Summer is officially here and the city of Boston is bustling with tourists and locals alike. Among the most popular attractions during the summer season, the Freedom Trail offers a 2.5 mile-long tour through downtown Boston, the North End, and Charlestown, which includes sixteen historically significant locations.
As visitors walk the trail, they will also come across many bold, new developments. In celebration of this special season, we have highlighted historic sites along the Freedom Trail that have recently undergone a series of renovations and improvements as well as the newer developments you will see during your travels.
Boston Massacre Site/ City Hall Plaza
The site of the Boston Massacre on the Freedom Trail received a makeover in 2011 when it was relocated from its previous high-traffic area at the corner of State and Exchange Streets. The new Boston Massacre site marker, which is made up of 13 rings of cobblestones and a center stone marked with a star, now sits at the intersection of Congress, Devonshire and State Streets in front of the Old State House. The Memorial’s stones were placed inside a bronze ring to make it more noticeable to passersby and the sidewalk at the new location was expanded to better showcase this important marker.
Just up the block sits a dynamic City Hall Plaza. Over the last few years, City Hall Plaza has experienced a revival with winter attractions including a skating rink and last summer’s debut of The Patios. At this time of year, folks of all ages can enjoy the Patios, complete with a beer garden, putt-putt mini golf, grills, and outdoor seating. Additionally, City Hall Plaza is set to undergo a significant redesign that will transform this expansive space into a destination that residents and visitors can enjoy year-round.
Hall/ One Congress
The Historic Faneuil Hall building reopened last spring after undergoing a series of renovations and updates. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in the 275-year-old building were modernized, upgrades were made to the fire alarm system, a new handicap chair lift for the Great Hall stage was installed, and elevators were replaced to increase accessibility and mobility. The building, also known as the “Cradle of Liberty,” is the oldest of the four buildings at this beloved site and was donated to Boston in 1742 by wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil. The initial home to fishermen, merchants and meat and produce sellers before expanding to the Quincy Market building in 1826, it was the place where colonists first protested the Sugar Act in 1764 and established the creed, “no taxation without representation.” Additionally, Historic Faneuil Hall hosted speakers including George Washington, who toasted the nation there on its first birthday, as well as Samuel Adams, Oliver Wendall Holmes, and Susan B. Anthony.
Overlooking Faneuil Hall is Boston’s newest and tallest office tower – One Congress. The 43-story, 528-foot development, which is part of Bulfinch Crossing, just broke ground and is expected to open in 2023.
Paul Revere Mall/The Hub on Causeway
Approaching the Paul Revere House and Old North Church along the Freedom Trail is the newly renovated Paul Revere Mall or Prado. Updates include nearly $3 million in improvements to revitalize the urban plaza and open space, originally designed by Arthur Shurcliff, which connects Hanover Street with the Old North Church. As part of the design process and community meetings, a team of landscape architects, arborists, and engineers reviewed historic materials and designs and evaluated tree health in order to execute essential improvements. The city’s capital plan provided $1.9 million along with another $1 million from the George Robert White Fund. While largely maintaining the original design, the restored Mall features new brick paving, fountain and masonry restoration, accessibility improvements, site lighting, and landscaping.
En route from the North End over to the final stops of the Freedom Trail in Charlestown, folks will pass the Hub on Causeway. This 1.87 million-square-foot mixed-use development consists of three towers; the residential tower, Hub50House, citizenM hotel, and retail space.
USS Constitution/ Hood Park
The USS Constitution, the second to last stop along the Freedom Trail, underwent a series of renovations in 2015. These included replacing lower hull planking and caulking, removing the 1995 copper sheathing and replacing it with 3,400 sheets of new copper that will protect the ship’s hull below the waterline, replacement of select deck beams, and on-going preservation and repair of the ship’s rigging, upper masts, and yards. The USS Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat. It promotes the United States Navy and America’s proud naval heritage through educational outreach, public access, and historic demonstrations both in port and while underway in Boston Harbor.
A major new development, Hood Park, will be located down the road from the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument. Currently, under construction, Hood Park is slated to include more than 1.74 million square feet and nearly three acres of open space. The development will feature seven buildings with office space, a hotel, residential units, and retail space.
While the newer developments being championed across Boston contribute to our city’s vibrancy, stewardship of the sites along the Freedom Trail ensures the city remains lively, welcoming and viable as a cultural and economic touchstone.