|Old North Church|
Boston is by far the most historic U.S. city I have every visited, and I wonder if it's the most historic U.S. city, period. Sure, there's Jamestown and Richmond and Gettysburg, and perhaps you could make a case for Savannah or St. Augustine. But visiting Boston was like walking into my elementary school social studies textbooks. Never have I seen so many historic buildings and sites in a single afternoon.
And it was so easy! The major stops are all along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile path marked by a thick red line along the sidewalks and crosswalks. It starts at Boston Common (conveniently just a few blocks from the hotel where we stayed) and ends across a bridge in Charlestown, with a visit to the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill.
I had a map of the Freedom Trail in my pocket, and we even downloaded a Freedom Trail app onto our phones, but neither was absolutely necessary, and both were rarely used. The red marker on the ground was easy to see and follow, and the sites had clear markers explaining their historical significance. The trail does, however have a nice website if you want to learn about the sites before you visit. I'll cover some of the highlights below.
The Massachusetts State House was difficult to miss with its gleaming gold dome. Unfortunately it seemed to be closed for the long holiday weekend, so we didn't get to go inside.
The nearby Granary Burying Ground was beautiful in the morning sun. The cemetery was small, but lots of tourists wandered the trails, stopping especially to see the stones for Paul Revere and Samuel Adams.
|Paul Revere's stones|
Faneuil Hall was the site of many important meetings (Sugar Act and Stamp Act protests, for example), but now the area seems to draw crowds for the nearby Quincy Market restaurants and stores. The crowds certainly were thick on Black Friday, but I managed to find a Christmas ornament and try a cup of Boston clam chowder.
We also saw Paul Revere's house, but more interesting was the Old North Church and its famous (though rebuilt) steeple. "One if by land, two if by sea," anyone? The inside of the Episcopal church was nearly as interesting. The pews were arranged in boxes surrounded by shoulder-high white walls to keep out the drafts.
Paul and I both agreed that the Old North Church was our favorite stop of the trip. The Charlestown section of the Freedom Trail was a close second for me. More about that on Friday.