Boston National Historical Park

Boston National Historical Park

Sights to See

Guided Tours

USS Cassin Young
USS Cassin Young is open for main deck visits (weather permitting) from 10 am to 4 pm daily. Forty-five minute guided tours that bring visitors to areas of the ship not normally open to the public are conducted daily at 11 am, 2 pm and 3 pm.

USS Constitution
Tuesday - Sunday: Tours every 30 minutes ending at 3:30 pm. Main Deck open until 6 pm. All visitors are required to go through a screening process. It is a good idea to arrive at least a half-hour early to allow time to get through our security tent. As a reminder, all item currently banned from federal buildings and airports will not be allowed onboard "Old Ironsides", including guns, mace, and any sharp objects such as razors, knives, pocket knives, Swiss Army knives, "Leatherman" type tools, scissors, letter openers, etc.

Freedom Trail
Free 90 minute walking tour led by National Park Service Rangers along the heart of Boston's Freedom Trail. Discover Boston's role in the American Revolution. For more information call (617) 242-5642. Tours are offered weather permitting. Each tour is limited to 30 people: first come, first serve. On day of tour, rangers will distribute free stickers 30 minutes before tour time. Reservations are not accepted. Tours fill up quickly in summer months. Tours start at the Boston National Historical Park Visitor Center, 15 State Street, Boston, MA 02109

Charlestown Navy Yard

A naval vessel on the open sea is the image of self-sufficiency. But there is an important if largely unseen background to this picture: the naval shipyard. A warship is born and christened at the shipyard and must periodically return for refitting, supplying, and maintenance. In time of war, the shipyard is a refuge for damaged ships needing repair.

Established in 1800, Charlestown Navy Yard served the fleet with distinction—especially proving its worth in each of the nation's wars—until its closing in 1974. The men and women of its workforce built more than 200 warships and maintained and repaired thousands. From its inception the yard was in the forefront of shipyard technology, from building the Navy's only ropewalk to making itself a center of missile and electronics conversions. In its 174-year history, Charlestown Navy Yard played an important role in the birth, growth, and continued effectiveness of the U.S. Navy.

When the Charlestown Navy Yard closed in 1974 after nearly 175 years of serving the fleet, 30 acres became part of Boston National Historical Park. The National Park Service now maintains an important part of the ship yard, and as part of the Park Service's interpretive program, USS Constitution, in connection with the United States Navy, and USS Cassin Young are preserved as representatives of the kinds of vessels built in this yard. Together they represent a 200-year-old tradition of building fine ships for the Navy.

Hours: Call the Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center at (617) 242-5601.

Admission: Free

Old North Church

Built in 1723, Christ Church is better known as "Old North". It is Boston's oldest church building and still an active Episcopal Church. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow memorialized Old North's role at the start of the Revolutionary War in his poem, "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." On the night of April 18, 1775, sexton Robert Newman hung two lanterns in the steeple to warn Charlestown patriots of the advance of British soldiers. The church, a beautiful example of Georgian architecture, houses America's oldest maiden peal of bells and the first bust of George Washington.

Old North Church is operated by Christ Church.

Hours & Admission: For more information visit the Old North Church.

Places To Go

Many of the historic sites that make up Boston National Historical Park can be found along the Freedom Trail. In downtown Boston, Old South Meeting House, Old State House, Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House and Old North Church bring to life the American ideals of freedom of speech, religion, government, and self-determination.
 
In Charlestown, visit the Bunker Hill Monument, the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. Nearby is the Charlestown Navy Yard, one of the nation's first naval shipyards and home to USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.
 
Located in South Boston and separate from the Freedom Trail, Dorchester Heights is significant for its role in the evacuation of the British from Boston during the Revolutionary War.

