Boston Introduction Walking Tour, Boston

Boston Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Boston

The capital of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States and it had played a key role in the country's struggle for independence. Founded in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England, it witnessed many events of the American Revolution, including the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston.

Before European colonization, the territory was inhabited by an indigenous tribe called Massachusett. Early European settlers had first called the area Trimountaine after its three mountains, only traces of which remain today. The city was later renamed after Boston, Lincolnshire, England, where several prominent colonists had originated from.

Boston has been a noted religious center since its earliest days. King's Chapel was the city's first Anglican church, founded in 1686. Other prominent local temples include Christ Church built in 1723 and better known as Old North Church, Park Street Church built in 1810, and many others.

Before the mid-18th century, the city had been the largest in the Thirteen Colonies and was home to many of America's firsts, such as the first public park (Boston Common in 1634), the first public school (Boston Latin School in 1635), the first subway system (Tremont Street subway in 1897), as well as numerous historical attractions, like the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Boston's oceanfront location made it a lively port, and the city primarily engaged in shipping and fishing during its colonial days. After the American Revolution, Boston's long seafaring tradition helped to make it one of the nation's busiest ports. It also thrived as a manufacturing hub.

In the 1800s, the local population grew rapidly amid the first wave of European immigrants, dominated by the Irish who fled the Great Famine back home. It established itself as the transportation hub for the New England region with its network of railroads, and even more importantly, the intellectual and educational center of the nation.

More immigrants came in the latter half of the 19th century. Chief among them were Germans, Lebanese, Syrians, French Canadians, and Russian and Polish Jewish settlers. The city's industrial base continued to expand well into the 20th century. In the 21st century, the city's economy is centered on education, medicine, financials, and high technology.

Nowadays, Boston's rich heritage lures history buffs and tourists in great numbers. Visitors from around the world come to see historical places like Paul Revere House and Old North Church, and learn the history of American Independence.

If you wish to follow in the footsteps of Boston's heroes, see memorials to the world-changing events, and generally make the most of your time in Boston, take this self-guided introduction walk to explore some of the city's most prominent sights!
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Boston Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Boston Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Boston (See other walking tours in Boston)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: anna
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Boston Common
  • Park Street Church
  • Granary Burying Ground
  • King's Chapel
  • Benjamin Franklin Statue
  • Old South Meeting House
  • Old State House
  • Faneuil Hall Marketplace
  • Paul Revere House
  • Hanover Street
  • Old North Church
Boston Common

1) Boston Common (must see)

William Blaxton was a priest of the Church of England. In 1623, as chaplain to the Ferdinando Gorges expedition, he sailed on the ship Katherine to the settlement of Weymouth, Massachusetts. The expedition failed, and everyone returned to England in 1625. But William stayed and became the first European to settle in Boston.

Puritans from Charlestown joined Blaxton in 1630 and awarded him fifty acres. He cannily sold it back to them in 1634, and this land became known as Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States. It is part of the "Emerald Necklace," a 1,100-acre chain of nine parks linked by parkways and waterways, extending south to Dorchester.

The Commons' fifty acres are bounded by Tremont Street, Beacon Street, Charles Street, and Boylston Street. A visitors' center is on the Tremont Street side of the park. The old Central Burying Ground is on the Boylston Street side.

These days the Boston Common is often the venue for concerts, events, and protests. It also continues to be a stage for free speech and public assembly. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pope John Paul II, and Mikhail Gorbachev had given speeches there. Judy Garland sang to more than 100,000 fans there in 1967. Prehistoric Native American sites found there date back as much as 8,500 years.

Monuments as features of the park include memorials for Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the Boston Massacre, Brewer Fountain, and Parkman Bandstand. All of these are here, including ice skating at the Frog Pond.
Park Street Church

2) Park Street Church

The Park Street Church is a station on the Freedom Trail of Boston. The idea for the church was a dream of the Religious Improvement Society in 1804. The project was started by the Society in 1809 at the Old South Meeting House, the indoor venue of the Boston Tea Party of 1773. The Society wanted to create a church with orthodox Trinitarian doctrine.

Construction began in May 1809 under the guidance of architect Peter Banner, the chief mason Benajah Young, and Solomon Willard, a wood carver. Peter Banner's design seemed to have been influenced by the tall iconic church towers of Christopher Wren, one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history. The tower of Park Street Church reaches 217 feet above the ground. It was the tallest building in the United States until 1828.

