It goes without saying that Boston is one of the most historically rich cities in the U.S.
Last month, I had the pleasure of visiting Boston for the first time. Naturally, I wanted to sightsee and discover some of the historic treasures that Boston has to offer. Although my family tree doesn’t lead back to Boston, I was interested in seeing the places where American Revolutionaries walked, gathered and protested British rule – events that led to the country we know today. The great thing about visiting such a city like Boston is there is history around every corner. And if you like old buildings and architecture – Boston is a great place to wander as the city has done a great job preserving them.
I wanted to see historic Boston Landmarks so it was recommended that I walk the Freedom Trail – a 2.5-mile walk through Boston featuring 17 historic sites. Walking the trail is totally free (although you can pay for a guided tour) and it’s as easy as following a red path. The entire trail is delineated by bricks that are laid into the street, so all you have to do is start walking. Many of the sites along the trail allow entrance free of charge, although a few have small admission fees (usually less than $10) or suggest donations.
Although I wasn’t able to spend time at all 17 historic sites on this trip, there were a few Freedom Trail highlights:
Granary Burying Ground – This historic burial ground has over 2,000 grave markers on the property, but it is estimated over 8,000 people were laid to rest here. It is also the final resting place for many historic names – most notably interred at Granary are Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere and the Boston Massacre victims.
King’s Chapel – Located near the Granary Burying Ground, this historic church was built by the Royal Governor in 1688 on top of what once was a burial ground. The church was built on that specific plot of land because no one would sell the Royal Governor any land to build a non-puritan church. Once built, it served as a place for the king’s men to gather and plan on how to enforce British Law. Rebuilt in 1749 by architect Peter Harrison to accommodate for the growing congregation, it is still an active ecumenical church.
King’s Chapel Burying Ground– Acting as Boston’s only burying ground for 30 years; King’s Chapel Burying Ground is older than Granary and basically as old as the city itself. Notable residents here are John Winthrop, Massachusetts’s first governor and Mary Chilton, first woman to step off of the Mayflower.
Old South Meeting House– A meeting house for Puritan worship built in 1729, this location set the stage for discussions leading up to one of the most remembered American Revolution events. On December 16, 1773, not wanting to pay taxes on tea aboard three ships moored at Griffin’s Wharf, thousands of Bostonians gathered here to discuss what should be done, lead by Samuel Adams. After heated debate, a resolution was not reached. Angered at the taxes, men disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded the ships and unloaded the tea into Boston Harbor. This event became known as The Boston Tea Party.
Old State House– At 300 years old, the Old State House is where on July 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read on it’s balcony for all to hear. This is where many representatives from the Massachusetts colony met to discuss British law and taxation.
Faneuil Hall– Built by wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil in 1742 as a center for commerce, the first floor houses merchant stalls while the second floor acted as a meeting hall. Here is where the first gatherings to protest the sugar and stamp acts took place. Outside, there’s a statue to Samuel Adams, fitting since he lead town meetings here and organized the funeral for the Boston Massacre here.
Paul Revere’s House– Dating back to 1680, Paul Revere’s wooden home is one of the oldest buildings in Downtown Boston. Purchased for 53 pounds, 6 shillings and 8 pence, Paul Revere purchased the home at age 35 and lived there with his family of 16 children. This is the home from which Paul Revere set out on his iconic April 18th ride in 1775 to Lexington.
Although the Freedom Trail should be on your to-do list for your next trip to Boston, there were a few other sites that caught my attention while wandering around Boston.
Boston Public Library’s McKim Building – Built in 1895, the McKim building near Copley Square can’t be missed. An impressive building, it is now home to the library’s research collection of over 1.7 million rare books and manuscripts. Replete with murals, coffered ceilings and drawing on Renaissance and Beaux-Arts architectural influences, the McKim building is a great historic building to tour.
Old South Church– After the Great Boston Fire in 1872, the Old South Meeting House was almost burned down. Although it survived, the residential community surrounding the church moved south to Back Bay away from the church. The Old South Church was built in 1874 and the transplanted congregation made their home here to this day. Located right next to the Boston Public Library, the Old South Church boasts impressive architectural features.
Massachusetts Historical Society– Established in 1791, the Massachusetts Historical Society is a great place to visit if you love history. Open to the public, they have a research library with personal papers belonging to founding fathers like Samuel Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The society also holds exhibition, which are open to the public featuring historical artifacts.
Next time you are in the Boston area, check out some of these historic landmarks. They only scratch the surface of what is available in this city filled with history, so go explore!
Do you have a favorite place to visit in Boston? Tell us in the comments below!