In Transit – Boston
Not as well transmitted as its close neighbour New York, Boston however will surprise you with it’s compact layout and friendly atmosphere. If you find yourself in transit here and have a few hours to spare you will have a problem deciding what to leave off your sightseeing list but here are my top 4 picks if you are tight on time.
Old State House
Dwarfed by the newer high rise skyscrapers of the Financial District, the Old State House is perhaps one of the most photographed buildings in Boston representing the way old and new co-exist in this historical town.
The Old State House was originally the seat of the British Colonial Government for just over 70 years from 1713. After independence the building has seen many uses including a produce market, Masonic Lodge and once served as Boston City Hall.
Today it is a museum and its wine cellars have been transformed into a stop on the Boston Metro, appropriately titled “State”
As you would expect this building has seen its fair share of history too. From 1780 one of the rooms was the office of the first governor of Massachusetts and saw many impassioned speeches from notable Boston patriots.
The Declaration Of Independence was read from the balcony on the east façade in 1776 and the small circular set of cobblestones just under the balcony mark the site of the Boston Massacre in 1770.
Inside, the magnificent central staircase is one of just a few 18th century spiral staircases still in existence in the US. Exhibits are split over 2 floors showcasing Bostonian Scoiety memorabilia as well as a show and several articles related to the Boston Massacre.
It’s open from 9am daily closing at 4pm in the winter and 6pm in the peak summer months otherwise 5pm generally. If you want history you’ve got it in spades here and the subway serves as a great stop off for the next building on the list.
A gift to the town of Boston from the wealthy merchant Peter Fanueil in 1742. Fanueil Hall is a Boston landmark that has seen new life along with the neighbouring Quincy Market since its restoration in the 1970’s.
Fanueil Hall has always served as a public market and meeting place. From 1773 Samuel Adams used the building to suggest to the revolutionaries that they should unite against British rule and fight for independence.
At the end of the 18th century it was obvious that Fanueil Hall’s popularity had outgrown the original building so it was extended in 1806 (and one last time in 1898).
The top floor houses the headquarters and artillery of the Ancient And Honorable Artillery Company which has been here since 1746. Below this is the fantastic neoclassical Great Hall where you will find several large canvas’.
Along with the restoration of Fanueil Hall, the widely renowned restoration of Quincy Market from the derelict old produce and meat market has turned Quincy Market into one of the most popular places in town attracting roughly 14 million people annually.
Today the original building is joined either side by North and South Market buildings, restored separately. While the original building houses a fantastic assortment of food stalls and even a comedy club, the north and south extensions provide some retail therapy.
After a long morning of sightseeing this is a fantastic place to stop for lunch and the choice and quality of food on offer is bewildering.
Massachusetts State House
This grand building was originally completed in 1798 but has since had a few additions over the years. It serves at the original model for the US Capitol Building in Washington DC.
It’s copper and gold dome is a landmark in its own right and also serves as zero mile marker for the state of Massachusetts.
Above the main entrance in the Doric Hall, giant statues of many historical figures line the circular walls. This is where most tours of the building begin in Ernest.
The oval shaped House Of Representatives was added in 1895. Up on the wall you can see the famous Sacred Cod which has hung over any place the Representatives have met since 1798.
Flags from all regiments that fought in battle from the state of Massachusetts are housed under a stained glass skylight in the Hall Of Flags.
The administrative “wings” in white brick were added in 1917 and still divide opinion. The latest addition added in 1990, The Great Hall behind the famous front entrance is lined with marble and topped off with a glass dome. It’s used for state functions.
Tours run on weekdays 1000-1530 but it’s advisable to book ahead because it does get very, very busy.
The recommendations on this list are here because they are of historical significance and are must see sights in their own right but also they are easy to get to and all are roughly located in the same area.
When you’re in transit, time is limited so a great many other sights haven’t made this list because it would take too long to get to them or, as in the case of the Boston Freedom Trail (marked by a 2.5 mile red line in the pavement starting in Boston Common and ending at the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown) would take too long to do them justice in the short amount of time you will have available when in transit.
Boston has more historical sights directly related to the American Revolution than any other city. Think of these few as just a taster of what’s to be seen and once you’ve had a taste of what Boston has to offer you will want to come back and really give this city the time it deserves.