamber that emanates smoke from charred embers, creating an almost spiritual feeling. Six million numbers, suggesting the tattoos that were cut into those that perished during the Holocaust, are etched in glass.

This is a haunting and moving reminder of one of the greatest tragedies of our time.

Holocaust Memorial website

You now cross Union Street from the Holocaust Memorial. The Union Oyster House on your right. The Union Oyster House is the oldest operating restaurant in the United States.

The Freedom Trail now winds down Marshall Street towards the North End. Marshall Street is one of the oldest and most authentically colonial streets remaining in Boston. On your right, just past the Green Dragon Tavern, is the Ebenezer Hancock House.

The Ebenezer Hancock House was built in 1767 by John Hancock’s uncle. John inherited it and gave it to his brother Ebenezer, who became the deputy paymaster of the Continental Army during the Revolution.

The Boston Stone, directly across from Ebenezer’s house, has been a landmark since 1737. A painter brought the stone from England to grind pigments prior to 1700. According to legend, it served as the “zero milestone,” used for measuring the distance to Boston – e.g., “20 miles to Boston” would mean 20 miles to this stone. The dome of the State House on Beacon Hill serves as Boston’s current zero milestone.

Proceed down Marshall Street, cross Hanover Street, and take a right towards to the North End. On Fridays and Saturdays you will pass through the Haymarket open-air market. There is a huge variety of fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood – all at bargain prices.

Haymarket Open Stall Market (open Friday & Saturday)

You may want to buy some berries to go with the pastries that will tempt you in the North End. Be careful of pickpockets.

Now cross through the Rose Kennedy Greenway to the North End. The Greenway is a series of parks that wind through the city covering the site of the Big Dig. An elevated highway used to bar the entrance to the North End (the trellis you see is at the height of the old highway). The Big Dig moved the highway (Route 93) underneath the city. So right now, you will be walking over Route 93

Rose Kennedy Greenway website

Bunker Hill Monument – Freedom Trail Stop 16 Overview

Prescott at the Bunker Hill Monument - Freedom Trail Stop 16

Prescott at the Bunker Hill Monument – Freedom Trail Stop 16

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

 

“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.

Free

Daily 9 – 5; last climb at 4:30. July and August 9 – 6; last climb at 5:30

Official website

617-242-5641617-242-5641

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.

Background information

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.

Charlestown Navy Yard – Freedom Trail Stop with Old Ironsides

Charlestown Navy Yard

Charlestown Navy Yard – On The Freedom Trail

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

 

US Naval Facility Since 1800

The Charlestown Navy Yard is home to the USS Constitution, the USS Cassin Young, one of the first two dry docks in the US, and the USS Constitution Museum.

Great fun. Plan for a several hour visit.

The Museum is free, donation requested

Open 9-5 daily. Closed Christmas, New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving

National Park Service website

Official Charlestown Navy Yard website

National Park Service Maritime History website

USS Constitution Museum website

Museum phone: (617) 426-1812(617) 426-1812

Public transportation: Green or Orange line to North Station (in Boston proper). Alternative, 93 Bus to Sullivan Station Bunker Hill.

Plan at least an hour for a cursory view of the Navy Yard. If visiting the Navy Yard along with Constitution, plan 2+ hours.

Background Information

In 1800, the government purchased the land for the Charlestown Navy Yard at Moulton’s Point, and established the yard itself shortly thereafter. (Moulton’s Point is where the British troops landed for their attack on the Patriots during the Battle of Bunker Hill.) In 1814, the yard launched the first US ship of the line, the USS Independence.

Multiple Navy Yard ships saw service in the Civil War – however, it was primarily a repair and storage facility until the 1890s. At that time, it started to build steel-hulled ships.

The Navy Yard reached its height of activity during World War II, with peak employment in 1943 of 50,128 men and women – working around the clock, 7 days a week. The yard then covered 130 acres with 86 buildings and 3.5 million square feet of floor space. A second dry dock was also added.

During this peak period, the Navy Yard could build a Destroyer Escort in four months and an LST (Landing Ship Tank) in less than four weeks. Overall, between 1939 and 1945, the Navy Yard built 30 destroyers, 60 escort vessels, overhauled and repaired 3,500 ships, and outfitted over 11,000.

