Boston Common – Freedom Trail Stop 1 Overview

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Oldest Public Park in the US

Purchased in 1634 from William Blaxton (Blackstone), the reclusive hermit and first white settler of the Shawmut peninsula.

Free

The Common is a public park

Official website

617-536-4100617-536-4100

Handicap access: the park is generally accessible, but there are some steps at the exit to Beacon Street, which is required to access the State House, Freedom Trail Stop 2.

Restrooms are located in the Visitor Center, by Tremont Street

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

The Visitor Center – Freedom Trail Start

Freedom Trail Visitors Center on Boston Common

Freedom Trail Visitors Center on Boston Common

The Freedom Trail officially starts from the Visitor Center, which is very close to the entrance to the Park Street MBTA station. The Visitor Center has Freedom Trail informationor you can purchase guided tours given by actor-guides dressed in colonial garb. Alternatively, just take off by yourself by using this Guide and following the red path from in front of the Visitor Center to the next stop, the Massachusetts State House.

Parkman Bandstand

Parkman Bandstand in Boston Common

Parkman Bandstand in Boston Common

The Parkman Bandstand was built in 1912 in honor of George Parkman, who had willed $5 million to the parks of Boston. Its site was originally Cow (or Horse) Pond – which was filled in after cattle grazing was prohibited in 1830.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Soldiers & Sailors Monument on Boston Common

Soldiers & Sailors Monument on Boston Common

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is on top of Flagstaff Hill, the tallest hill in the Common. Completed in 1877, it honors troops that perished in the Civil War.

The monument is 126 feet high and carved from white granite. There are four noteworthy bas-relief tablets at the base of the column. The column is topped by a female figure titled America. She wears a crown of thirteen stars and holds the United States flag, a sword, and a laurel wreath in her hands.

Central Burying Ground

Central Burying Ground on Boston Common

Central Burying Ground on Boston Common – 1756

Dating from 1756, the Central Burying Ground is one of the oldest burial grounds in Boston. It is the last resting place of Gilbert Stuart (the artist who painted the portrait of George Washington used as the model for the one dollar bill)and many who died during the Battle of Bunker Hill. Enter the Burying Ground from Tremont Street.

For a web link that describes Gilbert Stuart’s portraits at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, click here.

Frog Pond

Frog Pond on Boston Common

Frog Pond on Boston Common

Frog Pond is a great place for skating in the winter and wading or playing in the summer. Starting at the end of June, there is a spray pool that provides a cooling diversion for those 12 and under. If traveling with young children, the Tadpole playground is a great place to enjoy.

Official Frog Pond website

617- 635-2120617- 635-2120

Robert Gould Shaw & MA 54th Memorial

Robert Gould Shaw Monument and the MA 54th Monument

Robert Gould Shaw Monument and the MA 54th Monument on Boston Common

At the edge of the Common directly across the street from the Massachusetts State House is Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ haunting sculpture memorializing Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment. Shaw was the only son of a wealthy Boston family. He led the 54th, the first African American unit to be organized to fight in the Civil War.

The 1989 epic movie “Glory,” with Mathew Broderick, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman, memorialized the exploits of the 54th.

Shaw died, along with 74 enlisted men and 3 officers, leading an assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina in 1863. Sergeant William H. Carney, severely wounded in the assault, saved the regiment’s flag from capture. Carney was the first African American to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military award in the United States.

The monument was unveiled in May of 1897 and was paid for by private donations. It depicts the 54th marching down Beacon Street in 1863 on their way south to join the fight.

Official website