Courtesy of HWMoore

Courtesy of HWMoore Quincy Adams Station

After being up late, we got up early Friday morning (8/8/14) to head into Boston with much fear and trepidation on the part of my mother. The main concern? We had no idea where we were going. We had planned to do the park and ride at Quincy Adams Station, but could not find an address anywhere. Google maps gives coordinates; even customer service didn’t know the address and gave us the address of a pediatrician 1 mile away–apparently, that was supposed to help us find it. Additionally, we didn’t know for sure how to work the subway cards, so that was another unknown. But, we set off anyway, determined to figure it out.

We made it to the pediatricians and kept going a bit to see if we could see anything, putting the Google coordinates in the GPS. What we saw was a kid jumping down from a 12+ foot fence. When we’d made the block without finding anything, we saw the same kid, so we asked for directions. He told us it was a pain in the butt to get to, but proceeded to tell us anyway. After we’d executed a series of twists and turns, we saw two construction guys sitting outside who directed us the rest of the way to the parking garage conveniently located right off Thomas E. Burgin Parkway. It’s also right next to a Home Depot, which would have made an easy GPS location. (Since returning, I used that to determine the REAL address. It is 450 Centre St. Quincy, MA 02169.)

Courtesy of Boston Tourism

Courtesy of Boston Tourism

With the first leg completed, we tackled buying a Charlie Card. We had determined that this would be the best, as it allowed us access for any subway, bus, or ferry for 24 hours. Not knowing what we’d tackle in Boston, we purchased this for $12 and set off. (We actually only ended up taking the subway there and back, so we’d have been better purchasing individual rides, but we were able to give our passes to a man and his son when we returned, so that was nice.) We boarded the red line, only to be delayed by another train with trouble. But, we eventually arrived in Boston.

We got off at the Park Street Station, which is right in the middle of the Boston Commons where we were to meet our Freedom Trail walking tour. The staff at the Visitor’s Center there was immensely kind and helpful, sending us to activate our trolley tickets, helping us get rid of additionally tickets, and in every way walking us through the process. Once we got our trolley tickets, we were ready for the Freedom Trail tour (Both were included with the Go Boston card.) Our tour guide was hilarious and gave a ton of great information.

Meeting the Tour

Meeting the Tour

We started the tour at Boston Common which, established in 1634, is the oldest park in America. William Blackstone (Blaxton) was the first European settler in Boston, where he moved to be alone. But, when the Puritans came in, he invited them to share his land. They did, then had problems with him because he was an Anglican minister and ordered his house burned down. With such neighbors, Blackstone decides to move to Rhode Island (pre-dating Roger Williams) and sells Boston to the Puritans for 50 pounds (about $100,000 today). To this day, it is legal to graze cows, do laundry, and settle duels in the Commons. Another fun fact is that the playground was originally the site of hanging tree (lost in 1847). It also served as the militia training ground. One thing I didn’t realize is that Boston today is quite different than it was on Apr. 18, 1775. What is now Charles Street was the Charles River. In fact, 70% of Boston is landfill, Boston previously being only one mile square.

Massachusetts State House

Massachusetts State House

From the Commons, we headed to the “New” statehouse. Built in 1775, it used to be John Hancock’s cow pasture. Apparently, he was quite the character. John Hancock was the second best smuggler of the day, naming his ship “The Liberty” to spite the British, and he was the richest man. He had inherited 50,000 pounds (about $5,000,000 in today’s economy.) He loved spending money, throwing parties, and being influential. This may be another reason for his large signature. He wanted to be commander and chief of army, but Congress wanted someone with war experience. When the war is over, he makes a bid for president. Congress refuses. Hancock was furious. Interestingly enough, when Washington goes to Faneuil Hall, John Hancock won’t come greet him. Since his son is named John George Washington Hancock, one would think he’d forgiven him, but apparently, his wife did it to spite him–she’d also made John wait 10 years to marry her in a day when the average lifespan was 42.
The dome of the statehouse was initially wood. It was later covered by copper, made by Paul Revere, who got the job because Sam Adams was in the government. Later, it was gold leaf, painted black during WWII to prevent it from being seen by invaders, then returned to gold leaf after the war.

Grave of Boston Massacre Victims

Grave of Boston Massacre Victims

From the Statehouse, we headed to Boston Cemetery. This also was part of John Hancock’s pastures. There are a number of bodies in the graves, but the stones don’t necessarily coordinate with who’s buried under them. In addition to the practice of burying members of a family together under one stone, they also didn’t have burial rules, so graves might be a foot and a half deep or ten feet deep. When the shallow graves started to show the bodies, the government ordered the cemetery cleaned up. So, they moved the stones into straight lines, but did not move the accompanying bodies.Every one of the 2,300 stones represents 6-10 people.

One of the most famous stones is the marker for the casualties in the Boston Massacre. Edward Garrick, a wig maker’s apprentice was walking home when he saw Captain John Goldfinch. He accused Goldfinch of not paying his bill and asked for money owed.

