Boston: Walking the Freedom Trail

During my time in Boston last week I walked downtown to see the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a brick or red paint path laid out through some of the historic parts of Boston, designed as a walking tour. The trail begins at the Boston Common. You can sign up for guided tours or venture out on your own. I downloaded a map of the trail as a pdf for my phone and a free application for my phone that contained a map and information about the sites on the trail (The Freedom Trail Walking Tour).

The Freedom Trail is marked by bricks or red paint.

It was a beautiful summer day to walk the trail.

The State House in Boston is the first stop.

It is fascinating to see all the old buildings and structures. I wandered around the Granary Burying Ground for a while. The number of people buried at the site is not known, for some markers are missing, shared, or were never set up. It is interesting to see the different sizes and levels of extravagance of the markers. John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and Benjamin Franklin’s parents are all buried at this location. They have large markers that have been added well after their deaths. Many of the markers feature a design that looks like a winged skull (it is featured on the stone in the foreground of the picture below). Does anyone know the significance or origin of this design? It was so common; I figure it must have a story or explanation.

The Granary Burying Ground in Boston.

I really like the old buildings standing defiantly in the midst of the larger modern buildings. The Old State House holds its own on Washington Street.

The Old State House in Boston.

Faneuil Hall is called the Cradle of Liberty, for rallies and speeches that it hosted were part of the formation of the United States of America. A statue of Samuel Adams stands in front of the Hall. He looks quite determined.

Samuel Adams in front of Faneuil Hall in Boston.

The weather vane on the roof of Faneuil Hall is a grasshopper.

The grasshopper weather vane on Faneuil Hall.

A marketplace sits beside Faneuil Hall, called the Quincy Market or the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. It was bustling with activity as I walked through it shortly after noon. Street performers mimicked statues, played instruments, juggled, and break danced. Sidewalk vendors sold food and tourist trappings. And the restaurants and shops in the market had bright and engaging outdoor displays and seating areas. Thanks to a tip from my friend Ryan I sought out Durgin-Park, an establishment that notified me they were: “Established Before You Were Born.” I walked in and found a great seat at a small table in its own recessed spot along a wall (for a person who values space, it was a pleasant little refuge to retreat to for lunch in a busy urban environment).

The view from my secluded table in Durgin-Park.

The first Herbert Hoover campaign poster featuring a reflected neon martini glass that you have seen.

Directly behind my head (so close in fact, that my head regularly brushed the frame) was a framed Herbert Hoover campaign poster. When I stood up to view the picture, a neon martini glass sign in the adjacent window cast a glow, resulting in the first Herbert Hoover campaign poster with a superimposed martini glass that I have seen. I suspect it might be the first one you have seen too. Correct me if I am wrong.

I ordered fish and chips, a side of Boston baked beans, and a Sam Adams Summer Ale. Reviews I had read of Durgin-Park were rather critical of the food, but I found it to be rather good. Yes, the prices are a bit high–but not outrageous. And it’s not everyday you get to see a campaign poster for Herbert Hoover.

Lunch at Durgin-Park.

After lunch I served as a photographer in the market for a while. (When I am traveling by myself I often offer to take photos for people. In all my years doing this I have only been turned down two times–I believe once because someone did not want to be in a photo and once because the person thought I was going to steal his camera. During my Cooperstown and Boston vacation I was never turned down when I made the offer, thus I shot many pictures.)

When I got back on the trail I saw the Paul Revere House and the Paul Revere Mall which were both interesting. Close by was the Old North Church, where Paul Revere was a bell ringer. The church was also the location where the signal was displayed to alert Revere to go on his famous ride.

After crossing the Charlestown Bridge I saw the Bunker Hill Monument, which marks the spot of the first major battle of the American Revolution.

The Bunker Hill Monument.

A dashing statue of Colonel William Prescott in front of the Bunker Hill Monument.

I climbed the 294 steps to the top of the monument. The view was a bit disappointing, for the openings were small and the covering glass was cloudy and smudged. Many people were jammed into the small room at the top of the monument, so I only had a short time to look out before starting the descent. I took a few quick pictures, but they did not turn out as well as I had hoped.

A view of Boston from the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.

My next stop was the harbor. I walked through the USS Constitution Museum.

The USS Constitution Museum.

While in the museum–in a section where photography was prohibited–I encountered a working hoist that allowed visitors to haul a fake goat back and forth. I was compelled to covertly take a photo of this goat.

Hoist the goat!

In a dry dock beside the museum sits the USS Cassin Young. It served in World War II and was active until 1960. The ship is managed by the National Park Service and may be toured. I spent some time exploring it. The torpedoes were very cool to see up close.

The USS Cassin Young in dry dock.

Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution, resides in the harbor. To board the ship visitors must go through security screening. I did–it is debatable if it was worth it. The line was long, and the deck of the ship was crowded (which made good photos almost impossible to get while on the ship). Still, it was neat to see the cannons up close. And the bells were very ornate and shiny. I really wanted to climb the mast, but that was strictly prohibited.

The U.S.S. Constitution.

I enjoyed seeing the old parts of Boston. I’m glad that I decided to walk to Freedom Trail–it was well worth it.

I saw many exceptional Hydrangea macrophylla specimens in Boston. Most of them had pink and blue flowers, sometimes a violet color as well. Many times the color of H. macrophylla can be manipulated by changing the pH of the soil (which changes the availability of aluminum). I’m curious if the frequency of multicolored plants in Boston is due to soil conditions or a particular cultivar that is being planted.

A multi-colored hydrangea in Boston.

I also got a kick out of seeing Boston ivy in Boston.


Boston ivy in Boston!


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