Boston (Part One)

Without really planning it or meaning to, all of my “couple times a month” travel picture posts for 2014 were about my three-country, three-kids, three-weeks tour. (Great planning, subconscious!) Starting in Shanghai on January 21st, going to Seoul on March 17th, then spending half the year going on about Kyoto, finally ending on December 9th. I hope you enjoyed the tour. I most certainly enjoyed the trip.

But I realized that between one thing and the other (lots of Comet Lovejoy and NASA Socials, so I’m not complaining!) I haven’t done any travel pictures in a while. After a whole year of pictures from Asia, let’s get back to the United States.

As you may have heard, the city of Boston is buried somewhere under approximately a half-mile of snow this year. Growing up in Vermont, I had occasion to make many trips to Boston and it’s a favorite place. My last visit there was during the late summer (no snow in sight), playing “arm candy” for The Long-Suffering Wife when she was at a business conference. While she was conferencing and meeting one day, I went and walked The Freedom Trail.

The Trail is only 2.5 miles, mostly flat, and has one historic site after the other. If you’re just there for the afternoon, I guess you could do it in a couple hours, but I recommend you spend at least a full day. Start early, take your time, dawdle, poke into side streets, find interesting places to eat, and enjoy one of America’s great cities.

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Our hotel was just a block or two away, so I started at the Boston Common. A lovely park, a great place to chill for lunch if you work downtown, and I’m sure a great place to go sledding right now if you can get there. I liked seeing the boxes of street chalk left along with an invitation to draw whatever you wanted on the path.

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I’m a sucker for old sculptures, fountains, and other artwork. This is the Brewer Fountain, a gift to the city in 1868, a copy of a fountain from the Paris World Fair of 1855. At the time I was there it wasn’t functioning, but it was restored in 2009 and re-dedicated in 2010. I’ll have to go back and see it fountaining.

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The statues are of figures from Greek mythology and are obviously more influenced by their French origins than any Puritanical New England standards. Maybe the guy on the left is supposed to be in a contemplative pose, but it seems pretty obvious what he’s contemplating!

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The “Shaw – 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry” memorial was created by Augustus Saint Gaudens, one of America’s premier sculptors of the late 19th Century. It shows Shaw leading his regiment, the white officers at the front and the black volunteers in the back, off to battle in the Civil War.  The memorial is at the north end of Boston Commons, across the street from…

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…the Massachusetts State House. A monumental structure when built in 1798, designed by Charles Bullfinch, located on land donated by John Hancock, it’s still the location of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Chamber. But I suspect that all of those far more modern white buildings hidden in the back are where the hundreds and hundreds of offices are.

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Just across the street is the Park Street Congregational Church. Built in 1809, it was the site of William Lloyd Garrison’s first anti-slavery speech in 1829, kicking off the emancipation movement which thirty-two years later would be a major factor leading to the Civil War. There are a whole list of other historic events and speeches made here (for example, the song “America” was first sung here on July 4, 1831) and the church is still in use. Services every Sunday morning at 8:30, 11:00, and afternoon at 4:00, and 6:00. (That’s as of 2008, check before you show up this week.)

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Next door to the Park Street Church is the Granary Burial Ground which dates back to 1660. Another thing I love is visiting old cemeteries and seeing old gravestones and monuments. (Remember Rockingham Meeting House?) In this particular burial ground lie three signers of the Declaration of Independence (John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Robert Treat Paine) as well as seven former Massachusetts governors and assorted lieutenant governors and judges. Also buried here is Chief Justice Samuel Sewall, who was a key figure in the Salem Witch trials, sending twenty people to their deaths in 1692. Near the entrance by the Park Street Church are the remains of those killed in the Boston Massacre in 1770.

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The headstone for Samuel Adams, third governor of Massachusetts and Revolutionary War rabble rouser. While I’ve always been interested in his cousin, John Adams, Samuel also had a fascinating role to play in instigating the movement to break the colonies away from England. (He has nothing to do with the beer.)

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The headstone of Paul Revere, remembered for his midnight ride to warn of approaching British troops. He was also a successful silversmith and one of the leaders of the American Revolution. (He has nothing to do with Paul Revere and the Raiders.)

Now we’re on our way, but are we sprinting or dawdling? If sprinting, you probably didn’t stop to peruse the headstones (I was there twenty minutes or so, but could go back for hours). We’re only about three blocks from the start in Boston Commons, time to head north on Tremont Street.


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