The Freedom Trail (Part 3), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Faneuil Hall,

Faneuil Hall, “the Cradle of Liberty”, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Often referred to as “the home of free speech” and “the Cradle of Liberty”, Faneuil Hall was one of America’s first public meeting venues. Built by wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil — who is buried in the Granary Burying Ground featured in Part 1 of our blog posts on The Freedom Trail — in 1741, this imposing structure is the place where the Sons of Liberty proclaimed their dissent against Royal oppression. Faneuil Hall has served as an open forum meeting hall and marketplace for more than 270 years and has continued to provide a forum for debate on the most consequential issues of the day.

Hot buttered lobster rolls and fresh shrimp for sale in Faneuil Hall market, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Hot buttered lobster rolls and fresh shrimp for sale in Faneuil Hall market, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The first floor served as a marketplace for the local townspeople to sell their goods. Today, Boston National Historic Park operates the Faneuil Hall Visitor Center and the ground floor is filled with both locals and tourists shopping in the marketplace.

Boston Chowda restaurant stall in Faneuil Hall market, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Boston Chowda restaurant stall in Faneuil Hall market, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

In addition to fresh Maine lobsters, lobster rolls and lobster bisque, shoppers can also purchase lobster mac and cheese pies — at the Boston Chowda stall in Faneuil Hall in Boston.

Lobster mac and cheese pies at Boston Chowda in Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Lobster mac and cheese pies at Boston Chowda in Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Built around 1680, the Paul Revere House is the oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston and the only home on the Freedom Trail.  Paul Revere purchased this former merchant’s dwelling in 1770, when he was 35 years old.  He and his family lived here when Revere made his famous messenger ride on the night of April 18-19, 1775.

Paul Revere House (circa 1680), the oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Paul Revere House (circa 1680), the oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, USA

After serving as a rooming house and tenement for some of the thousands of Irish, Jewish and Italian immigrants who lived in the neighborhood, the building was restored in the early 20th century and opened to the public in April 1908.  Today the Paul Revere House serves as a museum and historic site where visitors can learn about Paul Revere’s life and times and experience what home life was like in 17th and 18th century Boston.

Paul Revere statue in Paul Revere Mall behind Old North Church, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Paul Revere statue in Paul Revere Mall behind Old North Church, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

“Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere…”  With these words, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized the Old North Church and Paul Revere in American folklore.

Old North Church, the oldest church building in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Old North Church, the oldest church building in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Visiting the oldest church building in the city of Boston gives one the opportunity to sit in the same box pews owned by colonial congregants.  It was from here that Paul Revere set out on his famous ride — “one if by land, and two if by sea” — on April 18, 1775, that ignited the American Revolution.

Interior of Old North Church, from which Paul Revere began his midnight ride to warn the citizenry of Boston on 18 April 1775, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Interior of Old North Church, from which Paul Revere began his midnight ride to warn the citizenry of Boston on 18 April 1775, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Old North Church is still an active Episcopal congregation and one of the most visited historic sited in Boston. 

Beautiful interior stairway in Old North Church, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Beautiful interior stairway in Old North Church, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Freedom Trail continues north through the city of Boston and across the Inner Harbor to include four last sites:  Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, USS Constitution “Old Ironsides”, USS Constitution Museum and Bunker Hill Monument — points that we missed due to time constraints.

The Freedom Trail (Part 2), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Map of The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Map of The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Freedom Trail passes directly by Boston’s Old City Hall which opened in 1865 and served as City Hall until 1969 when it was renovated for use as an office building (including, presently, a Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurant).  At the time of the conversion — one of the first examples of adaptive use for an historic building — it heralded the beginning of this new concept.  The granite exterior was designed in the French Second Empire style characterized by ornamented columns, a mansard roof and a projecting central bay.  The murals at the building entrances illustrate the history of both the building and the site.

Old CIty Hall 1865 - 1969 (now an office building), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Old CIty Hall 1865 – 1969 (now an office building), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The site was the home of the Boston Latin School (1635), the nation’s first public school and the oldest educational institution in the country (originally for boys only…until 1972!).  It is fabled that on 19 April 1775, word of shots fired in Lexington circulated rapidly throughout Boston with, “Close your books, School’s done, and war’s begun!”  One of the school’s most famous student, Benjamin Franklin, is remembered on the site with a bronze statue.

