I blog about Boston a lot and there’s a reason for that — it’s awesome. Literally, though, Boston is a great big city, so there’s a lot to blog about. The Boston metropolitan area has over 4.6 million residents (the city itself has about 693,000 people) and comprises 23 neighborhoods. On this day, I had the pleasure of exploring Boston’s oldest neighborhood — Charlestown.
Originally known as Mishawum, the neighborhood of Charlestown lies north of downtown Boston along the Orange Line of the subway system (known as the “T”) at the Sullivan Square and Community College stops. Picturesque and on the water, Charlestown has a few points of interest, which make it worth a visit.
Bunker Hill Monument
Are you a fan of obelisks? Well, lucky for you, you don’t have to travel all the way to Washington D.C. or Egypt to see one. The Bunker Hill Monument is a 221-foot granite obelisk (the granite comes from Quincy Quarries by the way, more here) located on Breed’s Hill. Note that the battle of Bunker Hill between the British and the Patriots during the Revolutionary War primarily took place NOT on Bunker Hill but on Breed’s Hill. This is also the battle where the line “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” was supposedly uttered. Dear Reader, please note that I have just provided you with a few invaluable pieces of revolutionary war trivia to keep in your back pocket for when you next attend trivia night at the pub.
During normal times, you can walk up the spiral staircase all the way to the top of the monument to behold a beautiful and expansive view of Boston and the surrounding areas. Additionally, there is a Bunker Hill museum you can visit to learn about the monument’s history and to view more artifacts from the Revolutionary War. Both exhibits are run by the National Park Service, whose employees may sometimes be spotted, dressed in historical garb. During the pandemic, however, we were only able to see the monument and statue of Col. William Prescott (a supposed hero of the battle) from the lawn.
Boston Navy Yard
Another point of interest is the Boston Navy Yard, which is located right along the Charles River. Here you can view the USS Constitution (“the oldest floating commissioned naval vessel in the world”), and USS Cassin Young, a WWII destroyer that now operates as a museum ship. Again, because the indoor spaces are closed, you can only view everything from the outside — which is still a nice walk. Along the water, you have great views of the Boston skyline, East Boston, and South Boston.
Around the Town
Charlestown is charming. The architectural stylings are mixed. Some streets feature colorful townhouses, while others are styled in the dark-red brick, which is typical in other Boston neighborhoods. Charlestown is home to the old — like the Warren Tavern, the oldest tavern in Massachusetts, and supposedly visited by George Washington and Paul Revere — as well as the new — such as, a personal favorite, Tatte Bakery & Café (more here). In addition, Charlestown is the campus for the Bunker Hill Community College (for which the Community College “T” stop was named).
All in all, Charlestown is cute and quaint and, certainly, worth a visit. If you are in the area — don’t miss out on Charlestown!