Saturday, June 03, 2006

Boston; Walking the Freedom Trail

"The British are coming, the British are coming...."
declared Paul Revere

And here this day, we walked the "Freedom Trail", and toured all around the city of Boston using as our mode of transportation, a trolley car tour. With both our experiences in Plymouth and Boston with the trolley tours, we've all concurred this is the only way to sightsee now, specially in a bigger city. For one fee all day, an entire family can walk on and off any of the trolleys rounding about each half hour, to see the points of interests personal to them.

How could I possibly explain the impact of this walk back in history to you within a blog? I'm not sure if I can convey how powerful it is, to experience "living history" at hand, and to experience important times of the past, so I will simply give an overview with a few photos sprinkled into the mix, just to give you a bit of detail of our time in Boston. Perhaps it will whet your appetite just enough to encourage you to have your own travels over to Boston yourself someday, and I can tell you that we already want to return ourselves.

What can we say about Boston? We all came home desiring to polish up our history, took books out to peruse, grabbed a few history books to review what we already know, and the biographies are on the bedside tables.

Also, aside from the historical aspect, the mix of modern day everything, from universities, to famous sites of absolute interest as well, were something to absorb as the trolley car tour operator narrated plenty of interesting information, allowing us all the ability to appreciate everything even more in person.

Our day began with a long drive into the city from Plymouth, and a lovely "scenic (lost)" drive once in the city. We took the wrong turn off, which was very easy to do.

On the bright side, we passed by Boston College, and saw the team monster mascot on the side of the Boston Red Sox's Fenway Park stadium. Since we had been watching Boston play against Toronto the night before, this was an okay scenic blunder.

Once we backtracked and parked for the day, we entered the hotel lobby and summoned a trolley car to pick us up at the door. What could be more fun waiting for a trolley car than having your children discover a huge, revolving door? Round and round they went, in a suave manner, mimicking a hotel patron without luggage of course.

Our first viewpoint was the sight of the "Boston Tea Party" in the Boston harbor. Thank goodness our girls love the "American Girl" historical dolls, with "Felicity" and this same era of the American Revolution period fresh on their minds since we purchased the film and watched it shortly before this trip. They knew about the Patriots and Loyalists, the banning of tea sales, who the militia were, and of course the tea party. Yeah.

Our first actual stop where we disembarked the trolley was "Quincy Market" and the famous "Faneuil Hall", where history was written and the famous "Declaration of Independence" signed.

Quincy market has a fabulous food market, and since we were all feeling the need for our lunch hour, we feasted with foods from all sorts of vendors. Yummy Yum!

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall has served as a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1742. Funding was provided by a wealthy merchant, Peter Faneuil, for the construction and local artisan to create the grasshopper weather vane that still perches on the building's cupola.

Cradle of Liberty

- this is where John F. Fitzgerald announced his
candidacy for the President of the United States.

Inspiring speeches by Samuel Adams and other patriots were given that eventually led to independence from the British. Faneuil Hall was expanded in 1806 by Charles Bulfinch. When Boston became a city the use of Faneuil Hall as a government meeting place came to an end, but it was still regularly used. Today, the first floor is still used as a lively marketplace and the second floor is a meeting hall where many Boston City debates are held. The fourth floor is maintained by the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.

(Oh, and speaking of President Kennedy. We saw the famous Kennedy compound in Hyannis, Cape Cod. The huge enclosure one envisions, or at least I did growing up, was the smallest, least private few homes, and I never expected something so grand, to be so ....nothing. )

Onto the much to see there. We sat in the wooden chairs of the speaking hall, explored about, read signs and posters, viewed historical paintings, noted the statues of those before us, and looked at the many black and white photos. Then after listening to a speaker give the history of the building and purpose for it, we then proceeded to the top floor to oogle and drool over the museum artifacts in the glass cases. We weren't allowed to take flash photography pictures in there, too bad.

The boys were right at home here, with all the army
gear, head dresses, battle accessories, drums and sticks from the drummer boys leading the army to fight, flags, ammunitions and weapons, cannons, badges, and so much more! Yep - up close and personal with actual pieces used in the American Revolution was just smashing for these boys!

At home, their historical time period playmobil will never be left unattended and left in disarray again. Instead, battle lines are ready to re-enact the American Revolutio
n, and another bunch set up to represent the Civil War. What great hands-on history huh? Who said toys aren't educational? We have playmobil people in almost every historical category for the express purpose of hands-on history at home, during free time!

The Freedom Trail itself

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red brick or red painted line that travels through Beacon Hill, downtown Boston, the North End and Charlestown. The Trail itself is an outdoor experience, but the sites it leads you to should be entered to be fully appreciated. Seeing those red lines and special bricks makes one think of "the Wizard of Oz" following the yellow brick road. Instead here, this is real history that really happened in the same spot many years ago, leading to the country's freedom from England. WOW! Walk those bricks kids!

More areas of interest we either walked to or drove by;

Site of the Boston Massacre

The Paul Revere print he made shortly after the Boston Massacre

Old State House
(with gold roof painted by Paul Revere)

Old North church
(where they hid their ammunition and cannon powder downstairs. Oh, and did you see the film "National Treasure"? This building was in it)

- Boston Common (where the militia trained)

- Paul Revere's house with his family members buried in front, in the family graveyard (except for him)

- Old Granary Building ground - Graveyard where Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, Peter Faneuil, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Boston Massacre victims and many more are buried. This was very crowded as we passed by.

- Minute man National Historical Park

- Liberty's Daughters

- Old North church
- The church with the lanterns that set Paul Revere on his ride.

- Beacon Hill

- Newberry Street (likened to "Rodeo Drive" in California)

- Boston Gardens and the swam boats in "Make Way for Ducklings". Also the bronze statues of the ducks in a row, following Mrs. Mallard up the walkway. Very cool!

- The Charles River

- M.I.T. university where the Harvard drop out came to become a genius (Bill Gates)

- Boston school of music (Phil Collins, John Mayer and so many more)

- Plus, plus, plus....