As shown, below, the courtyard sculpture of Benjamin Franklin in front of the Old City Hall depicts Franklin dressed in the attire appropriate to his day; this is the first portrait statue in the United States depicting the subject as he would actually appear rather than draped in classical heroic attire.

Benjamin Franklin, born in Boston 17 Jan. 1706, died in Philadelphia 17 Apr. 1790 -- statue at Old City Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Benjamin Franklin, born in Boston 17 Jan. 1706, died in Philadelphia 17 Apr. 1790 — statue at Old City Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

On the base of  Franklin’s portrait sculpture is a relief sculpture depicting the signing of the Declaration of American Independence on 4 July 1776, 

Relief sculpture on Franklin's statue -- Declaration of American Independence 4 July 1776, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Relief sculpture on Franklin’s statue — Declaration of American Independence 4 July 1776, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The front courtyard of the Old City Hall has two sculptures and a plaque which answers a question that many Americans don’t know the answer to:  what is the origin of the two mascots of the major American political parties — Democrats (Donkey) and Republicans (Elephant)?

“When, in 1828, Andrew Jackson established the Democratic party and ran for president using the popular slogan, “Let the people rule”, his opponents thought him silly and labeled him a “jackass”.  Jackson, however, picked up on their name calling and turned it to his advantage by using the donkey on his campaign posters.  Over the year this donkey has become the accepted symbol of the Democratic party. 

“The symbol of the Republican party in 1874 was born in the imagination of cartoonist, Thomas Nash, in Harper’s Weekly.  Soon other cartoonists used the elephant to symbolize Republicans, and eventually Republicans adopted the elephant as their official symbol.”

The Democratic Donkey (opposite The Republican Elephant) at Old CIty Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Democratic Donkey (opposite The Republican Elephant) at Old CIty Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

No tax on tea! This was the decision on 16 December 1773, when 5,000 angry colonists gathered at the Old South Meeting House to protest a tax… and started a revolution with the Boston Tea Party. Built in 1729 as a Puritan house of worship, the Old South Meeting House was the largest building in colonial Boston. From outraged protests over the Boston Massacre to the night when Samuel Adams gave the secret signal to throw 340 crates of tea into Boston Harbor, colonists assembled at Old South to challenge British rule.

Old South Meeting House (1729), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Old South Meeting House (1729), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Old State House, Boston’s oldest public building, was built in 1713 as the seat of British colonial government.  Here the Royal Governor and Massachusetts Assembly debated the Stamp Acts and the Writs of Assistance.  The Declaration of Independence was first read to Bostonians from the east balcony on 18 July 1776.  The building served as the State House until 1798, and was also Boston’s City Hall from 1830 to 1841.

The Old State House (1713), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Old State House (1713), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Corner of the Old State House (1713) surrounded by more modern downtown buildings, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Corner of the Old State House (1713) surrounded by more modern downtown buildings, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

 

The Freedom Trail (Part 1), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Introduction to The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Introduction to The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

“The Freedom Trail [a registered trademark!] is a one-of-a-kind American experience”, according to the 2015 Official Brochure produced by the Freedom Trail Foundation.  “Close to 60 years ago the CIty of Boston recognized that a cluster of buildings and locations in the downtown area were so historically significant that they had to preserve them for generations to come.  These 16 sites are The Freedom Trail — the backbone of the American Revolutionary story. ” [Additional information may be found at:  http://www.TheFreedomTrail.org]

The first stop on the Freedom Trail is Boston Common, adjacent to Boston’s Public Garden (see our previous blog post).  The Boston Common is America’s oldest public park, having begun as a “common” grazing ground for sheep and cattle.  The local citizenry was assessed for the purchase of 44 acres of open land, held in common by the people and used as a pasture, dating back to the City’s founding in 1630. 

The photograph below is the Massachusetts State House, designed by Charles Bulfinch (a famous colonial architect).  This “new” State House was completed on January 11, 1798.  The original wooden dome was later overlaid with copper by Paul Revere;  not until 1874 was it covered with 23-karat gold leaf (as shown). 

