The Freedom Trail began in the 1950s when a group of Bostonians sought to preserve the history of the American Revolution, which began in Boston. Thus started the preservation of 16 historically significant sites along a path 2.5 miles long. In 2000, the path was designated a “Millennium Trail” by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Freedom Trail is an important part of modern Boston, contributing to the economy and bringing value through education, tourism and preservation programs.
The History of the Freedom Trail
The idea for the trail was originally conceived by William Schofield, a local journalist. He promoted the idea of a walking trail that linked important historical landmarks in the neighborhood. John Hynes, the mayor of Boston in the early 1950s, got behind the idea and by 1953 approximately 40,000 people were visiting the landmarks and the trail every year.
1974 saw the establishment of the Boston National Historical Park. Later the National Park Service opened a Visitor’s Center, located on State Street. Here people can pick up free maps of the trail as well as information about the historical sites. The center also sells books related to the history of Boston and of the United States.
Today the Freedom Trail attracts over 3 million visitors a year and has become one of the most important historical experiences in New England where visitors can learn about the events that helped the United States gain freedom from Great Britain.
Official Sites of the Freedom Trail
There are 16 official sites along the Freedom Trail. Visitors can begin their tour at any point along the way. The historical landmarks included are:
- Boston Common- established in 1634, Boston Common is America’s oldest public park. Today the Common hosts city festivals and performances and is open for everyone to enjoy.
- Massachusetts State House – completed in 1798, the Massachusetts State House is widely acclaimed as one of the most magnificent buildings in the country. Today, senators, state representatives and the governor conduct the daily business of government here.
- Park Street Church – Established in 1809, the Park Street Church is one of the most historically significant sites in the story of Abolition.
- Granary Burying Ground – Established in 1660, this site is one of Boston’s most famous cemeteries.
- King’s Chapel – Built in 1688, King’s Chapel is a non-Puritan church built on the town burying ground.
- King’s Chapel Burying Ground – Historic cemetery dating back to the origin of Boston.
- Benjamin Franklin Statue & Boston Latin School – Founded in 1635, this is the country’s oldest public school.
- Old Corner Bookstore – Originally an apothecary shop, the building became a bookstore in 1828.
- Old South Meeting House – Built in 1729 as a Puritan Meeting House, the building became a stage for some of the most dramatic events leading to the American Revolution.
- Old State House – At nearly 300 years old, this is one of the oldest public buildings of the original 13 colonies.
- Site of Boston Massacre
- Faneuil Hall – Built in 1742, Faneuil Hall played a vital role in the events that shaped the history of the US.
- Paul Revere House – Dating to 1680, this is the oldest existing building in Boston.
- Old North Church – Oldest standing church in Boston.
- Copp’s Hill Burying Ground – Dating from 1659, this was Boston’s largest colonial burying ground.
- Bunker Hill Monument – Monument to the first major battle of the Revolutionary War.
- USS Constitution – Oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.
For more information about the Freedom Trail, please visithttp://www.thefreedomtrail.org/index.html.
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