After World War II, the Navy Yard was involved with upgrading the fleet and modifying World War II ships for Cold War service. Being so far from the fighting, the Navy Yard did not receive much work during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

As part of cost cutting measures, President Nixon ordered the yard closed in 1974. Many Bostonians believe the Nixon administration made that decision to punish Massachusetts, the only state to vote against him in 1972.

Since the closing, the bulk of the facility has been recycled and developed. The thirty acres that were transferred to the National Park Service became part of the Boston National Historical Park, with a mission “to interpret the art and history of naval shipbuilding.”

Dry Dock 1

US Cassin Young in Dry Dock 1

US Cassin Young in Dry Dock 1

Dry Dock 1 was one of the first two dry docks put into service the United States, missing out on the honor of being first by only a week – that distinction when to Norfolk, Virginia. Dry docks are important to avoid the tedious, expensive and dangerous process of careening or “heaving down” a ship to work on its hull. Careening requires leaning a ship over on its side, which puts great stress on its hull and only exposes one side at a time. In fact, sometimes ships would sink during the careening process.2

The need for dry docks was understood from the beginning of the US Navy, but construction did not begin until 1827 and then took six years to complete. The project was designed and under the control of Loammi Baldwin, considered the father of civil engineering in the United States.

The granite for this project, as well as the dry dock in Norfolk, came from Quincy – the same site that provided the granite used for the Bunker Hill Monument. Dry Dock 1 opened in June of 1833 and its first customer was the USS Constitution.

There are excellent interpretive displays that show how the dry dock works and illustrates the alternative careening method.

USS Cassin Young

The USS Cassin Young is a World War II Fletcher-Class Destroyer commissioned on the last day of 1943. She served with distinction in the Pacific, including during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She received damage during two separate kamikaze attacks during 1945, one of which killed twenty-two and wounded forty-five sailors.

Visitors can tour the ship, with or without guides. ID is required.

Cassin Young website

The photograph in the Dry Dock 1 section above shows the USS Cassin Young.

Muster House

Muster House

Muster House

The interesting eight-sided Muster House was built in 1852 and was an administrative building for the Navy Yard. The clock and bell were used to assemble civilian employees for work at a time when most workers did not wear watches.

Rope WalkRope Walk

Rope has always been is an essential element of ships, so having quality and production control was a key aspect of the US Navy’s strategic plan. The USS Constitution, for example, requires over four miles of rope.

The Ropewalk at the Navy Yard produced most of the cordage used by US Navy between 1838 and 1955 – in 1942 alone producing over 4 million pounds! It had a ¼ mile of rope-laying area, allowing it to produce rope of up to 1200 feet in length as rope is twisted in a straight line. Its innovative steam-powered machinery could produce rope of much higher strength than manual techniques. The Ropewalk was used until 1971.

Although the building is still standing, it is boarded up and there is not much to see. There are interpretive displays in the National Park Service Visitor Center that you walk through prior to boarding the USS Constitution. These explain the rope making process and illustrate the rope walk in operation.

Commandant’s House

Commandant's House

Commandant’s House

The Commandant’s House was built in 1805 and was home to the Navy Yard’s commanders and their families for many years. It has hosted five U.S. presidents and many dignitaries and foreign heads of state.

There are no visitors allowed inside.

 

USS Constitution – Freedom Trail Stop 15 Overview

Old Ironsides at the Charlestown Navy Yard

Old Ironsides at the Charlestown Navy Yard

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

 

Undefeated in 33 Fights

USS Constitution, or “Old Ironsides,” is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.

Free admission, but visitors must show a valid ID and pass through security to visit the ship and enter through the National Parks Service Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has an introductory film and interesting exhibits that cover the Navy Yard and the Constitution.

Nov. 1- March 31 Tues-Sun 10-4; April 1-Sept. 30 Tues-Sun 10-6; Oct. 1- Oct. 31 Tues-Sunday 10-4; Closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years

A wait is generally required to take the worthwhile USS Constitution tour.

Official National Park Service website Phone: (617) 242-5601(617) 242-5601

Official USS Constitution website

617-242-5670617-242-5670

Handicap access to the ship is via a ramped gangplank to main deck. The deck has 1/2″ raised ridges. Navy personnel can assist. The lower decks are down steep staircases.

