One of the most storied cities in the U.S., Boston has adventure waiting around almost every corner. Whether it be rich history, rich food, or rich culture, the Cradle of Liberty has something for everyone.Established in 1630 by Puritans, Boston was one of the first cities in the New World. It was originally called Trimountaine, in honor of the three large hills within the area, but was later renamed for Boston, Lincolnshire, from which several city leaders came. The city quickly established itself as a community based on Puritan values of hard work and education, and as a morally strict community - punishing the city's first "criminal," Thomas Morton, for little more than practicing a less-constrained form of Christianity.
Then, in the wake of increased English control of the colonies in the 1770s, Boston became a hotbed for revolution. The colonists' rebellion resulted in the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and several of the Revolution's early battles. After the Revolution, the city would become a financial and cultural powerhouse; its harbor, schools, technology, literature, and arts combined to make it one of the most influential cities in the United States. (It would also continue as a center for revolutionary thought: in the 1800s, it became a center for the abolitionist movement.)
The area was home to most of Joseph Smith's family, and many prominent leaders of the early Church came from Massachusetts; it was also home to one of the first missions in the Church. However, when the Saints were called West in 1847, the Church's history in the area was largely put on hold until after World War II.
The first members to return to the area were not missionaries, but scholars coming to study in Boston's great universities. When the future Apostle John A. Widstoe attended Harvard in the late 1890s, at least sixteen other Latter-day Saint students were also attending. These LDS students made up the majority of the Church population in the area for years - in 1930, only ten permanent families attended the Boston branch. Starting in 1937, though, when the New England States Mission was established, the Church saw growth. During the 60s alone, membership more than doubled.
Today, Boston has a strong Church population, a temple, and (because of education and tourism) a booming economy. It is in the top twenty most popular places to visit in the country - read on to find out why.
History, for 200
Missing the historical sites in Boston would be like visiting the Louvre without seeing the Mona Lisa. And while simply walking around will expose you to much of the city's gems, a couple places hold extra interest for the history buff.
A trip to the Athens of America wouldn't be complete without a visit to the nation's oldest university, so head down and take one of the tours given by Harvard Unofficial Tours (harv.unofficialtours.com). Established in 2006 to provide visitors with the authentic Harvard experience, these unconventional tours are given by two students (wearing "Hahvahd" shirts) and are full of authentic insight, theatrical staging, and jokes. By their own admission, they are to official tours what the Daily Show is to national news programs. The tour is seventy minutes and starts in Harvard Square, right outside the T-Station.
Harvard's 265-acre botanical garden - the Arnold Arboretum - is another great stop. Free guided tours show you all the beautiful trees, fruits, and birds your heart could desire. Go to their website (arboretum.harvard.edu) to find out when certain species can be viewed throughout the year.
With all the city's harbors and boats, make sure to visit the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides"), one of the sixteen sites on the Freedom Trail (see "Four Places You Must See," below) and the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Almost as old as the Constitution itself, this ship was commissioned in 1794 and has served the country continually since that time. Serving variously as a warship, a school ship, a patrol ship, and now as a monument to U.S. naval history, the USS Constitution facilitated dozens of victories and helped to make the U.S. Navy a formidable force. Thanks to renovation and constant upkeep, the ship can even sail on her own power.
Though the ship is currently under renovation to more closely resemble its 1812 appearance, tours of the decks - except the spar - are still available. The renovation will be completed in September 2009. After you've toured the vessel, check out the USS Constitution Museum (run privately).
To Market, To Market
Aside from history, Boston has some great markets, where you can feel all the bustle and excitement of the city's modern inhabitants and enjoy some excellent food.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace (also on the Freedom Trail) has historic significance - it served as Boston's commercial center for centuries - as well as contemporary charm. With national stores like Ann Taylor Loft and Harley Davidson, area favorites like Boston Pewter Company and Local Charm, and great restaurants like Union Oyster House (the United States' oldest restaurant), the market could fill a day with window shopping and people watching. And as the fourth most popular site to visit in the U.S., you know you can't be wrong in stopping here.
Just two miles away is Newbury Street, another famous market area that has eight blocks of boutiques, beautifully manicured displays, and dining. Built around renovated brownstone buildings, the area has distinguished itself as one of the nicest shopping areas in the country. As a guide to Newbury's boutiques, you can generally find the more expensive shops closer to Boston Public and the less expensive shops towards Massachusetts Avenue. And with windows to fill your eyes and savory scents to fill your nose, you need not spend money to have an enjoyable time.