Paul Revere House

Boston's oldest residential neighborhood, the North End, contains some of the city's oldest buildings. The Paul Revere House is the oldest in downtown Boston. Built in 1680, it was owned and occupied by Paul Revere and his family most of the time from 1770 to 1800. Today it is operated, along with the neighboring Pierce-Hitchborn House, as a house museum by the Paul Revere Memorial Association, which restored the dwelling in 1908 after it had been used for a number of different purposes, including a cigar factory and bank.

The Paul Revere Memorial Association, a private, non-profit organization, operates both the Paul Revere and Pierce/Hitchborn Houses.

Hours: For more information visit the Paul Revere House.
Admission: Small fee for each house; combination tickets available. Call (617) 523-2338 for more information.

Bunker Hill Monument

"Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" This legendary order has come to symbolize the conviction and determination of the ill-equipped American colonists facing powerful British forces during the famous battle fought on this site on June 17, 1775. The battle is popularly known as "The Battle of Bunker Hill" although most of the fighting actually took place on Breed's Hill, the site of the existing monument and exhibit lodge. Today, a 221-foot granite obelisk marks the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution.

The Battle of Bunker Hill pitted a newly-formed and inexperienced colonial army against the more highly trained and better-equipped British. Despite the colonial army's shortcomings, it was led by such capable men as Colonel William Prescott, Colonel John Stark and General Israel Putnam, who had experience fighting alongside the British in the French and Indian War. Although the British Army ultimately prevailed in the battle, the colonists greatly surprised the British by repelling two major assaults and inflicting great casualties. Out of the 2,200 British ground forces and artillery engaged at the battle, almost half (1,034) were counted afterwards as casualties (both killed and wounded). The colonists lost between 400 and 600 combined casualties, including popular patriot leader and newly-elected Major-General Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed during the third and final assault.

The first monument on the site was an 18-foot wooden pillar with a gilt urn erected in 1794 by King Solomon's Lodge of Masons to honor fallen patriot and mason, Dr. Joseph Warren. In 1823, a group of prominent citizens formed the Bunker Hill Monument Association to construct a more permanent and significant monument to commemorate the famous battle. The existing monument was finally completed in 1842 and dedicated on June 17, 1843, in a major national ceremony. The exhibit lodge was built in the late nineteenth century to house a statue of Dr. Warren.

Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monument closes to climbing at 4:30 p.m. 

Admission: Free

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Many of the sites of Boston National Historical Park are located along the 2.5 mile (4 km) Freedom Trail. The trail in best experienced on foot. Maps and information about Boston and the Park can be found at the following locations:

Boston NHP Visitor Center - 15 State Street Bathrooms, Free maps, Information, Guided Tours in season, Freedom Trail Slide Show

Bunker Hill Pavilion - 55 Constitution Road, Charlestown Navy Yard Bathrooms, Free maps, Information

City of Boston Visitor Center- Boston Common Bathrooms, Maps, Information

Fees are collected at the other privately owned and operated sites by self supporting associations working cooperatively with the park, including Old South Meeting House, Old State House, and Paul Revere House. These sites rely on admission fees as they do not receive federal funding for operations and therefore do not accept the National Parks Pass for admission. There is no fee at the federally owned sites, including the Bunker Hill Monument, U.S.S. CONSTITUTION, and Dorchester Heights Monument. Ranger-led programs on the Freedom Trail and at Faneuil Hall are also free.

Places

Most of the sites in our park are located on the Freedom Trail. Through time, national patriotism and search for American identity have turned sites such as Old North Church, USS Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument into icons.

It is the power of place, when one stands upon these grounds, that makes us realize the importance of these history-making events. It is humbling to stand in the room where Frederick Douglass spoke, or on the soil where over 5,000 men fought in the bloodiest battle of the American Revolution. You, too, can visit the place where George Washington and his army witnessed its first victory.

These historical icons inspire not only Americans, but people around the world, as their themes resonate for all of humanity.

