Having been to Plymouth and seen the birthplace of our nation’s settlement, it was only right that we go to Boston and celebrate those who were persistent in fighting for its independence. Boston is a BIG city with way more to do than can be reasonably enjoyed in one day, but a chilly Saturday was all we had.
So we put on our walking shoes and spent the day following the Freedom Trail downtown. It turned out to be a great way to see the city’s different neighborhoods and we were able to avoid driving in Boston (yay for not being run over by someone yelling at us in an accent we don’t understand!)
We started our tour at the Old State House, built in 1713. While it was the seat of British government, it also served as a meeting place for the Massachusetts Assembly.
We really enjoyed learning about all the many debates and historic political events that took place in this building. It was outside this building that the Boston Massacre took place, and from its balcony that the Declaration of Independence was first read in MA on July 18, 1776. Our favorite thing here was listening to a re-telling of the Boston Massacre story. Apparently Paul Revere’s cartoon that showed up in all of our middle-school history books was modified a little to suit their patriot cause – oh public relations, how twisted you can be sometimes!
(John Hancock’s actually clothing, probably worn at the Declaration signing)
After leaving the building and walking past the massacre sight, we headed on to lunch at Quincy Market. The three market halls sit directly behind Faneuil Hall, built in 1742 and referred to as the “Cradle of Liberty.” Constructed by Peter Faneuil as a gift to the city, the first floor served as a public market, while the second floor’s meeting room saw a number of historical events including the protestation of the Sugar Act and later rallies for women’s rights and anti-slavery movements. Unfortunately for us, the hall is closed for restorations. However, we soon got lost in the more modern Quincy Market which is really just long, open halls of food stalls and little shops. Everywhere you look, there is something happening here and it reminded me a little of the atmosphere around Jackson Square in New Orleans (but in much tighter quarters!). We must have walked the food hall three times trying to decide what to get for lunch – there were so many choices! After deciding, we then had to fight what seemed like the entire city of Boston for space to actually sit down and eat. Apparently we all had the same idea that it was nice to be inside, out of the wind and cold!
After lunch, we picked up the bricked sidewalk that marks the Freedom Trail and came to King Chapel.
This gorgeous chapel was the house of worship for many well-known patriots. Families would rent the pew boxes, which were walled in to keep out the draft. The details in this church were beautiful, from the intricate communion rail pillows to the ornate elevated pulpit. King Chapel was full of markers outlining major events in its history, and it was obvious that the church played a large role in the city’s political climate. I could practically see the families sitting together in their boxes, listening to their pastor preach of freedom while a war began outside of the door. It seems like so few churches today take an active role in offering godly political perspectives, but that’s not how it’s always been.
The chapel’s cemetery was just as fascinating, with many markers dating back to the late 1600s. It still floors us to think of what a rich history this area has! The trail next led us past Benjamin Franklin’s birthplace (now used as a copy shop), as well as a corner bookstore which published a lot of the political literature of the revolution. We then came to the beautiful Boston Common. After a nice stroll, we ended up in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. The narrow streets and row houses in this area are what I used to picture when I thought of Boston. It felt like an intimate neighborhood in the middle of a big city and I absolutely loved it!
After Beacon Hill, we crossed into the north side of Boston, also known as the city’s little Italy. There was an Italian bakery on every corner, sandwiched between mom-and-pop Italian restaurants. Needless to say, we could have stayed here forever! Everyone looked straight out of Goodfellas and we often heard Italian being spoken as we passed people on the sidewalk. Even though it was freezing outside, we stopped for gelato and were not disappointed. It was also through this neighborhood that the Freedom Trail led us to Paul Revere’s home and the church from which they hung the two lanterns that sparked his midnight ride. It was pretty incredible to look at the actual window where the lanterns that began our nation’s revolution hung.
We continued on the trail and saw another historical cemetery, as well as Boston Harbor. Earlier in the day, at the State House, we had seen the actual tea leaves that were used during the Boston Tea Party, so it was nice to end our tour at the harbor.
It was also getting dark at that point, so we felt like we had done well taking our time to do the whole trail in one day. People say it only takes a few hours, but they must not spend much time at each place. I’m glad we took the day to really read through everything and take it all in.
We headed back to Quincy Market because we had heard earlier in the day that the city was lighting their Christmas tree that night at Faneuil Hall. We felt lucky to randomly be in town that night and really enjoyed standing in the square and counting down the seconds to the lighting. I still can’t believe December is almost here! We have less than two weeks left in Connecticut now, and it is incredible how quickly 13 weeks can fly by. We have loved every second of being here, and I’m so glad to have this blog and our pictures to help us remember this special place.