The first worship service was held on January 10, 1810. Services have continued at the Park Street Church uninterrupted to this day. The Church has been called "Brimstone Corner," partly because of fiery preaching but also for storing gunpowder there during the War of 1812. It has maintained a tradition of Evangelism in religion and social causes.

The Church was a center of abolitionist activity. On July 4, 1829, William Lloyd Garrison, a prominent American abolitionist, journalist, and social reformer, delivered his first anti-slavery speech at Park Street Church. The hymn and patriotic song "America," written by Samuel Francis Smith, American journalist, and author, was first performed on July 4, 1831, at the Church. The Handel and Hayden Society, known as H+H, is an American chorus and period instrument orchestra based there in 1815. The Park Street Church Day was announced on February 27, 2009, to honor its bicentennial.
Granary Burying Ground

3) Granary Burying Ground

The Granary Burying Ground is the third-oldest cemetery in Boston and the most visited historic burying ground, with over one million visitors each year. It was established in 1660 as a part of the Boston Common on Tremont Street. The cemetery has 2,345 tombstones, but there may be 5,000 people buried there, according to historians' estimation.

The remains of thousands of Boston citizens and notables lie within the walls of the Granary. It is the final resting place of the American patriot Paul Revere, the victims of the Boston Massacre, and the signers of the Declaration of Independence Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine.

The Burying Ground is next to the Park Street Church and the Boston Atheneum. The cemetery's Egyptian Revival-style gate and fence were designed by American architect Isaiah Rogers in 1840. Weathered, ornately designed rows of headstones dot the grounds. The obelisk to Benjamin Franklin's parents has been standing since 1827.
King's Chapel

4) King's Chapel

The congregation of the original King's Chapel in Boston was founded in 1686 by Royal Governor Sir Edmund Andros. It was the first Anglican church in New England. It was wooden, built on the corner of Tremont and School Streets. In 1754, the original chapel was replaced with the stone structure, designed by a colonial American architect Peter Harrison, that stands today.

The stone church was built around the wooden one. The wooden chapel was disassembled and passed through the windows of the new church. The wood removed was sent to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, where it was used to build St John's Anglican Church. There was a steeple planned for the stone church, but King's Chapel still awaits, topless.

The congregation of the church were Loyalists. During the Revolution, most of their families left for Nova Scotia or England. The few that remained behind reopened the church in 1782. The church became Unitarian in persuasion. Today it is a church of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The church's exterior has a flat-roofed portico with twelve Doric columns and rooftop balustrades. The large square tower of the church has four round arch window openings. The style is Georgian.

The interior has wooden Corinthian columns hand-carved by the sculptor William Burbeck. Pews are mostly once privately owned box pews. The pew, formerly owned by the Royal Governor, was later used by George Washington.
Benjamin Franklin Statue

5) Benjamin Franklin Statue

In front of the old City Hall, on the spot where the original Boston Latin School once stood, you will find the Benjamin Franklin Statue.

The 8-foot bronze statue was executed by Richard S. Greenough and put in place in 1856. It was the first statue of a human to be placed in any city in America. A lot of people think that Benjamin Franklin was President of the United States, but, although he was one of the Founding Fathers, a statesman, and a diplomat, he was never a president.

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston in 1706 and his father, who wanted him to become a clergyman, sent him to the Latin School. He didn’t finish his schooling and went to work for his brother who had a printing press. Franklin began to publish his articles and moved into the field of politics, where he was a staunch advocate for the abolition of slavery and the protection of Native American rights. He was the only person to have signed all four of the most important documents in American History: the Declaration of Independence, the Alliance with France Treaty, the Peace with Great Britain Treaty, and the Constitution of the United States.

Benjamin Franklin was also a scientist; in 1749 he invented the lightning rod. In his role as a statesman, Franklin formed the 1st public lending library and the 1st fire department in Pennsylvania.

The statue would probably have better light for photographing in the morning, but you'd still manage to get a decent photo in the afternoon as well.
Ruth's Chris Steak House is right there, so if you're a meat eater, that is a good place to stop, but be forewarned – there are many many more historic restaurants further down the Freedom Trail.
Old South Meeting House

6) Old South Meeting House

The building known as the Old South Meeting House was constructed in 1729. It was erected to replace the first wooden meeting house built for the Puritan congregation in 1669. The Old South is located at the intersection of Milk and Washington Streets in downtown Boston.

