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.

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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

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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,


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

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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


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.

What is The Freedom Trail?

Freedom Trail Logo Boston

Welcome to The Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is the largest attraction in New England, with over three million visitors a year. It is fun, walkable, accessible, family-friendly, engaging, and a bargain. You can see it in 1/2 a day, or spend several days and still want more.

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And, Boston has everything you might want in a destination – world class museums, fantastic restaurants, shopping, sports, music, theater and history. It’s a unique and charming place that can feed almost any passion. There are great options for almost any budget, even a bargain lobster lunch.

So, what is it? The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red brick path  (mostly brick – some lines are painted) that connects 16 significant historic sites, referred to as “Stops” throughout this blog.  The Trail starts at Boston Common and officially ends at the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown.

Most of the Stops are free and many are handicapped accessible, but some may be difficult to navigate for non-walkers. For the few that charge admission, there are discounted tickets available.

The original idea for The Freedom Trail was conceived by William Schofield, a long-time journalist for the now defunct Boston newspaper, the Herald Traveler. In 1951, Schofield had the idea for a walking path that connected Boston’s great collection of local landmarks. With the support of local historians, politicians and businessmen, the Freedom Trail was born.

In addition to the official Stops, there are many “unofficial Stops” you pass as you traverse the Trail, or are very near by. Most unofficial Stops are directly associated with Revolutionary Boston and The Freedom Trail, but some are simply interesting places.  Many folks include them in their Freedom Trail visit.

So, how should you plan for your visit, and for how long? The posts on Planning to Tour, Part 1 and Part 2, will give you an overview of all the official Stops, a sense of how long it takes to visit each, and alternative itineraries for 1/2, full and two day tours. Use this free custom Google Map to help visualize your visit – it is practically a full blown self-touring guide in itself. For a complete view of The Freedom Trail, get a copy of the “Freedom Trail Boston – Ultimate Tour & History Guide – Tips, Secrets & Tricks“.

The influence Boston had on the thinking and actions that led to the American Revolution was extraordinary. Without Boston and its unique history, the American colonies break with Great Britain may have still happened, but not when and how it did. The Freedom Trail presents the essence of Revolutionary Boston and brings its amazing impact to life.

Enjoy, Boston is a unique city and The Freedom Trail is a national treasure.

The Freedom Trail Tour Planning – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I provided an assessment for the time needed to visit each of the 16 official Freedom Trail Stops. In this post, I’ll suggest itineraries for 1/2, full and two day tours. If you can, plan for a full day (or more), especially if you want to spend time visiting any particular Stop. However, if it’s all you have, a 1/2 day is still fantastic, and it takes two days for an in-depth visit.

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Below find alternatives for 1/2 day, full day and two day visits. Use the custom Google Map referenced here to help you visualize what you are seeing and help as you walk your tour.

Most of the downtown Stops are close together. Walking directly from Boston Common (Stop 1) to Faneuil Hall (Stop 11) is only about .6 miles (1 km) and takes less than 15 minutes. Walking from downtown Faneuil Hall to the Paul Revere House in the North End (Stop 12) takes 10-15 minutes, but you pass through the Blackstone block, one of my favorites and a great place for a lobster lunch.

The Charlestown Stops (USS Constitution and Bunker hill) are another 15+ minute walk from the last Stop in the North End (Copp’s Hill Burying Ground), and there is a 10+ minute walk between the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill. If you can, save energy for the climb up the Bunker Hill monument, the view from the top is spectacular on a nice day.

Sam Adams & Boston Massacre Victims in Granary Burying Ground

Sam Adams & Boston Massacre Victims in the Granary Burying Ground

To review, the official stops are:

Stop 1 – Boston Common.

Stop 2 – The Massachusetts State House.

Stop 3 – Park Street Church.

Stop 4 – Granary Burying Ground.

Stop 5 – King’s Chapel.

Stop 5a – King’s Chapel Burying Ground.

Stop 6 – Boston Latin, Old City Hall, Franklin Statue.

Stop 7 – Old Corner Book Store.

Stop 8 – Old South Meeting House.

Stop 9 – Old State House.

Stop 10- Boston Massacre Site.

Stop 11 – Faneuil Hall and National Park Service visitor center.

Stop 12 – Paul Revere House.

Stop 13 – Old North Church.

Stop 14 – Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.

Stop 15 – USS Constitution and the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Stop 16 – Bunker Hill Monument.

