While you have four nights in Boston, you only get three full days! There is TONS to see in Boston and so many amazing places to eat! Use the “t” line train and take advantage of every second!
Travel Day (January 14th)
Lobster Mac and Cheese
This Wydham Hotel is the best of the trip!
Day 1 (January 15th)
Old South Meeting House
Old North Church
On day 1 in Boston we visited the Old South Meeting House and Old North Church, both of which were built during the Revolutionary War time period. Both of these buildings are quite beautiful to look at and it was interesting to see how different churches looked like back in those days compared to now. Both also feature box pews that families purchased to sit in during sermons. They were useful in keeping warm and families might even bring blankets or even the family dog to help with heat. On the second level, poor people and people of color could have free seating.
Old South Meeting House was a Quaker Church and Meeting House. In 1773 when the tea act was passed, meetings about what to do were held here. Samuel Adams, member of the Sons of Liberty, helped to organize a plan in which a group of Americans dumped over 340 chests of tea in the Boston harbor. Sixteen months later the war would begin. As McCullough mentions in his book 1776, the British turned this building into the Queen’s riding school when they overtake Boston. After the war, the Quaker people refurbished the church. The guide’s discussion of what happened at the Old South Meeting House was very interesting but it was a bit hard to stay focused in a sort of lecture hall style discussion of the events. We sat in the pews while she discussed what all had occurred here. In the back of the church, a timeline and exhibition were set up to further explain the course of events. These were very helpful in gaining a greater understanding of the time period and maps were useful in picturing what Boston used to look like.
Old North Church is the oldest church in Boston at almost 300 years old and is still a working church today. The woman who spoke at this church did not seem very enthused to be here. She told Paul Revere’s story and explained how the Revolution began. There were no exhibitions or any other ways to get information and I left feeling a bit overwhelmed and confused about why we visited that site. She spoke so quickly with so little emphasis on anything that I struggled to understand the importance of the site as a whole. The church itself though (especially the organ!) was absolutely beautiful.
Kristy and I broke off from the group on this afternoon to fuel up with some carbs before we took on the Freedom Trail! Since the weather looked bad on the next day, we decided to knock it all out at once. I actually suggest this because it gives you more free time on the next day. Lunch was at an Italian place in North End called Strega. The owner is pictured above and was hysterical. Lovely place!
That last picture of fellow Teaching fellow Megan perfectly describes how I felt after completing the Freedom Trail. My Freedom Trail experience was exhausting but rewarding. I really enjoyed getting a chance to explore the city while learning about history at the same time. Following the ‘red brick road’ around the city was almost like a game. However, we struggled to find a few of the sites and some did better job than others of interpreting and explaining Boston’s history. According to Young the Freedom Trail has improved greatly over the last few decades, but there is definitely still improvements to be made.
Slavery was popular during this time, and none of the sites on the Freedom Trail really pay proper homage to that. The different burial grounds commemorate the different white men and skim over the slaves that are buried. We risk fragmenting history, especially concerning race and gender, when we split up history into different trails. Boston also offers a Black Heritage Trail and a Women’s History Trail. This takes the pressure off the Freedom Trail to properly recognize these groups.
Dana, Megan, Emma
Emma, Megan, Dana
Personal shoutout on the Jumptron!
The Celtics Game was definitely one of the highlights of my trip! Fellow Allie Roth organized a group rate with the tickets and even had them flash a welcome across the jumbotron for us to see! TD Garden is a great arena and getting out of the hotel and doing something fun was awesome. I definitely recommend planning a group activity like this. We did have to Uber there and back because it was a couple mile walk.
Day 2 (January 16th)
Old State House
First on the schedule this morning was a visit to the Old State House. The tour began with a short introduction discussing the building’s history. The building housed Massachusetts’s government between 1713 and 1798 and became the state house in 88’ before the move to Beacon Hill. After the government’s move the building went through several different hardships before it became the Boston owned museum that it is today. At the end of the tour there were two more lecture style information sessions about the council chamber and the Boston Massacre. While it was clear that the tour guides were passionate about the topics they were speaking on, the lecture style sessions failed to capture our attention without any use of visual aide. This site in particular did not seem to have quite adapted to technology.
