It’s well known that Boston is a historic city filled with significance to the United States of America but not many people know that Boston actually is home to a remarkable 55 National Historic Landmarks. Rather than list them all here, we’ll just give you the run down on some of the most popular ones.
Boston’s Old City Hall was home to the city council in from 1865 to 1969. The Old City Hall was one of the first French Second Empire style buildings built in the United States and unfortunately it is one of the only remaining French Second Empire buildings left standing. After 1969 the Old City Hall was converted to serve other functions and is now considered one of the early examples of successful adaptive reuse. The building made the National Historic Landmark list in 1970 and currently houses a number of businesses and restaurants including a Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Faneuil Hall is located near the waterfront and serves as the government center for Boston. Since 1742 Faneuil Hall has served as a marketplace and meeting hall and features many great speeches by famous orators of their day. Pay attention to the gilded grasshopper weather vane atop the building as it was once used as a test to determine if people were spies, they would be asked what animal lives atop Faneuil Hall and if they said grasshopper they were safe but if they said some other animal they were considered a spy. Faneuil Hall was rated the fourth most visited tourist site by Forbes Traveler in 2008.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace has been an important part of the Bostonian marketplace for more than 250 years and is still a hub for the city’s sights, sounds and tastes. Quincy Marketplace is located in Faneuil Hall and served as an indoor expansion of the marketplace where vendor stalls were placed for shopping in any sort of weather. Although the building still stands and still provides food for visitors the type of food has changed greatly, rather than fresh produce the stands are now full of fast food restaurants.
Even most school children know of the great American patriot, Paul Revere and his famous ride during the American Revolution. His three story colonial home was built around 1680 and is located where the Second Church of Boston, home of Increase Mather and Cotton Mather, was before the fire of 1676. Paul Revere owned the home from 1770 until 1800 although his family may have lived somewhere else during much of that time period. After it was sold it became a tenement with storefronts on the first store and in 1902 a relative of Paul Revere purchased the building to prevent demolition and restore it to its previous condition. The home was opened to the public in 1908 as one of the earliest historic house museums in the United States and can still be toured by the public today.
Tremont Street Subway
The Tremont Street Subway is a tunnel in the Boston subway system and is the oldest of its kind having opened in 1897. The tunnel once served to move streetcar lines off the streets but now it is a central part of the green line.
Fort Warren is a historic fort located on Georges Island at the entrance to the Boston Harbor. Constructed from 1833 to 1861 the fort defended the harbor until the end of WWII and served as a prisoner of war camp during the Civil War. In 1947 the fort was decommissioned and currently serves as a tourist stop.
The Trinity Church of Boston is a modern congregation reaching about 3,000 households regularly. Founded in 1733, the original site burned in the Great Boston Fire of 1872 and the current church was constructed from 1872 to 1877. It is noted as the birthplace and archetype of the Richardsonian Romanesque style architecture and became popular across American, Europe and Canada.
The USS Constitution is a heavy frigate of the U.S. Navy and is the oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat in the world. Launched in 1797 the Constitution was one of the original frigates commissioned by the Naval Act of 1794. Since then the Constitution has severed in many wars throughout the years and has also been an ambassador and training ship. The ship was eventually dry docked and much talk was made of its restoration and sailing again for its 200th anniversary. In 1995 the Constitution was taken out of dry dock and on July 20th 1997 she made her first sail in 116 years. Currently she has a crew of 60 who hold educational programs, host special events and appear in ceremonies. The ship has been undergoing a more extensive repair since 2007 and isn’t expected to be fully completed until September 2010.
The Public Garden of Boston was established in 1837 by Horace Gray who was pressuring the city to establish the first public botanical garden in the United States. The 24 acre park features a variety of paths, flower beds, statues and fountains and a lake. The park is currently maintained by a joint effort of the Mayor’s Office, the Parks Department and the non-profit group, Friends of the Public Garden. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon relaxing and enjoying the weather.
Boston Common (sometimes referred to as Boston Commons) is one of the oldest parks in the country having been established in 1634. The 50 acre park is considered the anchor of the Emerald Necklace, a name given to a system of connected parks that wind through many Boston neighborhoods. Several different activities have taken place in the park from cattle grazing until 1830 and public hangings until 1817. Prior to the Revolution British troops camped on the park ground before heading into battle at Lexington and Concord. In its most recent incarnation the park has served as a location for celebrity speeches and casual recreational activities by all sorts of visitors.
photo credit: Tony the Misfit