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.

Prior to European colonization, the territory was inhabited by the 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 a home to many of America's firsts, such as the first public park (Boston Common in 1634), first public school (Boston Latin School in 1635), 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, 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 immigrations 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, where one of the most prominent patriots in American Revolution had lived, 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)

Boston Common (also known as "the Common") is a central public park in Boston and the oldest city park in the United States, established in 1634. Spread across 50 acres of land, it forms part of the Emerald Necklace of parks and parkways extended from the Common south to Franklin Park in Roxbury, and is open to use for formal or informal gatherings. Events such as concerts, protests, softball games, and ice skating are commonplace at the Common. Famous individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II have made speeches here, and Judy Garland gave her largest ever concert in the park on August 31, 1967.

One of the key highlights here is the Brewer Fountain – a gift to the city from Gardner Brewer in 1868. The fountain is made of bronze and set in a stone basin. The four figures around the base are Neptune - the Roman God of the sea, Amphitrite - one of Neptune's wives, Acis - the son of a river-nymph, and Galatea - Neptune's beloved sea-nymph.

Why You Should Visit:
To get broader insight into the history of the area and the US.

Just wander through and soak up the atmosphere of typically Bostonian life... This won't cost you a dime and if the sun shines, what could possibly be better?
In the winter, you can also go ice skating outdoors, at the Frog Pond. It may be crowded there, but good time is still guaranteed.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6:30am-11pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Park Street Church

2) Park Street Church

The Park Street Church (built 1810) is an active Conservative Congregational Church in Boston standing at the corner of Tremont Street and Park Street. The church's steeple rises to 217 feet and remains a landmark visible from several Boston neighborhoods. The steeple is seen as the terminus of both Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street, two of Boston's radial avenues.

The temple is adjacent to the historic Granary Burying Ground. The cornerstone of the church was laid on May 1, 1809 and construction was completed next year, under the guidance of Peter Banner (architect), Benajah Young (chief mason) and Solomon Willard (woodcarver). Banner took inspiration from several early pattern books, and his design is reminiscent of a London church by Christopher Wren. The church became known as "Brimstone Corner", in part because of the missionary character of its preaching, and in part because of the storage of gunpowder during the War of 1812.

Why You Should Visit:
Considering the size of numerous modern skyscrapers and tall buildings across the U.S., it is interesting to think that, back in the early years, this was the tallest building in the country.
Worth walking by to admire the architecture.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Granary Burying Ground

3) Granary Burying Ground

Founded in 1660, the Granary Burying Ground is the third-oldest cemetery in Boston. Located on Tremont Street, it is the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary War-era patriots, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence, Paul Revere and the five victims of the Boston Massacre. The cemetery's Egyptian revival gate and fence were designed by Boston architect Isaiah Rogers (1810-1849), who designed an identical gate for Newport's Touro Cemetery.

Prominently displayed in the Burying Ground is an obelisk erected in 1827 to the parents and relatives of Benjamin Franklin who was born in Boston and is buried in Philadelphia. The oldest memorial in the yard lies near the Franklin monument memorializing John Wakefield, aged 52, who died 18 June 1667. Why there is a seven-year gap between the establishment of the burying ground and the oldest memorial is unknown.

Why You Should Visit:
This is, of course, unique to Boston. As you may recall, Boston was one of the earliest settlements in the "New World", and you won't see headstones and burial rows, like the ones here, anywhere else.

A tour guide would be worth it to show you straight to the more notable graves here.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
King's Chapel

4) King's Chapel

King's Chapel is an independent Christian Unitarian congregation affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association that is "Unitarian Christian in theology, Anglican in worship, and congregational in governance." It is housed in what was formerly called the "Stone Chapel", an 18th-century structure at the corner of Tremont Street and School Street in Boston. The chapel building, completed in 1754, is one of the finest designs of the noted colonial architect Peter Harrison and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 for its architectural significance.

Inside, the church is characterized by wooden columns with Corinthian capitals that were hand-carved by William Burbeck and his apprentices in 1758. The current uniform appearance of the pews dates from the 1920s. Music has long been an important part of King's Chapel, which acquired its first organ in 1723. The present organ, the sixth installed in the Chapel, was built by C. B. Fisk in 1964. The local burying ground is the site of the graves of many historic figures.

Why You Should Visit:
Another example of a historically relevant edifice in the heart of Boston.
Architecturally speaking, it is simple, yet the craft of the details is exceptional.

Entry into the church is free; however, donations are accepted at the front entrance.
They offer a couple of tours (Bells & Bones + Art & Architecture) for a fee – take them!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm (Apr-Oct); Fri, Sat, Mon: 10am-4pm; Sun: 1:30-4pm (Nov-Mar)
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
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 in fact, although he was one of the Founding Fathers, a statesman, diplomat and the Ambassador to France, 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 own 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 Old South Meeting House (built 1729) in the Downtown Crossing area of Boston gained fame as the organizing point for the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773. 5,000 colonists gathered at the Meeting House, the largest building in Boston at the time. Old South Meeting House has been an important gathering place for nearly three centuries. Renowned for the protest meetings held here before the American Revolution when the building was termed a mouth-house, this National Historic Landmark has long served as a platform for the free expression of ideas. Today, the Old South Meeting House is open daily as a museum and continues to provide a place for people to meet, discuss and act on important issues of the day. The Old South Meeting House is claimed to be the second oldest establishment existent in the United States.

Why You Should Visit:
An inherent part of revolutionary history which adds to the many facets thereof in the city of Boston and is all the more interesting for it.

