A step-by-step look at history along the Freedom Trail
When it comes to significant places in history, the city of Boston ranks among the most historical. Hit the Freedom Trail® and walk a mile (2.5 miles to be exact) in the buckle shoes of our forefathers.
The Freedom Trail begins at Boston Common, the site of America’s oldest public park. This plot of land was purchased for 30 pounds in 1634 as a place to practice military maneuvers and let cattle graze. Exploring all 44 acres gives you an opportunity to walk the same grounds that British troops occupied before leaving to face opposing colonists in Lexington and Concord. Just across the street, at the top of Beacon Hill, you’ll find the Massachusetts State House. Top patriots met here to debate the fate of our great nation. This landmark is one of the most beautiful and influential buildings still standing from the original 13 colonies.
Next on the trail is Park Street Church, recognizable by its 217-foot steeple. The church is located at Brimstone Corner. Some say the name is inspired by fiery sermons delivered by passionate preachers. Others point to the basement where sulfur was stored. Just depends on what you believe …
The trail also meanders past the Granary Burying Ground where notable sons of Boston like Sam Adams and John Hancock are buried. King’s Chapel marks the spot where the king’s men gathered to enforce British law. Residents of the King’s Chapel Burying Ground include Massachusetts’ first governor John Winthrop and Mary Chilton, the first woman to make land after sailing over on the Mayflower. Along this educational trail you’ll also find the Boston Latin School. Class is still in session just as it has been since 1635. Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Sam Adams and Robert Treat Paine were all students here. Though Franklin did drop out and become one of the country’s most brilliant minds.
Gather ‘round the Old South Meeting House and see where the Sons of Liberty fought for freedom by standing up to British rule. The Old South Meeting House holds the honor of being the first successful historic preservation effort in New England. Be sure to visit the Old State House, look up to the balcony. It was from this spot on July 18, 1776, that the Declaration of Independence was publicly read for the very first time. In contrast to the areas of free speech is the Boston Massacre Site, where British forces opened fire on citizens throwing rocks and snowballs at the soldiers in protest of the Stamp Act.
Nicknamed the “Cradle of Liberty,” Faneuil Hall was Boston’s first centralized marketplace. It was funded and given to the city by prosperous merchant Peter Faneuil. This bustling hub was the place to buy seafood, meats, spices and dry goods, and hear orators give great speeches. On the eve the Revolution, it was here that Patriots were roused to action.
Silversmith Paul Revere’s House is downtown Boston’s oldest dwelling still in existence. In 1770 he purchased the house for 53 pounds. Five years later he would jump on his horse and ride through the town warning that the British were coming. The flames of the “One if by land, two if by sea,” lanterns have long been extinguished but the Old North Church is still a permanent part of the city. The church is the oldest in Boston, and its original clock still keeps time. Named in honor of shoemaker William Copp, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground is the largest colonial burying ground. Merchants, artisans, craftspeople, ordinary citizens and Robert Newman, who hung the lanterns for Paul Revere’s Ride, are all buried here.
The famed command “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” was given at Bunker Hill. Bunker Hill Monument marks the first major battle of the American Revolution.
For something the whole family can enjoy, especially the older kids, be sure to visit the USS Constitution. Also known as Old Ironsides, this 215-year-old vessel has the distinct honor of being the oldest commissioned warship in the world. Tours are conducted by sailors on active duty, allowing below-the-deck access for a unique look at what life is like on the ship.