Boston - Discover the Old and the New World on Foot
Pull on those sneakers and make the city your own. Boston is perhaps the best US city to explore on foot. New England’s secret capital is often surprisingly European in other ways, too, and a stroll along the historical Freedom Trail will take you back in time to the birth of a world power.
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Boston: public parks, historic quarters and the “Cradle of Liberty”
North America’s oldest public park has an amazingly eventful history. It began in 1634, when Puritan colonists purchased 44 hectares of land on which to graze their animals, but they also held executions here. British soldiers camped here during the Revolutionary War- the end of which Boston’s citizens also celebrated right here on the Common. The park was later the scene of a succession of political events and civil demonstrations, led by such famous activists as Martin Luther King.
Located between Tremont, Beacon, Charles, Park und Boylston Street. Subway: Park Street Station
This historical neighborhood is one of Boston’s most desirable and expensive residential areas and over the years has been home to such influential characters as US senator Edward Kennedy, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, actor Uma Thurman (Kill Bill) and bestselling author Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park). The streets are lined with lovingly restored houses in the Federal style and Massachusetts State House, the seat of the state government, stands on top of the hill to which the neighborhood owes its name.
North of Boston Common
Somehow typically American: To Bostonians call Faneuil Hall, originally built as a commercial exchange in 1742, is the “Cradle of Liberty.” It was here that incensed American settlers gathered to protest against taxes levied on them by the English monarch. Their protests led to an intensified political tension - and ultimately to the American Revolution.
Located between North and Congress Street. Subway: State Street Station; Tel.: +1-617/242 56 42; Opening times: daily 9am-5pm
Historic importance: North End, USS Constitution & Salem
The North End is Boston’s oldest residential area. Since the city’s establishment in 1630, it has attracted a succession of very different inhabitants. It was the site of the first community formed by former black slaves. Later, the neighborhood attracted mainly Irish immigrants before becoming the center of Jewish life. Today it is Boston’s “Little Italy.” The Freedom Trail takes in the Old North Church, built in 1723, from whose tower the signals were given that warned of the approach of British forces and the first battles of the Revolutionary War.
Old North Church: 193 Salem St., Tel.: +1-617/523 66 76, www.oldnorth.org. Opening times: June-October, daily 9am-6pm, November-May, daily 9am-5pm
The USS Constitution is the world’s oldest seaworthy warship. It lies at anchor in Charlestown Navy Yard but leaves its berth regularly for trips into Boston harbor. The ship, completed in 1798, earned its legendary reputation during the British-American War of 1812, when even cannonball fire failed to materially damage it. The Constitution’s nickname, Old Ironsides, belies the fact that its sides are built of several layers of timber.
USS Constitution: Charlestown Navy Yard; Tel.:+1-617/242 55 85; Opening times: April-October, daily except Mon 10am-6pm, November-March, Thu-Sun 10am-4pm; www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution/
Renting a car is another fine way to take more journeys through time into the rich history of Boston’s environs. The small town of Salem, for instance, was the scene of the infamous witch trials of 1692, to which the Witch Museum today bears grisly testimony. The old university town of Cambridge is the seat of two of the world’s most illustrious universities. The drive over to Concord is also well worth the trip. Known as the “American Weimar,” Concord is the home of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne, all of whom count among America’s most respected authors.
Pictures: Jupiterimages, look-foto, Corbis (3), getty images (2)