Saturday, 6 July 2013

On the Revolutionary Trail

The entrance to Quincy Market
What better way to celebrate July 4 Independence Day than to be in Boston, where the Tea Party ignited revolution that led to the establishment of the United State of America in 1776. We also happen to be arriving on a British ship…

Revolutionary Paul Revere
We arrived in the late morning and got a shuttle bus to Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall in the downtown core. The latter was a gift from French merchant Peter Faneuil in 1742 to be a place for town meetings and a public market, while Quincy Market is an extension of Faneuil Hall. Today both are tourist areas selling decadent-looking Italian and Greek desserts, caramel-covered apples, ice cream, pizzas and kebabs, as well as souvenirs.

After a short break we started on a free tour of the Freedom Trail, where visitors can retrace the steps of the revolutionary activists that eventually led to the colonies gaining independence.

And one of the most prominent was Paul Revere, the son of a French silversmith. We saw the brick home where he was born and the wooden house he lived in with his two successive wives and 16 children next door.

Paul Revere's wooden house
He was instrumental in passing messages along to other revolutionaries in other towns and in the end was richly rewarded with building up his business by establishing a foundry and producing his own line of silverware products. One of his sons went to Harvard to become a doctor, another took over the family business and created Revereware, a line of cookware. Eventually the business was bought over, though the Revere family continues to this day.

Other Freedom Trail sites are the Old South Meeting House that was originally built in 1729 as a Puritan church that hosted many town meetings, including those about the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party; the Old North Church, where Revere rang the bells here as a child and where he alerted the sexton to flash the famous lanterns to warn the British troops were coming.

The Public Garden inspires an Impressionist painting
We then took the subway to see the Public Garden, a large beautiful public space with lots of flowers and trees. We saw a large statue in the distance and it seemed to be wearing some kind of cloth.

As we approached we soon realized it was George Washington astride a horse and wearing a Boston Bruins jersey – or a polyester version of it. He seemed to be beaming with pride wearing the hockey jersey.

We headed underground again to quickly wander the grounds of Harvard, a gorgeous leafy compound with old brick buildings, and then to MIT where we took pictures in front of the domed building.

George Washington and his Bruins jersey
As the subway train crossed the Charles River, we saw lots of boats in the river, waiting for the Independence Day fireworks to begin in the evening. It was quite an impressive sight. Earlier in the day before disembarking we saw the parade of ships, including the USS Constitution that only makes its appearance once a year, and apparently it is a special honour for those in the navy to be able to be on it on July 4.

In the evening around 11pm we managed to catch some of the fireworks in the distance from the cruise ship, which added to the festive atmosphere as well as the big band we had playing in the Queens Room.

What I particularly like about Boston is there is so much history attached to the city, much of it kept, compared to Hong Kong. I hope to go through the Freedom Trail in more depth next time.

The Ames Building
It was also wonderful to see the gorgeous architecture, and already one of my favourite buildings there is the Ames Building, the second-largest structure in the city made entirely of stone – no steel. It has Byzantine designs on the façade that also make it a gorgeous building to look at.

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