The Freedom Trail is one of the more popular tourist attractions in Boston. Really, it’s made up of 16 points of interest. There are many tour companies if you’re interested in a guided tour. My husband and I joined The Freedom Trail Foundation tour. A nice bonus is that they donate $1 from every ticket sale to a preservation fund. A 90-minute tour costs $15 per person and includes 11 sites on the trail.
Like many of the tour groups in Boston, time-period characters lead this one. I recommend Judith Sargent Murray — the first woman in America to self-publish a book and also the first playwright to have a play produced on the American stage. She was very knowledgeable but also added some interesting tidbits in her own witty way.
Here are some highlights from that tour:
Boston Common was once used to graze cattle and was sold to colonists from Boston’s first inhabitant, William Blackstone. Today, families and couples picnic in the grassy areas, many unaware that they’re doing so over unmarked graves.
Park Street Church is where school children were the first to sing “My Country ’tis of Thee.” Interesting fact: “My Country ’tis of Thee” has the same melody as the British National Anthem.
Granary Burying Ground
This is the burial site for three of the Declaration of Independence signers: John Hancock, Sam Adams and Robert Treat Paine. Within Sam Adams’ family plot lie the five victims of the Boston Massacre. Not that the loss of five lives should go unaccounted, but the term “massacre” was clearly a propaganda tactic by the patriots. The most searched for tomb is that of Paul Revere in the back of the graveyard. Interesting fact: Across from the graveyard is the Beantown Pub — the only place where you can have a cold Sam Adams beer while looking at a cold Sam Adams.
A statue of Benjamin Franklin marks America’s oldest public school, the Boston Latin School. Today, it’s a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
The Old State House is where the Declaration of Independence was read aloud for the first time in Boston and where a memorial marks the site of the Boston Massacre. The confrontation actually occurred on State Street across from the Old State House, but city officials figured it wouldn’t be smart to put a marker in the middle of a busy intersection. Interesting fact: The country’s first propaganda piece was Paul Revere’s illustration of the Boston Massacre depicting British redcoats as monsters.
Peter Faneuil built the building to carry on his legacy. He did not have children to do that because he promised his uncle that he wouldn’t marry in order to receive the family inheritance. The first floor houses the country’s first indoor marketplace and atop it all is a grasshopper weather vane. During the War of 1812, you were suspected of being a spy if you couldn’t answer the question, “Do you know what’s on top of Faneuil Hall?” There is also a colonial time capsule in its stomach.
Paul Revere’s House
So … that portrait of Sam Adams on Samuel Adams® beer is actually a likeness of Paul Revere. It was thought that Sam Adams was not very handsome. Do a web search for “Jack Black and Paul Revere.” *This site was not on our guided tour.
Old North Church was immortalized through Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” and played a major role in the start of the Revolutionary War. At this church, two lanterns were briefly hung from the steeple to indicate that the British troops were traveling through Boston by sea. And, so goes the saying “one if by land, two if by sea.” The church still holds service today. Pews are separated like a sport stadium with field boxes. The boxes were purchased by families and decorated to their liking. *This site was not on our guided tour.
Don’t miss all three levels of this floating piece of history. The boat is taken out to stretch its rudders every now and then and even has an active U.S. Navy crew. *This site was not on our guided tour.
Bunker Hill Monument
The battle of Bunker Hill actually occurred on Breed’s Hill. Bunker Hill is the next hill over. The towering monument looks a lot like the Washington Monument. *This site was not on our guided tour.