Not far from Newbury Street is the Museum of Fine Arts, so swing by for a little lesson in culture. From March to August of this year, the museum is showcasing Italian art - both modern and Renaissance (including work from Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese).
For Families with Young Children
History may be fascinating to some of your group, but young children can only listen to tour guides and refrain from touching for so long.
Near both the Faneuil and Newbury marketplaces are a couple nationally recognized places where children can get their brains and hands working. The Boston Children's Museum includes several hands-on exhibits that help children to learn about and respect the world around them; exhibits include access/ABILITY (highly interactive exhibit that encourages disability awareness), Kid Power (teaches about healthy living by explaining "power in" and "power out"), and fifteen other exhibits. Nearby is the New England Aquarium that, living up to its reputation as one of the best aquariums in the country, also peaks the wonder of the young and the young at heart.
Last but not least, the Museum of Science literally envelops visitors in the wonders of the natural world - in the butterfly garden, visitors can walk among free-flying butterflies from around the world - and there are over four hundred other options to choose from. So when the mystery of the past loses its thrill, try this one-of-a-kind museum for a little more action.
Four Places You Must See
When it comes to Boston, where do you start? You could spend all day, every day sight-seeing and still not witness everything. With that in mind, count on these four places while making your plans - you won't want to miss them.
Dedicated in October 2000 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, the Boston Massachusetts Temple became the one hundredth operating temple, completing President Hinckley's goal to have one hundred temples operating by the end of the year 2000. More than 82,600 people attended the open house, and an estimated 16,800 members participated in the dedicatory sessions.
The steeple with its angel Moroni - a cause of concern for neighboring communities, who protested zoning violations in court - was finally put in place on September 21, 2001.
Do you see that red brick line running through the city? Follow it. When you do, you'll be taken to sixteen historically significant sites covering 250 years of American history, including the Boston Common Park, the Paul Revere House, and the Old North Church. The Granary Burying Ground (called "America's Westminster Abby") is one specific site you don't want to miss - in this cemetery, you'll find burial plots for Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere. Mother Goose is also buried there.
The various sites are open at different times on different days, but most are open between 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M., Monday through Friday. See thefreedomtrail.org for a complete list of sites, operating hours, and tour options.
Baseball fans, get yourselves ready for a treat. On top of all the candy, onion rings, and polish dogs you could want, Fenway gives you the possibility of creating hands-on memories. After you get your fill of Fenway's hall of fame, head down to Autograph Alley where you can get a former Red Sox player, coach, or personality to sign your ball free of charge, or hunt for your own space on the Green Monster to immortalize your name.
Tours are available around the ballpark during both off-season (children 3-15, $6; adults, $8) and the regular season (children 3-15, $10; adults, $12). As the place where Babe, the Kid, and Ted Williams all lived and played, even Yankees fans are sure to love Fenway.
The Duck Tour
It may not be a place, but it's the most original tour you'll ever be on. Board the "Duck," a World War II-style amphibious vehicle, which will take you to all the best sites in Boston - whether they're on land or in water. See historical sites, beautiful architecture, parts of the Emerald Necklace (Boston's string of parks), and modern hubs of the city with your ConDUCKtor. Tours are available from 9:00 A.M. to an hour before sunset and last about eighty minutes.
For your information . . .
How to Speak Bostonian
Boston is known for its rich past, but there also happens to be an abundance of accents in the area—the most common being the Eastern New England accent. Dominated by broad as and dropped rs, Boston son Mark Wahlberg has worked hard to get rid of his accent, but can be seen using it in several movies. Say these phrases out loud and you'll get an idea of the local flavor:
"How ah yah?" (How are you?) "Go pahk yah cah." (Go park your car.) "Gid ada heah!" (Get outta here!) "My fothahz bizzah." (My father's bizarre.)
Likewise, here are some terms common in Boston that might be useful for the average tourist:
Bubbler (drinking fountain) Carriage (shopping cart) Frappe (milkshake - milkshake in Boston refers to a drink of milk and syrup, not including ice cream) Jimmies (chocolate sprinkles) Spa (convenience store)
A City of Firsts
Among other things, Boston claims the fame to having the first U.S. public school (Boston Latin School - est. 1635), first U.S. college (Harvard - est. 1636), first U.S. subway (Tremont Street Subway, precursor to today's "T" - 1897), and first community health center (Columbia Point (now Geiger-Gibson) Health Center - 1965).