Boston and its North End offer a veritable surfeit of historical sites and stories: from the days of the American Revolution through the China trade period of the early 1800s, to the extraordinary tsunami of Irish, Portuguese, Jewish and Italian immigrants who flooded Boston over the last century-and-a-half. Each epoch has left an indelible impact on commerce, customs, religious traditions, politics and institutions – in sum – upon the very city and neighborhoods that we know today.
The Freedom Trail
The heart of the Freedom Trail is in the North End neighborhood and walked by 3.2 million visitors each year. The historic walking path was organized in 1951 when 16 sites were “linked” to better tell Boston’s story of the American Revolution. Overseen by The Freedom Trail Foundation, the distinctive red line weaves through 2.5 miles of downtown Boston.
In the North End, heading north, the Freedom Trail comes from Haymarket and Blackstone Street through the Greenway parks to Cross Street. The path then heads down Hanover Street, taking a short detour through North Square to pass the Paul Revere House before returning to Hanover Street. At St. Stephen’s Church, the path turns into the Prado – Paul Revere Mall park past Cyrus E. Dallin’s famous equestrian statue of Paul Revere to the Old North Church on Salem Street. From Old North, the trail heads up Hull Street to Copp’s Hill Burying Ground before heading out of the North End toward Charlestown.
The Harborwalk is a free public walkway along the waterfront with parks, public art, seating areas, cafes, exhibit areas, interpretive signage, water transportation facilities and a wide range of other amenities. In 1984, the Boston Redevelopment Authority joined in partnership with the Harborpark Advisory Committee and The Boston Harbor Association to initiate Harborpark focus on the revitalization of Boston’s waterfront. When completed, the HarborWalk will stretch some 46.9 linear miles along wharves, piers, bridges, beaches and shoreline from Chelsea Creek to the Neponset River.
In the North End, the Harborwalk is largely completed and among the most well-maintained and highly visited in the city. It encompasses the wharves along Boston Harbor (Battery Wharf, Burroughs Wharf, Lincoln Wharf, Union Wharf, Lewis Wharf, Sargent’s Wharf, Constellation Wharf, Commercial Wharf, Long Wharf, Central Wharf, India Wharf and Rowes Wharf) and several parks including Puopolo Park, Langone Park and Christopher Columbus Park. It also includes Mirabella Pool, Steriti Memorial Skating Rink and the New England Aquarium. The Coast Guard Base Harborwalk has recently re-opened through an entrance adjacent to Mirabella Pool and includes a circular sitting area and wooden pier, open from May through November. A pocket museum can also be found at the recently completed Battery Wharf. This information was sourced from BostonHarborwalk.com.
Old North Church
193 Salem Street
Boston, MA 02113
See the Old North Church on the Freedom Trail map.
The Old North Church (officially Christ Church in the City of Boston) at 193 Salem Street was constructed in 1723 and features a steeple that is 191 feet high. At the time, the Church represented the strong Puritan beliefs of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. At the beginning of the Revolution, most of the Old North congregation were loyal to the King of England. However, the church is most well-known for when Robert Newman, church sexton, held two lanterns on April 18, 1775 giving the famous “one if by land, two if by sea” signal to Paul Revere that the British were going to Lexington and Concord by sea. Still standing next to Old North is the Clough House, built in 1712, and representative of colonial architecture.
Paul Revere House
19 North Square, Boston, MA 02113
Telephone: (617) 523-2338
Admission: $3:50 (Waived for North End residents)
9:30 am – 5:15 pm (April 15 – October 31)
9:30 am – 4:15 pm (November 1 – April 14)
Closed Mondays in January – March, Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s Day
A c.1680 home owned by Paul Revere from 1770-1800. The wooden house is the oldest building in downtown Boston. The famous patriot was living here when he made midnight ride to Lexington on April 18, 1775, well-known through the famous poem of Paul Revere’s Ride by Longfellow. Next to the Paul Revere House is the Pierce Hichborn House, a 1711 brick building built in 1711.
Read NorthEndWaterfront.com posts on the Paul Revere House.
Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
Free admission; Open to the public daily 9:00 – 5:00; Enter on Hull Street (see map)
Copp’s Hill Burying Ground is located along Hull, Snow Hill and Charter Streets in the North End and is the second oldest burial ground in Boston, dating back to 1659 . (King’s Chapel on Tremont St. is the oldest, 1630.) Located at the highest point in the North End where a windmill once stood, it was originally the North Burying Ground, renamed Copp’s Hill after shoemaker William Copp who once owned the land. During the Battle of Bunker Hill, the British used vantage point of Copp’s Hill to point cannons toward Charlestown.
Over 10,000 bodies are buried at Copp’s Hill, including artisans, craftspeople and merchants from the North End, along with thousands of unmarked graves of African Americans who lived in “New Guinea” at the base of the hill. Among the most famous buried at Copp’s Hill are the Mather family, including Cotton and father Increase Mather, two Puritan ministers associated with the Salem witch trials, shipyard owner Edmund Hartt, builder of the USS Constitution, Robert Newman, sexton at Old North Church known for placing the signal lanterns in the steeple on the night of Paul Revere’s midnight ride, Shem Drowne, the weathervane maker who crafted the grasshopper atop Faneuil Hall and Prince Hall, anti-slavery activist, Revolutionary War soldier, and founder of the Black Masonic Order, now called the FreeMasons.
Copp’s Hill Burying Ground was listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It is also one of 16 burying grounds in the City of Boston’s Historic Burying Ground Initiative.
Read NorthEndWaterfront.com posts on Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.
The Mariners House in North Square is a historic hotel that was built in 1847 by the Boston Seaman’s Aid Society to be used as a boarding house for sailors. The society was founded in 1829 by Father Edward Thompson Taylor, the Port Society’s chaplain, and was to “improve the moral, religious and general condition of seamen and their families; to offer aid and encouragement to the poor and industrious seamen; and to promote the education of seamen’s children.”
Today, the space is still operated as a hotel that touts an “Affordable Luxury When You’re Anchored In Boston.” The hotel was built in the Greek Revival style and currently boasts 22 guest rooms that have kept their 19th century charm. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, the hotel features common areas, a parlor, library, galley, chapel / meeting hall and more.
The New England Holocaust Memorial, located on Congress Street in Boston, consists of six glass towers that symbolize the six major concentration camps from the Holocaust: Majdanek, Sobibor, Chelmno, Belzec, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. The six towers also represent the six years from 1939-1945 when the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, the “Final Solution,” took place. Engraved on the outside walls of each tower are groups of numbers representing the six million Jews that were killed, along with quotes from survivors of each camp.
Designed by Stanley Saitowitz and built in 1995, the tower is an outdoor space that is open and accessible to the public at all times. Visitor’s may walk underneath the towers as steam rises up through metal grates, symbolizing smoke rising from charred embers at the bottom of these chambers, to remember the horrors of the extermination.
The Memorial is located in Carmen Park on Congress Street near Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, and is accessible by public transportation from the Haymarket, Government Center and State Street MBTA stations. Take a self guided tour.
Charlestown Navy Yard
Charlestown, MA 02129
The USS Constitution, known as ‘Old Ironsides’ is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat. Located in the Charlestown Navy Yard, the ship was first launched in October of 1797 before heading to Caribbean on its first voyage in 1798. The ship served in the Barbary War, the War of 1812, among many voyages to France, England, and Holland. From May 1844 to September 1846, the ship sailed on a 52,370.5 mile cruise around the world.
Becoming an exhibit in 1897, the ship is located right along the Freedom Trail, where it’s open free of charge for public visitation throughout the year. However, the ship is currently dry-docked, undergoing a two year restoration and will not return to Pier 1 until 2018.
In addition to the museum, there are current active duty U.S. Navy Sailors that are assigned members of the USS Constitution crew, stationed as interpretative historians.
Plan your visit to the museum, which has a suggested donation of $5-$10 for adults, $3-$5 for children, and $20-$25 for families. Take a look at the 360-degree virtual experience and view more visitor information here.
Christopher Columbus Park (Waterfront Park)
Boston MA 02113
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Birthplace
4 Garden Court Street
Boston, MA 02113
The Prado (Paul Revere Mall )
390 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02113