ABOVE: Our Freedom Trail guide Georgia points out gravesites of well-known Boston pioneers and revolutionaries.
ABOVE: Our Freedom Trail guide Georgia points out gravesites of well-known Boston pioneers and revolutionaries.

Boston is the place to revere

THE most famous event of the American Revolution, Paul Revere's midnight ride from Boston to Lexington to warn revolutionaries that the British redcoats were coming, didn't actually happen.

Well, not as poet Henry Longfellow would have us believe.

Though Longfellow may have immortalised Revere and his ride, he was a lousy historian. But thanks to Longfellow, Revere became America's most celebrated patriot.

It doesn't take you long in Boston to become aware of Revere and be told of Longfellow's intended mistakes: they made better poetic sense.

In fact, in Boston you can't escape Paul Revere.

The city has made an industry out of him. He's everywhere - from gravesite, to statue, to street name, to the house where he lived.

Revere, a middle-aged silversmith and part-time politician-messenger, set out late on the night of April 18, 1775, on his legendary ride.

But Revere was caught by the British before he could complete his mission. His two companions don't even get a mention in the poem.

Boston is one of the nation's most historic cities. Puritans, seeking religious freedom, landed near there from Britain in 1630.

For nearly a century and a half the settlements remained British colonies - until there was a falling out with the British. (There was that infamous Boston Tea Party in 1773 when colonial settlers revolted against steep taxes imposed by the British governors. It triggered a revolution.)

With hand on heart Americans now call Boston the birthplace of their independence, the cradle of liberty.

The sites and people that fuelled the revolution have been parcelled into a 4.5km Freedom Trail that tracks the gathering places of the patriots, the incubators of revolution, over 16 sites.

You have to walk it. Don't try to drive it. Boston's crooked and narrow streets, the utter lack of on-street parking and the many one-way streets will lead to total frustration.

A guided trail walk is the best way to learn about the revolutionary war and America's independence from Britain. And to discover the truth about Revere.

The Freedom Trail Foundation (TheFreedomTrail.org), runs 90-minute tours every half hour daily from the Boston Common Information Kiosk. (Or you can take a self-guided walk with an audio by following a red line on the pavement.)

Boston, if not easily driven, is one of America's most walkable cities. So, it's an easy walk as most places of historic interest are grouped around the area of early settlement. And following the red line is easy.

Our 18th-century-costumed, volunteer guide is Georgia. She provides a lively commentary as we head out of Boston Common, America's oldest public park but once a military training field and grazing pasture (and some time place of hangings).

We pass the fashionable and expensive, red-brick homes of Beacon Hill to the Granary burying ground. More famous people are buried in this plot than in any other graveyard in America - Paul Revere and revolution leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock among them.

The Old South Meeting House and nearby Faneuil Hall are shrines of the American Revolution. In this simple brick church and the larger Faneuil Hall, Boston's citizens met time and again to demand their rights from British officials.

The hall has hosted many other historic moments in America's history. In later years the anti-slavery movement had its start here, as did the women's rights movement and the hall hosted many temperance rallies.

The Boston Tea Party protest started from here, led by nearly 100 men disguised as Mohawk Indians. They marched down to the wharves to tip cargoes of tea into the harbour in protest at the tea tax. You can visit a full-scale working model replica of one ship, the Beaver near Griffin's Wharf and you can heave your own tea chest overboard into the water.

The writer was a guest of The Colonnade Hotel and the Freedom Trail Foundation.


Visit BostonUSA.com for visitor information on Boston CityPass and Go Boston Card, both of which give you savings on ticket window prices. The CityPass is valid for nine days and gives discounted entrance to five museums. The Go Boston Card gives admission to 70 of Boston's top attractions with up to 55% off the ticket window prices.

The Boston public transport system, known as the "T", is a good way to get around. The 'Charlie Card' train ticket costs $2. A day pass for visitors costs $9 and provides unlimited travel. To start a walk along the Freedom Trail, take the Red and Green lines Subway train to Park Street station on Boston Common.

STAY: Colonnade Hotel Colonnade Hotel.

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