City Hall to North End
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This short Boston walking tour shows off a huge number of Boston’s historical attractions. The bulk of Boston’s historical sites and tourist destinations are located around Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the North End. This area is flooded with culture, great restaurants, interesting shops, and sites dating back to the beginning of America.
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Route Description for City Hall to North End
From the State Street Station, exit left onto State Street and follow the street as it turns into Court Street. When you reach the Starbucks, there will be a path. Take this path to your right and you will end up in City Hall Plaza looking at Boston’s City Hall. The city hall building houses the offices of the mayor and Boston City Council. The building was built in 1968 by Kallmann, McKinnell & Knowles in the brutalist architectural style. Since it’s unveiling, reception of the building has been extremely mixed. It seems as though there is no middle ground, with many thinking the building is an eyesore, but others praising it as one of the proudest achievements of American architecture. The surrounding City Hall Plaza is the site of many events, from the Boston Calling Music Festival to championship parades for Boston sports teams.
Follow the path down the stairs and across Congress Street and you will find yourself in front of Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Before entering Faneuil Hall, you’ll be able to spot a statue of Samuel Adams. In this bronze work, Adams is depicted in the act of demanding that Governor Hutchinson immediately remove the British troops from Boston after the Boston Massacre.
Behind this statue honoring one of the most famous patriots, there is an entrance to Faneuil Hall. This building was built in 1743 as a marketplace and meetinghouse and still serves that purpose to this day. Peter Faneuil funded the building which was later used for speeches encouraging American Independence made by the likes of Samuel Adams and James Otis. The site now contains shops and leads to a larger marketplace behind the building. The area surrounding Faneuil Hall is full of a plethora of stores and restaurants. Grab a lobster roll in Quincy Market, do some shopping at Newbury Comics, or try a drink in a glass made of ice at Frost Ice Bar. This area is also a prime spot to catch some great street performers, so be sure to take time to watch them.
After shopping your way through Faneuil Hall (exit opposite to where you entered), take a quick right on Merchants road to find S Market Street, continue until you cross John F Fitzgerald Surface Road. Walk through the greenway past the carousel, across Atlantic Ave, and into stop number 3- the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. Take your time strolling through the park and taking a break from the concrete jungle of the city. To the left of the Christopher Columbus Park Path is the Rose Kennedy Rose Garden and to the right is the harbor, so be sure to explore these as both offer great photo opportunities.
Take a left and follow the path as it turns to cross Atlantic Ave onto Richmond Street. Turn right onto North Street and continue on as it turns into N Square. To the right is Paul Revere Square and to the left is the Paul Revere House.
Paul Revere’s colonial home was built in 1680 and is now a museum operated by the Paul Revere Memorial Association. The house is three stories and is the oldest home in downtown Boston. Though the house has seen many renovations, 90% of the structure is still original. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday and admission is $5.
After visiting the Paul Revere House, continue up N Square until you can turn left on Prince Street. Turn right on Hanover Street, left on Tileston Street, and right on Unity Street. Tucked behind Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop and the Old North Memorial Garden is Old North Church.
Old North Church is the site where the famous “one if by land, two if by sea” signal was sent during the Revolutionary War. Though the lanterns only hung for about a minute, they were still seen for miles and by dozens of towns, successfully alerting Charlestown patriots. The church was built in 1793 and was modeled after the architectural style of Christopher Wren.
Enjoy the winding, narrow streets and brick buildings of the North End as you stroll to the next stop on the tour. From Old North Church, continue up Unity Street before turning left on Charter Street. Then turn left on Salem Street, left on Prince Street, and right on Hanover Street.
The North End is full of delicious Italian restaurants, including excellent places for gelato and pastries, but Mike’s Pastry is probably the best. After turning on Hanover Street, you’ll soon see the storefront on your right. Mike’s is famous for their cannoli’s but their lobster tails are incredible as well. You really can’t go wrong with anything here, so if you’re needing a snack, be sure to stop in.
Continue on Hanover Street across the greenway and turn left onto Blackstone Street. If it’s a Friday or Saturday, this will put you right in the middle of the Haymarket Farmers Market. From flowers to Halal meats, the farmers market is one of the cheapest places to buy food in the city. Though the farmers market in this area dates back to the 1600’s, vendors have been meeting in this exact spot to sell their wares since the 1830’s.
After perusing the farmers market, continue on Blackstone Street until you can turn right on Creek Square. Turn right on Salt Lane. This will take you to the Green Dragon Tavern.
Frequented by the likes of Paul Revere and John Hancock, the Green Dragon Tavern played an important role in the American Revolution. The tavern was established in 1654 and was the site where the invasion of Lexington and Concord was planned. Because of this, the tavern is now known as the “headquarters of the Revolution”. Today, the tavern serves some excellent pub food.
Continue past the Green Dragon Tavern until you can turn left onto Marshall Street. This will put you right in front of stop nine- Union Oyster House. If you still have an appetite, stop in here for some of Boston’s best seafood. If you’re not hungry, stop in here anyway for the gift shop and the history.
The date the building was built is unknown, however it can be found in records that a local landmark has been present on Union Street for over 250 years. It’s possible that this building dates as far back as 1636. At this site in 1771, Isaiah Thomas published “The Massachusetts Spy”, the oldest newspaper in the United States. It later became a pay station for the continental army. In more recent history, The Kennedy family were regulars at Union Oyster House and JFK’s favorite booth was dedicated to his memory.
To get to the final stop on this walk, Take Union Street to the right followed by a left on Hanover Street and a left on Congress Street. Shortly after that turn is the entrance to Union Street Park. Follow the path around to enter the New England Holocaust Memorial. The memorial was built in 1995 and consists of 6 glass towers. The symbolism in this memorial designed by Stanley Saitowitz is incredible. Each tower represents a different major extermination camp but also, when viewed from afar, they resemble menorah candles. The outside walls are inscribed with groups of numbers symbolizing the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, while the inside walls have quotes from survivors. As you walk through the towers, steam rises up from metal grates in the ground. After exiting the memorial, stroll through the rest of Union Park and exit the park onto North Street, then cross Congress Street and turn left. Shortly after this turn on your right side will be the same stairs you went down earlier. Take the stairs back up and follow the path past City Hall to get to the Government Center T Station. From this stop, you can take the Green or Blue line or the 352 or 354 buses to further explore the city.
Insider Hints for City Hall to North End
- If possible, plan to do this walk when there is an event going on at City Hall Plaza such as the Boston Winter Holiday Market or the Summer movie or concert series.
- Allow time for shopping through the Faneuil Hall shops as this is one of the best spots in Boston for souvenirs.
- If the line at Mike’s Pastry is crazy and you don’t feel like waiting, try Modern Pastry just a little way down Hanover Street. Their cannoli’s are also fantastic.
Getting to the City Hall to North End Trailhead
Take the Blue or Orange line (T) to State Street.
City Hall to North End Elevation Graph
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City Hall to North End Reviews
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