Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 4: Bunker Hill Museum {Boston Tour, Part 1}

On my actual birthday (August 9th), I received another surprise - my guardian paid for me to have a guided tour of Boston and Cambridge! Since I'd never been to either of these cities, I was ecstatic! I only wished Juliette had been here to share the fun with me. However, she is not keen on traveling, especially not when it coincides with her ultra important summer ballet intensive. My guardian also doesn't feel comfortable traveling with more than one of us at a time. 

Luckily for me, there was a very small group of people going on this particular guided tour of Boston. It almost felt like I had the tour guide all to myself! The first stop was the Bunker Hill Museum and Monument in Charlestown (a historic neighborhood in Boston, which was a separate city in 1848), which is a Boston National Historical Park. You can earn a Junior Ranger badge here, after completing the handbook obtained from either the Boston National Historical Park Visitor Center at Faneuil Hall or at the Charlestown Navy Yard. I wished I'd had the time to do that, as it would be so nice to earn a Junior Ranger badge, but alas, that is the downside of taking a guided city tour - you don't have much time at each location! I guess this means that I'll have to go back! 

The Bunker Hill Monument (as shown below) is 221 feet high and is mounted at Breed's Hill (not at Bunker Hill, don't let the name fool you!). Breed's Hill was the site of the first major battle in the American Revolution, which was fought on June 17, 1775. The monument was built between the years of 1827 and 1843 using granite imported from Quincy, Massachusetts. You can go inside the monument and walk up to the very top! Be forewarned, though: there are NO elevators! There are 294 steps that you'll have to walk up to see beautiful Boston from a bird's eye view! Hmm, maybe taking a helicopter ride of the city might be better? 

This is not the first monument created on the site! In 1794, the monument was merely a wooden 18 foot pillar (with a gilded urn on top), created to honor Dr. Joseph Warren, a Mason and fallen Bunker Hill hero. 

The Bunker Hill Monument is part of The Freedom Trail, which is brick-lined and leads you on a 2 . 5 mile passage highlighting 16 important monuments, churches, and museums of historic Boston. The idea behind a Freedom Trail came into fruition in the 1950s, and since then, it has become an integral part of Boston's tourism. Over 3 . 2 million people walk The Freedom Trail each year, which includes places such as The Bunker Hill Monument, Old North Church, the site of the Boston Massacre, etc. On my tour, I got to visit most of these, and I will blog about them in future posts.

To the left, you will see a statue of Col. William Prescott. Another Bunker Hill hero, he is said to have coined the phrase, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." Perhaps you have come across this phrase in your study of the Revolutionary War? However, there are some who doubt Prescott said this at all.

Below, you can see me with the statue of Prescott:

The photo below shows part of historic Charlestown, the Boston neighborhood in which the Bunker Hill Monument is located in. Located across from downtown Boston, it is actually a peninsula to the north of the Charles River. If you look in the middle of the photo, you can see the skyscrapers of downtown Boston, as well as the bridge that separates it from Charlestown. As I said earlier, Charlestown was once separate from Boston; perhaps a bit like my hometown of Montmartre was to Paris, France back in the day? The first capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Charlestown became a city in the year 1848 and didn't become officially part of Boston until January 5, 1874. Charlestown is home to many Irish American residents, due to the increased migration of the Irish during the Great Potato Famine in the 1840s. Also in this photo is our tour bus! Can you find it in this photo?

The Bunker Hill Museum (the brick building to the right in the above photo) opened in 2007 and teaches visitors about the Battle of Bunker Hill, the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument, and the history of Charlestown. The sign to the left is the first thing you see as you enter the Bunker Hill Museum.

This sign gives visitors a brief introduction to The Battle of Bunker Hill. It begins with a quote from First Lady Abigail Adams:

         "The Day - perhaps the decisive Day is come on which the fate of America depends." 
     - Abigail Adams, Letter to John Adams, June 18, 1775 

Then it goes on to say:

"Throughout the nation and over the centuries, Americans have honored the memory of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Why do we commemorate this particular battle in our collective memory? 

The patriots fighting at Bunker Hill retreated in defeat at the end of the battle. Yet, the Battle of Bunker Hill provided a significant strategic gain for the patriots. In battering the British Army, they thwarted British plans to fortify Dorchester Heights and attack patriot troops at Roxbury. This enabled the patriots to force the eventual evacuation of British troops from Boston. The battle also demonstrated that the patriots could successfully engage the British army, one of the most professional and well-trained forces in the eighteenth century. 

The Battle of Bunker Hill was quickly memorialized, first in stories and ceremonies, then ultimately in the building of the Bunker Hill Monument. Memorializing the battle helped a young nation define its patriotism and the meaning of being an American." 

Above is an illustration of the Battle at Bunker Hill; the artist is unknown to me.

I didn't have the time to explore the Bunker Hill Museum, but I browsed the gift shop quickly. I was particularly amused when I saw copies of the Declaration of Independence for sale. If you know why I was amused and felt obligated to take a picture of them, you will receive a virtual cookie! I'll give you a hint: It has something to do with one of my all-time favorite movies!

The Bunker Hill Museum is housed in the old Charlestown branch of the Boston Public Library. Isn't it a lovely building? The Charlestown branch has moved buildings several times. This particular building was in use by the library from 1913 to 1969; the current library was opened in 1970. I am quite glad that this building is in use again. I love the ornamental façades on the front of the building.

That's all for now! The next stop is . . . well, you'll see! But I'll leave you with a couple of questions: Have you ever been to Boston? Have you ever walked (or ridden by) the Freedom Trail?



Sara said...

Sounds like a lot of fun! My dad is in the Army, so I go to a military school. Trust me, we have heard so much about every somewhat famous armed forces person and battle, LOL.


TracAn Bolton said...

Wow lots of fun and information .. it was a great day for you and I did not get your birthday wishes to you .. sorry .. what a bad friend I am .. forgive me??

Happy Birthday and tons of hugs your way.


QNPoohBear said...

I gave a tour of the Freedom Trail to my godsister Heather.My guardian has a big book for the self-guided tour. I'm an awesome tour guide - much better than the silly costumed guides because I actually lived it.

scott davidson said...

"Please brighten up this waiting room," says my busy boss, one morning "Put some art on the wall." Admittedly, the room is on the drab side but as a car spare part supply office, I thought that not many of the clients coming through notice much of it.
From, I ordered online canvas prints about car art, of course, like this one by Salvador Dali.


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