*Sods Law is the description of an event occurring that predictablely goes against your preferred outcome. An example of this is your iPhone breaking the day before you were about to do your most anticipated tourist attraction in North America. This means that during our tour of Bostons internationally known ‘Freedom Trail’ I had to take all pictures on my camera of which I cannot access to put on this blog. So, until I get back to England this post will be an entirely descriptive text.
The good news is that we are in Boston, Massachusetts, so I can’t complain too much. The first full day of our 3 day visit here would be completing the Freedom Trail which I will now proceed to detail. I will number each independent stop to accumulate some sort of tangible order of events.
1. Boston Common
The easiest way to get to Boston Common is to get the subway to either Park Street or Chinatown. Either station is within a 5 minute walking to the Visitor centre of the park which is worth going to to pick up a map or get any other information you may need. Boston Common itself is Americas oldest public park purchased from W.M Blackstone in 1634 to be used as Common grazing land for the “feeding of cattell’. Us Brits also used it as a militia training field whilst colonising New England. Throughout the years the area has been used for public executions, celebrations and duels. Unfortunately as the years have gone on the park has become less badass and is now used for events such as summer operas, plays, ice skating and holiday festivities. Other noticeable features within the park ground are; the Parkman Bandstand, Boston Massacre Memorial, the Soldiers and Sailors monument and the frog pond.
2. Massachusetts State House.
If you walk through Boston Common you will notice a large stately building topped with a intriguing golden dome, this is the Massachusetts State House. It was designed by a man called Charles Bulfinch and completed in 1798 at a cost of $133,000 – approximately 5 times the amount of the intended budget allocated for its construction. The owner of the land it was built on was none other than John Hancock, signer of the Declaration of Independence and the first elected governor of Massachusetts. The previously mentioned golden dome is notorious for being a town landmark was initially covered in wood before the structure was gilded with 23 carrot gold leaf in 1874.
3. Park Street Church
Walk back on yourself to Park Streer Church. The 217 foot white steeple at the time of the early nineteenth century would of been the first structural point that travellers venturinr the Boston would of noticed on their journey.the church was built shortly after the construction of the state house and was given the name ‘Brimstone Corner’ to reference the fire and brimstone sermons and the gunpowder stored within the premises during the War of 1812. The English architect Peter Banner designed the church and it was finished in 1809 on the site of the old Granary for which the adjoining burying ground, much older than the church, was named. Historically, this church is famous for a key event in the abolition of slavery. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison gave his first public speech here denouncing slavery on July 4 1829. He said “Since the cause of emancipation must progress heavily, and must meet with much unhallowed opposition- why delay the work?
4. Granary Burying Ground
One of Bostons many and most famous burying ground was named due to its proximity to the cities first granary. The tombstones look hauntingly surreal and appear to be something you espext to see in a horror movie. A tablet erected outside of the grounds read ‘Granary Burial Ground 1660 – Within this ground are buried John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Robert Treat Pain”. Other notable tombstones read the names of 8 governors, the 5 victims of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere and Benjamin Franklins parents and possibly Mother Goose. That’s right after the fairy tale, it is believed the tale is based on a Bostonian woman.
5. Kings Chapel
During colonial Boston, England’s King James the second ordered the first Anglican Church be built in the town. After its completion and up towards 1749 the wooden building was not big enough for congregation so the Georgian chapel was constructed around the original church. Inside the place of worship you will notice loads of pews around the church. The canopied pews were used by governors and George Washington occasionally, the rear gallery was occupied by slaves and on the right hand side prisoners awaiting their execution sat and prayed during their last sermon. Parallel to the church is Bostons first burying ground where you will recognise a few names. John Winthrop, Bostons first governers, Williams Dawes who along with Paul Revere rode to Lexington to warn of the British. Like the other burying ground the creepiness of the perimeter was frightening, I certainly would not of wanted to return at night time.
6. First Public School and the Statue of Benjamin Franklin.
Just down the road from the King Chapel Cemtery is the ‘Old City Hall’ which commentates the location of the first public school in the United States. The Boston Latin school (1635) had many notable students including; Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Charles Bulfinch and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Although this building was impressive, the most unimpressive thing about it was that girls were not admitted to the school until 1972. Believe it or not the school is still going but in a different location- competitive exam and four years of Latin are still very much required. In 1856 a statue of Benjamin Franklin was erected in front of the school. The sculptor was Richard Greenough who elegantly portrayed Franklin left side of his face was philosophical whilst the right side more relaxing and smiley.
