Sunday, July 16, 2017

Part I of II: A Mosey Through Boston

Chronica Domus
Photo: Chronica Domus


This was our first visit to Boston. Boston USA, that is.  It's funny to think that only six months prior, quite by serendipity, we found ourselves visiting the original market town of Boston in Lincolnshire, when we traveled there on our way to view the house I wrote about, here.  The two towns could not be any more different.  Boston Massachusetts is enormous by comparison to the somewhat sleepy Lincolnshire port town.

With only two days and three nights to take in the charms of this bustling city, we decided to camp out at Copley Square, a good central starting point for anyone wishing to explore the city on foot. Within a few minutes walk from our hotel, we found the main branch of the Boston Public Library, the first of many places we had earmarked to explore.  Make no mistake, for there is plenty to view in this magnificent temple of scholarly pursuits beyond books. John Singer Sargent's murals, for example.

Chronica Domus
The Triumph of Religion murals, seen in the vaulted Sargent Gallery, were painted in England and installed between 1895 and 1919 and are a departure from the artist's usual subject matter of society portrait painting
Photo: Chronica Domus


Chronica Domus
Philosophy, Astronomy, and History form part of Chavannes' Muses of Inspiration Gallery which vies for attention amid the striking stonework of the library's impressive marble staircase 
Photo: Chronica Domus


Chronica Domus
The inspirational Bates Hall, named in honor of the library's original benefactor, makes me want to perform scholastic gymnastics
Photo: Chronica Domus


No tour of Boston would be complete without walking part or all of the two and a half mile long Freedom Trail.  By following the red-lined route along Boston's brick pavements, visitors will have the opportunity of viewing sixteen historical landmarks that tell the story of Boston and the part its citizens played in America's revolution and independence from Britain.  Beginning with a leisurely mosey across Boston Common, we found Park Street Church and the Granary Burying Ground.

Chronica Domus
In its early days, the Granary Burying Ground was not exactly an ideal locale for a graveyard where boggy conditions from underground springs caused caskets and their contents to regularly float about the place
Photo: Chronica Domus


It is here that some of Boston's famous sons and daughters are laid to rest including revolutionary patriot Paul Revere, statesmen Samuel Adams and John Hancock and, of note, Hancock's servant Frank, who lays at his feet.

Chronica Domus
I believe the headstone of Officer John Hurd, who died in 1784, is the most fetching grave marker I have ever laid eyes upon
Photo: Chronica Domus


Continuing on, past King's Chapel, Boston's old City Hall, and Boston Latin School, the oldest public school in the United States, it was time for some afternoon refreshment. A pot of tea would surely revive our flagging spirits.  Conveniently, and to the delight of our daughter Patience, we just happened to be standing by the hotel that in 1856 invented the Boston Cream Pie.

Chronica Domus
This particular Boston Cream Pie vanished almost as soon as it was served to us at
The Omni Parker House Hotel, America's oldest continuously run hotel ...
Photo: Chronica Domus


Chronica Domus
... as did this, another of the hotel's claims to fame, a light-as-can-be Parker House Roll
Photo: Chronica Domus


After our well-earned intermission of tea and cakes, we were adequately fortified to face the red-brick road ahead.  As it turned out, more tea would soon await.

Chronica Domus
The tea leaves contained within the small glass vial, along with the Chinese tea label, survived being tipped into the harbor on December 16, 1773, the day of Boston's famous Tea Party
Photo: Chronica Domus


The Old South Meeting House, built in 1729, is home to some fascinating artifacts and exhibits which tell the story of the Boston Tea Party.   Also on display is a giltwood clock that made my heart beat a little faster.

Chronica Domus
I was rather gobsmacked at the sight of this fine colossal gallery clock, made by Simon Willard in 1800
Photo: Chronica Domus


Next stop, The Old State House, Boston's oldest public building.  It was in this building that the Declaration of American Independence was first read to Bostonians in 1776, an amazing feat when one considers the Old State House was once the seat of colonial British government.  As I stood in the building's basement, I heard what I perceived to be the rumble of nearby trains. Astonishingly, my ears did not deceive for I soon learned the historic structure sits smack dab atop a subway station.

Chronica Domus
A model of the Old State House - notice the doorway to the right which leads to the subway station directly beneath the building
Photo: Chronica Domus


At some point in the building's history, an architect followed a set of incorrect plans and installed this spiral staircase instead of an intended assembly chamber - I'm rather pleased he did because I was compelled to photograph it, so impressed with its shapely form, and unaware of its quirky history until doing research for this post
Photo: Chronica Domus


On we trod, past Faneuil Hall to Charles Bulfinch's extension, The Great Hall, which looked appropriately festive for the upcoming Independence Day holiday.

