Part III: Trollies, Trails, and Seafood
The concierge said, “Boston is a walking town.” Beantown is relatively flat and compact, so in many ways that is true. Over the three days, I walked a total of 35 miles. But you don’t have to walk everywhere, there are several tour services that will take you around.
I chose the Old Town Trolley. Their bright orange trolley-buses were a familiar sight for me growing up in San Diego, so I knew I’d get my money’s worth from them. One of the advantages of this company is the “on-off” feature. They make stops throughout the city and you can disembark visit a location and then hop back on the next one. They run about every fifteen minutes so the wait is never long.
My driver and guide was Little Dave. A native of Boston, who took great pride in his city but wasn’t shy about sharing a joke that would make your eyes roll. He was happy to share his knowledge and recommend places to visit. It was from him that I learned about the Gibson House Museum. He also recommended that I follow the Freedom Trail, a walking tour through the oldest parts of Boston.
Early Sunday morning I set out on the Freedom Trail, with my map in one hand and my smartphone set Freedom Trail website. The walk begins in the Boston Commons, now a beautiful park but once a shared cow pasture. It wound its way passed some of the oldest structures in North America.
Here are some of the highlights:
The State House – It stands out with its 23-carat gold leaf dome. The original dome was made of copper by Paul Revere. The change was made in 1874 for the Unite States centennial celebration. During World War II, it was painted black to camouflage it.
The Granary Burying Ground – Here are buried many notable Bostonians, including Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin’s parents, and the eight victims of the Boston Massacre. The rows of tilled, moss-covered, and worn tombstones are hauntingly beautiful in the early morning sun.
The Old Corner Bookstore – Originally built in 1636, as the home for William Hutchinson and his family the building has seen many incarnations. Destroyed by fire in 1711, it was rebuilt and used as an apothecary. In 1719, it became the home of the Boston Gazette, which is still in publication today. Since then a series of publishers and booksellers use the building. It was here that Hawthorne’s novel, A Scarlet Letter, was published, as well as many abolitionist pamphlets. Today, it is home to a Chipotle Restaurant.
The Old State House – This is Boston’s oldest public building. It was here the royal governor met with patriots about the taxes and housing of British soldiers. And at its doorstep, the Boston Massacre took place. The multimedia presentation offered here is well worth the time. You are given a character, I was given Sara Revere (the first Mrs. Revere) and asked to take her perspective as I viewed the exhibits.
The Paul Revere House – This 1681 house, squeezed between modern buildings, is very small for the number of family members. The first floor was the kitchen and entry way. The second from with two bedrooms and where one had to double as a sitting room to entertain guests. An attic room provided more sleeping space. Here Revere ran his silversmith shop and raised sixteen children by his two wives. It was from here, he and William Dawes, planned their “midnight ride.” Beautifully preserved, with many objects passed down through the Revere family.
The Old North Church – Officially Christ Church, this is where the lanterns were hung that sent Revere and Dawes riding toward Concord and Lexington. The church is still an active parish and as I approached the bells were ringing calling the parishioners into worship. In need of some rest, I entered the sanctuary where an usher welcomed me warmly and then led me to a box pew near the front. It was moving to be worshiping where once the Revere family and other patriots once worshiped.
On my last day in Boston, I took a leisurely walk through the Boston Public Gardens. As I wondered I saw a statue commemorating the first use of ether by a doctor at Boston General Hospital. Just past this I meet some old friends, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack. They were following their mother, Mrs. Mallard, to the duck pond in the park. You remember them, don’t you? The statues of the ducks are to honor author Robert McCloskey and his Caldecott Award winning book Make Way for Ducklings. I then wandered over to the duck pond where I saw Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, but no ducklings.
Of course, you can’t go to Boston and not have some seafood! My guide on the Old Town Trolley recommended I try Legal Sea Foods. A short walk from the Boston Public Park I one of their establishments. They are called “Legal” because they were an off-shoot of a Legal Grocery (a store that gave Legal Stamps, a precursor to S&H Green Stamps). I had a lovely meal that started with Lobster bisque. The best I’ve ever tasted. For my entrée, I chose their seafood casserole with scallops, shrimp, and white fish all covered with a white cheese sauce. It was accompanied by draft Samuel Adams Beer (that was a treat because in California we only get the bottles.) It was a bit on the expensive side, but I did not go away hungry or disappointed. If you’re in the Boston area, make a stop at Legal Sea Foods.
That wraps up my trip to Boston. I had a wonderful time. Thanks for letting me share it with you.