Showing posts from February, 2020

Boston: Granary Burying Ground

This week's site along the Freedom Trail, although we are once again studying a location that predates the American Revolution, does not necessarily lend itself very well to the 3D mapping that you have seen over the past few weeks.  And that is because, other than the markers that stand along the ground, the primary points of interest lie just a few feet below the surface.  Settled in a plot of land immediately beside the Park Street Church, you will discover the Granary Burying Ground - a cemetery that serves as the final resting place of many of Boston's most famous residents.  Named for the grain storage building that used to sit between it and Boston Common, this 17th-century burial ground contains approximately 2,300 grave markers but is estimated to contain the remains of over 5,000 individuals - hundreds of whom are infants.  In the map below I have added a few markers to help you spot some of the names that may be familiar. As you can see from the legend, many o

Boston: Park Street Church

I know that last week I mentioned that the State House was one of the few sites that is from after the American Revolution, so it may seem odd that we now turn our attention to a church that was founded some 30 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.  And yet the Park Street Church remains historically significant for two reasons - first, because it stands on the site of the city's old grain storage, and second, because it is beside next week's focal point, the Granary Burial Ground.  The property, standing just across the street from Boston Common, would have obviously been an important location to the citizens.  Henry James, a famous 19th century writer, regarded Park Street Church as "the most interesting mass of bricks and mortar in America" and from the beginning of the 19th century until shortly after the Civil War its status as the tallest building in town made it the first recognizable landmark that could be seen by visitors to the city of Bost

Boston: Massachusetts State House

Standing just across the street from Boston Common, which we explored last week, is the Massachusetts State House.  This is one of the sites along our tour that was not in existence at the time of the American Revolution, but stands on Beacon Hill immediately next to the site where John Hancock - the famed signer of the Declaration of Independence and original elected governor of Massachusetts - lived in his luxurious colonial mansion.  Since just prior to the turn of the 19th century, this building has housed the executive and legislative activity of the government of Massachusetts, as Boston has served as the capital of the colony and state since 1632 (and remember, prior to 1820, Maine was part of Massachusetts as well).  If you ever wonder how important the locals believe their government to be, look no farther than the 1858 phrase that referenced this very structure by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.: "Boston State-House is the hub of the solar system."  The poet and phy

Boston: Boston Common

The first stop along Boston's famous Freedom Trail is Boston Common, the oldest park in the United States.  Dating from 142 years prior to American independence, and just four years after the Puritans first landed in the New World, Boston Common was intended to be a public space for all residents to enjoy and utilize.  Standing on land that the Puritans had purchased from the very first European settler of what is now Boston, a clergyman named William Blaxton (or Blackstone), Boston Common was communally owned by every homeowner in town and was protected against multiple attempts through the years to encroach, divide, or develop the land. By the time of the American Revolution's beginning, the large, grassy area was used for cattle grazing, public speeches and demonstrations, and finally for stationing over 1,700 British troops that had taken control of the city's unruly population.  Their marks on the land included removal of fencing and trees for firewood, and the diggi