Massachusetts State House, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Massachusetts State House, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The land for the State House was originally used as John Hancock’s cow pasture (he later was president of Congress and the first signer in 1776, in large flamboyant characters, of the United States Declaration of Independence — a large signature so that England’s King George could read it without his spectacles).  Note that it is under the golden dome that the senators, state representatives and the governor conduct the daily business of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Park Street Church, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Park Street Church, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The 217-foot steeple of the Park Street Church was once the first landmark that travelers saw when approaching Boston.  Its lofty architecture, designed by Peter Banner, reflects the lofty mission of human rights and social justice.  Prison reform began in this church, women’s suffrage was strongly supported here, and some of the first and most impassioned protests against slavery were delivered inside.  The church was founded in 1809.  The site of the Park Street Church is known as “Brimstone Corner”, perhaps because the church building once housed brimstone (a component of gun powder) in its basement during the War of 1812.  Or maybe it’s because old-school ministers delivered many a “hell-fire and brimstone” sermons here. 

“America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)”, by Samuel Francis Smith, was first sung at Park Street Church on July 4, 1831. 

Many important organizations were founded here, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

Granary Burying Ground, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Granary Burying Ground, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Some of America’s most notable citizens rest in the Granary Burying Ground.  An elaborately embellished obelisk marks the site of john Hancock’s tomb.  Benjamin Franklin’s parents, along with Revolutionary heroes such as Paul Revere (see below), Samuel Adams, James Otis, all five of the Boston Massacre victims, and Peter Faneuil are also buried here.

Paul Revere's tomb, Granary Burying Ground, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Paul Revere’s tomb, Granary Burying Ground, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

King’s Chapel, founded in 1688, was the first non-Puritan church in the colonies and became the first Unitarian Church in America.  It houses the oldest American pulpit in continuous use.  By 1749 the congregation outgrew its original wooden building and hired Peter Harrison, America’s first architect, to build the current structure.  Construction began that year and was completed in 1754.  It was the first dressed stone building constructed in the colonies, made of granite quarried in Quincy, MA.

King's Chapel, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

King’s Chapel, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The magnificent interior is considered the finest example of Georgian church architecture in North America.  Paul Revere crafted the King’s Chapel’s 2,347 pound (1,065 kilograms) bell in 1816, and he proclaimed it the “sweetest sounding” he had ever created.

Interior view, King's Chapel, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Interior view, King’s Chapel, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Today, King’s Chapel looks very much as it did when it opened over 260 years ago.

Detail of the interior, King's Chapel, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Detail of the interior, King’s Chapel, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Adjacent to the Chapel, King’s Chapel Burying Ground was Boston proper’s only burying place for nearly 30 years. John Winthrop, Massachusetts’ first governor, and Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off the Mayflower, are buried here.

Burying Ground at King's Chapel, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Burying Ground at King’s Chapel, on The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

 Our walk along The Freedom Trail will be continued in our next two blog posts.

 

Public Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Boston Public Garden has a variety of flora and is centrally located in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Boston Public Garden has a variety of flora and is centrally located in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

With four grandchildren four and under, there was no way we could head off to the Boston Freedom Trail to immerse ourselves in early American history and architecture and luminary leaders without first stopping by the Public Garden, founded in 1837.  It is centrally located in downtown Boston, adjacent to the well known Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods, adjacent to the intersection of Charles and Beacon Streets, and just west of the Boston Common (see our next blog post).

Boston Public Garden, founded 1837, is devoted to ornamental design, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Boston Public Garden, founded 1837, is devoted to ornamental design, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

So, why would our grandchildren be interested in THIS garden?  In addition to the well known swan boats on the pond in the garden, our grandchildren know about  the Public Garden through Robert McCloskey’s wonderful illustrated book, Make Way for Ducklings, set in the garden. The duckling sculpture, pictured below, was created by Nancy Schon in 1987, based on the book.  The inscription by the ducks reads:  “This sculpture has been placed here as a tribute to ROBERT MCCLOSKEY whose story Make Way for Ducklings has made the Boston Public Garden familiar to children throughout the world; 1987.”

Ducklings Sculpture by Nancy Schon, 1987, based on Robert McCloskey's book "Make Way for Ducklings", Boston Public Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Ducklings Sculpture by Nancy Schon, 1987, based on Robert McCloskey’s book “Make Way for Ducklings”, Boston Public Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The Garden and the adjacent Boston Common are bordered by some beautiful residential buildings.

