Boston, Massachusetts – The Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile trail marked on sidewalks in Boston, Massachusetts that winds through the historic landmarks of America’s colonial and revolutionary past. Many of the buildings you will see are the actual buildings (not recreations) where significant events in early American history unfolded.

The trail begins at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center. Established in 1635, Boston Common is the oldest public in the United States.

Located at the northern edge of Boston Common is the Massachusetts State House. Completed in 1798, it was built on land once owned by John Hancock a signer of the Declaration of Independence, patriot, and wealthy merchant. He also served as the first-elected Governor of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts State House

The famous golden dome was originally made of wood. It was covered with copper by Paul Revere & Sons (yes, that Paul Revere) in 1802 to prevent water leakage. In 1874, it was gilded with gold leaf.

Around the corner from Boston Common is the Granary Burying Ground cemetery. This cemetery is final resting place of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin’s parents, Peter Faneuil, the five citizens killed in the Boston Massacre, and several Boston Governors.

The Old City Hall (below) was completed in 1865 and served as home to the city council until 1969. The history of this site runs deeper though as suggested by the presence of a Benjamin Franklin statue. This was once the site of the Boston Latin School which was the first public school in the United States. Boston Latin opened in 1635 and operated from 1704 to 1748 operated at this site with Benjamin Franklin as one notable student. The school has since changed locations but is still operating today.

Continuing along the Freedom Trail, we come to the Old South Meeting House.

This church was built in 1729 and is the second oldest church in Boston. This area was a popular point of gathering for protests as America inched closer and closer to the Revolutionary War. During the British military occupation of Boston in 1775-1776, British troops desecrated this church. It was used as a horse stable with it pews and library used for kindling and fires.

Next up on the Freedom Trail is the Old State House. Built in 1713, it the oldest surviving state building in Boston.

The Declaration of Independence was read from the east balcony in July 1776. This is also the approximate location of the Boston Massacre where five American colonist were killed by British troops.

Faneuil Hall (below) was a gift to the city of Boston from Peter Faneuil in 1742. Impassioned debates of revolution took place with these walls.

Faneuil Hall

The area outside this meeting hall served as a market in the pre-revolutionary period and still does to this day. The Quincey Market is a great place to take a break. There are many dining and shopping options.

Most of us who grew up in the United States remember learning about Paul Revere’s famous ride where he warned citizens, “The British are coming, the British are coming!” The lanterns that served as Paul Revere’s signal to warn Americans were hung in this actual steeple (below) of the Old North Church – the oldest church in Boston.

On June 17, 1775, early in the Revolutionary War, the British defeated the Americans at the Battle of Bunker Hill in Massachusetts. Despite the loss, the inexperienced colonial forces inflicted significant casualties on the British and demonstrated the American were very capable of mounting a defense. Although commonly referred to as the Battle of Bunker Hill, most of the fighting occurred on nearby Breed’s Hill which is where the actual monument is erected.

After a scenic and historical walk along the Freedom Trail, I returned to my downtown hotel along the Charles River and was able to capture some vibrant fall images. You can find that post here: Boston – The Charles River

Boston, Massachusetts – Charles River

It was a cold but vibrant fall day as I walked along Charles River in 2019. If one of my children happen to read this some day and want to trace Dad’s steps, I began near the Liberty Hotel and walked south along the river before cutting away to walk the Freedom Trail. I probably spent 5 hours on the freedom trail which left me in the northern part of Boston. My trip back to the hotel was north to south along the river.

I began by walking south of the hotel…

View from pedestrian bridge crossing over highway.
Checking out the waterfront with my new friends.
Still heading south…
Looking back at the bridge in the previous photo.

At this point, I left the river and headed over to the Freedom Trail. There is another pedestrian bridge that will take you over the highway.

The photos below were taken after completing the Freedom Trail and during my walk back along the river. As a point of reference, after completing the Freedom Trail you are a couple miles from the Liberty Hotel and also on the opposite side of the river. No worries, there will be a bridge to cross as you get closer to the hotel.

There are several park areas and alternate paths to explore along the river during the walk back.
Cross this bridge and keep heading south.

Additional posts from Boston, Massachusetts:

  • The Freedom Trail – Historic sites of the American Revolution
  • The Liberty Hotel – Former state prison transformed into a luxury hotel (coming soon)