Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States and remains a economic and cultural hub. The city of Boston was founded in 1630 by Puritan colonists and served as the focal point of the American Revolution, the Boston Massacre and the famed Boston Tea Party. There were also several key battles which occurred in and around the region. So it’s no surprise that the City of Boston is packed with incredible landmarks, in fact the only thing that is surprising is possibly how well maintained some of these landmarks are.
Boston Common is one of the oldest city parks in the United States having been established in 1634. The 50 acre park has served many different functions throughout the years and many of them are not what we’d traditionally think of for city parks. Originally the park was used for cattle grazing, which lasted until 1830. Public hangings were also a common occurrence in the park until 1817. Prior to the American Revolution British troops could be found camping on the grounds. Boston Common has also been used as a soapbox for such noted speakers as Gloria Steinem, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pope John Paul II. Today the park is the beginning of the Freedom Trail and is perfect for peaceful picnics.
The Paul Revere House was built around 1680 and is the oldest building in downtown Boston. This is the home where Paul Revere was rousted from his sleep and climbed upon his trusty steed to announce that the British were coming. Throughout the years many, many people have lived in the home but by the 20th century the Paul Revere Memorial Association purchased the home and restored it to its previous incarnation. Despite all of the changes the house went through in its lifetime it’s estimated that 90% of the structure is still original.
Faneuil Hall has been a gathering center for the citizens of Boston since 1742. In the beginning the hall served as a podium for noted political leaders and patriots who were looking to incite American spirit and break free from British rule. The building was expanded and also began serving locals as a marketplace, which it still is today. Make certain to take note of the weathervane on top as it served an important role in American history.
Fenway Park opened in 1912 and has served as the home ballpark for the Boston Red Socks since, making it the oldest major league baseball stadium still in use. The stadium has been renovated many times because originally the growth of the city was not really considered. From May 15, 2003 until 2008 the park sold out 456 consecutive games, garnering it a major league record.
Built in 1723 the Old North Church is most noted for its role in the American Revolution and is the oldest standing church in Boston. It was from the steeple of the Old North that signals were sent to patriots such as Paul Revere. The signal was to warn them where the British were and from which way they were coming. One lantern meant they were invading by land, two lanterns meant they were coming by sea.
The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat in the entire world. The ship was first launched in 1797 and it was George Washington himself who ordered its construction. It was key in the War of 1812 as the USS Constitution defeated four British frigates and earned her the nickname Old Ironsides. The ship was in active service until 1881 and then served as a receiving ship until 1907 when it became a museum ship.
Built in 1969 the New England Aquarium had a new approach to aquariums which was considered cutting edge at the time and now has become the ideal. The New England Aquarium established more natural looking and feeling displays which take not only the visitors into considerations but the animals it houses as well and looks to educate people on the creatures’ native habitats. Known as a global leader the aquarium is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Boston, drawing more than a million visitors a year.
The Old City Hall served as home to local politics from 1865 to 1969 and is one of a handful of remaining buildings in the United States built in the French Second Empire style. The building has remained in tack and used by numerous businesses throughout the ages. Today it is lauded for its historic preservation and adaptive reuse. Although you will not see public policy being debated you will find some law firms, beer distributors, several nonprofit agencies and a Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Boston’s Public Garden was created in 1837 and designed to serve a different purpose than its older brother, Boston Common. The Public Garden is meant to be decorative and floral. It’s less functional and designed more for shear enjoyment and for displaying greenery. In fact the park is known as the first botanical garden in the United States. They garden style is very Victorian and the park is beautiful and relaxing.
The Bunker Hill Monument is designed to commemorate the famous Battle of Bunker Hill which was fought on the same spot in 1775. This battle is known as the first major battle of the American Revolution. Initially an 18 foot wooden pillar with a gilt urn was erected to commemorate Dr. Joseph Warren but by 1823 the newly formed Bunker Hill Monument Association was created to honor all of those who fought in this key battle.
The Swan Boats in Boston’s Public Garden has been a noted part of the park for more than 130 years. In the 1870’s Robert Paget was granted a license to start a boat tour company. Rowing boats through the park’s lagoon has always been a popular pastime and now the Paget family rowed (or pedaled) the boat for visitors. The swan idea came from the opera Lohengrin and has become a symbol for the city of Boston. The business is still run by the Paget family and is a must stop for visitors to the city.
The Granary Burial Ground was established in 1660 and is the third oldest burial site in the Boston area. Many of the country’s noted early political leaders are buried on this spot including the three signers of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine. There are about 5000 people buried at the Granary but only about 2300 headstones. To save money families would share plots and headstones, meaning that some graves contain at least 20 bodies.