Our first day in Boston and we’ve brought the British weather with us, the rain was pouring down. Anyway, undeterred and armed only with hotel umbrellas we headed out early to walk Boston’s Freedom Trail. A two and a half mile route past 16 significant sites all closely related to the American Revolution.
It is actually a significant part of British history but for some reason, it’s not so widely taught in British schools, we wonder why!
Boston Common & The Massachusetts State House
The trail starts at the visitor information centre on Boston Common. It’s easy to find, just look for the people dressed in 18th-century clothing. We did the self-guided tour which is easy to follow and there is a phone app available. Also, the whole route is marked in a red brick line through downtown Boston.
Boston Common was very picturesque in the Autumn, despite the rain. It is America’s oldest public park, established in 1634. Just watch out for the squirrels who seen to model their behaviour on Jack Nicholson in ‘The Departed‘.
On the edge of the common is the Massachusetts State House. The gold-domed 18th-century building sits on John Hancock’s former cow pasture. For us Brits, John Hancock was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, it’s the big and fancy signature.
Park Street Church & Granary Burying Ground
During our trip, the 217-foot steeple of Park Street church was shrouded in scaffolding as it was undergoing maintenance. The church was the tallest building in the USA at the start of the 1800’s.
Next to the church is the Granary Burying Ground dating from 1660. It is the resting place for many famous American Revolutionaries including Paul Revere and victims of the Boston Massacre. John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin’s parents and Samuel Adams are also buried here.
King’s Chapel Burying Ground & The Boston Latin School
Not far from the Granary Burying Ground is King’s Chapel. This is where Mary Chilton is buried, she was the first woman to step off the Mayflower.
The mosaic marks the location of the original Boston Latin School, five signers of the Declaration of Independence attended the school which was free for the rich and poor.
Old Corner Bookstore, Old South Meeting House & Old State House
The Old Corner Bookstore is Boston’s oldest commercial building and was a literary mecca in the 1800’s. Although it is now just a branch of ‘Chipotle‘.
Just across the road from the Old Corner Bookstore is the Old South Meeting Place. This is where 5,000 angry Bostonian’s gathered to protest against the tax on tea, leading to the Boston Tea Party and from then on it didn’t go too well for us Brits!
Although not directly relating to the American Revolution but very moving is the Irish Famine Memorial. The memorial pays tribute to the refugees from the Irish famine, nearly 40,000 Irish refugees landed in Boston in 1847 alone.
The balcony of the Old State House was from where the first reading of the Declaration of Independence was read to the people of Boston.
After all that history it was time for a break. So still quite wet we spent 20 minutes in a coffee shop while our wet clothes gently steamed.
Boston Massacre & Faneuil Hall
Next was the site of the Boston Massacre in 1770 British Redcoats opened fire on an angry mob of Bostonians, killing five. The soldiers were tried for murder and they were actually defended by a young John Adams.
Faneuil Hall has been a meeting hall and marketplace for more than 270 years and is often referred to as the ‘Cradle of Liberty’. Along with the neighbouring Quincy Market, the area is still a popular area to stroll, shop and of course, eat.
Paul Revere House, Old North Church & Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
We then walked over to the cobblestoned streets of the North End, Boston’s oldest neighbourhood dating from the early 1600’s. It is now also the home of Boston’s Little Italy.
The first stop was the Paul Revere House. Paul Revere is not that well known to us Brits but he is best known for his ride from Boston to warn the patriots that the British were coming. The ride was commemorated in “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Longfellow. The Old North Church also features in the poem as it was used to send a warning to the Patriots using two lanterns in the steeple.
There was no end to the rain as we approached Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, no wonder they call it New England. The British used Copp’s Hill for their cannons, they were aimed at Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill.
USS Constitution & Bunker Hill Monument
We were then due to cross the Charles River and visit the final two sites of The Freedom Trail but tiredness and the weather got the better of us so we headed back to the comfort of the Lenox Hotel.
Despite the weather, we did find the trail very interesting and a definite ‘must do’. The next day the sun did make an appearance, along with blues skies and warm afternoons. We loved the atmosphere in Boston, it felt like a friendly town rather than a big city.
Next, it was off to Salem for some ‘Haunted Happenings‘.