1/2 Day Tour Recommendations:

Option 1: (Downtown) Walk by Stops 1 – 3, visit Stops 3 – 5, walk by 6-8, visit 9, walk by 10, and visit 11. Lunch and break at Faneuil Hall Market or the Blackstone Block area.

Option 2: (Downtown and North End): Walk by Stops 1 – 3, visit Stops 3 – 5, walk by 6 – 10, visit 11, walk by 12, visit 13 and 14. Lunch and break in Faneuil Hall Market, the Blackstone Block or the North End.

Option 3: (Charlestown – USS Constitution and Bunker Hill): Visit Stop 15 USS Constitution (bypass the Constitution Museum and USS Cassin Young), visit Bunker Hill Monument and Museum. Lunch at the Warren Tavern or at the Navy Yard.

Option 4: (Charlestown, USS Constitution): Spend a full 1/2 day visiting the USS Constitution, the Museum, USS Cassin Young and walk around the Navy Yard. Lunch at the Navy Yard or across the Bridge in the North End.

Option 5: (A little Downtown, free ranger-guided tour, North End, USS Constitution – requires a lot of walking and tour-time coordination): Start at Stop 11, Faneuil Hall, and listen to the NPS Great Hall talk, take the NPS  tour that goes to the North End, visit Stops 13 – 15, take the Water Shuttle back to Long Wharf.

Full Day Tour Recommendations:

Boston and the North End: Walk by Stops 1-3, visit Stops 3-5, walk by 6-7, visit 8 and 9, walk by 10, visit 11, lunch or break in Faneuil Hall Market, the Blackstone Block or the North End, visit 12-14.

Charlestown: spend a full 1/2 day visiting the USS Constitution, the Constitution Museum, USS Cassin Young and walk around the Navy Yard, lunch around the Navy Yard or at the Warren Tavern, visit the Bunker Hill Monument and Museum.

If you want to visit the entire Freedom Trail in a single day, it is recommended that you combine Options 2 and 3. It will be busy and there is a lot of walking, but you will have a great time.

Two Day Recommendations:

For a two day visit, combine both of the full day recommendations. It is worth the time if you can spare it.

What would I do?

If I could fit in a flexible half day, especially with kids, without question Option 5. This requires planning to fit in the National Park Service ranger tours, but is absolutely worth it. Start at Faneuil Hall  and enjoy the Great Hall ranger talk (every 1/2 hour) and get a sticker for the ranger-tour that goes to the North End (currently at 12, 2 & 3 PM – stickers available 1/2 hour prior. Confirm times at the NPS visitor center.) After the tour, visit Old North Church (Stop 13), walk through Stop 14, then walk quickly to Stop 15 and take the USS Constitution tour. Take the Water Shuttle back to Long Wharf (every 1/2 during non-commuting hours). Grab lunch where you can.

If I only had half a day, wanted to self-guide, and could not coordinate times for Option 5, I’d recommend Option 2 with a lobster lunch in the Blackstone Block. See as much as you can, and the North End has fantastic character and European feel. Don’t miss a Faneuil Hall tour or visiting the Old State House. If you are not from New England, the lobster is not to be missed.

If I had a full day, combine Options 2 and 3. The downtown stops are great and I love the Navy Yard and USS Constitution (it is easy to spend too much time here). Bunker Hill and the Bunker Hill museum are excellent. Have a lobster lunch in the Blackstone Block or grab some character and a Paul Revere Burger at the Warren Tavern in Charlestown (I’d choose the lobster, but it may be too early in your day).

Have a great visit.

Boston’s North End – More Than “Little Italy,” A Brief History

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Most people know the North End as Boston’s Little Italy. But, Italians did not start moving into the North End in any significant number until the 1880’s – some 260 years after the North End’s earliest residents. The Italians were only the last of a series of ethnic groups to inhabit this area of Boston.

Boston's North End

Entering Boston’s Historic North End

Originally, the North End was a suburb for the Puritan families who migrated to Boston during the 1630’s. At that time, the North End was isolated, virtually an island surrounded by water on three sides, connected to the rest of Boston by a small neck of land.

Over time, was the land connecting the North End to Boston was filled-in, but the North End remained geographically isolated until the completion of the Big Dig in 2007. In recent history, and prior to the Big Dig’s completion, easy entry to the North End was blocked by the elevated Central Artery (Route 93).

By the mid 1640’s the North End had evolved into its own distinct community. By 1649, it was large enough to have its own church, the North Meeting House (later called Boston’s Second Church).

