Freedom Trail: Field Guide

Overview:

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile walking trail that connects the sixteen most famous historical landmarks in downtown Boston. The trail starts on Boston Common and ends at the USS Constitution in Charlestown, where you can board a ferry back to Long Wharf, Boston. [Click the map image above to view the trail on Google Maps].

Stop #1 - Boston Common:

Established in 1634, The Common is the oldest urban park in America. It was built on land originally owned by William Blackstone, who was Boston’s original settler. Although it’s used primarily for sports and recreational today, it was once used as a cow pasture in the 1600’s, British Army camp during the Revolutionary War and even hosted public executions in the 1700’s!

Boston Common was the site of the first organized football game in America.

Stop #2 - Mass State House:

The capitol of Massachusetts was completed in 1798, but some locals call this the “new” state house because the previous state house is still standing a few blocks away. Famous architect, Charles Bulfinch (who also designed the US Capitol in Washington, DC) designed the building. The dome is gilded in 23 karat gold.

John Hancock’s mansion once stood on the front lawn but it was torn down in 1863. An exact replica was built in Ticonderoga, NY.

Stop #3 - Park Street Church:

Founded in 1809, this prominent evangelical church has an impressive history. Noted abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison gave his first speech against slavery here in 1829. The Handel and Haydn Society was started here, and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” was played here for the first time.

Park Street Church was the tallest building in Boston until 1867.

Stop #4 - Granary Burying Ground:

Some of America’s most famous historical figures like Paul Revere, John Hancock and Sam Adams are buried here. Founded in 1660, this is Boston’s third oldest grave yard. The Granary is named after a grain warehouse that used to be located around the corner.

The Beantown Pub, located across the street, is the only place in the world where you can drink a cold Sam Adams while looking at a cold Sam Adams!

Stop #5 - King’s Chapel & Burying Ground:

King’s Chapel was the first Anglican church built in Boston. It was very controversial when it was first constructed because Boston’s original settlers specifically came to the new world to get away from the Anglican church! Established in 1630, the burying ground was Boston’s first public cemetery.

The large ‘cage structure’ near the front of the graveyard is a subway air shaft (not the gateway to hell or a colonial torture chamber)

Stop #6 - Ben Franklin Statue & Boston Latin Site:

Ben Franklin was born in Boston and lived here until he was seventeen. One of America’s most popular “founding fathers”, Franklin did it all! He was a famous inventor, publisher, signer of the Declaration of Independence, US Ambassador, Governor of Pennsylvania, and US Postmaster.

Boston Latin, the oldest public school in America, was established here in 1635.

Charles Ponzi ran his infamous “Ponzi scheme” in an office located above the Starbucks next door.

Stop #7 - Old Corner Bookstore:

Built in 1718 and currently home to Chipotle, this building was once was the headquarters for one of America’s most important publishers, Ticknor & Fields. Famous writer like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Charles Dickens would often visit here.

Boston’s newspaper district was once located nearby. If you look above the Shake Shack you’ll see “Transcript” engraved on the second floor for “Boston Transcript”

Stop #8 - Old South Meeting House:

Built in 1729, the Old South Meeting House was a Puritan church that was used occasionally as a town meeting room at the start of the Revolution. The Boston Tea Party was planned here. Following the Great Boston Fire of 1872, the church congregation decided to build a new church in the Back Bay at the corner of Boylston and Dartmouth (near the Boston Marathon finish).

Benjamin Franklin was born across the street in a two-story wooden house that was destroyed during the Great Fire! Look for Franklin’s name and bust on the second-floor of the black building.

Stop #9 - Old State House:

Built in 1713, the Old State House is the oldest public building in America and it served as the capitol of the Massachusetts Bay Colony during British rule. The lion and unicorn at the top of the building are both symbols of England. The building is now used as a museum. 

A time capsule was discovered in 2015 that was placed under the lion’s crown by Sam Adams and Paul Revere in 1795!

Stop #10 - Boston Massacre Site: