Boston is bursting with American history. You cannot walk a mile without hitting a historical sight. The Freedom Trail is a lot of fun and very interesting. A red line painted down the streets of Boston is easy to follow and brings you to sight after sight of historical events. If you are in Boston and weather permits, I'd highly suggest taking the free tour. Without the events featured on this tour, the Country never would have been formed.
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile path connecting 16 historic sites that were significant to the American Revolution, including the Old State House, Copp's Hill burial ground, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, King's Chapel, Old North Church, Bunker Hill, Old Ironsides, and more.
Here's the Old State House which is along the Freedom trail. Today the Old State House is home to the Museum of Boston History. Start your tour here if you like and walk in one direction for the day. Then start back there again the next day and go in the other direction.
It's something you can do at your own pace and stop and see what you like along the way.
Freedom Trail Run is a great way to see Boston's historical sites while getting some exercise! It's part concise historical tour, part 5k training run and great for runners of all abilities. Every Saturday & Sunday @ 8:30 am (year-round).
The Freedom trail is Bostons easy way of finding and visiting all the historic sites, its a 2 brick wide path around 2.5 miles, including monuments, churches, museums etc etc all relating to its History of the revolution. You can pay and have guides or you can mooch along at your own pace starting and finishing wherever you like.
The Bunker Hill Monument is a bit of a misnomer, as it is built on Breed’s Hill (where the Battle of Bunker Hill took place). Bunker Hill is a short distance from Breed’s Hill. This enormous monument marks the spot were British and Rebel forces clashed on June 17, 1775. The Monument is 67 metres tall, and you can climb all 221 steps to the top, from which there are excellent views of Boston, Charlestown and the River. Although the land for the Monument was purchased in 1825, it wasn’t dedicated until 1843 – and the Society that built it nearly went bankrupt because of it. Today there is a small building attached to the monument with a few paintings of Revolutionary figures, while the main museum (opened in 2007) is across the street. Bunker Hill (or rather Breed’s Hill) is allegedly where the phrase “don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes” was popularized. The accuracy of this popularization is in dispute, but it’s still a fitting end to Freedom Trail, as you get to see the whole of the spectacular city from the top of the Monument once you’ve climbed up.
The USS Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, was the first warship in service of the US Navy. It is technically still in commission, but don’t expect this sailing vessel to be chasing down Somali pirates any time soon. The ship was launched in 1797, making it the oldest commissioned vessel in the world, and saw active combat in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic during the during the early part of the 19th century. Old Ironsides also served as a training vessel for the navy during the Civil War, but for the latter half of the 19th century and the 20th century she primarily served the purpose of a cultural ambassador for the US Navy and the American people. In 1997, the ship sailed independently to mark the bicentennial of her launching. Today you can visit Old Ironsides at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Admission is free, but you should plan on spending a fair amount of time to see the ship, as tours are timed and must be guided. I didn’t go aboard, opting instead to go aboard the USS Cassin Young (the lines are far, far shorter). From what I understand, USS Constitution has some pretty cool cannons that will undoubtedly impress the younger crowd.
Copp’s Hill, the last stop on the Freedom Trail on the south side of the Charles, is one of Boston’s larger historic cemeteries. It contains lots of interesting tombstones, many of which date from the 17th and 18th centuries, and it also has a great view out over the Charles. It was founded in 1659, about 30 years after the King’s Chapel burying ground was established, but the Hill appears to house the graves of Boston’s lesser known historical figures, not including the major personalities of the Revolutionary period. It was also a burial ground for the New Guinea African American community, although these graves are largely unmarked. The draw of Copp’s Hill really is the photogenic nature of the area; both the vista and the old tombstones alike. This wasn’t originally meant to be part of Freedom Trail when the route was created 1951, but it gradually gained popularity and was added to the list later on.
Sometimes it can seem like everything in Boston is called Paul Revere something or other, and, while I recognize that the people of Boston are proud of Revere’s role in the Revolution, it does make navigation rather difficult. The Paul Revere House, of course, is one of those sites that necessarily must have Revere’s name attached to it, as it was his home during the latter half of the 18th century, when he was a silversmith and a member of Boston’s middle class. The home has been preserved as a museum for visitors to learn more about the life and times of the Revere family. It was not the site of historical events (Revere spotted the British from Old North Church, about a ten minute walk from his home), and as such the displays inside the house are dedicated primarily to family life and the family’s history, including famous descendents and the link between the Reveres and the Lincolns. It is an interesting bit of trivia to know about Revere’s childrens names or what sort of bed he slept in, but the house itself is not something that will make your chest swell with Revolutionary pride.
The Old State House was the old government house for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was built in 1713 (i.e. it was the government house for the colony before the Revolution) and was used as the Colonial Supreme Court as well during the British period. In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read out from the East Balcony, but this was not the first revolutionary activity that involved the Old State House, as the legislative areas and the courts featured a number of Colonist attempts to settle the disputes that culminated in the Revolution during the early 1770s. The building was used as the State’s government house until the 1790s, when the current building on Beacon Hill was opened. The building was used as the Town Hall in the 1830s and 1840s too, after which time it became commercial property. The architectural style of the building is quite pleasant, which is a bit of a change from the usual Puritan spirit that pervades the other structures on Freedom Trail. Similar to King’s Chapel, it was constructed in Georgian style and, interestingly enough, the lion and unicorn on the building’s east side were allowed to remain – despite the fact that they were symbols of the British Crown.
Despite the fact that the 13 Colonies were, until 1776 (well, de jure, until 1782), part of the British Crown and thus under the suzerainty of the head of the Church of England, the founding fathers of Massachusetts and the first families to establish Boston were Puritans. These dissenting Christians sought to break away from the Anglican tradition, and that’s why the names of some of the religious institutions that formed the bedrock of the community seem a bit strange. Take the Old South Meeting House, which sounds like a recreation centre for Alabamans but is in fact a Congregationalist church that was first founded in 1729. Its members included Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams and William Dawes, so it should not be a surprise that the building’s fame comes from its use as a meeting place for the Patriots who took part in the Boston Tea Party. Not only was the Old South Meeting House important as a meeting place for revolutionaries, but like the Park Church, it has been a place for people to organize for free expression of dissent and protest. These days, however, the most common people to gather here are the souvenir hawkers, who are a bit of a contrast against the plain, Puritan lines of the building’s structure.
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