“Listen, my children, and you shall hear / Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere / On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five / Hardly a man is now alive / Who remembers that famous day and year.”
Paul Revere’s famous ride is just one of the history lessons we learned while celebrating Independence Day in Boston. There are, without a doubt, hundreds of beautiful places in the United States to celebrate the Fourth of July, with a few being especially patriotic. I have had Philadelphia and Washington, DC Independence Days before, and I am excited and happy to now add Boston to the list of Fourth of July celebrations I have experienced.
Old North Church
Thanks to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem I quoted above, Old North Church is very well known for its role American independence. After sitting in on a little talk inside the church where we learned about the interesting box pews, we took a behind the scenes tour that brought us up into the tower to learn about the “one if by land, two if by sea” lanterns and the change-ringing bells. We examined the bell ringers’ contract very closely and saw a familiar name scrawled at the bottom. Turns out, a young teenaged Paul Revere was one of the first bell ringers at the North Church!
The tour also took us down underneath the church to the crypt. There is a long hallway full of modern memorials, with dates indicating that cremated remains have been stored there as recently as a few months ago. Venturing further back however leads to much more historical resting places, with many tombs dating back to the 18th century.
Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop
This historic chocolate shop offered fantastic demonstrations. Did you know that chocolate was mostly a drink back in the 1700s? It didn’t become the candy bars we know now until much later. They also used what we would consider very odd spices in the making of their drinking chocolate- not just cinnamon and sugar, but chili and cayenne too. Making chocolate was a days long process which couldn’t be simulated in a short demo, but we did get to take turns grinding the cocoa beans and everyone got a taste of the traditional drinking chocolate that they sold in the shop.
The Printing Office of Edes and Gill
Right next door to the chocolate shop, you can find a truly unique little store. Not only can you buy some fantastic souvenirs at the print shop, but you can also watch a very informative demonstration on an old fashioned printing press. On July 4th, the gentleman there was printing Boston’s copy of the Declaration of Independence, and we were very excited to snag a fresh copy as a souvenir just minutes after watching it get printed.
Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Slightly theatrical, very informative, and a whole lot of fun. Each guest is given the identity of a colonist who was present at the Boston Tea Party (I was the one who delivered the disguises!) and some guests even had speaking parts to get in on the action while Samuel Adams was giving his rousing speech. We took a tour of a replica ship and then everyone got a chance to throw fake tea overboard.
The guide took us into the museum next, where we saw some really well done talking portraits and some holographic scenes and displays. It was an interesting history lesson presented in such a neat way. There is a lot more backstory to the Boston Tea Party than I originally thought- it isn’t quite as simple as people storming ships and throwing things into the water.
Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market
Red, white, and blue were everywhere you looked on Independence Day down in this area. The restaurants and bars were packed, the stores held special sales, and the streets were filled with performers. We did a little shopping and enjoyed Tex Mex cuisine for lunch before stopping to watch Kilted Colin, a funny and talented unicycler/bagpiper/juggler.
The Boston Pops Concert and Fireworks Spectacular is an insanely popular event, with people claiming their spots on the Esplanade in the early morning for the late night show. As a result, we found a happy medium. We decided to forgo the concert in favor of exploring other parts of the city throughout the day and evening, but we booked a hotel room that we were about 90% sure would give us a decent view of the fireworks. Well, we simply couldn’t have done better. With a glass of wine in my hand and a comfy seat on our hotel room’s couch, I enjoyed a pretty much perfect view of the show. It was an amazing way to end our stay in the historic and patriotic city of Boston on our nation’s birthday!