Boston is known by many nicknames, which can happen if you've been around for as long as Boston has. Cradle of Liberty, City on a Hill, America's Walking City, and the less impressive Beantown, are some, but one of the town's stranger nicknames is simply the Hub. The name is actually a shortened version of the even more conceited Hub of the Universe, which Oliver Wendell Holmes originally said in regards not to Boston itself, but about Massachusetts' Statehouse. Holmes called it "…the Hub of the Solar System. You couldn't pry that out of a Boston man if you had the tire of all creation straightened out for a crow-bar." Regardless of the veracity of that statement, the Statehouse truly is one of Boston's greatest achievements and an important part of the state's history.
The Statehouse was built in 1798 on land owned by the state's first governor, John Hancock, and has undergone many additions and improvements since. Despite all of the marble floors, murals and statues, the most notable feature is still the famous golden dome which can be spotted from most elevated parts of Boston. In fact, it was decided that the dome was too notable during World War II, so it was painted black for a number of years to make it less of a target in case of an air raid; it was re-gilded in 1947 and is touched up every 25 to 30 years. A less well-known feature of the Statehouse is the Sacred Cod, a carving of a fish that hangs in the chamber of the House of Representatives to symbolize the importance of the fishing industry. It was carved in 1784, and the House of Representatives refuses to legislate without it, as demonstrated when Harvard students stole it, as a prank, in 1933.
You can learn about the dome, the Sacred Cod, (and its more humble counterpart, the Holy Mackerel, a less revered carving that is more of a play on the original), from the Statehouse tours which are given free of charge. There are also self-guided pamphlets for those who want to take their time exploring the Statehouse's venerable halls.
- 10am to 4pm daily
- Closed on weekends and holidays
- Subway Stop:
- Take the Green Line or the Red Line to Park Street Station.
- Location: 24 Beacon Street Boston, MA
- Phone: 617-727-3676
- Website: www.sec.state.ma.us/trs/trsidx.htm