North End Sightseeing (Self Guided), Boston

The North End was the city's first neighborhood, and one that has been key to its fortunes. Known as Boston's Little Italy, it has been home to Italian immigrants through much of the 20th century, and still retains an European flavor in its many restaurants, cafés, and specialty shops. This neighborhood is one of those where it's easy to get lost, so take this self-guided walk to appreciate its main historical landmarks and thoroughfares before venturing in the less traveled areas.
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North End Sightseeing Map

Guide Name: North End Sightseeing
Guide Location: USA » Boston (See other walking tours in Boston)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 Miles
Author: anna
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Paul Revere House
  • St. Leonard's Church and Peace Garden
  • Hanover Street in North End
  • Captain Jackson's Historic Chocolate
  • Old North Church
  • Copp's Hill Burying Ground
  • Charlestown Bridge
Paul Revere House

1) 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
St. Leonard's Church and Peace Garden

2) St. Leonard's Church and Peace Garden

Take the time to visit this unique church, run by Franciscan friars and with quite a bit of historic relevance! Lying at the heart of the North End since the 1870s, St. Leonard's is the first Roman Catholic establishment in New England and is known for housing St. Anthony's shrine, the oldest of its kind in Boston.

From the street, the lovely Peace Garden will draw you in. After looking around there, step into the upper church to see all of the colorful statues of saints that line the sides, the beautiful stations of the cross, as well as the frescos and stained glass. From an artistic perspective, regardless of faith (or lack thereof), St. Leonard's is definitely worth your time.

There is no entry fee, but the gift shop has plenty of ways to spend a few dollars.
Hanover Street in North End

3) Hanover Street in North End (must see)

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.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Captain Jackson's Historic Chocolate

4) Captain Jackson's Historic Chocolate

Tucked away next to the Old North Church on the Freedom Trail, this cute little colonial-style shop is a great place to stop into while if you are a chocoholic AND a history buff. The animated staff at Captain Jackson's will explain how chocolate was consumed and prepared back in the day during Revolutionary times (from the cacao bean to the finished beverage), and you will learn all sorts of tidbits about how the colonists liked their chocolate and about British taxation ramifications affecting how they prepared it. On most days you will get to sample it (in drinking form) based on the historic recipe, which is absolutely delicious and rich.

Be forewarned: All employees are dressed in full colonial garb (long skirts, buckled shoes, aprons..) and speak as if they are living in the time period they represent. But though they may not know what a candy bar is, they are all quite knowledgable about the products in the shop. Apart from chocolate gifts, the shelves are full with unique things to buy, from Old North Church/Boston memorabilia to antique cooking knick-knacks.

Be sure to check out the historic printing press (with a live demo) right next door, which is also a fun and informative stop.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-6pm
Old North Church

5) 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
Copp's Hill Burying Ground

6) Copp's Hill Burying Ground

When you follow the Freedom Trail you will see many interesting historical sites and one of them is the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, which came into use in 1659, making it the second oldest burial ground in Boston. In 1974 it became part of the National Historic Register.

At first it was called Windmill Hill, but was later renamed Copp’s Hill after William Copp who once owned the land. Copp was a shoemaker and the burial ground became the final resting place of craftsmen, artisans and merchants. On the Snowhill Street side of the graveyard are many unmarked graves of African Americans.

It is also the burial site of the famous (or infamous) Salem witch-hunters Cotton and Increase Mather; Edmund Hart, a rich shipyard owner; Prince Hall, ardent abolitionist and founder of the Black Masonic Order; Robert Newman, who placed the signal lanterns on the Old North Church steeple for Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride to Lexington and Concord during the War for Independence. Another tombstone marks the place where George Worthylake, the first keeper of the Boston Lighthouse, is buried.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Charlestown Bridge

7) Charlestown Bridge

The Charlestown Bridge (also called the North Washington Street Bridge) is located in Boston and spans the Charles River. As the river's easternmost crossing, the bridge connects the neighborhoods of Charlestown and the North End. Completed in 1900, the bridge carries a portion of the Freedom Trail linking to the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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