The Freedom Trail

February 7, 2008

Michael Keller

Faneuil Hall & Skyline

Faneuil Hall & Boston Skyline

Most of the Boston National Historical Park sites are connected by the Freedom Trail, a 3-mile walking trail with 16 sites and structures of historic importance in downtown Boston and Charlestown. Many of the sites along the red-painted line are free. These photographs of the sites and neighborhoods along the Trail reveal what colonial and contemporary Boston is all about. These sites include scenes of critical events in Boston's and America’s struggle for freedom. To appreciate colonial Boston, just follow the red painted trail along the sidewalks of Boston, the Charlestown Bridge, the Charlestown Navy Yard and Bunker Hill. 

Important Sites Along The Trail: 
The official starting point is the Information Kiosk at Tremont Street on The Boston Common. The 50-acre Boston Common is one of the oldest urban parks and perhaps the most enchanting. 

Boston Common Bridge

Bridge througn the Common

My favorite starting point, however, is the Washington  Monument west of Charles Street. 
From there you stroll through The Public Gardens, cross to the Soldiers Monument, then walk to the Information Kiosk or walk past Frog Pond and go directly to the State House. 

Soldiers Monument
Soldiers Monument

This area of the Commom is a favorite recreation resource for tourist and locals.

Boston Common Pond & Public Gardens

Massachusetts State House, 
the state’s capitol (Beacon Street and Park) was built in 1798; this "new" State House is across from the Boston Common on the top of Beacon Hill. Charles Bullfinch, then one of Boston’s leading architects, designed the building. The dome, originally made from wood shingles, is now sheathed in copper and covered by 23-karat gold.

Front Entrance of Massachusetts State House
The Gold Dome

Park Street Church

Park Street Church and Granary Burying Ground (Park and Tremont Streets):

This Evangelical Church, built in 1809, was the site of the first Sunday school in 1818 and the scene of the first antislavery speech delivered by William Lloyd Garrison in 1824. On July 4, 1831 "My Country 'tis of Thee" was sung for the first time by the church children's choir.

Granary Burying Ground

Founded in 1660, the Granary is the third oldest burying ground in Boston proper. Here many notable Revolutionary-era patriots, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence (John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine and Samuel Adams) are interred. Also buried here are Peter Faneuil, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin's parents and the victims of the Boston Massacre.


Kings Chapel

Kings Chapel and Chapel Burying Ground (Tremont and School Streets)

This Peter Harrison-designed church was constructed on land taken from the burying ground. To insure the presence of the Church of England in Puritan Boston, King James II ordered an Anglican parish established in Boston. Since none of the Puritan colonists were interested in establishing this Church, the King ordered Governor Andros to seize a corner of the burying ground for the Church.

Around the corner from King's Chapel at School Street is the site of the first public school in America. The school was originally established by Puritan settlers in 1635 in the home of Philemon Pormont but was later moved to School Street. Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock attended. Also at the corner of School and Washington Streets The Scarlet Letter, Walden, and the Atlantic Monthly magazine were first published here. The Bookstore was built in 1718 and is one of Boston's oldest surviving structures.

The Old South Meeting House at 310 Washington Street (corner of Milk) was built in 1729 as one of largest buildings in colonial Boston. The famous Boston Tea Party of more than 5,000 colonists gathered here in the winter of 1773 to protest the tax on tea. During the meeting, Samuel Adams announced, "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country!" 

Overall View of the Old South Meeting House

Protestors then stormed the waterfront where they dumped three shiploads of tea into the harbor. Today the Old South Meeting House is a museum where Tea Party debates are recreated.

Old South Meeting House

Old State House, Side view

Old State House (corner of State and Washington Streets) was the center of all political life and debate in colonial Boston. 
On July 18, 1776, citizens gathered in the street to hear the Declaration of Independence read from the building's balcony, the first public reading in Massachusetts.

