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Living in Boston, Walking in History

I’ve been living in city of Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, for a little less than five years. While living in this city, I’ve gained an appreciation local history through many valuable experiences.

Boston, founded in 1630, is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Boston’s “T”, as the subway system is known, began running in 1897, making it the first in the country (and it shows). Boston residents often grumble, as they slog through the winter months with T delays and bus replacements. Though the cities age can lead to daily inconveniences, it also delivers a unique opportunity discovery, as it is rich with historical significance.

By simply walking around in the downtown area, you are unwittingly tracing the steps historical figures, encountering many important landmarks. Boston’s Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long (4 kilometer) path through downtown Boston, guides you past 16 historical locations. Following the designated red brick and ground markers takes you to various sites of historical significance, such as the Boston Common, a place used for public hangings until 1817, cow grazing through 1830 and Vietnam War protests in the 1960s. Today, when the weather is nice, you can see college students and business people enjoying their lunch out on the grass. It is also a venue for concerts, ice-skating and speeches. I find it amazing that a space, without undergoing real radical physical transformation, houses that much activity, life, death and change over the course of a few hundred years.

Another stop on the Trail is Faneuil Hall, which is a bustling marketplace that sees up to 18 million visitors a year. It is where many important figures gave speeches in support of American independence, such as Samuel Adams and James Otis.

One of the more popular sites on the Trail is the Paul Revere House, in the North End, previously the American patriot’s home, now turned museum. Hopefully I will make it there someday.

The way history hides in plain sight is so astounding to me. True, it’s plain to see that there is plenty of old architecture in Boston, but it’s easy to forget, or be unaware of the stories that accompany their presence. It’s a strange juxtaposition, old and new, living side by side in a city. It reminds me of one of my favorite experiences during a visit to New York City.

I was waiting to meet up with a friend later in the day, so I visited the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side to learn about the American Immigrant Experience (the interpretation of the word “museum” here is pretty loose – they are all guided tours that take you through the neighborhood, into restored buildings, or to meet with “residents” (actually costumed interpreters)). I took the “Irish Outsiders” tour, and learnt about the struggles of Irish immigrants in New York, during 1869. It was fascinating to take a step back from the modern day New York City, as we explored 97 Orchard Street, a building constructed in 1863, sealed up in 1935, and later taken over by the museum – virtually untouched.

Do you live in a city or suburb? Do you know the history behind your town or country? I really believe that living in a place constitutes an ongoing discovery of what came before you. It’s a really fascinating, and sometimes beautiful experience.

 

Taina

Hi there! My name is Taina and I live in Boston, Massachusetts.  I grew up in Singapore, which is a long way from where I am now.  I went to college for writing, and I treasure the opportunity to tell my experiences through the written word.  I love eating food from different cultures and going to live music concerts.  Having grown up in a compact, dense city, I’ve always taken public transportation but I’ve begun driving for my work commute.   I hope this will give me more reason to drive and explore the United States, and share more of my adventures with you. 

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