Wednesday, 8 February 2017

OUTDOOR MUSEUMS: THE FREEDOM TRAIL

HERITAGE MOMENTS
BY: CONNOR KURTZ

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to walk the Freedom Trail in Boston. I found it to be a fascinating heritage experience and one I would heartily recommend as a way to see many of Boston's integral landmarks and heritage areas .

The Freedom Trail initially began as a citizen initiative in the 1950s. In 1964 the Freedom Trail Foundation was created to maintain and advertise the trail. In addition to this, the Foundation offers guided tours by costumed interpreters. While it is possible to take a self-guided tour of the trail, as it is marked by a line of brick which run from stop to stop throughout central Boston, I was luckily able to take a guided tour.

There were many interesting heritage sites along the trail, but a few particular ones stood out.
A view of the Boston Common.
Source: Connor Kurtz, 2017.
One was the Boston Common, the oldest public park in North America. The history of the Common in itself was fascinating, as the guide situated it within a Bostonian tradition of representation and resistance. The Common is a location which has continued to be an open forum for Bostonians and others to protest and voice their displeasure with society, the government and public officials. This was highlighted by the Woman's March against President Trump that had occurred only a few days before I was there.
The Granary Burying Ground.
Source: Connor Kurtz, 2017.
Some other interesting features of the trail were situated in the Granary Burying Ground. Notable graves include those of John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. As may be seen, it is customary that visitors to Revere’s grave lay pennies on it due to his profession as a smith.
One of Paul Revere's gravestones.
Source: Connor Kurtz, 2017.

However, the eye catching feature of the cemetery was the large monument with name Franklin emblazoned on it, towering over all the other tombs.
A view of the rear of the Franklin Memorial.
Source: Connor Kurtz, 2017.
While someone in our group asked if it was the resting place of Benjamin Franklin, it is in fact where his parents were interred. While Franklin was born in Boston, his remains were buried in Philadelphia.
A view of the Old State House and the site of the Boston Massacre.
Source: Connor Kurtz, 2017.

Also interred in this location are the victims of the Boston Massacre. The event occurred near the Old State House which is also on the trail. Unfortunately, it is difficult to access the the actual site of the Massacre as it is located underneath the asphalt of the busy intersection of State and Congress.


The Old Corner Bookstore (far right).
Source: Connor Kurtz, 2017.

One other place which I found to be of particular interest was the Old Corner Bookstore. While it was once a place where great literary events occurred, such as the publishing of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and acted as a meeting place for Charles Dickens’ Saturday Club, it is now a Chipotle Grill. While the bookstore is long gone, its building remains an iconic part of Boston’s history and as part of the trail.

The path fulfils its role excellently in orienting visitors around Boston’s centre and showcasing important aspects of Bostonian and American history. While I was only able to walk a portion of the Freedom Trail, those sites I did see represent key aspects of the narrative I heard, speaking of commonality, resistance and equality. It is one that interprets a thread which focus’ on Boston’s central role in the revolution, arts and the famous personages of its past.

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