Old State House

The Boston Massacre Site Devonshire and State Street) is in front of the Old State House, a circle of cobblestonescommemorates the Boston Massacre. 
At this site, tensions between the colonists and British soldiers erupted into violence on March 5, 1770. The soldiers fired into the crowd and killed five colonists.

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall at 19 North Square, has served as a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1742; Peter Faneuil, a wealthy merchant, funded its construction. 

Sam Adam's Statue in front of Faneuil Hall

Today Faneuil Hall, along with Quincy Market Place, and North and South Markets make a thriving retail, restaurant and entertainment center. Below: The Plaza, the exterior & Interior Food Market & the Quincy Hall Dome

The North Market Behind Faneuil HallQuincy Hall Dome, Interior

Quincy MarketQuincy Hall Interior Food Market


After crossing Cross Street and over Interstate 93 (a vast underground network of exit and on ramps),you will enter the oldest neighborhood of Boston. 
In colonial Boston it was a working class neighborhood and today it retains that flavor but with a definite Italian twist and a large dash of tourist. 

Clocktower, Old Boston SkylineShop 2 on The Freedom Trail

Shop on the Freedom TrailExterior of Paul Revere House

Paul Revere House at 19 North Square was built around 1680; this house is the oldest building in downtown Boston, and served as the home of Paul Revere and his family from 1770 to 1800. Revere left here for his famous “midnight ride. Below ” The Courtyard of his home and various symbols of that ride. 

Paul Revere's House
Close-Up of Paul Revere's House

Paul Revere's Horse
Paul Revere House Statue


Old North Church 2

Old North Church (193 Salem Street). This Episcopal Church was built in 1723 and is Boston's oldest church building. On the steeple of this church, Robert Newman signaled with lanterns the approach of the British regulars: "One if by land, and two if by sea.” The steeple is 191 feet tall, making it the tallest steeple in Boston. The pews and brass chandeliers, as well as the Church's first clock, are all original. Below the interior of Old North Church.

Old North Church Interior

Old North Church Steeple 2

The famous steeple of Old North Church that signaled the coming of the British.

Copps Hill Burial Ground

Copp's Hill Burying Ground is Boston's second oldest burying ground. Thousands of artisans, craftspeople, and merchants are buried on the Hill; additionally, thousands of African-Americans who lived at the base of Copp's Hill are buried in unmarked graves on the Snowhill Street side.

The Charlestown Navy Yard is was one of the first shipyards built in the United States. Today, thirty acres of the Navy Yard are preserved by the National Park Service as part of Boston National Historical Park.

Skyline from Bunker HIll

The views of the North End against Boston’s Skyline are reason alone to visit the Navy Yard and the USS Constitution. 

U.S.S. Constitution OverviewU.S.S. Constitution Bow Bridge

USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. It was first launched in 1797. The USS Constitution is one of six ships ordered for construction by George Washington to protect America's growing maritime interests. The ships greatest glory came during the war of 1812 when she defeated four British frigates and earned her the nickname "Old Ironsides," because cannon balls glanced off her thick hull.

The Bunker Hill Monument is 221 feet tall and sits on the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. This battle was actually fought on Breed's Hill, June 17, 1775. When colonial forces chose to fortify Charlestown, they bypassed the more dominant "Bunker Hill" and dug in on Breed's Hill that was closer to the harbor. "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" was attributed to Colonel William Prescott to make sure that each shot counted. The poorly trained colonial forces repelled two major assaults by the British Army before retreating. Although the colonists lost the battle, their bravery and persistence gave rise to the colony’s revolutionary fervor.

Bunker Hill Monument, From the U.S.S. Constitution

Bunker Hill Monument, From the USS Constitution and Charlestown Navy Yard  

Bunker Hill Monument Statue

Bunker Hill Monument Statue of Col. Prescott

Bunker HIll Monument from Street

Bunker HIll Neighborhood

Bunker Hill Monument 4
The Steps to the Bunker Hill Memorial

Thumbnail Photo Credit. 


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