Growing up in Philadelphia, a huge player in America’s fight for independence from England, I always thought you couldn’t get more 18th century/Revolutionary War historic than there. Well, I was wrong. While it (moderately) pains me to say it on account of my hometown ties, Boston just oozed out the history. And it has to do with something called the Freedom Trail.
In case you’re not familiar with it, the Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile-long path through downtown Boston that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States, specifically its formation from colony to country.
There are a total of 16 official sites on the Trail, although obviously in a city like Boston one can find many more historical sites from that era simply from a combination of wandering and being armed with a good history book to point the way. But I think most people will stick to the 16 official ones because let’s face it, they’re the big ones. Paul Revere, the Boston Massacre, Bunker Hill-they’re all a part of the trail.
Since we spent my time in Boston in a rather eclectic fashion (Italian food tour, baseball game, art, history), we didn’t do the Trail in a linear, all at one sitting kind of way. Rather, when I was in the area of particular sites, we stopped and explored. I think this is what would work best for a lot of people too. For instance, on our first day there we saw spots like the site of the Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall, Granary Burying Ground, and the Old State House, but then on our second day checked out Paul Revere’s House and the Bunker Hill Monument as we were already in the area from having done our food tour earlier on.
In my opinion the coolest thing about the Trail (besides the incredible history) is that it truly is a marked trail. It’s not just a case of well, here’s your handout of a map to follow along. No, implanted in the sidewalks are red bricks that let you know you are following it. And at each of the sites, you’ll find a Freedom Trail marker in the shape of a circle. As Boston prides itself on being a walking city (and it really was, we did a TON of walking while there), it is lovely that these markers and the bricks exist. You wouldn’t think that in a city as large as Boston there would be a marked trail, but they have one.
The trail definitely comes in handy when visiting the Bunker Hill monument which is located across the Mystic River in the city’s oldest neighborhood, Charlestown. I didn’t realize that the red bricks would lead the way but they do. Save for the USS Constitution and the monument, Charlestown is much more of a residential neighborhood than other areas of Boston, devoid of the mobs of people you see outside of Faneuil Hall and the Paul Revere house, so it was nice to follow the bricks right to the Bunker Hill Monument instead if having a phone’s GPS system guide you.
Boston impressed me on so many fronts but especially in its dedication in preserving its rich historical past and making sure it’s easily accessible to its many visitors. Exploring the Freedom Trail is not to be missed (in case you couldn’t garner that by now).
For helpful information about the Trail click here.