Standing in the center of town with its elegantly simple 183-foot steeple, the Old South Meeting House made a simple testament against Anglican ornate design. The church windows are not stained, and the interior is plain and unadorned. The church tower has a belfry and steeple topped with a weathervane. The 1768 tower clock is still on time.

In 1773, 5,000 colonists met in and around the Old South. They were protesting against the unloading of tea by three British ships at the dockside. The Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson determined the ships would unload. Inside the church, statesman Samuel Adams announced, "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country." The "Tea Party" was on.

The Hall is also a museum holding several exhibits about historical events that happened within its walls. The Old South Museum Shop has a fine collection of books on Boston history.

The congregation of Old South built a "new" Old South Church at Copely Square after the Great Fire of 1872. The residential centers had shifted away from the old center of town. Once a year, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the Old South congregation returns to its home at the Old South Meeting House for services.
Old State House

7) Old State House (must see)

The Old State House is a High Georgian-style brick building erected in 1713 to replace the wooden Town House of 1657 that had burned down in 1711, having possibly been designed by architect Robert Twelves. It is located at the intersection of Washington and States Streets and is one of the oldest public buildings in the United States.

The facade of the House is ornated. The pediment ends to hide the gambrel roof. It has a staged steeple and plain glass windows. Rampant lion and unicorn statues stand on the gables. Between the rampant animals is a large clock. Under the clock is a ceremonial balcony used by notable persons, including John Adams and Queen Elizabeth II.

The Declaration of Independence was read from this balcony. But it all began in 1761 when the lawyer and political activist James Otis, Jr. made his fiery speech in the Royal Council Chamber against the infamous "Writs of Assistance." John Adams wrote later, "Then and there the Child Independence was born."

In 1881, the Old State House escaped demolition when the Boston Society was formed to preserve and maintain the property. A year-long restoration was done by architect George A. Clough. The lion and unicorn seen today are replicas. The originals were carried away to Nova Scotia by Loyalists after the Revolution.

The House today is a museum with tours led by costumed Revolutionary characters. Rooms are filled with art and period artifacts. It is permitted to sit in the Royal Governor's chair in the King's Council Chamber. The statesman John Hancock left his velvet coat behind. There is even tea from the famous Tea Party.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace

8) Faneuil Hall Marketplace (must see)

It is ironic that Faneuil Hall in Boston, often referred to as "The Cradle of Liberty" should have been financed by a slave merchant. At a public meeting in 1740, slave merchant Peter Faneuil offered to build, at his own cost, a market hall as a gift to the town. Partially funded by slavery profits, the Hall was built in Dock Square.

The Faneuil Hall Marketplace was created between 1740-1742 by artist John Smibert. It was conceived in the style of a typical English market with an open ground floor for the actual market. The floor above was used as an assembly room. Destroyed by fire in 1761, it was rebuilt a year later. During the Revolution, the Hall became a theatre.

In 1806 the Faneuil Hall was significantly enlarged by architect Charles Bullfinch, who doubled the size of the building. He added the third floor, four new bays, enclosed open arcades and moved the cupola. The two lower floors had Doric pilasters. The third floor was equipped with Ionic pilasters.

In August 1890, Julius Caesar Chapelle, a black Republican legislator, made his famous "Cradle of Liberty" speech at the Faneuil Hall. Julius was supporting the Federal Elections bill giving Black folks voting rights. In 1979 Senator Edward Kennedy declared for the Presidency at the Hall. In 2006 the Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney signed his health bill there.

The other historical figures who have spoken at the Hall include Sam Adams and Jonathan Williams in 1773; Daniel Webster in 1826; Timothy Fuller in 1831; Edward Everett in 1834; Wendell Phillips in 1837; Charles Francis Adams in 1843; and Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1876. The Anti-Imperialist League was founded there in 1898.

Between the Hall and Congress Street is a 19th-century sculpture of Samuel Adams by sculptor Anne Whitney. The Faneuil Hall is still used for political debates and events. The artwork within the Hall includes paintings and sculptures of historical and political figures.
Paul Revere House

9) Paul Revere House (must see)

The Paul Revere House is the colonial home of American patriot Paul Revere during the time of the American Revolution. A prominent Boston industrialist, Revere is best known for his midnight ride to alert the colonial militia in April 1775 to the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord. He also helped organize an intelligence and alarm system to keep watch on the British military.