Chronica Domus
George Peter Alexander Healy's painting, titled Webster Replying To Senator Hayne, took seven years to complete and hangs on what I've nick-named the 'Wall of Worthies' alongside other notable figures in America's history
Photo: Chronica Domus


By early evening, having zipped by several more notable landmarks, it was beginning to feel as though the Freedom Trail would never end.

Chronica Domus
"Are we there yet?"
Photo: Chronica Domus


Time to call it a day but not before a table for dinner was secured at the Union Oyster House, America's oldest restaurant.  Established in 1826, this popular eatery was packed to the gills with hungry patrons looking to fill up on New England's best seafood dishes. With a forty-five minute wait ahead of us, there was plenty of time for one of these:

Chronica Domus
Photo: Chronica Domus


Chronica Domus
Shown here are three of the many booths available for patrons' dining pleasure - Number 18, not illustrated in this photograph, was President John F. Kennedy's favorite booth
Photo: Chronica Domus


Boston is indeed a fun and thriving city full of interesting architectural gems and historic treasures. What I've covered in today's post is just the tip of the iceberg to what is available to be enjoyed by Boston's fortunate visitors.  If you are pressed for time and can only spend a single day here, I highly recommend following our path and walking part, if not all, of the Freedom Trail.  By doing so you will be rewarded with an understanding as to why Boston is one of America's best preserved historical cities. And, like me, you will probably find yourself uttering the words "old" and "oldest" repeatedly throughout your day.

Coming up next, Part II - In pursuit of beauty and culture.

12 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for transporting me back to Boston. I look forward to Part II!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello slf,

      I'm pleased you enjoyed the visit and I only hope my scribblings convey how wonderful Boston is to visitors new and old.

      Delete
    2. There is so much to appreciate about Boston. Your mention of the Boston Public Library brought back memories of the summer I worked there to earn money for college. It also reminded me of the time my sister who was a member of the Boston Athenaeum took me as her guest to the most delightful afternoon tea at the Athenaeum. It felt like I had been transported to a more gentile time and place. It definitely was the most memorable tea I have ever experienced. Yes, I very much enjoy your writing.

      Delete
    3. Hello again slf,

      What wonderfum memories you have of the awe-inspiring BPL.

      Now, the Boston Athenaeum, well that's a place I would have dearly loved to have taken a peek into. Alas, as you know, membership or an invitation by a member, is in order. I can only imagine how wonderful your afternoon tea experience was. I need to meet your sister on my next visit to Boston ;-)

      Delete
    4. Now that would be delightful but, sadly, she is no longer a member. Otherwise, I would like to go again myself. However, something you might consider checking out next time is the Mapparium, a three-story-tall globe made of stained glass that is viewed from a bridge that runs through its interior. It is inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library, next to the Christian Science Monitor HQ. I was, as they say, gobsmacked when I first saw it.

      Delete
  2. Hello CD, Thanks for this highlight tour of Boston-I haven't been back since I worked there for a short time years ago at the Museum of Fine Arts. I remember the library as being beautiful but sadly depleted--lots of books were missing, and those present often had the illustrations hacked out.

    I agree with you--that gravestone and clock are both spectacular!
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jim,

      I'm shocked and saddened to read that books were either vandalized or stolen (missing?) from this fine library. What has the world come to? We were hoping to see John Adams' library but it was closed for restoration. Ah well, all the more reason for a future trip to Boston.

      Delete
  3. Loving this tour! Haven't been to Boston proper in an age and need to get back.
    We've been saying for years what ol' CD needs is a good gobsmacking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well then, it is high-time you returned to this wonderful town and post a blog on your experiences. Gob smacking, I'll have you know, became an expression I mastered many times throughout our trip East. So much beauty!

      Delete
  4. As a [suburban] resident of Boston I am always happy when visitors enjoy the city as much as I do. Your words and photos capture its charms so well. Did you know one may order that iconic Boston Cream Pie by mail? Of course, nothing beats indulging in this delectable treat in the lovely Parker House dining room. I eagerly await the next installment of your travel log.
    Best,
    KL Gaylin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello KL Gaylin,

      Our pit stop into the Parker House dining room was indeed an unexpected pleasure. I'm so glad we sampled its famous pie (cake?) for it was delicious and not at all cloying. I'm going to keep the fact that mail order is available a secret from Patience, at least for now anyway.

      Delete
  5. We visited Boston two years ago and again this summer. It is so full of wonderful places to visit. Did not know that there were Sergeant murals in the library - will make a point to visit next time! This year we took the train to down the coast and, like you, were surprised by how much more water is in the landscape than here in California. Ponds and rivers everywhere.

    ReplyDelete

Please do leave a comment as I enjoy the dialogue with my readership, thank you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...