Freedom Trail Visitor Center at Boston Common

Walking the Freedom Trail

NOTE: This is an “in progress” sto­ry post, being cre­at­ed as part of a DEMO at Word­Camp Mil­wau­kee 2015 and Word­Camp Toron­to 2015.

On the morn­ing of Sat­ur­day, July 18, 2015, we found our­selves in the Boston Com­mon at the start­ing point for the his­toric Free­dom Trail. Our adven­ture had start­ed a day ear­li­er with a pair of tick­ets to any­where Jet­Blue flies, com­bined with a near­ly spon­ta­neous deci­sion to spend the week­end in Boston hik­ing through his­to­ry.

9:00a

9:00AM

The Boston Com­mon was estab­lished in 1634 and the 44 acre park is the old­est in Unit­ed States. It serves as the anchor for the Emer­ald Neck­lace, a sys­tem of nine con­nect­ed parks. Orig­i­nal­ly the south­west cor­ner of the park was the shore of the Charles Riv­er. Dur­ing the British occu­pa­tion of Boston, over 1,000 Red­coats made camp on the Com­mon. The troops embarked from there in April 1775 to face colo­nial resis­tance at Lex­ing­ton and Con­cord.

The park was used for pub­lic hang­ings until 1817 and to graze local live­stock until 1830. In more recent years, the park host­ed a civ­il rights ral­ly by Mar­tin Luther King, Jr., anti-Viet­nam ral­lies, and Pope John Paul II cel­e­brat­ed mass there. The park now hosts sev­er­al city­wide fes­ti­vals and per­for­mances each year. Dur­ing the week­end of our vis­it, Boston Com­mon was home to the free Out­side the Box music per­form­ing arts fes­ti­val.

The Nation­al Park Ser­vice oper­ates a Visitor’s Cen­ter for the Free­dom Trail at the edge of Boston Com­mon. The trail itself is marked with a line of red brick embed­ded in the side­walk and wind­ing for 2.2 miles through the cen­ter of Boston.

9:10a

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Our first stop on the Trail was the State House, locat­ed at the top of Bea­con hill and just across the street from the Boston Com­mon.

The State House was built in 1798 on land pre­vi­ous­ly owned by the first elect­ed gov­er­nor of Mass­a­chu­setts, John Han­cock. The build­ing was designed by Charles Bullfinch, con­sid­ered the lead­ing archi­tect of the day.

The State House dome orig­i­nal­ly was con­struct­ed using wood­en shin­gles. Today the dome is sheathed in cop­per and cov­ered by 23 karat gold, which was added to pre­vent leaks. A wood­en pinecone — sym­bol­iz­ing log­ging in Mass­a­chu­setts dur­ing the 18th cen­tu­ry — sits at the very top of the dome. In the cham­bers of the Mass­a­chu­setts House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, a wood­en cod­fish known as the “Sacred Cod­fish” hangs in recog­ni­tion of the impor­tance of the fish­ing indus­try to the Com­mon­weath.

9:15a

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9:50a

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10:20a

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Thomas Crease built this struc­ture as his apothe­cary and res­i­dence short­ly after the great fire of 1711 destroyed Anne Hutchinson’s house on this site. Tim­o­thy Carter opened the Old Cor­ner Book­store here in 1829. Between 1845 and 1865, the book­sellers Tic­knor and Fields estab­lished the building’s last­ing lit­er­ary sig­nif­i­cance as the pub­lish­ers of Hawthorne, Longfel­low, Stowe, Emer­son, Thore­au and oth­er promi­nent Amer­i­can and British authors, who often gath­ered here.

In 1960, civic lead­ers raised mon­ey and estab­lished His­toric Boston Incor­po­rat­ed to acquire and pre­serve this build­ing. His­toric Mark­er — The Boston­ian Soci­ety

10:25a

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10:30a

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In a touch of his­toric res­o­nance, we were at the Old State House exact­ly 139 years after the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence was read pub­licly for the first time in Boston. On July 18, 1776, cit­i­zens gath­ered in the street to hear the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence read from the building’s bal­cony, the first pub­lic read­ing in Mass­a­chu­setts.

10:35a

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12: 15p

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1:10p

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3:00p

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The author

Kevin A. Barnes is a Digital Experience Project Manager at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. He also is a pub­lished short story author — his first short story was pub­lished in 1983; his most recent in Octo­ber 2014. Visit his website at https://www.kevinabarnes.com