The museum calls itself an ‘American Revolution museum’, and as expected, most of the information on those two floors was very repetitive to some of the other museums that we have visited. There was a lot of information about Boston’s role as a thriving seaport and the important men that led during the time of war. The museum was clearly biased towards Boston and told about its role in the Revolutionary War. I preferred the Boston Tea Party Museum and Yorktown’s hands on approach to telling about the war. It is much harder to retain information and imagine the time period when you are simply listening to a lecture or reading an exhibit versus an interactive lesson or video presentation.
One evening a small group of us went to try out a near-by Soul Cycle Class! A couple of the girls had memberships and the rest of us were able to go for free since it was our first time. The class was a great mix of challenging and fun. I was completely exhausted but the upbeat music keeps you going!
Great, light post-workout meal! This place is near Soul Cycle and has incredible salads made with all local ingredients.
Day 3 (January 17th)
Boston Tea Party Museum
The Boston Tea Party Museum was a nice change of pace from some of the more traditional sites and museums that we have seen, but I felt that it was aimed too much towards little kids. It reminded me of my middle school history lessons and tours, and Young mentions it in his article as a museum run for profit. The tour began with a skit reenacting a meeting at the Old South Meeting House about the outrage that took place when the Tea Act was put into place. Three ships of tea sat in the harbor and the colonists had twenty days to decide what to do with it before the contents of the ships could be seized. The governor refused the last request at compromise and so the colonists decided that they must act. The plan of action (dumping the tea overboard) is one of the best-kept secrets in American history because it was considered an act of treason.
After this original informative skit where we were encouraged to yell and chime in, we went outside in the freezing rain onto one of the ships to pretend like we were throwing tea overboard. While it was sort of fun to pretend like we were committing treason, it was really cold and wet and I honestly just wanted to go back inside. Next we went through several indoor interactive exhibits. We watched two women, one loyalist and one patriot, discuss which stance had more merit. Additionally, we saw one of the two surviving chests from the Tea Party, watched two paintings argue with one another and watched a short film on the start of the Revolutionary War. This museum was more focused on patriotism and out on the boat I felt like I should be running around chanting “USA!” After the tour ended we were invited upstairs for tea.
The Bunker Hill site consists of a monument and museum. The Bunker Hill monument itself was created to commemorate the fallen American soldiers in an understated and classy manner. It was built between 1825 and 1842 and dedicated in 1843. I found it very interesting that the monument association decided not to have names, dates or events recorded on the monument. They wanted the monument to serve more as a symbol for national unity that honored the soldier’s sacrifice. The Washington monument was later modeled after the Bunker Hill monument.
At the entrance to the museum there was a brief overview of the Battle of Bunker Hill that explained that although the Americans lost, the battle was a significant strategy gain that showed that American troops were a force to be reckoned with. However, this is the only place in the entire museum that I could find that even mentioned that the Americans lost the battle of Bunker Hill! We incurred devastating losses. The town of Charlestown was badly burned and wrecked during the battle and it took them years to rebuild. Only one small area of the museum was dedicated to British leaders and perspective. The museum reminded me a lot of 1776’s treatment of the Revolutionary War and constant reminders that the Americans were the “ragtag, underdog” army. This sort of pinning was evident throughout the museum. As we’ve heard several times during class and throughout this trip, the victor tells history. It is interesting though that we were not the victors of the Battle at Bunker Hill, yet we still place so much importance on it in American History. Young mentions the Bunker Hill museum and monument in his article.
This little Italian place was absolutely incredible. It was only about a 7-8 minute walk in the snow from our hotel, and it is thus far the best meal I’ve ever eaten. Inside is tiny and candlelit – the perfect date venue. Luckily I was there on a date with two of my two best friends. They had a 3 course dinner option for $40 and while that is definitely a splurge, I knew it would be my last great dinner of the trip. I started with beef tenderloin and portobello mushroom fondue, then had pettini (scallops), and finally ciacolotto (chocolate cake). Meal of a lifetime.
On to Gettysburg (January 18th)
Leaving Boston was SO sad. I didn’t expect to love this city in the way that I did and I will definitely be back. Three days is not enough time!
Follow my blog to see our final stop – Gettysburg!