Boston & Harvard

Finally I’m posting my favourite travel tips and pics from my trip to America. Read about New York here and stay tuned for more!

Why visit Boston?

Founded in 1630 by Puritan colonists, Boston later played an important role in the American Revolution. Tensions with the English started mounting in the late 1700’s: the English Parliament insisted on taxing the Bostonians, which the Bostonians disliked, because they had no representation in Parliament. The tax came in the form of a levy on tea imports from India, intended to prop up the struggling British East India Company. While other American towns refused to accept shipments of tea because they did not want to pay the tax, Boston allowed the ships to dock. Then, on one famous occasion, the ‘Tea Party’, a number of citizens boarded the ships and threw 45 tons of tea overboard. The British subsequently imposed punishments, propelling the two nations on their course to war and American independence.

Acts of aggression over access to tea – typical Britain.

Freedom Trail

I highly recommended this free walking tour of some of the city’s historical landmarks:

Typical Boston church

The old buildings all have a typically ‘Puritan’ feel: plain, red brick structures with few ornaments except for, perhaps, a white spire. They’re rather dwarfed by the skyscrapers!

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall (built in the 1700’s) was a center of commerce and meeting place where protests against the Tea Act and numerous other oppressive British laws took place.

You’ll also get to see the Massachusetts State House, a mix of Puritan architecture with a hint of neo-classical, and a gold-leaf-plated dome, and the 200-year-old warship the USS Constitution.

Harvard Yard

In Harvard Yard

Take the Boston subway to Harvard in Cambridge and get a free one-hour tour of Harvard Yard from a current student. You’ll learn that Harvard was founded in 1636, and was the first American university and the first American owner of a printing press! The university received its current name three years after its foundation, following an inheritance of £779 and 400 books from local clergyman John Harvard. Mr Harvard had been born in Southwark, UK, where his father was an associate of Shakespeare’s father.

You’ll also see inside Harvard Memorial Hall, a secular building resembling a church, which commemorates Harvard alumni who died fighting in the American Civil War – specifically those “who fought to keep the union alive”. Alumni fighting on the confederate side do not have their names inscribed inside.

Harvard Memorial Hall

Tea Party ships

The ‘Eleanor’

The Tea Party Ships museum is a house perched halfway across the Congress Street bridge. Tethered either side of it are two replica ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver. The original Eleanor belonged to merchant and smuggler John Rowe, who is suspected of having ordered his own cargo of PG Tips to be thrown overboard after remarking at a Tea Party meeting,

“Perhaps salt water and tea will mix tonight!”

Don’t try that on your next brew …

Downtown Boston seen from Children’s Wharf Park at twilight

Next stop on my American travels: Philadelphia!

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