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WALKING THE FREEDOM TRAIL
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
By Chris Millikan
(for Travel Writers' Tales)

Joan Baez singing Please Come to Boston first stirred my interest in visiting Boston. Later, that zany Cheers gang sparked further inducement. And then, there's all that history! So cruising New England aboard Carnival's Glory, I fulfill a longstanding dream.

Upon docking, excited shipmates go to Harvard, the J.F. Kennedy library, Salem's witch country or the Red Sox home in beloved Fenway Park; others search out burgers and beer at Cheers. And we join fellow history buffs aboard a bus heading for the Freedom Trail.

Along the way, guide Daniel begins, "You've heard of Back Bay? Well, before a huge 19th century project filled it in to create new real estate, that's exactly what it was, a pretty bay!" Known for beautiful Victorian brownstone homes, narrow streets and tidy brick sidewalks, Back Bay and Beacon Hill became Boston's most expensive neighborhoods.


Photo 1 Boston Common
Caption: Boston Common lies across the street from Massachusetts' gold-domed legislative buildings, an imposing landmark.

Our four-kilometer walk into revolutionary times begins across from the gold-domed Massachusetts State House. Daniel introduces Boston Common, established in 1634."Puritan settlers grazed their cattle in this wonderful public park. Over 1,000 redcoats camped on the lush grass during British occupation in 1775. Huge bonfires and fireworks celebrated the Stamp Act repeal… and end of the Revolutionary War. It's still used for celebrations and gatherings."


Photo 2 Boston Common and Park Street Church
Caption: Boston's 4-kilometer Freedom Trail begins at historic Boston Common & Park Street Church

A familiar landmark, Park Street Church anchors Brimstone Corner, nicknamed for passionate preaching there and gunpowder kegs cached for the War of 1812. Twice daily, melodious carillon notes ring out from its elegant steeple.


Photo 3. Boston's Granary Burial Ground
Caption: Founded in 1660, Boston's Granary Burial Ground sits adjacent to elegant Park Street Church.

At adjacent Granary Burial Ground Daniel relates, "The first bloodshed of America's revolution became known as the Boston Massacre; redcoats fired into a crowd of Bostonians, killing five." Those casualties, as well as settlers ravaged by fires or plague rest under weathered headstones bearing unusual winged skulls.


Photo 4. Samuel Adam's Grave
Caption: Patriots like Samuel Adams & Paul Revere rest in Boston's Granary Burial Ground.

Elaborate markers identify the Revolutionary War's best-known patriots. At John Hancock's gravesite, Daniel reveals some not so statesmanlike behaviours, "At the Continental Congress, John Adams appointed experienced officer George Washington as troop commander, not Hancock…and Hancock never again spoke to his longtime friend! One other patriot, John Adams' controversial cousin Samuel Adams often justified violence in the name of freedom!"


Photo 5 Boston's Freedom Trail

An eye-catching sidewalk mosaic denotes America's first public schoolhouse; today Benjamin Franklin's stately statue overlooks Boston Latin School site where he, Samuel Adams and John Hancock attended. Down the block, over-flow meetings of angry citizens at Old South Meeting House frequently objected to injustices in the colonies. Even nowadays, everyone can relate to their loud protestations against unfair taxes!

Across the street at old Corner Bookstore, Daniel beams, "And THIS was the literary center of the mid-1800's! Longfellow, Emerson, Hawthorne, Stowe and Alcott, all our greatest writers published their manuscripts here."


Photo 6. Faneuil Hall
Caption: Colonists loudly protested British rule at lively town hall meetings in Boston's Faneuil Hall, still a popular market.

Near the historic dock area we sight stalwart Faneuil Hall built in 1742. Second floor rooms still host meetings and gatherings. Here between 1764 and 1774, colonists loudly challenged British rule at crowded town hall meetings. Such fervor inspired Sam Adams to organize Boston's Tea Party, dumping some 342 chests of tea into the harbour, valued today at over four million dollars. To our amusement, artsy bronze replicas of market-day 'garbage' lie scattered across the intersection, whimsically reminding us that the Hall's ground floor market stalls have long served shoppers.


Photo 7. Old North Church
Caption: Lanterns in Old North Church steeple warned countrymen of British brigades marching on Lexington & Concord.

As we sit in box pews inside old North Church, a docent teaches us about its pivotal role at the start of the revolution. "On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere ordered two lanterns hung in our steeple, which warned 400 countrymen of three British brigades heading for Lexington and Concord via the Charles River." During his famous midnight ride, he informed Samuel Adams and John Hancock that redcoats were marching to arrest them.


Photo 8 Box Pews in Old North Church

This well marked trail ends where the Bunker Hill monument memorializes the Revolution's first bloody battle. Here, colonials demonstrated that they could effectively fight trained British soldiers…if not win that day.


Photo 9: Paul Revere's Statue
Caption: Paul Revere's statue reminds visitors of his famous midnight ride in 1775.

We return through Boston's Little Italy, an area first settled in1630. Looping through narrow streets lined with quaint cafes and bakeries, we pass Paul Revere's home. The oldest building in this earliest neighborhood, his preserved 1680's house stands among brick apartment buildings and modern streets.

Nearby, old State House housed the first colonial and state governments, including a merchants' exchange. Now a museum, it hosts re-enactments of momentous events such as annual readings of the Declaration of Independence from its tiny balcony. Below, a cobblestone circle marks the site of the 1770 Boston Massacre.

Churches, meetinghouses, burial grounds and parks along Boston's Freedom Trail provide insights into America's Revolution. Back aboard ship we toast this cradle of liberty.

IF YOU GO:
" Explore New England in comfort: www.carnival.com

PHOTOS by Chris & Rick Millikan

1. Boston Common on Beacon Hill

Caption: Boston Common lies across the street from Massachusetts' gold-domed legislative buildings, an imposing landmark.
2. Boston Common & Park Street Church
Caption: Boston's 4-kilometer Freedom Trail begins at historic Boston Common & Park Street Church.
3. Boston's Granary Burial Ground
Caption: Founded in 1660, Boston's Granary Burial Ground sits adjacent to elegant Park Street Church.
4. Samuel Adam's Grave
Caption: Patriots like Samuel Adams & Paul Revere rest in Boston's Granary Burial Ground.
5. Caption: Boston's Freedom Trail
6. Faneuil Hall
Caption: Colonists loudly protested British rule at lively town hall meetings in Boston's Faneuil Hall, still a popular market.
7. Old North Church
Caption: Lanterns in Old North Church steeple warned countrymen of British brigades marching on Lexington & Concord.
8. Caption: Box pews in Old North Church.
9. Paul Revere's statue
Caption: Paul Revere's statue reminds visitors of his famous midnight ride in 1775.

Travel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate that offers professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. To check out more, visit www.travelwriterstales.com

 


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