Old State House

Built in 1713, this historic landmark served as a merchants' exchange as well as the seat of colonial and state governments. In 1761 James Otis opposed the Writs of Assistance here, inspiring John Adams to state "then and there the child independence was born." A cobblestone circle beneath its balcony marks the site of the 1770 Boston Massacre when British soldiers fired into a crowd of Bostonians. Fugitive slave Crispus Attucks was among the five victims who died that day. Today the Bostonian Society maintains the building as a museum of Boston history.

Hours & Admission: Visit the Bostonian Society web site for information on hours and fees. Small admission fee. Massachusetts schoolchildren free. Group rates available. Call (617) 720-1713, ext. 27 for more information.

Self Guided Tours

Brochures and maps are available to provide a self-guiding experience in the park. Groups may walk Boston's Freedom Trail to historical sites within the park including the Old South Meeting House, Old State House, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, Old North Church, Granary Burial Grounds, Copps’ Hill Burial Grounds, Bunker Hill Monument and Charlestown Navy Yard where the USS Constitution is berthed. All sites are free except for a nominal admission fee at Old South Meeting House, Old State House and Paul Revere House. Group rates are offered.

Faneuil Hall

This old market building, first built in 1742, sits at the site of the old town dock. Town meetings, held here between 1764 and 1774, heard Samuel Adams and others lead cries of protest against the imposition of taxes on the colonies. The building was enlarged in 1806. Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Lucy Stone brought their struggles for freedom here in the 19th century. Market stalls on the first floor service shoppers much as they did in Paul Revere's day.

Hours: Open 9 am - 5 pm, except during city sponsored events.

Admission: Free

Old South Meeting House

When the Old South Meeting House was built in 1729, its Puritan congregation could not foresee the role it would play in American history. In colonial times, statesman Benjamin Franklin was baptized here. Phillis Wheatley, the first published black poet, was a member, as were patriots James Otis, Thomas Cushing, and William Dawes. In the 19th century Old South was one of the first buildings in the United States to be preserved as an historic site. Today, after the most comprehensive renovation in its near 300 year history, Old South is an impeccable example of how colonial Boston actually looked. The ongoing exhibit "Voices of Protest" tells visitors the story -- often inspiring, sometimes disturbing, frequently controversial and always fascinating -- of the Old South Meeting House and of the men and women whose achievements have shaped its history.

The event that sealed Old South's place in history is one of the key events that sparked the Revolution-- The Boston Tea Party. When rumblings started to shake the colonies and the Revolution was imminent, patriots flocked to Old South, the largest building in colonial Boston, to debate the issues of the day. They argued about the Boston Massacre, and they protested impressment of American sailors into the British Navy. And then, on the night of December 16, 1773, they acted. Over 5,000 angry colonists gathered at Old South to protest a tax on tea. After hours of debate, Samuel Adams gave the secret signal that launched the Boston Tea Party. The Sons of Liberty, disguised as Indians, raced to Griffin's Wharf and dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.

Years later, during the occupation of Boston by British troops, the British avenged the night of the tea party by turning Old South into a riding stable. They ripped out the pews, installed a bar in the first balcony and used Old South as a riding school for the British Cavalry. In March 1783, after sustaining enormous damage, Old South was restored by the congregation as a place of worship.

A century later, and after surviving the 1872 Great Fire of Boston, the Old South congregation sold the building and moved to Boston's Back Bay section. Old South narrowly escaped the wrecking ball as a result of one of the first successful historic preservation efforts. Leaders in the effort were philanthropist Mary Hemenway, abolitionist Wendell Phillips, writers Julia Ward Howe and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The movement to save Old South helped to usher in the nation's historic preservation movement, which has led to the preservation of thousands of historically significant buildings nationwide.

Since 1877, Old South has served as a museum and historic site, educational institution, as well as defender of free speech. In the 1920s, Old South enacted a policy to grant the use of the building to groups otherwise denied a a public platform. Old South continues to serve as a catalyst for intellectual thought and energy, by sponsoring public forums, debates, concerts and theatrical presentations year round.

Hours & Admission: Small admission fee. Group rates available. Call (617)482-6439 for more information.