Restrooms are in the Visitor Center

Public transportation: Green or Orange line to North Station (in Boston proper). Alternative, 93 Bus to Sullivan Station Bunker Hill.

Plan at least an hour to view the Constitution, including a tour.

Background Information

The Revolutionary War officially ended in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris. In 1785, the United States sold its last remaining naval vessel due to a lack of funds. The same year, two American merchant ships were captured by Algiers.

Eight years later, in 1793, Algiers captured eleven ships and held their crews and cargo for ransom. The new nation was undergoing one of its first tests.

Waking up to the need to protect its interests, Congress authorized the Naval Act of 1794. This act allocated the funds to build six frigates that were to become the start of the US Navy. Four of the frigates were designed to carry forty-four guns, and two were to carry thirty-six guns.

The USS Constitution was the third of the six original frigates. She was built, starting in November 1794, across the river from its current berth, at the Boston shipyard of Edmund Hartt.

The Constitution’s design took into account the reality that the United States could not match the European states navies’ heavy “ships of the line.” The much smaller US Navy needed to be strong enough to defeat other frigates, yet fast enough to avoid fights with heavier ships.

Her design was unusual for the time in that she was very long and narrow, and mounted heavy guns. She also had a diagonal rib scheme for extra strength. The primary materials were pine and oak, including southern live oak from Georgia. Live oak is extremely dense, heavy and hard, and is the reason that the Constitution could survive heavy cannon shots without damage. This unique design was to be proven many times in battle.

Originally designed for forty-four guns, the Constitution was often equipped with fifty or more. During the War of 1812, she carried thirty 24-pound cannons on the gun deck (one level down from the upper deck), twenty-two 32-pound carronades (shorter range cannon) on the upper deck and two chase guns each at the bow and stern.

Peace with Algiers was announced in 1796, and construction was halted before any of the ships could be launched. Prompted by President George Washington, Congress agreed to continue funding the three ships closest to completion – the USS United States, Constellation, and the Constitution. The Constitution finally slipped into the waters of Boston harbor in October 1797.

The Constitution served briefly during the Quasi-War with France from 1798-1800. During this conflict, she served three tours of duty in the West Indies and participated in several actions. She returned to Boston in 1801 where she was put into reserve. Prior to her next duty service, her bottom was resheathed with copper from Paul Revere’s factory – the first copper rolling mill in the United States.

In 1803, under Captain Edward Commodore Preble, she sailed to Africa’s northern coast to confront Barbary ships during the First Barbary War. There she participated in multiple actions, the most significant being the Battle of Tripoli Harbor. She was on station during this conflict for over four years, not returning to Boston until 1807.

The Constitution’s most famous actions took place during the War of 1812. In August, about 700 miles east of Boston, the Constitution met the British frigate, the HMS Guerriere. Within about 35 minutes, the Guerriere was a wreck and too damaged to be salvaged. After transferring the wounded and prisoners to the Constitution, the Guerriere was set afire and blown up.

It was in this fight that the Constitution earned the nickname of “Old Ironsides.” When many of the Guerriere’s shots were observed to bounce harmlessly off her hull, an American sailor reportedly exclaimed “Hussah, her sides are made of iron.”

On December 29 of that year, the Constitution fought and defeated the HMS Java off the coast of Brazil. The Java was defeated in about two hours. As with the HMS Guerriere, she was too damaged to be captured had to be destroyed at sea.

The Constitution participated in several other actions, including the defeat of the HMS Pictou, and the capture of HMS Cyane and HMS Levant. The Levant was later recaptured by the British. The Constitution also had two cat-and-mouse escapes from superior British squadrons. She additionally captured a number of British merchant vessels.

After the War of 1812, the USS Constitution served in the Mediterranean squadron. This service was mostly uneventful, but there were notable discipline issues regarding the behavior of the crew while in port.

The normal service life for a ship during this period was ten to fifteen years. When the Constitution was thirty-one, a service order was put in to request money for repairs. Catching wind of the request, a Boston newspaper erroneously reported that she was about to be scrapped. Within two days, Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem “Old Ironsides” was published. The ensuing public outcry incited efforts to save her, and the refurbishment costs were approved. The USS Constitution made the first use of Dry Dock 1.

