The Freedom Trail, recognized as a National Millennium Trail and part of Boston National Historical Park, visits 16 sites and structures of historic importance in downtown Boston and Charlestown.
In earlier posts on Vogel Talks RVing, we introduced the Boston Freedom Trail and toured eight sites on the trail from Boston Common to Old South Meeting House.
In today’s post we take you on a walking tour of the Freedom Trail from the Old State House to “Old Ironsides” and Bunker Hill.
A ring of cobblestones in front of the Old State House, at the Devonshire and State Street intersection, commemorates the spot of the Boston Massacre, where on March 5, 1770, a minor disagreement between a wigmaker’s apprentice and a British sentry turned into a riot. Although only five colonists were killed, Samuel Adams and other patriots dubbed it a “massacre”.
The Old State House, on the corner of State and Washington streets, dates back to 1713 and was the center of political activity in Colonial Boston; it was here that the Declaration of Independence was first read to Bostonians from the building’s balcony, which was also the first public reading in Massachusetts. The Old State House, the city’s oldest public building, was the headquarters for the British government in Boston. Today it serves as a Boston history museum.
A marketplace and meeting hall since 1742, Faneuil Hall (rhymes with “manual”) was once a spot where speeches by the likes of Samuel Adams were given, and is now in an area to relax and get a Sam Adams, the city’s most famous brew.
Paul Faneuil, a Boston merchant, built the structure and later donated to the city. Its meeting hall is dubbed the “Cradle of Liberty” because of the protests against British taxation voiced here during the 1760s.
The Paul Revere House, built around 1680, is the oldest private building in downtown Boston and a tribute to the city’s most recognized hero. It is from here that Paul Revere left for his “midnight ride”. The house is also the only Colonial residence of its type to be situated in the middle of a major American city.
The next stop is one of the most popular sites on the Freedom Trail. The Old North Church on Salem Street is Boston’s oldest church building. The Episcopal church was built in 1723, and is where Robert Newman signaled the approach of the British with two lanterns in its steeple: “One if by land, and two if by sea”—which sent Paul Revere on his famous ride to Lexington and Concord to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming.
The 191-foot steeple of the Old North Church is the tallest in the city. The church also has the first set of bells ever brought to America, and Paul Revere was a neighborhood bellringer.
The last Freedom Trail stop on the Boston side is Copp’s Hill Burying Ground—the city’s second graveyard. First founded in 1659 as Winmill Hill, it got its current appellation because shoemaker William Copp once owned the land. Because of its strategic height overlooking the Charles River, Copp’s Hill was used by the British during the Battle of Bunker Hill to bombard Charlestown, which brings us to our final two stops.
Across the Charles River, the Charlestown Navy Yards is one of the first shipyards built in the US and home to the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.
Launched on October 21, 1797, the ship was later nicknamed “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812 because British cannonballs appeared to bounce its thick hull, causing one of her crew to remark that her sides were made of iron. In fact, the hull of Constitution is constructed of a three-layer wooden sandwich comprised of live oak and white oak.
Guided tours of the US Navy active-duty-manned Constitution are available or you can roam the ship at your own accord.
Only yards away from USS Constitution, the Museum is a “must see” for everyone visiting Boston. Interactive, hands-on exhibits for all ages brings history to life as one learns what life was like at sea over 200 years ago.
Learn how “Old Ironsides” earned her nickname and how she has remained undefeated since her launch in 1797. Swing in a hammock, join a mess, and furl a sail at the USS Constitution Museum, where you don’t just learn about history, you experience it.
The Battle of Bunker Hill marks the first time Colonial forces held their own against the British army. Today a 221-foot granite obelisk denotes the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. If you can reach the top you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Boston.
Located across the street, the Bunker Hill Museum’s exhibits and dioramas tell the stories of the battle and the monument.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands in time of challenge.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.