Discovering our Revolutionary past in modern Boston, MA
After filling ourselves with Lobstah and hugging Maine’s coastline, we began our journey southward, making our next stop Boston, Massachusetts. Our friends Don and Lisa had lent us a documentary entitled “America, The Story of Us”, which portrays more than 400 years of American history . The first two episodes tell the story of the beginning of America in the 1600’s, including the subsequent American Revolution in the struggle against British rule in the 18th century. History buffs know that Boston became a focal point of revolutionary activities during that time. We recommend this DVD set to anyone traveling this way and trying to bone up on American history, as we’ve been doing. It helped to “fill in some holes” in our learning and was helpful and entertaining.
Traveling back through Revolutionary Boston would take several days of walking around the city because of the large number of historic landmarks and monuments. So, we hopped on a city tour one day and then experienced the city on foot the next. Not nearly enough, but a pretty good way to get a cohesive story of an exciting historic period.
Following the Freedom Trail, created in 1951, is a good way to discover Boston’s historic sites amidst its currently bustling cosmopolitan. It’s a 2.5-mile trail that led us to scenes of critical events in Boston and the nation’s struggle for freedom. It really highlights the city’s role in laying the foundation for the new USA. I’ll try not to bore you with tedious history you probably know, but rather a few highlights we observed.
The DVD documentary taught us a lot about Paul Revere (The Midnight Rider), the Boston massacre and the Revolution’s first major battle at Breed’s Hill. The Brits were called Redcoats then, and although we aren’t historians we were glad to be armed with this tidbit of knowledge when we hit Boston for more learning and fun.
We stopped by Copp’s Hill, the second oldest cemetery in Boston, where several people buried there were born during the 16th century.
On the roof of Fanueil Hall (often referred to as the cradle of liberty) is a grasshopper weathervane – the only part of the hall which remains unmodified from the original 1742 structure.
Also known as “Old Ironsides”, the USS Constitution was put to sea in 1798. It is the oldest commissioned warship remaining afloat in the world and has been renovated, refurbished, and repaired many times. Since it is still a commissioned vessel, it is staffed by U.S. service personnel and security check is required for all visitors. It was strange to see uniformed Navy folks guiding tours around a ship with dozens of canon on it, as if it were a modern destroyer. But this ship remains a symbol of America’s rich naval history.
On the other hand, Copley Square was a unique architectural delight featuring old and new. Standing in the square, we were in awe of an eyeful of buildings in a variety of styles. The tallest building in New England is the John Hancock Tower, which sits across the street from the Trinity Church, which was built between 1872-1877. The church is the most prominent landmark in Copley Square.
Across the square from the Trinity Church is the Boston Public Library, built in 1895. It is the first publicly-supported municipal library in America. We were wowed the instant we walked into the vestibule and then the entrance hall, which contains a magnificent marbled staircase (and we don’t use the word “magnificent” very often).
Beacon Hill is a fascinating early 19th century neighborhood with narrow streets. The row houses are nearly all built in brick, streets are paved with cobblestones and street lighting is done via old-style gas lit lamps. Don’t even think about wearing stilleto heels on these streets!
These are just a few of the many fascinating architecture designs and interesting buildings that we saw as we wandered around:
The obelisk that marks the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill was the first obelisk built in America. It was the tallest in the U.S. for a few years, until the Washington Monument overtook it in 1884.
We climbed the 294 steps of the Bunker Hill Monument and were rewarded with awesome views of Boston in all directions.
We met up with my girlfriend Sharon, whom I used to work with in California. It was great seeing her again and we enjoyed our short time together. We picked a great historic place to meet for lunch – claiming to be the oldest restaurant in the United States – Ye Olde Union Oyster House. Open to diners since 1826, it was listed as a National Historic Landmark on May 27, 2003.
Finally, I grabbed another tourist to capture our last pose in Boston:
We hopped back on the Green Line of “the T”, Boston’s Rapid Transit System. It was all too soon to bid adieu to one of the oldest cities in America.
While visiting Boston we stayed at the Boston Minuteman Campground. Click here if you are interested in Steve’s review of this nice RV park.
Next Up: A great day on Block Island, RI