Most of the Constitution’s subsequent duties were ceremonial. She ferried ambassadors ministers to new posts and performed various patrolling duties in the Mediterranean, South America, Africa and Asia. Just prior to the Civil War, she became a training ship.

There were attempts to make her seaworthy once again to attend the Paris Exposition of 1878, but these were unsuccessful. In 1881, she was deemed unfit for service. The Constitution was finally returned to the Charlestown Navy Yard in 1897.

In the early 1900’s, there were several attempts to refurbish her, but all failed. In 1905, the Secretary of the Navy suggested that she be towed out to sea and used as target practice. Public outcry prompted Congress to authorize $100,000 for her restoration. By 1907 she began to serve as a museum ship with tours offered to the public.

Since that time she has undergone multiple refurbishments and cruises, including a three-year, 90-port tour of the nation that started in 1931 and transited the Panama Canal in 1932. Her most extensive refurbishment was from 1992 to 1995. She sailed under her own power in 1997, in honor of her 200th birthday.

The Constitution typically makes one “turnaround cruise” each year during which she is towed out into Boston Harbor to perform demonstrations, including a gun drill. She is then returned to her dock, where she is berthed in the opposite direction to ensure that she weathers evenly. Attendance on the turnaround cruse is based on a lottery draw and is a highly prized ticket.

 

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground – Freedom Trail Stop 14 Overview

Copp's Hill Burying Ground - Freedom Trail Stop 14 - 1659

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground – Freedom Trail Stop 14 – 1659

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

 

Site of British Battery During Battle of Bunker Hill

Founded in 1659, Copp’s Hill’s permanent residents include the Puritan ministers Increase and Cotton Mather, Robert Newman (the patriot who hung the lanterns that signaled “two if by sea” in Old North Church), and Prince Hall, the father of Black Freemasonry.

The British mounted cannon on Copp’s Hill that that were used to bombard Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Free – public park

Official website

617-961-3034617-961-3034

Handicap access limited as it is up a steep hill from Old North Church and there are several steep granite steps to climb in order to enter the burying ground.

No restrooms

Public transportation: Green or Orange line to North Station.

Plan 10-15 minutes to walk through and view the grave sites.

Background Information

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, the second oldest in Boston, was founded in 1659. It takes its name from William Copp, the North End shoemaker who was the original owner of the land. The hill is the highest in the North End and originally was the sight of windmills, the source of its original name of Windmill Hill. The burying ground was extended several times as the need increased. The earliest grave markers date to 1661.

On the Snow Hill Street side are the many unmarked graves of the African Americans who lived in the “New Guinea” community at the foot of the hill. In addition to the graves, there are 272 tombs, most of which bear inscriptions that are still legible.

Among the Bostonians buried here are the family of the original owner, William Copp, as well as Robert Newman (the Sexton of the Old North Church who hung the “two if by sea” signal lanterns). Also here is Prince Hall along with many unmarked graves of African Americans who lived on Copp’s Hill. Prince Hall was one of the most influential free black leaders in the late 1700s. Hall is known for his work for education rights, as an early abolitionist, and as the father of Black Freemasonry.

The most historically significant memorial is the Mather Tomb, the final resting place for Increase (1639-1723) and his son Cotton Mather (1663-1728). Both Mathers were powerful and politically active ministers of the Old North Meeting House (Boston’s Second Church), which was in North Square by the Paul Revere House. They were directly involved in the hysteria surrounding the Salem witch trials which damaged their reputations.

When the British occupied the city during the Siege of Boston, in 1775-1776, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground was used for target practice. You can still see impact marks from British musket balls, particularly on the headstone of Captain Daniel Malcom. There’s even one in the eye of the skull!

Copp’s Hill was also the site of British cannons that were mounted to protect the harbor. During the Battle of Bunker Hill, these cannons were used to bombard Charlestown prior to the British assaults. You can see the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution from the back of the Burying Ground.

Narrowest House

Diagonally across the street from the Burying Ground entrance is the narrowest house in Boston. It is 10.4 feet (3.16 m) at its widest, it tapers to 9.2 feet (2.82 m) at the back. It was allegedly built as a “spite house” a little after 1874.

