It’s July 18, 2013, and I’m sitting in Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, just about to board a flight home. This is the end of not only my time in Boston but also my US East Coast adventure & my wider 5 month North & Central American jaunt. I’m knackered so here are some pictures from the last four days in Boston, my first visit to America’s most historic city not to mention its most Irish of cities.
Crossing State Street in downtown Boston (), Massachusetts, USA. July 15, 2013.
The Freedom Trail
Boston, being home to the 1773 Boston Tea Party & the 1775-1783 American Revolution, is a pretty historic place & there’s no better way to get an appreciation for all that history than by walking the city’s Freedom Trail. The trail, probably the city’s most popular tourist attraction, is a self-guided tour through the heart of downtown historical Boston. The 2.5 mile/4 kilometre path is marked by a red line in the pavement that leads participants to 16 of the country’s most significant historical landmarks, each of which played a pivotal role in America’s rebellious beginning and the growth of the young nation. I was on the trail within hours of arriving in the city from NYC, checking out historic buildings, battle grounds, monuments, & the burial sites of America’s founding fathers.
Gravestones in Granary Burying Ground, Tremont Street, Boston. So named because of its proximity to Boston’s first granary, the 1660, 2-acre cemetery is one of the oldest historic sites in the city, yet only the third oldest burying ground in Boston – this city is ye olde indeed. It contains 2,345 gravestones and 204 tombs and is the final resting place for may a prominent Bostonian & revolutionary including John Hancock & Samuel Adams, signers of the American Declaration of Independence. Granary Burying Ground, Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 15, 2013.
Old State House at the intersection of Washington & State Streets. Built in 1773, the Old State House is Boston’s oldest surviving public building. It was the centre of political and commercial life & housed the merchant’s exchange, the precursor to today’s stock exchange. It was also the site of the Boston Massacre (see next picture) & it was from a balcony on the east side of the building (this is the west façade) that the American Declaration of Independence was first read in July 1776. Old State House at the intersection of Washington & State Streets, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 15, 2013.
I do not speak with any fondness but the language of coolest history, when I say that Boston commands attention as the town which was appointed in the destiny of nations to lead the civilization of North America.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
A ring of cobblestones marking where, on March 5, 1770, five men were killed in a clash between Colonists & British troops in an event that became know as the Boston Massacre (& all five are buried in Granary Burial Ground). Among the slain men was Crispus Attucks, the first Black American to die for the patriotic cause. State Street, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 15, 2013.
A statue of Colonel William Prescott in front of the Bunker Hill Monument in Monument Square. The 221-foot granite obelisk commemorates the site of the first major battle of the 1775-1783 American Revolution between ill-equipped Colonists, led by Prescott, & the powerful British Army. The battle, fought on June 17, 1775, was one of the bloodiest of the war, leaving 1,400 dead. Monument Square, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 15, 2013.
Here are a few travel-related quotes that I like and that I found painted on the walls of the amazing HI Boston, my home for the last 3 nights & easily one of the best hostels I ever stayed at.
Travel in the younger sort, is part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.
– Francis Bacon
Travel is fatal to prejudice.
– Mark Twain
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure of nothing.
– Helen Keller
On my second day in the city, I paid a visit to the Cambridge suburb of Boston to take a look around the campus of Harvard University, the zenith of historical educational institutions in the US &, having been established in 1636, the oldest institution of higher learning in the country. Harvard’s history, its quality of education, its academic influence, and its wealth (at over $30 billion in 2012 it has the largest financial endowment of any academic institute in the world) means this is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, a true Ivy Leaguer. I spent a few hours here looking around the surprisingly compact campus. Just like in downtown Boston, history is never too far away and again just like downtown Boston it’s history in very pleasant, very photogenic surroundings.
Studying in view of the statue of John Harvard, Harvard’s first benefactor & after whom the university takes its name, in Harvard Yard on the campus of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. July 16, 2013.
I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.
– William F. Buckley, Jr.
The Memorial Transept of Memorial Hall on the campus of Harvard University. My favourite building on the Harvard campus was Memorial Hall, an imposing High Victorian Gothic building consisting of three main divisions, one of which is this, the Memorial Transept. The Transept is a dim, Gothic vault above a marble floor with black walnut panelling and stencilled walls, attached to which are 28 white tablets commemorating 136 Harvard men who died fighting for the Union during the American Civil War – Confederate casualties who attended Harvard & who died for the cause are not listed. I paid two visits the the Transept – I deemed a second visit necessary after discovering, while reviewing my pictures as I lounged in the middle of Harvard Yard, that I didn’t like what I captured during my first visit. When I went back I had the 60-foot-high (18 metre) vault all to myself. Wanting a sense of scale in the shot, and with no one else around, I was forced to put myself in the frame, making sure to move during the 1.6 second exposure. The Memorial Transept of Memorial Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. July 16, 2013.
