The Freedom Trail Boston, Massachusetts

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the freedom trail brick path

During our last trip to Boston, The Girl and I walked the famous Freedom Trail. It’s a brick path that runs through downtown Boston. It winds you through 16 historical sites. It’s only about 2 1/2 miles long, but with all the stops at the sites, you could totally make a day or two of it. I am such a sucker for these sort of things, and love all of the history Boston has to offer. Most of the sites are free, with very few exceptions {Paul Revere House, Old State House, and the Old South Meeting House}.

We started with the Boston Common.  It’s a huge public park. It dates back to 1634, making it the oldest city park in the United States.

Massachusetts State House

Next, we headed to the Massachusetts State House. It is the state capitol building to this day. The land it sits on once belonged to John Hancock {his signature on Declaration of Independence is so distinct, it’s where the term: “put your Hancock on it” came from}. The top of the dome is covered in copper and then plated in 23 K gold.

Continuing on, we went to Park Street Church. The church is also known as Brimstone Corner, because the preachers used to stand on the corner of brimstone and fire.

The Granary Burying Ground was founded in 1660–even that long ago, it is still only the 3rd oldest cemetery in Boston. Crazy how much history is in this city. It houses Paul Revere, the five victims of the Boston Massacre, Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine {plus tons of other notable historic figures}. Along Tremont Street, there is a row of eleven large European Elms–a stroll through under them is known as Paddock’s Mall.

the freedom trail boston sign

King’s Chapel and Burying Ground has an interesting history. It started out as a burial ground {the oldest in Boston}. The church came later, as the result of King James II wanting to ensure that the Church of England was represented in America. When no one wanted to sell suitable land for the church, so King James II ordered the governor to seize a corner of the burying ground for the church. Mary Chilton {the first woman to step off of the Mayflower} is buried here.

Next up, the First Public School Site and a Ben Franklin Statue. The Puritans settlers established the first American public school in 1635. Later the school was moved to school street and the statue of Ben Franklin was erected to ‘overlook’ the site. Notably, that particular school was only for boys–all the way up until 1972. Hmmph, go figure.

The former site of Old Corner Bookstore sits on the corner of Washington and School Street. In its day, it published several famous books: The Scarlet Letter, Walden and the Atlantic Monthly Magazine. It was once owned by Anne Hutchinson, who was famously exiled from Massachusetts. {It’s occupied by a jewelry store now, but the building still has a ton of historical significance.}

The Old South Meeting House is famous for being the location for organizing the Boston Tea Party–5000 Colonists gathered at the meeting house. Benjamin Franklin was baptized here, and Judge Samuel Sewall apologized here for his role in the Salem Witch Trials. As my Grandma would say, “Ooo-ee, if walls could talk!”

Old State House was occupied by the British during the Revolution–and served as a reminder of British presence during the war. In 1776, though, people gathered in the street below it to hear the Declaration of Independence read publicly for the first time.

Then, we hit the site of the Boston Massacre. It is right in front of Old State House and is commemorated by a circle of cobblestones. When I read up on the history of the Boston Massacre, I was struck by the changes our country has seen. The Boston Massacre, in a nutshell, is basically the site where tensions between the Colonists and British soldiers came to a head. The Colonists began throwing snowballs, rocks, insults, etc. and the soldiers fired into the crowd, killing five people. Samuel Adams called the event a massacre. Would we still call this a massacre today, given all of the other massacres we have endured as a country?

Faneuil Hall  Boston, Massachusetts  Quincy Market

Faneuil Hall is a huge marketplace. It is soooo huge, I did a post on it last April, during our first trip. Basically, it started out as a gathering place for merchants, and though it has seen the threat of decay, it was rebuilt and is now a vital part of Boston.

paul revere house boston

The Paul Revere House  was equally fascinating. It was built in 1680, but Paul Revere’s family only lived in it from 1770 to 1800 {In case you don’t remember, Paul Revere is famous for his midnight ride where he shouted, “The British are coming, the British are coming.”} It had been owned by a wealthy merchant prior to Revere purchasing the house. Revere lived there with his wife, Sarah, their 5 children and his mother. Crazy to think this was a house of a privileged person, when it housed 8 people and still is relatively modest. Times have changed, huh?

The Old North Church is an episcopal church that was built in 1723. From the steeple, which is 191 feet tall, Robert Newman signaled with lanterns the approach of British regulars. The famous saying “One if by land, and two, if by sea” comes from the lantern signals.

copps hill cemetary boston

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground is the second oldest cemetery, founded in 1659. It houses thousands of Bostonians, including many African Americans who lived in the “New Guinea” community {though, they are in unmarked graves}.

uss constitution museum boston

The Charlestown Navy Yard is the home of the oldest commissioned warship still afloat in the world–The USS Constitution. The boat was commissioned by George Washington to protect America’s growing maritime interests. It was launched in 1797, but became truly accredited in its role in the War of 1812, where it earned the nickname, “Old Ironsides.” It was restored in 1927.

Finally, we stopped at the Bunker Hill Monument. It was built to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill. It reminds me of a miniature Washington Monument. It’s 221 feet tall and has 294 steps to get to the top. Want to celebrate America? Amazon has tons of American Flags you can proudly fly…

I.Love. Boston.

~Mavis

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Comments

  1. Oh my word! This brings back memories. When I was in fourth grade, my family and I went to Boston and we went on this very walk. Except, somewhere along the way, we got off the trail and ended up getting lost in a very bad section of town! We can all look back on it now and giggle and give my mom a hard time about it. But at the time it was a horrible experience. lol

  2. Okay, next time you go, you must check out the Boston Freedom Trail Run. It’s this dad who has done the Boston Marathon and he leads 5k tours of the freedom trail, jogging the whole way! It’s super fun and the coolest way I can think of to see a city! And, it’s doable…he stops enough that everyone can catch their breath. I did it while pregnant, so I think anyone could keep up.

  3. The Declaration of Independence is still read every 4th of July at the Old State House.

    I walked the Freedom Trail a couple times while I was in Cambridge for college; you always find something new each time you do it.

  4. Lovely tour today. Our family went to Boston in 2002 and trekked the same trail. Would love to have our current bunch of politicos in DC walk the FREEDOM TRAIL and listen to the U.S. Constitution being read aloud and follow its precepts.

  5. My parents live in the Charlestown Navy Yard and I grew up in Boston my whole life. This is such a cute biopic of my hometown. I live up by the beach now but next time you are back you should come by for brunch or tea in the navy yard!

  6. I worked at the Revere House when I was in graduate school. Interestingly, he never shouted “the British are coming!” because at that point, they were all British. Would have been like shouting “We’re here!” But Longfellow’s poem, which most of us learn as kids, has put that line in our heads permanently. Odds are better that Revere said, “the Regulars are out!” :)

  7. Fionnuala Mechau says:

    I have a terrible sense of direction and loved following the brick path through Boston. It is an easy walk with children and fun too!

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