In 1659, the North End established its own Burying Ground, Copp’s Hill. Copp’s Hill took its name from William Copp, a shoemaker who had owned once owned the land. Copp’s Hill was also home to a free black population, many of whom are interred in the Burying Ground.

North Square boston

North Square – Looking at Site of Second Meeting House

The area around the North Meeting House developed into North Square, which quickly became the center of North End life. At that time, North Square was only one block from the harbor.

Increase Mather, the minister of the North Meeting House, had his home in North Square. It, along with the Meeting House and a number of surrounding buildings, was destroyed in the fire of 1673. The Meeting House was rebuilt and subsequently torn down by the British and used for firewood during the Siege of Boston between 1775 and 1776.

Paul Revere House in North Square

Paul Revere House in North Square

The Paul Revere house was constructed in 1680 where Mather’s home had once stood. Revere purchased it in 1770 and lived here until the 1780’s, when he moved a few blocks away to a house with a harbor view. The Pierce / Hitchborn house, next door to the Revere House, was built around 1711. These houses, along with the Old Corner Book Store and Old State House are the oldest remaining structures in Boston.

The opulent Clark-Frankland and Hutchinson mansions were build just off of North Square after 1710. Hutchinson’s mansion was gutted in 1765 in protest over the Stamp Act. Both the Clark-Frankland and Hutchinson mansions were torn down in 1834 to allow for street widening.

In 1890, Rose Fitzgerald (Kennedy) was born at 4 Garden Court Street, just across the street from where the Hutchinson mansion had stood. Rose later married Joseph P. Kennedy and was the mother of President John F. Kennedy, and Senators Robert and Edward Kennedy. There is a plaque marking the site of her birth on Garden Street just off of North Square. In the mid 1800s, North Square was also home to two Bethels – churches specifically built to minister to the needs of sailors.

Paul Revere & Old North Church

Paul Revere Statue w/View of Old North Church

In 1721, the construction of the Anglican Christ Church (Old North) began and was completed in 1723. In 1775, the Christ Church belfry was used to hang the “two if by sea” lanterns that warned Patriots of the British march on Lexington and Concord and was the start of Paul Revere’s Ride.

The Charles Bulfinch designed New North Congregational Church on Hanover Street was built between 1802 and 1804.  The Church was originally Congregationalist, but it switched to Unitarian in 1813.  It was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boston in 1862. It is the last Bulfinch designed church standing in Boston.

After the American Revolution, the North End began transitioning to a largely working class neighborhood with the influx of labor associated with the shipping industry. Wharfs and warehouses were built to support maritime trade and shipbuilding. And, along with the often drunken and violent sailors, came the requisite gamblers, whores and criminals. To proper Bostonians, it became a dangerous slum, a place to be avoided.

From early on there was an Irish population in Boston. Their numbers were small, but grew to about 7,000 by 1830. The Irish population really swelled during the Great Potato Famine when a reported 13,000+ Irish moved to Boston during 1847 alone. The North End was their primary destination.

By 1850, over half the North End’s population of 23,000 was Irish. This peaked at about 15,000 in 1880. With the influx of new ethnic groups, many of the Irish moved to the South End. By 1890, North End’s Irish population had dropped to 5,000 and by the turn of the century it was down to 3,000.

In the 1870’s, the North End became home to an Eastern European Jewish population. In the early 1900s, Jews made up almost one third of the North End’s population, many settling along Salem Street. By the 1920’s, most had moved to Boston’s West and South End, then on to Dorchester, Brookline, Newton, Chelsea and Revere.

The last ethnic group to settle in the North End was the Italians. Immigration started in the 1860s with a small group from Genoa. This was followed by and influx from other Italian regions including Sicily, Milan, and Naples. Each regional group settled in its own distinct North End enclave.

By 1900, the North End Italian population had reached 14,000. By 1920, this number grew to 37,000, with its peak of more than 44,000 in 1930. The North End was now almost completely Italian – and very crowded.

The census puts today’s North End population at about 10,000, of which only 40% are of Italian descent. The remaining residents are a mix of young professionals, college students and others. North End politics are still dominated by Italian Americans.

The North End remains Boston’s Little Italy. It retains a wonderful and distinct “Old Word” feeling and boasts fantastic collection of new and old Italian restaurants, cafes, bakeries and markets.  It is one of the most European-feeling neighborhoods in America.

It is the oldest neighborhood in Boston.  Having existed for over 375 years, is home to some of the most important and historic venues in America as well as some of the most significant Freedom Trail sites.

For more historical information, visit this wonderful five part series by Guild Nichols.