Boston, Massachusetts: The Freedom Trail

Follow the Freedom Trail

Trip Taken: 2010

Boston Commons and the State House

Take the red line subway to the Park Street station and you will be in the heart of downtown Boston. And right at the heart of downtown Boston is a large piece of green park known as the Boston Commons. It’s filled with various people vying for space in this dense part of town. You have your joggers, bikers, homeless, tourists, and local residents. Like many of the large parks in the great cities of America, it is an oasis of calm amid the urban noise. Although, it bleeds more readily into Boston Commons than any other park as this park is quite small, relatively speaking of course.

Take a stroll through the park if you want, but the Freedom Trail’s starting point is at the south part of the commons and that is what I did for the day. It starts off pretty conveniently at the tourist information office. You can pay for guided tour of the Freedom Trail if you want. It’s probably worth it since there is a lot of American history in Boston. Unfortunately, it was already pretty late in the day and we didn’t want to pay for it. From the tourist office, we followed the red line on the cement to the State House. The State House has a golden dome atop and holds free tours inside. Too bad it was already closed (A running theme in this post).

Site of the Boston Massacre

Site of Boston Massacre

On a busy street corner at the end of Washington Street is the site of the Boston Massacre. From what I have heard, there were only a few deaths and it was more like an execution. Even back then there was media sensationalism. Only three died at the site of the massacre and two died later from injuries. Today, it just looks like a small government building with an entrance to the subway at the end of it. It didn’t evoke any strong feelings from me even though I learned about it in the eighth grade.

Just around the corner from the Site of the Boston Massacre is Faneuil Hall. It is basically a shopping district with lots of food and shopping options. There is even a recreation of the Cheers bar.

A Cannoli Stop at Mike’s Pastry

Espresso Cannoli

After a few more twist and turns in downtown Boston, we found ourselves in the Italian enclave of North End. There were some amazing smells coming from the various restaurants in this neighborhood. The smell of tomatoes, seafood, basil, and parsley all wafted through the air like a siren call to our stomachs. Alas, we were able to resist the charms of this culinary-heavy destination and instead opted for a snack.

In my research, I noticed upon an entry about Mike’s Pastry and how famous it was. Many people were there getting cannolis. I got an espresso cannoli and instantly realized this needs coffee or milk. It was so rich. It was a good but without something to wash it down, I just couldn’t finish it.

Paul Revere House

Paul Revere's Silversmithy

Paul Revere’s House was closed by the time we reached it on the Freedom Trail. I think we took too much time enjoying our cannolis. It was worth it. Yes, I know that Paul Revere is suppose to be some sort of American hero and was made famous by the Longfellow poem ‘The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere’. But, it fails to mention the contributions of William Dawes and Samuel Prescott in this same famous ride.

The house looks old fashioned. It would have been neat to see his workshop and where he made his silver. It wasn’t meant to be. Maybe the next time I’m in Boston.

Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill Monument

The very end of the Freedom Trail took us across the river into Charlestown. It is mostly a quiet residential neighborhood, save for the large park with the Bunker Hill Monument. Bunker Hill was the site of one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. Again, the monument was closed for renovations until November, so I couldn’t have gone up even if I was on time.

My brother and I sat on the lawn for a while just soaking up some R&R. It’s pretty incredible to think there was a battle here some two hundred odd years ago. Yet, today there are families playing catch, dogs sniffing around, and local college students discussing film. After having enough of the fresh air, I took the last steps and found the end point of the Freedom Trail. It sits at the foot of the monument and I couldn’t think of a better place to end this two-three hour walk.

Parting Words

If you are going to start on the Freedom Trail, then I suggest that you start on early in the day as I was unable to see many of the sights more closely since they closed in the late afternoon. It was a nice walk nonetheless. It takes you through some of the more interesting parts of Boston and parts of Charlestown. A side note, there were many sites I didn’t include here such as the Old North Church or the Park Street Church cemetery. They are both worth visiting for their historical significance.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.