When you embark on the Freedom Trail in Boston, you should be ready for the gory along with the glory of our past. At the site of the Boston Massacre, all you'll find today is a simple ring of cobblestones marking the spot where the street fight between a patriot mob and British soldiers played out on March 5, 1770. However, with a little imagination and the help of a passionate storyteller, you can envision the rage and bloodshed of that evening.
The friction between the colonists and the British had intensified with the Stamp Act in the 1760s, and riots happened frequently. Clearly, the colonists would have nothing to do with the British attempt at collecting taxes for England. The Brits countered with more troops, becoming increasingly unpopular among the Bostonians. What started as a two-man confrontation on the evening of March 5th, quickly led to a crowd of angry citizens and subsequent reinforcement of Redcoats. Armed only with rocks, snowballs, and whatever else found on the streets, the colonists couldn't withstand the bullets shot by the British soldiers. As the fighting came to an end, five men lay dead or dying on King's Street (now State Street). Boosting the deeply ingrained anti-British sentiment among the colonists, patriots like Samuel Adams and Paul Revere capitalized on the event and called it a "massacre." Revere's famous engraving depicting the incident was soon published, and intensified the propaganda, which eventually led to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.
Reenactments of the Boston Massacre take place every year on the anniversary at the site, in front of the Old State House at the intersection of State and Devonshire streets. Any other time during the year you can make a trip there yourself, or join a guide from the Freedom Trail Foundation, who's dressed up as an 18th century colonialist. Or you may choose to walk at your own pace with audio narration through a handheld digital device – the Freedom Trail Antenna Audio Player can be picked up at the Boston Commons visitor's information center (148 Tremont street) for a $15 fee. You can drop off the audio player at your choice of several locations by the end of the day. You can also download the entire two-hour Freedom Trail narration, with all its evocative sound effects, onto your own MP3 player for the same price. (see store.thefreedomtrail.org/walkintohistorymp3.aspx)
- Tours are conducted by the Freedom Trail Foundation
- Public tours, groups tours, and tours for students can all be arranged through the Foundation. Prices range from about $5 to $40 or more, depending on type of tour. For a complete listing of public tours, see: store.thefreedomtrail.org/publictours"
- Subway Stop:
- Take the orange or blue "T" to State Street. As you get of the train, follow the signs for "Old State House". Or, take the green line to Government Center, and follow Court Street one block to State Street. You can also take the red line to Downtown Crossing, then walk Washington Street (toward City Hall) to State Street.
- Location: In front of the Old State House (206 Washington Street, Boston, MA) at the intersection of State and Devonshire Streets, Boston.
- Phone: 617-357-8300
- Website: www.thefreedomtrail.org/visitor/boston-massacre