July 15, 2013

7/7/13 - Boston NHP

Before I go any further, I should tell you George balks at big cities, so any excursion into one needs to be made as simple as possible.  Since Boston was actually Step 1 in my plan to get to NYC, we took the subway to Boston Common.  Boston's definitely not car-friendly:  narrow streets, lack of parking, confusing street signs on one-way streets.  It is, however, very historical--so there's definitely a History Warning here!
Boston made it easy for tourists when they came up with the "Freedom Trail" in 1951, linking a lot of the downtown historical sites.  Today Boston National Historical Park is an urban memorial of Revolutionary War buildings and locations owned by the city, the state, the federal government and private organizations.  At some point, they ripped up part of the sidewalks to put in red bricks so it's easy to follow the trail. (Imagine it as the east coast version of the yellow brick road, but without Dorothy and Toto and their hangers-on.) 

Since Boston is called the "Cradle of Liberty", they had a lot of good Revolutionary War stuff to choose from. 

One of the brochures I picked up has snippets of history on each site.  For instance:  The golden dome of the State House was once made of wood, and later overlaid with copper by Paul Revere.  It was covered with 23 karat gold leaf for the first time in 1874.  The land for the State House was once John Hancock's cow pasture.  (Hmm, I knew John must have done more than sign his name but I'd never have guessed cows.)
Below is Park Street Church. On the 4th of July, 1831, the hymn "America" was first sung there. (I didn't know that.  Not sure I would have ever asked the question.  Nope--I'm sure; I wouldn't have asked....but now I know.)
The Granary Burying Ground is next to the church.  One of the explanations for the nice neat rows of headstones might have been to encourage people to stroll on the site instead of having sheep grazing on the unorganized, old-looking burial ground. (Can't have that, can we?) BTW, that's not Ben Franklin's tomb, although I thought it was when I took the picture.  He's buried in Philadelphia.
King's Chapel proves that the English colonists have been rebellious for a long time. In 1686, the Royal Governor built it on the town burying ground because no one would sell him land for a non-Puritan church for the British soldiers occupying the city.  (I think that's hilarious!  I didn't know those Puritans were that snarky.)
Benjamin Franklin's statue is at the original site of Boston Latin School. He attended classes there not long before he dropped out of school forever.   The school's moved, and the Old City Hall is here.

The Boston Massacre took place in 1770, in front of the Old State House.  The British officials called it the "Unhappy Disturbance at Boston"; Paul Revere labeled it a "bloody massacre". It definitely depends on which side you're on...

Five thousand angry colonists gathered there to protest a tax on tea--a good way to start a revolution. 

In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was first read (probably it was yelled) from the Old State House balcony.

The Boston NHP Visitor Center is at Faneuil Hall, "the Cradle of Liberty" where the Sons of Liberty protested against taxation without representation. (Now we have--no, never mind. I won't go into that!)
We followed the red brick line to the North End, which is now Boston's Little ItalyThis is the Paul Revere House, where he lived when he made his famous ride. 
                                             Listen, my children, and you shall hear
                                             Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere...
It's the oldest structure in downtown Boston and the only home on the Freedom Trail. (Looks pretty good for something built in 1680, doesn't it?)
The oldest church building in Boston is the Old North Church. Back to Longfellow's "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere", which is actually named "Paul Revere's Ride".
      Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
      Of the North Church tower as a signal

      One if by land, and two if by sea...

(I hope you're paying attention.  I'm not only including LOTS of American history here, but a little bit of American Literature.  Teachers all across the country should be giving me lots of extra credit.)

The British bombarded Charlestown with cannon fire during the Battle of Bunker Hill from Copp's Hill Burying Ground. Cotton and Increase Mather are buried here. (I don't remember much about them except their names, which are actually pretty cool.)
The trail took us across the Charlestown bridge over the Charles River to Charlestown to the Charlestown Navy Yard. (That really works well together, doesn't it?) We didn't stay too long in the USS Constitution Museum but went through the security check to go aboard the USS Constitution.
Built in 1797, the Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.  The hull is made of a 3-layer sandwich of wood so cannonballs fired at her during the War of 1812 bounced off--hence, the nickname "Old Ironsides". It's kind of weird seeing tour guides (who are active Navy personnel) in period uniforms, as well as other sailors in modern uniforms on board the ship.
Did I mention that it was really hot and humid? Did I mention that the Freedom Trail is 2.5 miles long? I don't need to mention that Bunker Hill is, ummm, a hill.  So here's the only picture I took of Bunker Hill because this is as close as we got to the monument there. We didn't have to worry about not firing until we saw the whites of their eyes since we didn't have anything to fire.  (We had, after all, passed the security check.)
After a well-deserved stop for ice cream, that was the end of the trail for us--except for the minor inconvenience of turning around and doing it in reverse.  I like these other buildings in Boston not related to the Revolutionary War.

Tremont Temple Baptist Church

Custom House Tower
The Boston Five Cents Savings Bank Building
It's actually a good thing we left when we did--it poured on us on the way back to the RV park!  I wouldn't have wanted to walk in this stuff.
Link to more pictures:  Boston NHP

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