Plan some time to really take advantage of the museum – there are a lot of reading plaques.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5pm (Apr-Oct); 10am-4pm (Nov-Mar)
Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Dec 24 & 25, Jan 1
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Old State House

7) Old State House (must see)

The Old State House is a historic building, renowned for hosting the first elected legislature in the New World. Standing at the intersection of Washington and State Streets, it dates to 1713, which makes it the oldest public edifice in the city. Today it houses a history museum run by the Bostonian Society. Here, visitors can learn about the people and the events that have shaped the history of Boston, colony, state, and the whole of the United States.

The museum's exhibits occupy two floors and explain the role of the building, and that of the city of Boston, in the American Revolution. Also on display are collections of the Bostonian Society. Among the most notable exhibits is tea from the Boston Tea Party and John Hancock's coat. Visitors can hear testimony from the Boston Massacre trial; see Boston harbor paintings and other memorable items. Families with kids will enjoy hands-on history galleries with interactive exhibits on the 2nd floor.

Why You Should Visit:
An integral part of the Freedom Trail, it really is worth your while reading all that pervades this building, even if you decide not to enter.
They have an extensive gift shop, however, and you can pay for a 30 to 40-minute tour/talk outside about the Boston massacre.

To save money, there is a combo ticket that includes this, the Old South Meeting House, and Paul Revere's House.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm (Memorial Day - Labor Day closes at 6pm)
Closed at 3pm on Christmas Eve Day
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas & New Year's Days
Faneuil Hall Marketplace

8) Faneuil Hall Marketplace (must see)

Not far from the waterfront and the Government Centre is a large marketplace comprising Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, North Market and South Market, set around a cobblestone promenade.

Faneuil Hall was built in 1742 and given to the city as a gift from Peter Fan, a rich Bostonian merchant. On the cupola of the hall, you can see a grasshopper weather-vane which was placed there in 1745. The open ground floor of the hall was an indoor market place, frequented by merchants, fishermen, and meat and produce sellers.

It quickly became a favorite place for famous orators. It was in this hall that colonists first protested against the “Sugar Act” in 1764 and established the “No taxation without representation” slogan, which was the basis of the War for Independence. The hall is called the “Cradle of Liberty”.

Today the market is full of shops and restaurants and is a great place to stop for lunch or just for a drink. The venue is very popular with street players, jugglers, magicians and musicians, so you will be entertained while having your meal. The first floor of the hall is a meeting hall for debating societies, and the second floor is occupied by the Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company.

Why You Should Visit:
Delightful and archetypal Bostonian area in that it's smart, classy, relaxed, friendly, clean and inviting.
You can't go wrong here and the best thing about it is the co-location with so much else that's impressive.

Be sure to check out the grasshopper weather-vane on top of the building, once used to spot spies during the War of 1812!
Also, check out the inlay showing the original shoreline and long dock in the front plaza – very cool.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Paul Revere House

9) Paul Revere House (must see)

The Paul Revere House (1680) 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
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Hanover Street

10) Hanover Street

Established in the 1660s, North End is the oldest residential area of Boston. Home to the European-American community, predominantly of Italian origin, this small (only 0.36 square miles = 0.93 km2) neighborhood is renowned for its delicious Italian cuisine. Small as it is, the district nonetheless has its own “Fifth Avenue’’ analogue in the form of Hanover Street packed with nearly one hundred establishments and a variety of tourist attractions. Strolling down this street and its side alleys, seeing it narrow and widen again, and then parking yourself at a cafe for a cup of original cappuccino is ideal for those seeking to soak up the area's atmosphere!

Why You Should Visit:
This is the part of central Boston where they have all the main historic elements that relate to Paul Revere and his historically significant life.
There are lots of things to see and read. You can have an enjoyable, rewarding and educational experience for the whole family in wandering around this area without enduring a financial cost.

You can undertake a tour of North End as part of an overall Freedom Trail experience – and that's FREE as well.
Make reservations if you plan to eat between 5pm and 8pm in one of the many great restaurants in the area, as it is busy with locals and tourists.
Old North Church

11) Old North Church (must see)

Old North Church (officially, Christ Church in the City of Boston), at 193 Salem Street in the North End of Boston, is the oldest active church in the city and a National Historic Landmark. Built in 1723, it was inspired by the works of Christopher Wren, the British architect who was responsible for rebuilding London after the Great Fire.

A seminal location in American history, this is where the "One if by land, and two if by sea" lanterns shone, and from where Paul Revere's ride signaled the coming invasion of British soldiers into the city and marked the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. Individual visitors may wish to go inside this red brick church, the oldest in Boston, to hear more about the role of the church on that famous night in April 1775, learn about the church's history, and actually climb the stairs in the steeple (additional fee).

More recent history is reflected in a most unusual War Memorial for American soldiers who had lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (or the so-called "wars on terror"). Dog tags for each soldier who had lost his life had been hung on a chain in 15 rows, acting as wind chimes when the breezes blow across the church grounds. In addition, a small bronze wreath of poppies was set on a pedestal placed in a rock garden in front of the dog tags to commemorate soldiers who also had fought for the British and the Commonwealth forces.

Inside the church is a bust of George Washington, which the Marquis de Lafayette reportedly remarked as the best likeness of him he'd ever seen.

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed-Sat: 9am-6pm (Apr-Oct); Mon, Wed-Sat: 10am-4pm (Nov-Mar)
The church is closed to visitors on Tuesday

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