Boston Massacre site

Boston Massacre site

Private Hugh White came to the aid of Goldfinch, saying that his Captain was a gentleman and would pay his bill. Garrick responded, “There are no gentlemen in 29th regiment.” White hit Garrick in the face with the butt of gun. Other civilians pushed White against the wall where he called for aid. “Turn out Captain Preston!” (British soldiers aren’t allowed to fight without their officers–a reason the Americans would pick off officers first in the American Revolution.) Preston will first order his men to load their guns, then to fix bayonets, which his men will use to keep the crowd at bay. One citizen tells him, “I hope you don’t mean to fire.” Captain Preston responds, “No, my place is in front of my men. I’d be a fool to give that order, as I would be a sacrifice then.” Something is thrown, which strikes one of the officers who fires his gun. Preston turns to ask why he fired without orders and is struck with a bottle and knocked down, at which time the soldiers, hearing the cry of “Fire” from the angry crowd, assume it to be Preston and fire. Though only 5 will die, Sam Adams makes them famous. Henry Pelham will make the artwork which Paul Revere will engrave (apparently without Pelham’s permission, as Pelham will write him a scathing letter accusing him of highway robbery!) This early piece of propaganda will display a street scene. But, Preston is behind his men, the British soldiers are smiling while the blood runs, and there is a dog, the symbol of innocence. Definitely an agenda there.

Revere foot stone

Revere foot stone

Another famous grave is Paul Revere’s, which showcases the original footstone. On April 18, 1775, the British are going to Lexington to get both Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Paul Revere finds out the direction they’re heading (Courtesy of the lanterns) and goes to Reverend Jonas Clark’s house to warn them. On the way, he cries “The regulars are out.” He does not say, as Tennyson popularized, that “the British are coming,” since we were ALL British at that time, and the phrase would have had no meaning. The Regulars are the British army. On the way, however, Revere meets a patrol. One soldier shoots at Revere and misses. Samuel Prescott, who is with Revere, will complete the midnight ride as the only one to reach Concord. Revere is captured by six British officers. Major Mitchel put a pistol to his head and asked him a variety of questions. Revere tells him he’s already warned the cities of the British plans. Mitchel tells Revere to escort them back to Lexington. When they get close, they hear gun fire. Mitchel asks Paul what it is. They run off to see what is taking place, and Paul leaves, though they’d captured his horse. He’s able to see the whole thing, though.

The Old Statehouse

The Old Statehouse

From there, we went to the old statehouse. It is here that James Otis, called by John Adams the patriot’s Martin Luther, spoke against Writs of Assistance for 4 hours. Otis, who was both a lawyer and a speaker, is a volatile man. He railed against search and seizure. At this time, if you refused entry to a soldier looking for contraband, the militia can break down the door. He states that Americans are not second class citizens, so we deserve the same rights as Englishmen. He demands representation in parliament. In fact, James Otis will coin the phrase “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” He does have an interesting life story, though. On September 5, 1769, he gets in a fight with British officers in a British Coffee House. One will bash in his head. Dr. Joseph Warren fixes him up, but puts a lead plate in his head. Otis will go crazy either from the head wound or lead poisoning. He supposedly told his sister that he hoped God would take him in a flash of lightning. Ironically, he will die struck in the head by a bolt of lightning.

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall

We concluded our tour at Faneuil Hall. Peter Faneuil wanted a marketplace, while the government asked for meeting house. The solution Peter offered was to do both at his own expense. So Faneuil Hall offers shopping on the lower level while the government meets on the upper level. Many speeches by many famous Americans were given here, yielding it the title the “Cradle of Liberty.” This concluded our Freedom Trail tour.

Since we were by the Statehouse, we decided to visit the museum there, which is an incredible treat. When you walk in, you are given a new identity as a Revolutionary character (Mine was Phillis Wheatley.) The card gives you your description, social connection, and additional information. As we walked through the display of artifacts and facsimiles from the time, one item caught my eye.

Melville's tea

Melville’s tea

We had learned at Arrowhead that Herman Melville’s grandfather had been part of the Boston Tea Party, and when he returned home, brushed the tea off his boots and put it in a vial, which he kept as a souvenir. Imagine my surprise when that very vial was on display in the statehouse museum! It has amazed me how often on this trip I have discovered something of one historical figure intertwined with information about other historical figures!

From here, we decided to catch the Trolley tour, which turned out to be a mistake. Not that it wasn’t interesting–we had a snarky tour guide whose stories mainly focused on being poor and going to bars instead of actual history. But, the problem was that we caught the tour at stop four, desiring to visit stops 1-3. Unfortunately, the trolley had 13 other stops to make before starting over at stop one. We should have walked the short distance from stop four to one.

Paul Revere and the Old North Church

Paul Revere and the Old North Church

Instead, we spent an hour and a half on a bumpy trolley, which put us behind in the sightseeing department.

When we got off, we headed to the Old North Church. This was one of the places I’d especially wanted to go to get my own pictures of the Paul Revere statue. The Old North Church is an incredible piece of architecture and gives a lot of good information on those who participated in the events prior to the battles of Lexington and Concord. One thing I especially admired is they have an array of dog tags in the courtyard representing each soldier who has fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Definitely an incredible tribute!

From there, we walked to the Paul Revere House. This amazing example of 17th Century architecture is a jewel, containing many originals examples of Paul Revere’s work. Though you cannot take pictures inside the building, it is well worth the minimal admission ($3.50–included the GO Boston Card)

Paul Revere House

Paul Revere House

One thing that fascinated me was the fact that Paul Revere had three descendants who fought in the Civil War. The museum shares their story as well. It’s hard to believe that Paul Revere had 16 children (8 by each wife), but apparently they didn’t all live in the house simultaneously.

When we finished the tour, it was about 4:00, and we knew the trolley stopped running at 4:30. We debated trying to get up to Bunker Hill and the U.S.S. Constitution, but didn’t want to have to make the long walk in either direction. So, we checked out the print shop and a chocolate store and finally opted to go home. In retrospect, I should have pushed myself because I discovered that the U.S.S. Constitution is leaving for a three year restoration process after this season, so we missed our chance to view “Old Ironsides.” But, at the time, our throbbing feet were the priority. And so, another amazing time comes to an end. Until next time, may all your adventures be breathtaking!

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