Typical residential housing, Beacon Hill (overlooking the Boston Public Garden), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Typical residential housing, Beacon Hill (overlooking the Boston Public Garden), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Before setting off on The Freedom Trail, which originates in Boston Common, we had a chance to view the sculpture below, illustrating the founding of the city in 1630 (old by American standards, but certainly recent history compared with Egypt, China, Greece, Italy, and Mesopotamia, for example).

The founding of Boston, 1630, sculpture, Boston Public Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The founding of Boston, 1630, sculpture, Boston Public Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

[A note to our readers:  CLICK on any photograph in any blog post and it will be displayed in a larger size;  expand the borders of your browser window to enlarge the window and enable the photograph to be displayed at full size.]

 

Eat Local — Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

Legal Sea Foods Restaurant (logo), Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA, USA

Legal Sea Foods Restaurant (logo), Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA, USA

New England — the northeast states of the USA — is well known for its delicious, fresh seafood, typically served in rather “Puritanical” plain, simple recipes — showing off the freshness of the ingredients and their wonderful flavors.  While Boston was historically known for its scrod (fish) and the northeast coast of Massachusetts for its clams, it is Maine’s delicious cold water lobsters that are the number one favorite of the panoply of local seafood.  When it comes to fresh, the top spot in the Boston area (including Cambridge, across the Charles River and home to both Harvard University and M.I.T., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is Legal Sea Foods.  Founded in 1950 in Boston, this small collection of excellent restaurants is known for its motto:  “If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t legal.”

The interior of Legal Sea Foods Restaurant informs your that this is a seafood dining eperience, Cambridge, MA, USA

The interior of Legal Sea Foods Restaurant informs your that this is a seafood dining eperience, Cambridge, MA, USA

Starting 30 years ago, whenever I was in Boston on business (having flown across the US from San Francisco), I always tried to get to one of the Legal Sea Foods locations for a meal, with the small restaurant and take out shop at Logan Airport a last reprieve.  (How many fresh lobsters packed in boxes did I take on airplanes as the extra “carry-on” over the years?  Even my wife has lost count.)

Legal was declared “#1 Best Seafood Restaurant” in USA Today newspaper’s national poll in 2013.  Back in 1981 Legal Sea Foods’ clam chowder was called upon for civic duty.  It was served at the Presidential Inauguration, beginning a bipartisan tradition that is still going strong today.

"Steamers" (steamed Ipswich Clams) appetizer at Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

“Steamers” (steamed Ipswich Clams) appetizer at Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

Having had the “chowda” last night at the new Legal Crossing in the Downtown Crossing area adjacent to the Boston Common — in walking distance of our overnight lodging — we started today’s feast of a luncheon with the local “steamers” (steamed Ipswich Clams).

Closeup of "Steamers" (steamed Ipswich Clams) appetizer at Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

Closeup of “Steamers” (steamed Ipswich Clams) appetizer at Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

Fresh, simple, and delicious, as shown above (eaten with the tail “skin” removed, washed in clam broth and dipped in melted butter).  Watch the front of your shirt!

Fried Ipswich Clams appetizer at Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

Fried Ipswich Clams appetizer at Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

Of course, no visit to the Boston/northeast Massachusetts area would be complete without fried Ipswich clams.  Tartar sauce is the preferred dip for these scrumptous morsels.

"Is this all (2.5 pounds of Maine lobster) for me?" at Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

“Is this all (2.5 pounds of Maine lobster) for me?” at Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

The caption says it all: “Is this all (2.5 pounds of Maine lobster) for me?”  Of course, immediately after this (and the next two photos) your photographer put away his camera and took charge, getting the lobster ready for eating (and SPLITTING between two diners).

"I must be fresh, because I'm at" Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

“I must be fresh, because I’m at” Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

A handsome fella…

Our giant Maine lobster cracked and the tail split for "sharing" at Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

Our giant Maine lobster cracked and the tail split for “sharing” at Legal Sea Foods, Cambridge, MA, USA

… now all set for splitting between the two of us.  Absolutely wonderful.  And for those of you who last found us in Brittany, with the excellent blue, cold water local lobsters — see our previous blog posts — these were tastier (no, that last observation is not just American pride).  These are the best lobsters in the world.