I have always been interested in American history, especially the American Revolution. Growing up in New England I have been fortunate to live in a region where so much of our early history as a nation took place. I have taken trips to many of these places (Plymouth Plantation, Sturbridge Village, the Mayflower, Salem), but the one thing that I have been wanting to do for some time now has been to walk the Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts. I am moving to a new apartment that is much closer to Boston and I am making a trip there one of my goals for the next year. In the meantime, for those of you who do not live close by, I thought I would do a virtual tour of the Freedom Trail in collaboration with my review later this week on the non-fiction book Revolutionary Paul Revere by Joel L. Miller. Let me be your tour guide on this virtual tour...does everyone have their tickets?
First, before we set off on our adventure, some important details. The Freedom Trail takes you through the city of Boston and has 16 stops along the way. You can choose to go to whatever ones you want and in whatever order you like. Be advised it is a 2.5 mile walk (not including the stops along the tour). We will start at the traditional starting point, keep your eyes open for the stop markers and follow the red brick line – feel free to wander off and check out the included links for further information about each stop. Just be sure to rejoin us before we move on.
Our tour starts off at Boston Common. This beautiful park started out as a “common” grazing field for the livestock of the people of Boston. It was later used for drills when the British were camped in Boston just before the beginning of the Revolution. Today it is a beautiful park where many celebrations and festivals are held.
From here we will head to the “new” State House. This is where the members of the state congress and the governor currently meet for business on a day to day basis. This building was built by Charles Bullfinch (who is also known for designing the US Capitol building). The signature gold dome was at one point made of copper – put there by our friend Paul Revere. If you look to your left you will see Park Street Church which was built in 1809. This landmark is significant for more than it being a church; it was a hot spot for reform efforts. Groups met here to work for the abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote, prison reform, and many other efforts. If you walk practically right across the street from Park Street Church you will come to the Granary Burying Ground. This may be one of the most interesting stops along the way as you can seek out the markers of many of history’s greatest heroes: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere (whose grave is shown above), and those Bostonians who were killed in the Boston Massacre. I always love looking at the symbols that are engraved on markers as well as some of the sayings – you will definitely find those here.
As we head further down the street we come to another church/burying ground combination. King’s Chapel was built in 1688. It was built for the British soldiers and others employed by the Crown. Situated on the same piece of land is the King’s Chapel Burying Ground. This was the first burying ground in Boston and also housed some famous people in their afterlife, one of these being John Winthrop. Another lesser known person buried there is William Dawes – one of the other two riders who rode with Revere on his famous ride to Lexington and Concord.
Right nearby is the oldest public school in America – where four of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence attended: Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Paine. Of the four, only three graduated. Can you guess who didn’t graduate? (The answer will appear in tomorrow's post.) This school was built in 1635 and was called the Boston Latin School. At the site of the original school, a gorgeous statue of Franklin has been erected. This school is still working today – though at a different location.
The next stop on the tour is one that is right up our alley – the Old Corner Bookstore! In 1828 the bookstore opened and also served as a printing shop. Many well known American authors were published here, among them: Nathaniel Hawthorn, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emmerson. Many great book conversations started here. But be advised, don't go in there looking for books today, it is now a jewelry store! What a travesty! This will be our final stop for today, come back tomorrow for the second half of this tour.
If you have been on the Freedom Trail tour before or been to any of these stops - please share your comments with us!
*If you happen to be planning a trip to walk the Freedom Trail - please visit EveryTrail for a detailed source of information - photos, info, maps, etc*
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