These well-known Boston sights are worth a visit.
The historical facts are updated with current facts. This list is used by the Aquarium courtesy of Boston Duck Tours.
Boston Massacre (0.5 miles)
Boston then: The site of the Boston Massacre is in front of the Old State House. The Boston Massacre occurred in 1770. Five Boston citizens were shot to death by British soldiers.
Boston now: The site of the massacre is in front of the Old State House. You can see where it took place on the Boston Duck Tours tour route. It is marked by a large round stone.
School Street (0.6 miles)
Boston then: School Street was given its name because it is where the first public schoolhouse in America was built in 1645. It was built for Boston Latin School which was founded in 1635, but until 1645, met in the home of the schoolmaster.
Boston now: Today, Boston Latin School is located in the Fenway District.
Old Scollay Square (0.6 miles)
Boston then: Old Scollay Square was a Boston neighborhood torn down for urban renewal in the late 1850’s. During WWII, Scollay Square, with its bars and dance halls, was a favorite stop for servicemen passing through Boston. Alexander Graham Bell’s workshop was also located there.
Boston now: Today, the area is called Government Center. You can find city, county, state, and federal buildings there.
North End (0.7 miles)
Boston then: The North End is Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood. It was first settled by the English and, as Boston prospered, the English families moved to other neighborhoods. Later, Irish and Jewish families settled in the North End.
Boston now: Today, the North End is a predominantly Italian neighborhood well known for its restaurants. Just as during the colonial period, the streets are very narrow and winding.
Union Oyster House (0.7 miles)
Boston then: The Union Oyster House is the oldest continuously operated restaurant in America — the doors have always been open to diners since 1826. It was the first restaurant in America to give out toothpicks to its guests.
Boston now: There is a plaque at the table where President John Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, liked to sit.
King’s Chapel Burying Ground (0.7 miles)
Boston then: King’s Chapel Burying Ground is the oldest burying ground in Boston. The first royal Governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, is buried there. Mary Chilton, who arrived on the Mayflower in Plymouth, is also buried there.
Boston now: The public is free to explore the burying ground daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
King’s Chapel (0.7 miles)
Boston then: King’s Chapel was constructed with wood in 1688. In 1748, the church was rebuilt in granite. The walls of the new church were actually built around the old wood church and, when the new walls were completed, the old church was torn down and removed through the windows of the new church. It was the first granite building in Boston.
Boston now: The bell which is now in King’s Chapel is the largest bell made by Paul Revere.
Old North Church (0.8 miles)
Boston then: The Old North Church, the oldest standing church in Boston, was built in 1723. On the night of April 18, 1775, the sexton of the Church, Robert Newman, hung two lanterns in the steeple to warn the rebels that the British were going to cross the Charles River and march to Lexington and Concord.
Boston now: Religious services are still conducted in the Old North Church on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 4:00 p.m.
Parker House (0.8 miles)
Boston then: Built in the 1850’s, John Wilkes Booth stayed at the hotel the week he shot Abraham Lincoln.
Boston now: Today, the Parker House is the oldest continuously operated hotel in America.
Hatch Shell (0.9 miles)
Boston then: The Hatch Shell was built in 1940. The Boston Pops Orchestra performs in the Hatch Shell every July 4th accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display.
Boston now: In the summer, many people bring chairs, blankets and picnics to enjoy the free concerts at the Hatch Shell. There are also movies shown on a big screen for Friday Flicks.
Granary Burying Ground (0.9 miles)
Boston then: Many famous Americans are buried in the Granary Burying Ground, including Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Sam Adams. Also buried there is Elizabeth VerGoose, better known as Mother Goose.
Boston now: The public is free to explore the burying ground daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Charles River (enters Boston Harbor about 0.9 miles from the Aquarium)
Boston then: The Charles River is 80 miles long. King Charles I named the river after himself.
Boston now: Today, people sail, row, and fish in the Charles River. Some organized events include The Run of the Charles canoe and kayak race in April and The Head of the Charles collegiate crew race in October.
Massachusetts State House (1 mile)
Boston then: Designed by Charles Bulfinch, the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill was completed in 1798. Sam Adams and Paul Revere laid the cornerstone.
Boston now: In 1997, new gold leaf was applied to the dome. There are 13 pounds of gold leaf!
Robert Gould Shaw Memorial (1 mile)
Boston then: The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial is across the street from the State House. Colonel Shaw commanded the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-black regiment organized in the North during the Civil War.
Boston now: The movie Glory was based on the 54th Regiment’s story. The movie was released in 1989 and starred Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, and Denzel Washington. Glory won three Academy Awards.
Black Heritage Trail (1 mile)
Boston then: The Black Heritage trail traces the history of black Americans in Boston. Prior to the Civil War, Boston had a large community of free blacks.
Boston now: The Black Heritage trail starts at the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial and is a 1.6 mile walk.
Public Garden (1.4 miles)
Boston then: The Public Garden, like the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, is all landfill. This area was once part of the Charles River. The Public Garden was dedicated in 1837.
Boston now: Every spring, tens of thousands of flowers and shrubs are planted in the Public Garden, including palm trees!
Swan Boats (1.5 miles)
Boston then: The Swan Boats in the Public Garden have been operated by the Paget family since 1877. When the attraction first opened, it cost only five cents to ride!
Boston now: There are now 6 Swan Boats and a ride costs $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for children.
Longfellow Bridge (1.5 miles)
Boston then: The Longfellow Bridge, built in 1907, was named for the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Because of the appearance of the towers, it is nicknamed the “Salt and Pepper Bridge.”
Boston now: Longfellow lived in Cambridge and taught at Harvard. His poems include, “The Village Blacksmith,” “Paul Revere’s Ride,” and “The Song of Hiawatha.”
USS Constitution (1.6 miles)
Boston then: The USS Constitution “Old Ironsides” was built in Boston in 1797. This is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. It still has a United States Navy crew on board today.
Boston now: A penny campaign was held to raise money to buy new sails for the USS Constitution. In 1997, the ship sailed for the first time in 116 years.
Arlington Street Church (1.7 miles)
Boston then: The Arlington Street Church, built in 1859, was the first church in the Back Bay.
Boston now: Today, it is known for its beautiful Tiffany windows.
Bunker Hill Monument (1.9 miles)
Boston then: The Bunker Hill Monument was built on Breed’s Hill, where the battle actually took place in 1775. It was called the Battle of Bunker Hill because the British has mislabeled their maps.
Boston now: The granite monument is 221 feet tall. You can climb the staircase to the top.
Trinity Church (2 miles)
Boston then: The Trinity Church was built in 1877. The first rector of the Trinity Church, Phillip Brooks, wrote the words for the Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
Boston now: Today, the church is considered one of the best examples of architecture in America and is open for tours.
John Hancock Tower (2 miles)
Boston then: The building was completed in 1976. The architect claimed that the only way he could add to the beauty of Copley Square was to reflect it, and so the building has over 10,000 panes of reflecting glass.
Boston now: The 63-story John Hancock Tower is Boston’s tallest building.
Copley Square (2.1 miles)
Boston then: Copley Square was named after the famous painter, John Singleton Copley. Many of his paintings are in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Boston now: Today, all the names of the winners of the Boston Marathon are chiseled into the sidewalk of Copley Square about one block past the finish line.
Boston Public Library (2.2 miles)
Boston then: Boston had the first public library system in America and it was the first public library to let people borrow books and take them home. The main library building in Copley Square was built in 1895.
Boston now: The Boston Public Library has 156 copies of the children’s book, Make Way for Ducklings.