Old North Church – Freedom Trail Stop 13 Overview

Old North Church - Freedom Trail Stop 13 - 1723

Old North Church from Copp’s Hill – 1723

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

 

The Steeple that Started the Revolution

In April, 1775, it was the sight of the hanging lanterns that notified Patriots in Charlestown that the British were leaving “two if by sea” prior to Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride and the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Free (donation requested, includes self-guided tour) The worthwhile Behind-the-Scenes Tour visits the crypt and bell tower: $5, adult; $3 senior; $4 youth

Open: January–February: 10–4pm, Tues–Sunday; March–May: 9-5 daily; June–October: 9–6 daily; November–December: 10–5 daily

Sunday services 9 and 11 AM

Official website

617-523-6676617-523-6676

Handicap access – there is a 1/2″ step at entrance to church; gift shop limited.

No restrooms

Public transportation: Green or Orange line to Haymarket Station.

Plan about 15 minutes to walk through.

Bckground Information

Old North Church, officially known as Christ Church, was begun in 1723 and took twenty-two years to complete. It is the oldest church remaining in Boston. On April 18, 1775 its place in history was cemented when Sexton Robert Newman climbed the steeple and hung the two lanterns that signaled to Patriots watching from Charlestown that the British were marching on Lexington and Concord “by sea”.

Old North was the second Anglican Church in Boston, after King’s Chapel. As an Anglican Church, the majority of its congregation was loyal to the British King and the membership included the Royal Governor. The King gave Old North its silver and a bible.

The fact that this is an Anglican Church makes its place in American history even more extraordinary as it made the use of the Church by Revere and Newman extremely risky. After hanging the lanterns, Newman had to escape out a window. (The original window through which he left the church was bricked up in 1815. It was rediscovered during restoration work in 1989.) Paul Revere was never a church member as he was a Congregationalist. He did, however, work here as a bell ringer.

Old North was modeled after the work of Sir Christopher Wren in London, perhaps using St. Andrews-by-the-Wardrobe in Blackfriars, London as the model. St. Andrews-by-the-Wardrobe was destroyed by German bombs during World War II, but has since been rebuilt.

The original steeple was destroyed in a storm in 1804 and Charles Bulfinch designed the replacement, which stood until Hurricane Carol in 1954. The current steeple uses design elements from both the original and the Bulfinch version. The church steeple now stands 175 feet (53 m) tall, some sixteen feet lower than the original. At its tip, however, is the original weather vane.

The church bells, the oldest in America, came from England and date from 1744. They were restored in 1894 and again in 1975. They ring regularly, and are beautiful – check the website for the bell ringing schedule.

Old North Church Showing Clock & Organ

Old North Church Showing Clock (1726) & Organ (1759)

Many of the church details are original. The high box pews were purchased by congregation members in a manner similar to the way season tickets to sporting events are purchased today – buy first in the back and trade up when a better seat opens up. The pews high walls are designed to retain the warmth of hot coals or bricks placed on the floor. The chandeliers are from England.

The organ, built in 1759, still has some original components and is used. The clock was built by some of the parishioners in 1726. To the left of the pulpit there is a lifelike bust of George Washington that dates from 1815. During his visit in 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette, a key aid of Washington, commented on the extremely lifelike nature of the bust.

Old North’s basement holds some 1,100 bodies buried in 37 in crypts. It was used between 1732 and 1853, and each tomb is sealed with a wooden or slate door, with many doors still covered by the plaster ordered by the city in the 1850s (see in the Behind-the-Scenes tour).

The founding rector of the church, Timothy Cutler, was buried right under the altar. Also buried under the church is British Marine Major John Pitcairn, who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill and entombed with many others killed in that battle.

 

Paul Revere House – Freedom Trail Stop 12 Overview

Paul Revere House in North Square

Paul Revere House in North Square

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

 

Oldest Building in Boston c. 1680

This was home to the Revere family at the time of Paul’s famous ride to alert the Patriots of the British march on Lexington and Concord.

Adults $3.5; Seniors and College Students $3; Children (5-17) $1

Open Daily April 15 – October 31 – 9:30 – 5:15, November 1 – April 14 – 9:30 – 4:15, Closed on Mondays in January, February and March. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Official website

(617) 523-2338(617) 523-2338

Handicap accessible first floor (about 1/2 of the small museum). Ask at the ticket booth for a temporary ramp.

