Boston – Oct 8/9
Boston is admired for its beautiful harbor, museums, food, Revolutionary history, and sports traditions, including the beloved Red Sox baseball team. Boston is also the cradle of the American Revolution, and sites from early American history are visible all around; a great way to see them and the city itself is by walking the 3-mile Freedom Trail, which winds among tight, Colonial-era street. Not far from the city are Lexington and Concord, where the American Revolution was born with the “shot heard ’round the world.”
We arrived late afternoon on October 8, and since this is our first time in “Beantown”, we were anxious to get off the trip and start exploring. The ship provided a complimentary shuttle that dropped us off at the Aquarium but only a couple of blocks from where we wanted to go…Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Four buildings – Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market – constitute Faneuil Hall Marketplace, with the oldest being Faneuil Hall. Built in 1742 and now located on the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall has had a long and important history in Massachusetts politics. Samuel Adams once stood here to push for resistance against the British, and abolitionists and suffragists have stood on their soapboxes here. In fact, this is where Jonathan Mayhew famously challenged the Sugar Act of 1764 by proclaiming, “no taxation without representation.” Since Mayhew’s declaration, the marketplace has expanded to include more than 100 shops and restaurants.
We spent our evening strolling through the market’s halls where we found various cuisines served in Quincy Market and a variety of souvenir shops surrounding the halls.
That night, upon returning to the ship, we were advised that we would be cutting our visit to Boston short given that the weather necessitated us leaving at 1PM instead of 5PM. A number of people were disappointed as the tours they signed up for were cancelled. However, we had opted for a Freedom Trail Walking Tour that finished by 12:30, so we were not affected.
Stretching 2½ miles, the Freedom Trail weaves past 16 of the city’s most historic sites, including Faneuil Hall Marketplace, the Paul Revere House and Old North Church. Taking in only some of the trail’s attractions requires our half a day (and some comfortable walking shoes) but with the guide’s commentary, we learned a lot of American history on the tour.
The following map might give you some idea of what we saw.
We started at Boston Common and the State House. The grounds of Boston Common started as a cow pasture in the mid-1600s. After a few years, overgrazing became a problem and the area was transformed into a British camp. After the Revolutionary War, the park became a popular locale for public speeches and rallies. Now, the Common is best known because of its status as the oldest public park in the country. You’ll also find a variety of activities and events, including theater and musical performances, hosted here throughout the year. Right across the street was the State House.
Next stop was the Old Granary Burying Ground. Established in 1660, this is the resting place for some of America’s revolutionary heroes including John Hancock, Samuel Adams and of course, the most famous, Paul Revere!
While there were several other historical stops along the way, some of the most interesting were the site of the “Boston Massacre”. The Boston Massacre was a deadly riot that occurred on March 5, 1770, on King Street in Boston. It began as a street brawl between American colonists and a lone British soldier, but quickly escalated to a chaotic, bloody slaughter. The conflict energized anti-British sentiment and paved the way for the American Revolution.
When you think of Boston history, for me, two incidents come to mind…the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s ride. While we only saw the location of the Boston Tea Party from the bus, we did get to sea a couple of Paul Revere sites, including his house which still stands. The house dating back to the late 1700’s gives you a glimpse of how houses looked in his time.
In the background of the Paul Revere statue, you can see the Old North Church. Most people who know anything about American history have heard of Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride, when he rode through town to warn people about the arrival of British troops. Before heading off to Lexington, Revere gave orders at Old North Church. Robert Newman – the church’s sexton – and Captain John Pulling Jr. – the church’s vestryman – then climbed the steeple and held two lanterns as a signal (from Revere) that the British Regulars were indeed coming, but by sea.
The church itself, which is officially named Christ Church, is filled with beautiful relics from the past, including North America’s oldest set of change ringing bells and chandeliers brought in from England in the early 1700s. The pews have a long history as well; Pew No. 54 was reserved for the Revere family.
Along our way, there were some very old and famous pubs. Check out the dates on some of these pictures…
Final stop before heading back to the ship…Mike’s Pastry. Founded in 1946, Mike’s Pastry is located in Boston’s historic North End on Hanover Street. Michael Mercogliano (the “Mike” behind the famed Mike’s Pastry) created the one-of-a-kind cannoli that keeps loyal Bostonians and tourists coming from around the world to enjoy. Going to Mike’s has become a Boston tradition and we are told that even JFK would send for some of the famous cannoli when in town. We sure enjoyed ours!
Next stop is New York. Since we had to leave Boston early, this means that we will arrive in New York early which will give us time to see some of the sights there too! That’s a bonus. Thanks for reading along, next and last blog will be about our short stay in New York.