Boston is one of the oldest cities in the
United States, founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 by Puritan settlers from
England. It was the scene of several key events of the American Revolution, such
as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and
the Siege of Boston. Upon U.S. independence from Great
Britain, it continued to be an important port and manufacturing hub as well as a
center for education and culture.
Getting there ...
|It was our first time to spend the
Thanksgiving holiday on the east coast. We had an early morning
flight to meet with Iris at the Boston airport subway station (our
flight arrival time was only 30 minutes apart), and had Linus to go to
the hotel in Boston downtown directly to wait for us. Although it
was the high travel season, the traffic (air + ground) was not bad
at all and we all had a smooth journey to Boston.
- Quincy Market
Quincy Market is a historic market complex near Faneuil
Hall (which was closed today due to an "emergency" repair according to the
notice posted on the door). It was constructed in 1824–26
and named in honor of Mayor Josiah Quincy. Quincy Market actually
comprises of three buildings – Quincy Market at the center and flanked by
South Market and North market. They were built at the same time in the 1820s
to cope with the overcrowded Faneuil Hall. Today, Quincy Market has turned
into a festival marketplace where you can find colonnade eateries, lots
of shops, pushcarts along the side of the buildings and street performers.
We spent quite some time here for some winter clothes shopping for Iris and
We had a dinner at the
Union Oyster House,
the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest restaurant in continuous
service in the U.S. since 1826. While Woanyu and Linus
enjoyed their raw
oysters, I had a good Samuel
Day 2 (11/23)...
I walked to the nearby Fan Pier Park for sunrise. It
was the Thanksgiving Day and the city streets were so quiet...
- Long Wharf
Long Wharf (built 1710–1721) is a historic pier which
once extended from State Street nearly
a half-mile into Boston Harbor. Today, the much-shortened wharf (due to
landfill on the city end) functions as a dock for passenger ferries and
Since we stayed at the hotel right at the Long Wharf,
we took a short walk to the end the pier to take a few pictures before we started our itinerary
- Granary Burying Ground & Boston Common
Since most of places were not
open on the Thanksgiving Day, we had to choose the open grounds to visit
(although the King's Chapel was open for a special Thanksgiving worship, we
did not feel comfortable to step in the service when we passed by).
Established in 1660,
some of America's most notable citizens rest here at Granary Burying Ground,
including John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and Benjamin Franklin's
parents, etc. Boston Common, established in 1634, is America's oldest
public park. Puritan colonists purchased the land rights to the
Common’s 44 acres from the first settler of the area, William Blackstone.
The pasture then became known as the "Common Land" and was used to graze
local livestock until 1830. Today, the Common serves as a public park
for all to use for formal or informal gatherings and events such as concerts,
protests, softball games, and ice skating. Famous individuals such
as Martin Luther King Jr., Pope John Paul II, and Mikhail Gorbachev have
made speeches there.
We took the Red Line subway to Harvard, Cambridge.
Linus and I had visited Harvard about 3 years ago during our
college tour in 2014.
Harvard, established in 1636 as the oldest institution of higher education
in the United States, is no doubt one of the most prestigious universities
in the world for its history, influence, and wealth. Linus
wore a Yale sweater, but it was hidden inside his coat :-)
We took a
quick walk around the old Harvard Yard, and found a ramen place (only
Chinese/Asian restaurants were open today) for a quick lunch. We then
went to a Starbucks next to the subway station (luckily it was open so we
could take a long break there).
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Founded in 1861 in
response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT
adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory
instruction in applied science and engineering. Two days after MIT was
chartered, the first battle of the Civil War broke out. After a long delay
through the war years, MIT's first classes were held in the Mercantile
Building in Boston in 1865. The Institute is traditionally known
for its research and education in the physical sciences and engineering, but
more recently in biology, economics, linguistics, and management as well.
MIT is often cited among the world's best universities by
various organizations. The current 168-acre (68.0 ha) campus
opened in 1916 and extends over 1 mile (1.6 km) along the northern bank of
the Charles River basin.
We originally planned to go to Chinatown for the Thanksgiving
dinner. However, we all did not have too much motivation to go out
(except I went around for a few evening photos below), and we decided
to stay in the hotel to have a good dinner right at the hotel restaurant.