No restrooms

Public transportation: Green or Orange line to Haymarket Station.

Interesting old house with knowledgeable guides, the last of its type in Boston. Some Revere relics. It is very small. Photography inside prohibited.The taking of photos inside is prohibited.

Plan 1/4-1/2 hour.

Background Information

The Paul Revere House in North Square is the oldest remaining building in Boston. It was built on the ashes of the Second Church of Boston’s (Old North Meeting House) parsonage, which was the home to Increase Mather and his family (including his son Cotton). The parsonage burned in 1676.

The original house dates from about 1680. Its first owner was Robert Howard. By the time Revere purchased the house in 1770 it had undergone significant changes with the front roof line being raised in the popular Georgian style and a partial third story added.

Revere moved in with his first wife, Sarah, his mother and five of his children. Sarah bore him a total of eight children, and he had another eight with his second wife, Rachel. Revere’s silversmith shop was a couple of blocks away.

Revere owned the house until 1800, but likely moved out as early as 1780. After he sold the house, it served as a tenement with its ground floor remodeled for use as shops.

The house was purchased by Revere’s great-grandson in 1902 to prevent its demolition. It then underwent restoration to an approximation of its 1700 appearance, opening in 1908 as one of the earliest historic house museums in the United States.

During the renovation, the roof line was restored to its original pitch, but without its gable. Despite the renovation, ninety percent of the house is original including the foundation and inner wall material, some doors, window frames, and portions of the flooring, foundation, inner wall material and raftering. All the glass has been replaced. Inside, there are several pieces of furniture believed to have belonged to the Reveres.

Adjacent to the Paul Revere house is the brick Pierce-Hichborn House, built about 1711 in the Georgian style. It was owned by Nathaniel Hichborn, a boat builder and cousin of Revere’s. It is also a nonprofit museum operated by the Paul Revere Memorial Association.

North Square, North Meeting House & Garden Court Street

The North Square is directly across the street from the Paul Revere house. It was the center of the North End life and commerce during Colonial times and the site of some of the town’s most impressive mansions.

It was also the site for the North Meeting House (Boston’s Second Church), which was first built in 1649, burned down in 1673, and rebuilt the following year. It was used by the British for firewood during the winter of 1775-76 during the Siege of Boston.

Just around the corner from North Square is Garden Court Street. This was the site of the Clark-Frankland and Thomas Hutchinson mansions. Rose Fitzgerald (Kennedy), the mother of President John F. Kennedy, was born at 2 Garden Court Street in 1890.

St. Stephen’s, Paul Revere Mall & Clough House

The Freedom Trail from Paul Revere’s house takes a left down Prince Streetand a right hand turn on Hanover Street. Proceeding down Hanover Street, just before you cross to enter the Paul Revere Mall, you will pass St. Stephen’s Church.

Saint Stephen’s is the last remaining Charles Bulfinch designed church in Boston. It was completed in 1804 as the New North Congregational Church. It became Unitarian in 1813, and in 1862 was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boston and renamed St. Stephen’s.

Crossing Hanover Street, you enter the Paul Revere Mall. The iconic statue you encounter (also on the cover of the Guide and at the start of the North End chapter) is by Cyrus Dallin. Dallin was a famous sculptor that worked in the nearby town of Arlington, MA. For my blog entry on the Dallin Museum, click here.

The Paul Revere Mall, also known as The Prado by locals, was created in 1933. It is a brick passage and park that leads from Hanover Street to the Old North Church. The mall walls are lined with bronze plaques that commemorate famous North End residents.

Clough House

Clough House

Clough House

At the end of the Mall, just before the stairs up to the Old North Church, is the Clough House, which dates from 1712. One of the oldest homes remaining in Boston, it was home to Ebenezer Clough, a master mason who helped build Old North Church. This is representative of many houses that once made up this neighborhood. It also houses an small but excellent historic printing museum, The Printing Office of Edes & Gil, website here. Check to see if it open.

Old State House – Freedom Trail Stop 9 Overview

Old State House - Freedom Trail Stop 9 - 1711

Old State House & Boston Massacre Site – Freedom Trail Stops 9/10

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

 

Oldest Public Building in Boston (1713)

The Old State House was the site of the state legislature and British government offices until 1798 and was the site of many important Revolutionary-era events.

