This past month, Craig had a business trip to the Boston area. Being so close to New Jersey we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to see our East Coast kids. So we both went on the trip, stayed a few extra days and spent a weekend with our son and his wife touring Boston and the surrounding area. We walked Boston’s Freedom Trail, from Breed Hill past the North Church and on to Boston Commons. Then we explored Lexington and Concord retracing Paul Revere’s ride and the shot heard ‘round the world.
We actually started walking the Freedom Trail near the middle of the route. Parking is tough in the city, but we found parking at the Coast Guard station and started our walk from there. The Freedom Trail in Boston is a 2.5 mile walk past many sites and locations which played significant roles in the beginning of our nation. It is marked entirely by a ribbon of red bricks. Each major location is identified with a marker embedded in the brick ribbon.
Our first stop was Breeds Hill and the Bunker Hill memorial. Bunker Hill was really on the periphery of the battle. The majority of the fighting was actually on Breeds Hill. The Bunker Hill memorial is a 221-foot (67 m) granite obelisk built on Breeds Hill in Charleston. We climbed the 294 steps to the top for some great views of the city and harbor.
The Bunker Hill memorial is the northern start point of the Freedom Trail. So we backtracked to the Coast Guard station and headed to the U.S.S. Constitution. It is the oldest ship in the US Navy. Built to protect American Merchant Ships from pirates off the coast of North Africa, it was made famous during the War of 1812 where it never lost a battle and was nicknamed “Old Ironsides” because the ship was so strong. The ship is still manned by U.S. Navy crew and open to viewing. It was fascinating to see the large canons, tight crew quarters and to think it is over 200 years old! There was also a living history exhibit where we visited with the ship’s doctor. Yes, he is the actual ship crew’s doctor.
Our next stop was the Old North Church. ‘One if by land, two if by sea.” The starting point of Paul Revere’s ride to Concord. Besides it being famous for the start of the Revolutionary War, it is also a beautiful classic 18thcentury church with the private family “booths” and a huge 2-story organ.
On our way to Faneuil Hall, we walked by Paul Revere’s house but did not go in. Long line and it was too nice a day to spend it inside. However we did take a detour down Hanover street to Caffe Vittoriafor cannolis. Outstanding. Caffe Vittoria is known as the first Italian Caffee in Boston. A great place to stop. We walked through the Boston Public Market and on to Faneuil Hall. The Hall was under renovation, so we did not get to see much of the interior or any of the exterior.
As we continued on, next was the site of the Boston Massacre. It is right in front of the Old State House, where people like Sam Adams and John Hancock argued and debated the policies of “the crow”. Its front balcony is where in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was read for the first time.
As we approached Boston Commons and the south end of the Freedom Trail, we made a short detour to Granary Burying Ground. This is the final resting place for Paul Revere, Sam Adams and also the victims of the Boston Massacre. It dates back to the 17thcentury and also is the burial ground of Benjamin Franklin’s parents.
After a stop in Boston Commons to see the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial, we made our way back towards the Boston Public Market for a drink at the Green Dragon Tavern. The Green Dragon started as a tavern in the early-1700s. The St. Andrews Lodge of Freemasons purchased it in 1766 and the Masons used the first floor for their meeting rooms led by Grand Master Joseph Warren followed by John Hancock. The basement tavern was used by several secret groups and became known by historians as the “Headquarters of the Revolution”. The Sons of Liberty, Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Boston Caucus each met there. The Boston Tea Party was also planned there. Quite the historic venue for us to have a pint.
We finished our day with a driving tour of Harvard. So much history here.
Having walked the Freedom trail, we wanted to also follow the path of Paul Revere’s ride. Paul Revere’s ride is actually the road from Boston (Charleston) to Concord via Lexington. It is encompassed within Minuteman National Historical Park. The park commemorates the opening battle in the American Revolutionary War and follows the British march to Concord looking for the colonist’s armament stash along with the road Paul Revere, Samuel Prescott and William Dawes rode to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock of the British coming. Our first stop was at the place where Paul Revere was captured by the British.
Yes, Paul Revere was captured by the British, but eventually released. His real notoriety comes from a poem, Paul Revere’s Rideby Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem was written in 1861 as a call to patriotism with the start of the Civil War. It has numerous historical inaccuracies, but it created a legend. We followed on to Hartwell Tavern. Though its connection to the actual ride is thin, three of the sons of the tavern’s owner fought on the North Bridge.
We went on to Meriam House. The retreating British from the North Bridge were attacked here by the colonial militia and there is a burial site for British Soldiers. The rain was starting to come down so we headed to our next stop.
Next was the North Bridgeand the “shot heard ‘round the world”. This was the site where the British regulars ran into the colonial militia and were pushed back to Boston. There is an actual bridge here with monuments to the achievements of the militia. There is also another British soldier burial ground. To see it in person really gave us goosebumps to think this is where it all started. The beginning of our nation.
Our family members are history buffs and to actually see, stand and walk the path of the origin of our nation was an inspiration to us. We did make one more stop on the way back. A side visit to The Wayside. Home to Samuel Whitney, muster master of the Concord Minute Men and later home to three famous authors; Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Harriet Lothrop.
Seeing as it was Father’s Day, yes, I am a little behind on my posts, we decided to stop in Concord for some good New England food and beer. The Colonial Innwas recommended to us and it was the perfect stop. The lobster roll was to die for!
Our final stop was actually the first stop of the opening battle of the Revolution,Lexington Green. We have driven by this place many times, but never really stopped and got out to walk around the green. This time we did and stood in the exact spot where the eight colonials were killed, the act of which spurred on the local militia.
We had a wonderful trip to Boston walking through history and spending time with family. We also want to give a special shout-out and thanks to our good friends Nino and Debbie for all the great recommendations and advice to make our visit so special.