Fenway Park || Home of The Boston Redsox
There is no letup in history where the city’s ballpark is concerned. Fenway Park, the home of Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) the Boston Red Sox, opened in 1912 when it was then the biggest ballpark in the Major Leagues. Today it is the oldest operating MLB venue and a rare survivor of the 1909-1923 Golden Age of baseball parks. Now the smallest Major League ballpark, Fenway’s intimate setting and proximity of seats to the playing field are its prized draw for fans.
Fenway Park, Fenway, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 17, 2013.
A section of a tour in Fenway Park, Fenway, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 17, 2013.
Video || Fenway Park, Boston
As a baseball fan I’ve been watching baseball games from Fenway Park on TV for over 15 years, so visiting Fenway was always going to be top of my Boston to-do list. Taking in a game would have been great but the MLB season was in the middle of the All Star Break when I was in town (I watched the 2013 All Star Game in a the Beantown Pub in downtown Boston, an historic city watering hole) so I had to settle for a ballpark tour instead. Nothing can dilute the experience of seeing Fenway for the first time but the tour was a bit of a let-down – it was crowded & very rushed. Here’s a bit of video from the tour given by a tour guide who, as you might expect, was a proud Red Sox fan, one with that loveable ‘pahking cahs in Hahvihd Yahd’ Boston accent.
People saying, ‘Life didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.’ Welcome to the club. I wanted to be the starting center-fielder for the Boston Red Sox, for chrissakes!
– Denis Leary
The Ted Williams red seat stands out amongst a sea of green in the right field bleacher section of Fenway Park. Many baseball greats have played for the Red Sox, among them Babe Ruth, Carl Yastrzemski, & Ted Williams. On June 9, 1946, Williams hit a 502-foot home run, the longest ever hit into the Fenway bleachers. The seat, located in section 42, row 37, seat 21, was painted red to commemorate Williams’ titanic blast, one of only 2 in Fenway painted red (although at the time of the home run the bleachers were real bleachers and not individual seats). Fenway Park, Fenway, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 17, 2013.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
I decided to visit the JFK Library & Museum because I had heard that the latticed glass pavilion was particularly picturesque. It was, but the museum itself, detailing the life of JFK as the 35th President of the United States, was/is awesome.
Inside the glass pavilion at the JFK Presidential Library & Museum, Columbia Point, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 17, 2013.
The Visit to Ireland section of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, Columbia Point, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 17, 2013.
The museum gave a great insight into life in the early 1960s JFK White House but I particularly liked the small section of the museum detailing his visit to Ireland in June of 1963. JFK, the first Roman Catholic & the youngest man to be elected President, was particularly proud of his Irish roots – his great-grandfather Thomas Fitzgerald left Ireland for the US in the middle of the Great Famine of 1848 and settled in Boston. On that 1963 visit Kennedy met with 15 members of his extended Irish family making a toast, with tea of course, to “all those Kennedy’s who went and all those Kennedy’s who stayed.” Before boarding his flight to leave Ireland at the end of his 4-day visit he delivered a speech on the tarmac at Shannon Airport, a portion of which reads:
Though other days may not be so bright as we look towards the future, but the brightest days will continue to be those in which we visited you here in Ireland. This is not the land of my birth, but it is the land for which I hold the greatest affection, and I certainly will come back in the springtime.
Needless to say that proclamation never came to pass – he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, 5 months later, on November 22, 1963.
A final few random pictures from my time in Beantown.
Walking down Washington Street, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 17, 2013.
Street performers outside Quincy Market. The historic building in downtown Boston, located in Faneuil Hall Marketplace behind historic Faneuil Hall, was constructed between 1824–1826 and named in honor of Mayor Josiah Quincy, who organized its construction without any tax or debt. It’s a pretty touristy place & the areas around the market are a popular venue for street performers & street vendors. Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 17, 2013.
On a platform at South Station, the largest train station in Greater Boston and New England’s second-largest transportation centre after Logan International Airport. Oh, and it is, of course, housed in an historic building, one built in 1899 (quite new by Boston standards). South Station, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 18, 2013.
After 500 days of travel, on this my latest period of travels, I’ve reached the end of the line.
Homeward bound. Logan International Airport, Boston. I’ve just checked in & my bag has hit the scales at 21.7 kilograms (48 lb). And this does not account for the weight of my carry on day pack which, with all my camera gear and assorted electronics, weighs in at about 7-8 kilograms. I’ve always been a terrible packer, carrying way more weight on my various trips and I’ve ever needed. And I’ve lugged this around the world for 500 days now, having started this trip back on March 6th of last year. Yep, worst traveller ever. Logan International Airport, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. July 18, 2013. (iPod)