Official website

(617) 482-6439(617) 482-6439

The current building replaced the first Town House, built on this site between 1657-68, burned down in the Great Fire of 1711.

It is now the home of the Bostonian Society and houses an excellent museum and programs.
Open daily, 9 – 5, January 9 – 4, July and August 9- 6
Closed New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and Christmas
Admission $6, Seniors & Students $5, Children (6-18) $1

$1 – AAA/MBTA Charlie Card discount. WGBH members, 2 for 1 admission.

The Old State House is not considered wheelchair accessible. There are plans to address this, but please call to confirm.

Public transportation: Orange or Blue lines to State Street. Alternative, Green line to Government Center, or Red line to Downtown Crossing.

The talks given by museum personnel are excellent and run 20-30 minutes – covering subjects such as the Boston Massacre and Old State House History. The museum has interesting collections. Plan at least an hour for your visit.

Background Information

Boston’s first official town hall, called the Town House, was started in 1657 and dedicated in 1658. It was enabled when Robert Keayne willed £300 for a Town House with stipulations not only to size and construction, but also that it would contain a marketplace, a library, and serve as the home for the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, of which he was the commander. Keayne’s bequest was doubled by over 100 “Townesmen,” enabling the Town House to be built.

The first Town House served for the next 53 years until it burned down in the Great Fire of 1711. Within two years, the current Old State House was built. This building was gutted by fire in 1747 and reconstructed over the next three years.

The Old State House was to serve as the location for British Government offices until the British left Boston in 1776. In addition to the meeting chamber of the Royal Governor, the Massachusetts Assembly and the Courts of Suffolk County and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Courts met here.

The Old State House was the site of many significant events leading up to the revolution, including James Otis’s impassioned argument against the Writs of Assistance in 1761. In 1770, the Boston Massacre took place just in front of the building.

Official proclamations were read from the balcony overlooking State Street (it was called King Street before the Revolution). On July 18, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony to a crowd of excited Bostonians. Soon after hearing the Declaration, the lion and unicorn, symbols of the British monarchy, were torn down. They were replaced during the building’s renovation in 1882.

After the Revolution, the Old State House continued to operate as the seat of Massachusetts government until the new State House was completed in 1798. The state then wanted to sell the building and share the money with the town. The town rejected the plan and instead purchased sole title.

The building was subsequently rented to a wide variety of businesses including cobblers, harness makers, and wine vendors. A bank tried to purchase it in 1822. For a period between 1830 and 1844 it became a Boston City Hall.

By the 1870’s it was dilapidated and an eyesore. The city of Chicago offered to buy it, tear it down and move it to Lake Michigan “for all America to revere.” Shamed by the proposal, in 1881 the Boston Antiquarian Club was formed, later incorporating as the Bostonian Society. The Society persuaded the city to save and restore the building.

Today, the Bostonian Society operates an excellent museum that features talks and tours. The museum displays artifacts from the Revolutionary period that include many of John Hancock’s personal possessions. It is a worthwhile stop.

Boston Massacre Site – Freedom Trail Stop 10

Boston Massacre Site by the Old State House

Boston Massacre Site by the Old State House

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

 

This was the site of the Boston Massacre, which occurred on March 5, 1770. The Massacre took place after an unfortunate chain of events led British soldiers to fire on an angry Boston mob, killing five and wounding six. Although hardly a massacre (most of the soldiers were later acquitted of blame), it was to be an important propaganda event in provoking Colonial unrest.

There is a plaque on the ground just beneath the balcony of the Old State House that marks the site.

This is a walk-by with a photo opportunity.

Old South Meeting House – Freedom Trail Stop 8 Overview

Old South Tower Meeting House - Freedom Trail Stop 8 - 1729

Old South Tower Meeting House – Freedom Trail Stop 8 –

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

 

Home of Rebel Dissension

As Boston’s largest building in the Colonial period, Old South was the site of many important gatherings and became the emblematic home of the Patriot cause.

