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Get To Know: Charlestown

by Marissa Wu

Photography by Marissa Wu

North of Downtown Boston and across the Charles River lies Charlestown, the city’s oldest neighborhood. Founded in 1629, Charlestown includes the areas of Arlington and Somerville and has seen its fair share of historical happenings. It was the starting point of Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride. Residents of Charlestown staged their own “tea party” in 1765; eight years before their Boston neighbors did the same in the Boston Harbor.

Charlestown has some defining features, including some beautiful colonial architecture. However, there are two spots in the neighborhood in particular that give Charlestown its color, and speak to the patriotic fervor and character that the area has come to symbolize.

Warren Tavern

Warren Tavern sits on the corner of Main Street and Pleasant Street. It’s named after Dr. Joseph Warren, who, according to Kimberly Mahoney, manager at Warren Tavern, was a “…forgotten patriot who died at Bunker Hill.”

“He was the brains behind the revolution, but didn’t get as much recognition,” said Mahoney. “He’s the one who gave Paul Revere the information for his midnight ride. Warren was a medical doctor and treated British soldiers and their families, which allowed him to gain lots of valuable information.”

The tavern was a watering hole for some prominent revolutionary figures, among them the Sons of Liberty. It sits in its original location, with the Bunker Hill Monument as its backdrop. The interior, although renovated throughout the years, remains true to its roots. If you pay a visit, maybe you’ll stand where George Washington stood while having a beer, planning the Revolution’s next steps.

Bunker Hill Monument

The 221-foot obelisk, which serves as Warren Tavern’s backdrop and neighbor—it’s a short three-minute walk—is Charlestown’s most prominent landmark.

“The King Solomon’s Lodge of Freemasons erected the first battle-related monument in 1794 to honor their Masonic brother, Dr. Joseph Warren,” states the National Park Service.

Bunker Hill was originally a small monument. It was not until 1823 when a group of men formed the Bunker Hill Monument Association did the plans for the current monument come to life. Through a campaign procuring donations from the public, as well as sales of some of the surrounding land, the association put forth $134,000 (equivalent to $3 billion in 2016) to erect the current monument. What was once a modest monument to one man now symbolizes the sacrifices of many. Those who are not faint-of-heart can climb the 294 steps to the top for stunning views of the city.

The next time you venture out for another adventure, Charlestown will not disappoint. It’s rich in history, scenery and surprises.

“Bunker Hill, and by extension, Charlestown, was a quaint and wonderful neighborhood to visit,” said Jeff Van, a student visiting from New York. “I probably wouldn’t have visited without the recommendation of a friend, but I’m so glad that I did.”

“I really enjoyed how accessible the historical landmarks were,” said Van, “and I loved learning about both the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill in interactive ways, such as climbing the memorial and interacting with exhibits at the USS Constitution museum.”

So when you find yourself at Park Street, trying to decide which line to transfer to, take the Orange Line. Three stops to Bunker Hill, and you’re in another world, nestled right in this brilliant city.

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