Day 3 (11/24) ...
I took an early subway to the northern bank of
the Charles River right beside MIT campus. It was another beautiful
- Massachusetts State House
Designed by Charles Bulfinch, the
Massachusetts State House was completed on January 11, 1798, and is widely
acclaimed as one of the most magnificent public buildings in the country.
The land for the State House was originally used as John Hancock’s cow
pasture. Its most distinct feature, the golden dome, was once made of wood,
but was later overlaid with copper by Paul Revere. It was covered with
23-karat gold leaf for the first time in 1874 and was painted grey during
World War II to protect the city from bombing attacks. The State House dome
was most recently gilded in 1997.
- Fenway Park
Fenway Park, opened in 1912, is the oldest ballpark in MLB and home for
the Boston Red Sox. Fenway Park is one of the two remaining classic
parks still in use in major league baseball (the other being Wrigley Field
for Chicago Cubs). The ballpark was converted to a football
game configuration for some college football in the past few weeks, and it
was in the process of converting back to a baseball park when we visited.
- Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO)
Boston Symphony Orchestra, founded in
1881, is one of the five major American symphony orchestras commonly
referred to as the "Big
Five" (although it has become quite debatable who are the new Big Fives
now or whether it is still meaningful to rank the Big Five anymore).
Today the BSO reaches millions of listeners, not only through its concert
performances in Boston, but also via the internet, radio, television,
educational programs, recordings, and tours (but it's still a quite good
experience to listen to BSO in a live concert!).
The program: Beethoven
Piano Concerto No.1 in C, Op. 15, soloist Rudolf Buchbinder; Bruckner
Symphony No. 4 in E-flat "Romantic"; conductor Andris Nelsons. Bruckner's
No.4 is a long piece (more than an hour). Iris could not stay awake and slept for probably more than 50 minutes :-)
- Sunset at Skywalk
Located in Prudential Center's 50th floor, the
city's second-tallest building, the Skywalk Observatory gives you a
panoramic view of Boston's famous attractions, landmarks, and iconic
neighborhoods from almost 750 feet above the ground. It was a short
walk from the Symphony Hall to the Prudential Center, and the timing was
perfect to catch the sunset (I was worry the concert might be too long
because of Bruckner's No. 4...).
Day 4 (11/25) ...
I walked to the end of Long Wharf (just 1 minute of walk from
the hotel) to enjoy another nice sunrise over the Boston Harbor.
- Freedom Trail
The Boston National Historical Park encompasses
portions of Downtown Boston, Charlestown, and South Boston. In addition to
managing its properties that are a part of the park, the Park operates two
visitor centers at Faneuil Hall and in the Charlestown Navy Yard. The park
also works and cooperates with many different partner organizations which
Trail. Boston's Freedom Trail comprises 16
"official" sites that have witnessed almost 400 years of history.
- Bunker Hill Monument
We started from the northern end of the Freedom
Trail at Bunker Hill Monument, where we met with Woanyu's high school mate
who has lived in Boston for 20+ years but has never walked the Freedom Trail
The Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, was the first major
battle of the Revolutionary War and predicted the character and outcome of
the rest of the war. The Bunker Hill Monument is a major commemorative
obelisk, memorializing a key battle during the outset of the Revolutionary
War. Climb (no elevator) the monument's 294 steps to the top for a
- USS Constitution -- Charlestown Navy Yard
Charlestown Navy Yard is
one of the oldest shipbuilding facilities in the United States Navy.
Established in 1801, under the last year of the Federalist
Party administration of second President John Adams, (1735-1826, served
1797-1801) and the recent establishment of the new U.S. Department of the
Navy in 1798. After 175 years of vaunted military service, it was officially
closed as an active naval installation on 1 July 1974, and the 30-acre
(12 ha) property was transferred to the National Park Service to be part of Boston National Historical Park.
USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned ship in the United States
Navy. The Navy operates the ship as a historic site in cooperation with the
National Park Service. Launched in Boston in 1797, the oldest
commissioned warship afloat earned her nickname "Old Ironsides" during the
War of 1812 when she fought the British. The ship is permanently
berthed in the Charlestown Navy Yard and ventures out several times a year
into Boston Harbor, most notably on July 4th to celebrate our nation's
Independence Day. Today, more than 216 years later, she is still a
commissioned U.S. Navy warship with a crew of naval officers and enlisted
- USS Cassing Young
Built for speed and capability, USS Cassin
Young engaged in seven Pacific battles in World War II, survived two
Kamikaze hits, and served another full decade beyond her expected lifetime
Built in 1943 in San Pedro, California, she is one of 175 2,050-ton Fletcher-class
destroyers built during World War II.
- Old North Church
Christ Church in the City of Boston, also known as
Old North Church, is the oldest standing church building in Boston, having
first opened its doors to worshippers on December 29, 1723. On
the evening of April 18, 1775 Robert Newman and John Pulling quietly entered
Old North and climbed to the top of the church's bell tower to hang two
lanterns near the windows. This signal, from the tallest structure in the
town of Boston, served as an early warning that a detachment of the British
Army was crossing the Charles River. By the end of the next night, the
American Revolutionary War had begun.
- Paul Revere House
Built around 1680, the Paul Revere House is the oldest remaining structure
in downtown Boston and the only home on the Freedom Trail. Paul
Revere (1734 -- 1818) was an American silversmith, engraver, early
industrialist, and Patriot in the American Revolution. He is best known for
his midnight ride to alert the colonial militia. On the evening of April 18,
1775 Paul Revere set out from his home in North Square to warn Samuel Adams
and John Hancock of their potential arrest by a detachment of British
Soldiers. There were countless riders that night spreading the general
alarm, but following the publication of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s "The
Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" in 1860 Paul Revere became an American legend.
Following the war, Revere returned to his silversmith trade. In 1800
he became the first American to successfully roll copper into sheets for use
as sheathing on naval vessels.
- Faneuil Hall
The first floor of Faneuil Hall was built as a market
and still functions as one today. On the second floor, the Great Hall has
hosted meetings, orations, and protests which have enlivened debates and
fueled activism for some 275 years. To this day the Hall is still used.
Built by wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil as a center of commerce in 1741, it
was at Faneuil Hall in 1764 that Americans first protested against the Sugar
Act and the Stamp Act, setting the doctrine that would come to be known as
"no taxation without representation."
- Old South Meeting House
Built in 1729, Old South Meeting House was
the biggest building in all of colonial Boston and the stage for some of the
most dramatic events leading up to the American Revolution, including the
meeting that occurred on December 16, 1773 which became known as the Boston
Tea Party. Since 1877, Old South has served as a museum, historic
site, educational institution, and a sanctuary for free speech.
We passed by King's Chapel again
but found it was closed to the public due to a private event.
- Old State House
Built in 1713 to house the colony’s government, the
Old State House was at the center of civic events that sparked the American
Revolution. A cobblestone circle beneath the Old State House balcony marks
the site of the 1770 Boston Massacre. On a cold March night in 1770, a
beleaguered squadron of British soldiers opened fire in front of this royal
building, killing five and wounding many others. By the next morning,
leaders called the event a "bloody massacre". On July 18, 1776,
Bostonians gathered under the balcony of Old State to hear for the first
time the Declaration of Independence.
We had a dinner
together with a Linus' friend (also a daughter of Woanyu's friend). There
was a lot of seafood again :-(
Going Home ...
|We had an early flight to avoid the
potential crowds at the end of the Thanksgiving holiday. I used
Uber (my 2nd time) to get a car at 5:30AM. However, the driver was
very inexperienced and unprofessional (car is dirty, no room in the
trunk for our luggage, driving with one hand drinking coffee) and even
made a wrong turn to the airport (the detour took more than 10
additional minutes...). We accompanied Iris to Terminal C to
make sure she was in the right line for her JetBlue flight, then we
walked to Terminal B for our own United flight. While we were
hustled around the airport, Linus was still soundly sleeping in the
hotel room and took his time to take the train back to New Haven.
But luckily Linus was still in the room because both Woanyu and Iris
found out they have forgotten stuffs that Linus could collect for them.
This was the first time that we had a family vacation that we came from
different places to meet and then went back to where we came from.
This may become our normal mode of vacation in the future...
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