Admission $6, seniors & and students $5, Children (6-18) $1 – AAA/WGBH discount

Open Daily all year: April 1 – October 31 9:30-5; November 1 – March 31 10-4

Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Official website

National Park Service website

617-482-6439617-482-6439

Handicap access: wheelchair accessible, listening devices available

Public transportation: State Street (Blue/Orange Lines), Government Center (Green Line) and Downtown Crossing (Red Line).

Plan about 1/2 hour to view the interior and the exhibits.

For more about the Boston Tea Party, click here

Background Information

The Old South congregation was created when a group of dissenters split off from the First Church in 1669. Their original meeting house, a simple cedar sided building, was built on a part of what was the corn and potato patch of John Winthrop – the first Puritan leader. After Winthrop died, the land was owned by influential preacher John Norton. It was donated to the congregation by John’s widow, Mary.

The original meeting house was the site of Benjamin Franklin’s baptism, which took place on a wintry night in January of 1706. The first meeting house was torn down in early 1729. The current structure, based on Christopher Wren’s work in London, was dedicated in April of 1730.

The new meeting house was the largest building in Boston and was host to many significant meetings. As the conflicts with England amplified during pre-Revolutionary years, it became known in London for its role as a key place for Colonial protests. Almost every significant Patriot leader held court here – including James Otis, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Dr. Joseph Warren.

Perhaps the most famous meetings associated with Old South are those that preceded the Boston Tea Party. At the final meeting, over 5,000 townspeople (1/3 of Boston’s population at the time) heard Samuel Adams say “Gentlemen, this meeting can do nothing more to save the country.” Legend has it that this was the signal for about 100 Patriots dressed as Native Americans to march to Boston Harbor and begin the Boston Tea Party.

Old South Pews & Pulpit

Old South was such a symbol of Patriot dissension that during Boston’s occupation during the Siege of Boston (1775-1776), British troops ripped out the pews and pulpit and used them for fuel. It was filled with dirt and turned it into a riding school for the British Cavalry. After the war, it took almost eight years to raise the money to refurbish the Meeting House to make it usable as a place of worship.

Old South was almost destroyed in the Great Fire of 1872. Soon after the fire, it was soldand the congregation moved to Copley Square in Back Bay. Today it is a museum and one of the most important and interesting stops on the Freedom Trail.

Benjamin Franklin’s Birthplace

Site of Ben Franklin's Birth

Site of Ben Franklin’s Birth

The site of Benjamin Franklin’s birthplace is just across the street from Old South at the location of the current 17 Milk Street. Ben was the eighth child of the ten children of Josiah Franklin and his second wife, Abiah. (Overall, he was the fifteenth of seventeen for Josiah.)

Today it is an office building.

 

Park Street Church – Freedom Trail Stop 3 Overview

Park Street Church - 1809

Park Street Church – Freedom Trail Stop 3 – 1809

Select your language to auto-translate:

EnglishEspañolFrançaisDeutschItalianoDansk中文(简体)中文(漢字)日本語한국어PortuguêsTürkçeالعربية

 

 

Bastion of Human Rights and Social Justice

Founded in 1809, the Park Street Church was built on the site of original town granary.

Free

Tours late June-August, Tuesday – Saturday 9 – 4; year round Sundays

Website for information

617-523-3383617-523-3383

Handicap access is via elevator and requires the staff to be alerted.

Public Transportation: Red or Green lines to the Park Street Station

 

Background Information

The Park Street Church is among the most beautiful in Boston, with its 217 foot steeple visible from many parts of the city. Its congregation originally spun off from the Old South Meeting House (Stop 8).

Park Street Church was designed by Peter Banner in 1809, who was inspired by Christopher Wren’s London churches. It held its first service in early 1810. Henry James called it “the most interesting mass of bricks and mortar” in America.

It carries the nickname “Brimstone Corner,” which may refer either to the fiery nature of the sermons or to the fact that gunpowder was stored in its crypt during the War of 1812. Brimstone (sulfur) is a major component of gunpowder along with charcoal and saltpeter.

Over the years the Park Street Church has been a bastion of social and missionary work. It was the site of one of America’s first Sunday schools (1816), the first prison aid society (1824), and early temperance society meetings (1826). The first missionaries were sent from here to Hawaii (1819). The church was the site of William Lloyd Garrison’s first public anti-slavery address in 1829. The song “America” (My Country ’tis of Thee) was sung publicly from its steps for the first time in 1831.