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 physician, whose own Boston-born son would later become a justice of the United States Supreme Court, therefore gave his beloved city a moniker that would stick for years to come: The Hub. Slightly more flattering than Beantown, it would seem, but I'm sure the locals proudly claim both nicknames. The dome atop the building is now covered in gold, but was originally overlain with copper by none other than Paul Revere. The fiscal value of the precious metal covering the building, however, likely pales in comparison to the sentimental value of a simple wood carving of a fish within the building. The "Sacred Cod", as the unassuming decoration within the House of Representatives chamber has become known, serves as an historic acknowledgement to the significance of the fishing industry to the livelihood of citizens throughout the state. Additional wings to the original structure were completed in the early 20th century and are distinguishable today by the color of material - the historic building retains a red brick facade with white columns, while the newer portions are covered in a light gray concrete.