November 21, 2017


by Rosemary

Boston's Freedom Trail is a walking tour that passes several historically significant sites. The trail is conveniently marked with a red brick line along the sidewalk. It is possible to join a paid tour, but we were fine with an inexpensive brochure from the visitor center and a free online guide.

Follow the red brick road.

The tour starts at Boston Common, America's oldest city park.

The Massachusetts State House was built in 1798, on land once owned by John Hancock. Its original wooden dome was leaky, so in 1802 Paul Revere's company covered it with copper. The dome was painted various colors at various times, and eventually covered in gold leaf, which was painted over in black as a safety measure during World War II. It was regilded with 23k gold in 1997.

Across from the State House is an 11-foot-high memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment. This was a Civil War voluntary infantry unit made up of African American soldiers, led by Colonel Shaw, who was white, and who died in action. Sergeant William H. Carney of this regiment was the first African American to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

When we first arrived in New England, I was struck by how many old cemeteries we saw, seemingly everywhere. Of course, these are old cities; people have been dying here for hundreds of years. During our time in the Boston area, we visited several graveyards of historical interest.

The Granary Burying Ground was established in 1660. Benjamin Franklin's parents are buried here (Ben is in Philadelphia), as are Paul Revere, John Hancock, and many other notables of the Revolution, along with thousands of other citizens.

A costumed guide
explains the details.

Boston's old City Hall is an example of "adaptive re-use", the repurposing of old sites as a way of conserving them. This old building now houses a variety of businesses, including an upscale restaurant.

Boston's old state house is next to the site of the 1770 Boston Massacre. The building is now a history museum, and is notable for its interesting and fanciful decorations.

The neighborhood around Paul Revere's house is now known as "Little Italy".

The Old North Church (below) is Boston's oldest surviving church, and is famous as the location where two lanterns were hung in April 1775 as a signal to the people of Charleston, warning them that the redcoats were coming. A plaque mounted on the steeple commemorates this event.

This statue by Cyrus Edwin Dallin depicting Paul Revere on his midnight ride stands within view of the Old North Church.

The Boston Irish Famine Memorial is a group of monuments and sculptures by Robert Shure commemorating the history of Irish immigrants who came to America to escape the Great Famine in the mid-19th century.

This 1856 statue of Benjamin Franklin, by Richard Saltonstall Greenough, stands outside the old city hall building. Last year, it fell over in a windstorm, and Ben's head cracked the sidewalk.

This statue of Samuel Adams stands behind Faneuil Hall. Erected in 1880, it was the work of Anne Whitney.

One of the newest public sculptures in town is "Poe Returning to Boston", by Stefanie Rocknak, unveiled in 2014 near Boston Common. It portrays the writer stalking across the corner, carrying a briefcase containing a human heart and a raven.

While we were in the Boston area, we had the opportunity to explore several of the surrounding communities, as described in both the previous and next posts.

Note: We were here in October.

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  1. I love the Poe statue. One of my all time favorite writers.

  2. I was just there. Surprised that the Poe statue was so small.


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