It may seem strange to contemplate patriotic locales when planning a date, but if you have someone who’s really into Americana, or people from out of town who’re interested in local history, there are worse moves than exploring some of the famous locales Boston has to offer.
Not all of the places I’m about to write about are in Boston proper, as the history of the Revolutionary War ranged all around the region, but several are. This will be a natural tie in to my fourth and final article, which will be about awesome date places outside of Boston itself.
A Damned Fine Ship
Boston is proud to be home to the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat, the U.S.S. Constitution, which was launched in 1797. “Old Ironsides,” as she’s sometimes called, is a three-masted heavy frigate, and, yes, she can still sail. Although she’s not in active service, she serves as a fantastic museum for visitors, giving them an idea of what it would be like to be aboard a ship of the line in the early years of the U.S.A.
When you board the Constitution, you’ll have a lecture by a state park ranger in period costume, who tells of the ship’s history, some of the history of the U.S> navy, and what conditions would have been like at the time that the ship was in active service. There are some awesome details, and I don’t want to spoil them here, but if you’ve ever played Sid Meier’s Pirates and wondered if things like chain-shot and grape-shot were real, you’ll find out here.
There’s also a small unattached museum building with further exhibits about naval battles and history. At various times of the year, you may also run into exhibits on specific battles, ship models, piracy, and more. All in all, a very enjoyable way to spend a few hours.
Some National Treasures
Okay, I acknowledge that I’m a history geek, and I have a “thing” for seeing pieces of real history. That being said, if you have even a smidgeon of patriotism, I defy you to visit the Commonwealth Museum and not get chills.
Not only does the Commonwealth Museum have awesome pieces like the copper plate used by Paul Revere to illustrate the Boston Massacre, but it’ll also shed light on the feud between Revere and his one-time friend Henry Pelham (and when you see Pelham’s image, you may see why they feuded…can we say plagiarism?) It also has tons of cool documents to peruse. Even more awesomely awesome, however, they have copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Massachusetts State Constitution. Bear in mind, however, that when I say copies, I’m not talking about reproductions. When the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights were written, fourteen copies were made – one for the national archives, and one for each of the 13 original colonies. The copies in the Museum are the copies that were made when the original was made. Completely awesome.
This stop is definitely for hardcore history geeks, but I think it’s well worth checking out.
On the Road to Liberty
If you’re looking to do an all-day tribute to American patriotism, one of the best ways to spend it is on the Freedom Trail. Back in the 50s, someone realized that there were all these historic locations related to the Revolutionary War in a relatively small area (hence this article in general, really), and suggested that it might be a great idea to mark a path that leads from one to the next. This idea culminated in a 2.5 mile brick-lined route that leads from the U.S.S. Constitution in Charlestown to Boston Common.
Along the road, which is a pretty easy walk, there are 16 sites of historical significance. These include the Bunker Hill Monument (which, ironically, stands on Breed’s Hill, where most of the fighting in this oddly named battle took place), the Old North Church (one if by land, two if by sea), Paul Revere’s House, Faneuil Hall, the Site of the Boston Massacre, and the Massachusetts State House.
It’s worth noting that there’s also Battle Road, which links the sites of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. This is not a road I recommend trying to walk (though my hubby and a friend once biked it), but taking time along the road will bring you from Lexington Green (a favorite spot of mine, since it’s rather close to where I grew up) to the Old North Bridge in Concord, where the first battle of the Revolutionary War ended in a British retreat. The Old North Bridge in particular is a very beautiful area, with a great museum near a very picturesque garden and river area.
Once again, I find myself feeling like I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the great stuff there is out there. You could continue a visit to Boston’s history with visits to sites like the Granary Burial Ground where patriots like Samuel Adams are buried, the Tea Party Ship, to learn about this important piece of early protest, the Museum of African American History, following the Paul Revere’s Ride route, and more. If history’s your thing, Boston is the place to be.
Next time, I’ll finish this series of articles with a look at some of the awesome spots outside of Boston, including my home spot, Davis Square, and the awesomeness that is Salem. Signing off for now.