After our three-day adventure in New York City we moved on to our next destination, another great American city: Boston. As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston is also a pre-eminent intellectual center, anchored by revered institutions such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is also the largest city in New England and offers a wide variety of historic sites, museums and entertainment opportunities. For all these reasons, Boston is also an extremely popular tourist destination.
To get an overview of the city on a sunny September 5, 2011, I took a sightseeing tour that covered 9 stops in the downtown area. I hopped on the bus at the golden-domed State House, right next to Beacon Hill and Boston Commons, and we made our trek towards downtown through Chinatown. We covered all the major sights of downtown Boston, from Quincy Market and Fanueil Hall to the New England Aquarium and Little Italy where we stopped close to the Paul Revere House, home of American patriot Paul Revere.
Faneuil Hall, a marketplace since 1742, attracts more than 20 million tourists every year and is one of the most popular destinations in the entire United States. The adjacent Quincy Market, with its countless souvenir shops and restaurants, is always full of people looking for entertainment. Along the way our bus driver explained Boston’s history, adding the odd corny joke and teasing the tourists.Past the Old North Church we went across the bridge to the Charlestown Navy Yard where the USS Constitution, is docked. Nicknamed “Old Ironsides”, this is the world’s oldest floating commissioned naval vessel, and was originally launched in 1797. This ship played a critical part in the War of 1812 against Great Britain. From here it is just a short walk to the Bunker Hill Monument which commemorates the famous Battle of Bunker Hill that took place early during the American Revolutionary War. Past the modern TD Banknorth Garden stadium we headed back into the old downtown where we saw the Old State House, the Holocaust Memorial, Haymarket Square and the Parker House Hotel.
I was amazed at how compact downtown Boston is, and with this introductory tour under my belt, I hopped off at the Boston Commons stop and was ready to explore the city on foot. After crossing Charles Street, I entered Boston Public Garden which quickly became one of my favourites during our brief stay in the city. I just love parks and green spaces, and this particular park is one of the most picturesque parks anywhere.
Adjacent to the Boston Commons, the oldest park in the United States, Boston Public Garden goes back to 1837 and was designated a National Historic Monument in 1987. Designed by renowned landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead (of Central Park fame), it features a 4 acre large pond that is home to the iconic swan boats that are powered by human pedalling power.
Two mute swans, named Romeo and Juliet, inhabit the pond and curiously enough, both of them are female. Weeping willows drape romantically downwards towards the pond, and other tree species include horse chestnuts, drawn redwoods, ginkgo trees, and even one California redwood. A wide range of colourful flowers adorns this public space and various statues commemorate people like George Washington. There are always one or more musicians or performers who draw large crowds with their unique skills.
Families congregate here for nature outings and couples sit on benches and enjoy the scenic ambiance of Boston Public Garden. In the evening we even saw actor Jeff Bridges take a stroll around the swan pond. Boston Public Garden is a much beloved public space, and enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.