7. Old Corner Bookstore
Thomas Crease built this structure as his residence after the great fire of 1711 destroyed Anne Hutchisons house. By the mid 19th century the Old Corner Bookstore was a bustling literary centre where many famous publications from Dickens, Tennyson and Oliver Wendall Holmes were published by the nations leading publisher at the time, Ticknor and Fields. In 1960, civic leaders raised money and established Historic Boston Incorpated to acquire and preserve this sight…unfortunately the building is now home to a Chipotle, unbelievable.
8. Old South Meeting House
This central building in the heart of Boston was built in 1729 and was predominately used for public meetings. Many crucial events that led to the American Revolution happened at this precise location. On December 16 1773, 5000 gathered to protest the tax on tea which ultimately led to the infamous Boston Tea Party- which we’ll revisit on a different post.
9. Old State House Museum
The most famous event that happened here was the Boston Massacre. After turbulent public disruption, 5 civilains were left dead at the hands of her Majesty’s Empire. The building was erected in 1713 making it Bostons oldest public building. It was the political and economic stronghold housing the merchants exchange. The building is now a museum which costs $10 to go in. It gives you informative information about the history of this building and the events that surrounded its location.
10. Site of the Boston Massacre
Below the balcony of the Old State House is the exact location of where the massacre happened. It has been designed in the form of a ring of cobblestones. Among the 5 dead was Crispus Attucks, the first black man to perish in the desire of the patriotic cause, a defining moment. We stopped here for 5 minutes and had a deep think about how impressive this small traffic island affected the course of world history.
11. Faneuil Hall
This building a short walk from the Old State House was a gift from wealthy merchant called Peter Faneuil in 1742. The site served as a meeting place where the opposition towards British Colonists first began. As a result to the patriotic and passionate speeches given here by revolutionaries such as Samuel Adams and James Otis the nickname ‘Cradle of Liberty’ was given, especially after British troops landed in Boston harbour implanting The Sugar Act, The Townsend Acts and The Stamp Act. After the revolution and throughout the early stages of independence the hall was still used as a meeting place to discuss anti slavery campaigns by William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. The women’s rights movement and nearly every War America has been involved with since 1812 (a lot) has been debated within these very walls. Now, the majority of the ground floor is a craft and gourmet food market, it’s a pretty good place to stop for a bite to eat and to regain your energy for the final third of the Freedom Trail.
12. Paul Revere House.
Paul Reveres house is Bostons oldest, private building in the city centre. It was from this location that Revere set out for the ‘midnight ride’. The famous occupant was not only a famous patriot but also a skilled silversmith, dentist and cooper manufacturer. You can tour his house for a small fee of $3.50
13. Old North Church
After walking into Bostons North End and through Little Italy you will arrive at the Old North Church. This iconic structure was the place where Robert Newman hung 2 lanterns on April 18 1775 to signal the beginning of Paul Reveres ‘Midnight ride’. This exact action is regarded as the singular event that was the catalyst for the American Revolution. Inside the building you will notice the first ever bells bought to the colonies, its brass chandelier and clock. Beneath the church more than 1000 people lay rest in its crypt including the Royal Governors second in command at the battle of Lexington.
14. Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
Through North End you will encounter before the crossing to Charlestown the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. Notable residents of this creepy area are; Edmund Hartt, builder of the US Constitution, Robert Newman (the lantern guy), Prince Hall an anti slavery activist and also the tombs of 1000 free black men who lived at the foot of the hill. The British used this as their base to launch their cannons onto the civilians across the river in Charlestown during the battle of Bunker Hill.
15. USS Constitution
This notorious boat was launched into Boston Harbour in 1797 making it the oldest afloat warship in the entire world- wow. Its nickname ‘Old Ironsides’ was earned during the war of 1812 when British cannonballs literally bounced off of the hull of the boat. Currently you will notice a haul of U.S Navy manning the boat which you can tour from Thursday to Sunday for free which is pretty cool!
16. Bunker Hill Monument
Our final stop is the Bunker Hill Monument. The famous battlecry ‘Don’t fire until you can see the whites of their eyes’ was the sound of the colonists facing the giant British Army on June 17 1775. This was one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution causing 1400 casualties. You can climb the 294 steps to the top of the Monument until 16:30pm to gasp at the panoramic view of Charlestown and Boston.
Thanks for reading folks. I hope you enjoyed reading about the Freedom Trail as I did doing it and writing about it. The pictures will be uploaded in a month.