Today begins the journey through the streets of Boston that will allow you to discover the most important monuments and the main stages of the origins of the history of the United States. This route passes through the entire city and ends in Charlestown. Along the way you can admire churches, town halls, cemeteries, libraries and even the home of one of the founding fathers.
The monuments, the history and the impressions of the writer
The Boston Common
The route begins at the Boston Common, the oldest town park of the United States which dates back to 1634. This green space extends for almost a quarter of the famous Beacon Hill and was the ground of some of the most significant historical moments in modern and contemporary history. More than a thousand redcoats camped here during the British occupation in the war of independence. From here they left for some of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution; First of which, was that of Bunker Hill. It is here that some of them remained, because a part of the park, (closed to the public), was used as a burial ground for the fallen of that bloody battle. The park has also been the ground of public hangings and executions throughout the 1700’s and 1800’s: which included murderers, pirates and finally witches. As for the more recent history, the Boston Common was the scene of massive protests against the war in Vietnam, hosted a Mass of Pope John Paul the second and was the scene of one of the famous speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. during the fight for the emancipation of black people in the United States.
Massachusetts State House
Completed in 1798, it is the town hall which plays the role of symbol of the city and has been a point of reference for its citizens thanks to the golden dome that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Considered one of the finest public buildings in the country, it was built to give to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a non British-made building on top of the highest hill of the capital. Inside, the meetings of the senate and of the representatives of the state are held and also it has the seat of the governor. In addition to having the signature of Paul Revere (itself a symbol of the city) on its golden dome, inside it houses mosaics and paintings that trace the military and civil history of the state and of the nation. I appreciated the fact that the visits were free and open to all in order to show how (in theory) the policy and state buildings of the United States are open to all its citizens.
Park Street Church
This Congregationalist Church is another symbol of the city of Boston, whose high bell tower has been a point of reference for all travellers, coming to the city since 1809. The architecture in plain brick, well represents a Protestant church along with a completely bare interior. Of specific interest instead, are the long rows of pews that ran from one side to the other of the church, thus forcing the unfortunate fellow who sat in the middle of one, to pass through a whole pew full of people, if he wanted to leave.
Granary Burying Ground
The cemetery next to Park Street Church is far more interesting than the church itself thanks to the illustrious names that are buried there. Three of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence are resting there, including John Hancock and Samuel Adams, together with Paul Revere and Benjamin Franklin’s closest relatives. A special place is reserved to the victims of the Boston Massacre, the spark that triggered the War of Independence.
King’s Chapel and burying ground
Built in 1688 with a few boards and wooden beams for the emerging Anglican community in Boston, it soon become a meetings place for the mercantile bourgeoisie of the city, who then helped finance the construction of the brick and wood church you see today.
While the outside is quite bare, the interior is a perfect example of a “Georgian church” architecture,with (once) white lacquered wooden benches covered with red damask material, arranged in a semicircle. A clear example of the classical taste and puritanical approach that characterized that ‘time. The cemetery is the oldest in the city and in the state and resting in it you will find one of the first inhabitants of the country: Mary Chilton the first woman to get off the Mayflower and with her, he who became the first state governor, John Winthrop and his family.
The first part of the Freedom Trail ends here and soon the journey will continue with the next landmarks. In the meantime, I would like to express in the next few lines, some recommendations. The first is to simply go on the Boston Common with the curiosity to discover the spirit of the city, the second is to go around in the Beacon Hill area. As you do that, you will discover its restaurants and clubs which are very attractive. As you are walking on the hill, if you look at the homes, you will notice that some of the glass panes in some of the windows are actually purple. This is because at the beginning of 1800’s, the manufacturer of the windows in Germany put too much manganese oxide in the glass paste which, year after year of sun exposure, turned purple. In Boston this error had become an incredible luxury for the owners of the houses, because the purple had become a real fashion and the wealthy inhabitants of beacon hill were prepared to spend a lot of money to have a purple glass pane in their windows.
See you soon with the new landmarks of the Freedom Trail !!