If there’s anything we love, it’s freedom. And treasure hunts. In the spirit of Easter (and the accompanying egg hunts that come with it), we decided to combine two of our favorite things during a balmy day in Boston and follow the red brick road of the iconic “Freedom Trail”. A 2.5-mile stroll through US history, the Freedom Trail steers visitors through 16 historic sites that contributed in a significant way to the American Revolution. Unfortunately, in lieu of chocolate eggs, all we came away with was a basket full of historical information, which we’re more than happy to share. Let the learning begin!
First stop: The Boston Commons. America’s oldest park, the Commons has undergone a number of transformations over the years, from a grazing area for local livestock, to a place of public celebration, to the site of public floggings of pirates, witches, a few Quakers and others who resisted Boston beliefs (Habs fans?). We particularly liked the most recent incarnation of the park during our last visit to Bean Town, when the Commons featured a public ice rink hosting happy skaters throughout the winter months.
While not “officially” documented as a historically significant stop along the trail, it’s hard to argue that the birthplace of the Boston cream pie doesn’t deserve at least an honorable mention as one of the most delicious pieces of the city’s history. Located across the street from the Granary Burying Ground stop on the trail, the Omni Parker House hotel invented the custard-filled local treat that eventually became the official dessert of Massachusetts in 1996.
With just over a block to go before the final stop on the trail, we were treated to a traditional Bostonian greeting when a lost trolley driver with a car full of tourists pulled over to ask us for directions on his first day on the job. When we informed him we were from Montreal, he just grinned, pointed to his 2011 Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Champions cap and said, “Oh. Well in that case, you guys like my hat?” No, rookie trolley driver, we do not.
The last landmark on the trail is also the only mobile site along the red brick road. The USS Constitution enjoyed its maiden voyage on July 22, 1798, and it’s still a fully-functioning vessel. Equipped with 44 canons, the Constitution was one of the most imposing and intimidating ships in the naval fleet in its day. Now used as a museum, the US Navy still takes the old girl out for a sail every once in a while, most recently on August 19, 2012, as part of the Bicentennial Anniversary of the war of 1812.
Those are all very impressive landmarks, but as Montrealers, we’ll always consider the most historically significant dates in Boston history to be: April 3, 1930, April 9, 1946, April 16, 1953, April 16, 1957, April 20, 1958, May 14, 1977, and May 25, 1978.