The Freedom Trail
Boston, Massachusetts
November 14, 2010


The Freedom Trail is a walking path that winds its way through the downtown parts of Boston, passing by many buildings and locations of historical significance. The path itself starts in the Boston Common, a large park right in the middle of downtown, and is marked by two parallel rows of red brick inlaid into the sidewalk. The path runs about 3 miles, but follows a very convoluted path through the narrow streets. I was in Boston for a conference and to meet the editors and publishers of the calculus textbook of which I am a co-author. Today was Sunday, and the conference had ended the previous day. My flight back to Phoenix did not depart until late in the afternoon, so I had a morning to kill. This would make a perfect activity: a good walk through many of the historical places.

Whereas yesterday had been gorgeous, with clear skies and highs in the 60s, today was cloudier and cool, but still, not too bad. From my hotel I took the subway a mile or so to the downtown exit nearest the Boston Common, and found my way to the start of the Freedom Trail. From there I dutifully followed it up and down, back and forth, hither and yon. The Massachusetts State House comes up first, immediately north of the Common. Then south a bit to an old cemetery. I found out fast that keeping on the path was trickier than it looked. Side routes painted in red would jut off, and the main path itself would be missing in places where the sidewalk had been torn up and replaced in the past. I only got off-route once or twice. There were others walking it too, clearly doing the same, with their little pocket-guide and cameras.

I walked by the old city hall, the old state house, then Faneuil Hall, then some interesting maze-like roads in the North End, where the Paul Revere House and statue is located. The route eventually crosses over the Charlestown Bridge, where I had a good view of the new (and very expensive) “Big Dig” bridge. Of interest was the TD Center, where the Celtics and Bruins play. On the other side of the bridge, the route makes a side trip to the USS Constitution, but I was too early today to take a tour, so I had to be content with photos from behind a fence. Then the route follows residential roads to top out on Bunker Hill. Unfortunately, the obelisk monument was partially hidden in some scaffolding. Nevertheless, Bunker Hill looked pretty nice, and I had some nice views back downtown. The one-way walk took me about 90 minutes moving at a steady, but unhurried pace.

Instead of walking back the way I came, I walked to the subway stop nearby and rode that back to my hotel area. I had been gone about two-and-a-half hours. Yeah, I may have missed some of the more minor points of interest, and maybe I don’t know the significance of every little place, but the walk gave me a good workout and a chance to tour the environs. I would recommend it. They apparently have tour guides and options to just do part of the route.

That was the end of my Boston trip. It had been very very busy and jam-packed with meetings and functions. This was a good way to finish it off. Back at the hotel, I showered, got my stuff packed, killed another hour at the Barnes & Noble across the way, then rode the subway to the airport, and flew home that night.

Photos (Click to enlarge)

Massachusetts State House

Old State House

Paul Revere statue

TD Center, home of the Bruins and Celtics

Boston skyline, with the USS Constitution in foreground

Bunker Hill Monument

Boston skyline from Bunker Hill

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(c) 2010 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only.