When walking through the North End, it’s easy to lose track of the present. The streets and buildings here are some of the oldest in America’s birthplace city and they tell the story of Boston, one steeped in the legend of Colonial revolution and the cultures of its European ancestors. Nowadays, the North End is most known as being a destination for fine examples of Italian cuisine. It is Boston’s “Little Italy,” after all. Winding through its streets is a portion of the 2.5 mile-long Freedom Trail that guides tourists along historically significant landmarks from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Here are some important stops on – and off – The Freedom Trail that offer an immersive taste of the North End.
Across the water from the North End in Charlestown is the USS Constitution, which is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat, and the last stop on The Freedom Trail. It is a fitting place to end the tour, with its gorgeous views of the harbor and original woodwork.
ROSE FITZGERALD KENNEDY GREENWAY
The two parks bordering Hanover Street on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway serve as the gateway to the North End. It is fitting for the neighborhood as Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was born at 4 Garden Court St. The woman, who would go on to be one of the most famous matriarchs of the 20th century, was baptized at St. Stephen’s Church on Hanover Street, where her funeral was held 104 years later. But back to the spectacular park that is commonly referred to as simply “The Greenway,” the series of park areas that sit atop what is now the Interstate 90 (Mass Turnpike) and I-93 (the Expressway) tunnels. These lawns stretch for a mile from Chinatown into the North End, and feature pergolas, swings, and art installations that make it a lovely spot to visit on a warm night after dinner, maybe with a pastry or gelato from one of the many nearby shops. For the young ones in your group, the Carousel is always worth the wait, when it is open and operating.
PAUL REVERE HOUSE
Paul Revere’s house is just a short walk around the corner. The home-strikingly small and dark compared to the next-door high-rises of downtown Boston-is like a time capsule from the 18th century. This was the Revere family home at the time of his famous midnight ride and on to the turn of the 19th century. After the Reveres left, the building served multiple functions and was renovated a few times to accommodate businesses. A little more than a century ago, the building and grounds were restored to what it looked like in Colonial times, and furnished with pieces that the Revere family actually owned.
COPP’S HILL BURYING GROUND
One of the two men responsible for hanging the signal lantern in the Old North Church on the night of Paul Revere’s ride is buried in Copp’s Hill Burying ground. Other notable figures buried there are African Ameri- can poet Phillis Wheatley and two fanatical preachers associated with the Salem Witch Trials. The high, grassy hill by the Harbor served as a base for the British during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775.
OLD NORTH CHURCH
Following in the footsteps of Paul Revere would bring you to the Old North Church, known for alerting the people of Boston via a secret lantern signal, one if by land, two if by sea, that the British were marching on Concord and Lexington. These two spots, only a few minutes’ walk from each other, were two of the most integral spots to those events of April 1775 when America’s Revolutionary War began.
Photo credits Freedom Trail Foundation