I always wanted to visit Boston, especially after we went to New Haven. I knew I just had to go to the home of Harvard. Gambit also wanted to visit Boston because our best man and his girlfriend had recently moved there (to work at Harvard, actually).
We caught the Amtrak from Penn Station to Boston and it took approximately 4 hours. The train ride was comfortable and went smoothly. It was difficult getting a seat together on the way back as it seems to be a busy route. We arrived into Boston on a Friday night to meet our friends who took us to Top of the Hub for dinner. The food and service was great, and the views were lovely.
We stayed at our friends’ apartment for the weekend and they were kind enough to entertain us and go with us to do a few touristy things – which of course, included going around the Harvard campus. Which was relatively easy for them since they lived close to the campus…. As they both work there as well.
One of the big touristy things to do is walk the Freedom Trail. We walked some of the 2.5 mile trail. As it was a little while ago that we went, I can’t remember everything that we saw and I can only try and match the photos I took to places on the trail.
Boston Common – the Freedom Trail starts at the Boston Common but I didn’t take any photos of the Common which is a shame as it was quite pretty on the day. To be honest, I was too busy talking to my friend and also distracted by every person that walked past with a dog.
Granary Burying Ground – dates from 1660 and has the remains of several famous patriots and Revolutionary War heroes. The most prominent monument on the grounds would be the obelisk in almost the center which is for the parents and relatives of Benjamin Franklin (who was born in Boston by buried in Philadelphia).
To read a very detailed information of the burying ground, please click here: http://jimmytangent.com/GranaryGuide.pdf
This PDF was handed to us on the way into the grounds by the guy who wrote it. We weren’t in a reading mood so we just carried it around the grounds and returned it to him on the way out.
King Chapel – the original chapel was a wooden church built in 1688. The current stone structure was built around the wooden one between 1749-1754.
Inside the church, there is an organ on the second level, which was being played at the time we entered. And seating is in the form of box pews, instead of rows which is what I have typically seen (not at all a church expert). The box pews were originally owned by the member families who paid pew rent.
Old City Hall – built in the French Second Empire Style (which means that the design originated in France during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III) and is now one of the few built with this design still remaining.
The one thing we noticed was the statue of a bronze donkey in the courtyard and a set of footprints. At the time I saw them, I thought they were cool but after reading the history behind it, I really hate that donkey and those footprints. Personally I think the story behind the donkey is super annoying and in a nutshell, is about an old man just wanting to get his way.
So here is a somewhat bias story about the bronze donkey and footprints, as told by me: In 1968, Roger Webb, retired founder and chairman of the architectural heritage foundation, brought this bronze donkey which he had fallen in love with, back from Florence, Italy. Apparently Roger found the statue hidden behind other statues, and when the donkey looked at him, they fell in love. Roger purchased and arranged for the shipment of the donkey back to Boston as a gift to the city, and wanted it to be included as part of the Freedom Trail walk. This request was denied by the city because they didn’t see the link of an Italian donkey and the city. So this old, retired man, with too much time on his hands and having spent a lot of money on importing over a bronze donkey statue from Italy (that ‘he’ fell in love with), did what most people with too much time would do – he created a story that would connect the city and the donkey. Roger created a historical justification and bla bla bla dubbed it the ‘Democratic donkey’ so that it was no longer the Italian donkey. And then, since the Democratic donkey was a political feature, they had to of course place the Elephant footprints down (to represent the Republicans). The whole thing has become an abstract political statement of Republicans and Democrats in Boston.
[As you will note, I have an issue with this crazy old man style of getting things their way – if everyone could get away with stupid stuff like this because they fell in love with something from a country they visited and wanted it placed in a city of their choice where there is no rationale for it, I’d put a gigantic panda, made from material like a disco ball (mini reflective pieces) and place it in the middle of Dubai. Firstly, it would make no sense. Secondly, it would probably blind a few people.]
Faneuil Hall – one of my favorite places on the trail because it is now part of the marketplace and offered food.
I didn’t take photos of the building or the walls inside which had a lot of the signs from the markets back in the 1800s. I did however take a photo of the lobster roll and clam chowder we had for lunch.
Harvard (however, not on a tour) – the weekend we visited Boston was on the same day Harvard and Yale had their game day. This meant that all the tour guides for the free Harvard tour were away. This meant we either had to pay for an external company to walk us around or not do the tour. We opted not to pay.
Our friend works at the Harvard Museum of Natural History – http://hmnh.harvard.edu/ – and was able to get us in for free and give us a tour of the museum.
The museum has the world’s only mounted Kronosaurus, a 42 foot long prehistoric marine reptile, from Australia. This one was discovered in northeaster Australia in 1899 and its species name is K. queenlandicus (how cool is that?!).
Although I am not a fan of people with agendas (Roger I am still mad at you), I am a fan of dinosaurs (how epic was that fight scene in the latest Jurassic movie?!), so I am going to give a little info on the Kronosaurus.
Kronosurus: the name honors the Greek mythological figure Kronos, father of Zeus. Kronos ate his own children in an attempt to preserve his power. It was a marine reptile which had an elongated head, short neck, a stiff body propelled by four flippers, and a relatively short tail. It was a carnivore and had long teeth, each exceeding 7cm in length (up to 30cm). It was one of the largest and deadliest marine reptiles that ever lived and was the boss of the seas.
The highlights of the trip for me were:
- Catching up with our friends
- Learning about evolution in more detail
- Getting my Harvard shirt because I did technically “go” to Harvard
PS – If you are interested in learning more about things that go on inside a museum, please subscribe to thebrainscoop on youtube. You could learn how to taxidermy an animal, mummies, and sharks – just to name a random few.