His house is located at 19 North Square, in Boston's North End, and is now operated as a nonprofit museum by the Paul Revere Memorial Association. In April 1908, the house opened its doors to the public as one of the earliest historic house museums in the United States.

Despite the substantial renovation process which returned the house to its conjectured appearance around 1700, 90 percent of the structure (including two doors, three window frames, and portions of the flooring, foundation, inner wall material, and raftering) is original to 1680, though none of the window glass is original. Its heavy beams, large fireplaces, and absence of interior hallways are typical of colonial living arrangements. The two chambers upstairs contain several pieces of furniture believed to have belonged to the Revere family.

Why You Should Visit:
Seemingly in excellent condition and, although with only four rooms to see, providing a good sense of the style and scale of homes back in the 1700s. It's a short house tour but the knowledgeable staff will answer questions you may have regarding Paul Revere and/or his house.

Entrance is $5 per person and they only accept cash, so make sure to have some on hand if you're interested in seeing this historic house.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-4:15pm (Nov 1 - Apr 14); 9:30am-5:15pm (Apr 15 - Oct 31)
Closed on Mondays in January, February, and March
Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
Hanover Street

10) Hanover Street

Hanover Street is located in the North End of Boston. The North End has been a community since 1646. Within three years, it had its church and the North Meeting House. One of the oldest streets in Boston is Hanover Street. As a native American pathway, Hanover Street long preceded the Pilgrims. It was called Orange Tree Lane at first. In 1708 it was named Hanover for the Royal line of Hanover.

Hanover Street is presently the home of many small businesses, cafes, and restaurants, mostly Italian. The part of the street between the Rose Kennedy Greenway and Union Street is closed Fridays and Saturdays to accommodate the Haymarket, Boston's centuries-old outdoor market.

Since Orange Tree Lane became Hanover Street, the street and its neighborhood have morphed several times. In 1824 North Street and old Middle Street were made a part of Hanover. In the 1950s, the section of Hanover Street, cut by Cross Street and Blackstone Street, was demolished to make way for the all-defacing Central Artery.

The unsightly Central Artery was eventually excised as a part of the Big Dig and replaced by the serenely attractive Rose Kennedy Greenway. More demolishing came along in the 1960s to establish the new Government Center.

The North End and Hanover Street have two irresistible attractions for visitors: great food and rich history. Start a walking tour in the North End of the historic Italian neighborhood. Snack, sample, and dine; fresh bread, salumeria (Italian deli), fruit, and cheeses. Spend half a day strolling this lively neighborhood.
Old North Church

11) Old North Church (must see)

"One if by land, two if by sea" is said to have been the light signal sent by Paul Revere, a patriot, and leader of the American Revolution, from the belfry of Old North Church. The British forces were on the move that night in April 1775, and Revere was alerting the resistance. The signal and Revere's "midnight ride" were followed by the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

The Old North Church is officially Christ Church in the City of Boston. It is located at 193 Salem Street in the city's fabled North End. It was built in 1723 by architect William Price. It is modeled on the St. Andrews-by-the-Wardrobe Church of Blackfriars in England. Similar designs were used by the English architect Christopher Wren to rebuild London after the Great Fire.

In the colonial era, the church was Anglican and Loyalist. King George II had donated a Bible and silver service to be used in worship. The church's 175-foot high, the three-tiered steeple was the tallest in town until the 217-foot steeple of the Park Street Church surpassed it in 1809. The current spire is a replica of the original.

The bell tower carillon consists of eight change-ringing bells, cast in England in 1744. One of the bells has an inscription declaring the bells to be the first cast for the American colonies. Paul Revere, although a congregationalist, served as a bell ringer at Old North as a child. This is according to a contract signed by him in 1750.

The inside of the church features high white box pews and the window used by Revere to escape capture. The cherubim on the organ and two brass chandeliers were captured from a French ship in 1726. The crypt holds the bones of 1,000 parishioners and those of Major John Pitcairn of the Royal Marines, killed at Bunker Hill.

The church is open for public tours from 9 am to 5 pm June through October. In all the other months the hours are 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

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