So many places in Boston reminded me of history lessons from middle school – none more than visiting Bunker Hill. I remember spending day after day in school learning about the Battle of Bunker Hill. So naturally, while I was in Boston I had to visit the site.
The Battle of Bunker Hill was one of the first Revolutionary War conflicts, and a monument now stands there to commemorate the event.
Can you go up the Bunker Hill Boston monument? Yes, absolutely! It’s 294 steps to the top. But the interior of the monument is open only two days a week. So I had to settle for views from the outside.
Amazingly, construction was started way back in the 1820s and finished in the 1840s – decades before the Washington Monument.
A small (free) museum sits nearby. Some guy in costume with a musket tells the story of the battle for onlookers, who can ask questions about what happened.
RECOMMENDED BOSTON TOURS:
Visiting Bunker Hill Monument in Boston
Bunker Hill is an essential part of a Revolutionary War road trip, along with the Boston Harbor, Valley Forge, and Saratoga National Historical Park.
The statue out front of Bunker Hill is impressive, particularly when viewed with the obelisk itself.
The statue depicts Colonel William Prescott, who commanded the 1200 U.S. troops at Bunker Hill. The statue shows Prescott wielding a sword and adopting an imposing pose.
Prescott was known for giving his soldiers the order, “Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”
The Bunker Hill Monument is part of the Freedom Trail, a walking path through downtown Boston featuring historic sites related to American independence. The Freedom Trail is educational and easily accessible, making it one of the best activities for kids in Boston.
The monument is managed by the National Park Service. Wanna climb to the top of the Bunker Hill monument? As of this writing, the stairs are open for visitors from 10 am to 4:30 pm on Friday and Saturday only. Wear comfortable shoes and get ready for those 294 steps!
In case you missed the Bunker Hill lesson in middle school social studies class, just read through the many informational signs posted on the grounds for an education.
Here’s more about the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was one of the early skirmishes of the Revolutionary War.
Great Britain technically “won” the battle, forcing U.S. soldiers to retreat, but the British suffered many more casualties than they expected, so the fight sent a strong message.
There’s a Bunker Hill Museum open from 10 am to 4:30 pm Wednesday through Sunday. The two-floor museum has exhibits explaining the history of the conflict.
The museum also has a bathroom, which will come in handy if you’ve been spending the entire morning walking around the streets of Boston.
Guide to Historic Boston Statues
Elsewhere in Boston, I saw lots of statues everywhere. Most statues were made to honor important historic figures, but some were not.
I’m not going to go over every Boston statue, because you need to walk the Freedom Trail and see them for yourself! But here are a few significant ones.
One of the city’s most noteworthy statues is this one at Faneuil Hall of Samuel Adams, who is buried at Granary Cemetery. The hall itself opened in 1743, and Adams made several speeches here, so it’s an extremely fitting location for the statue.
The Adams statue is quite old, having been created in 1880. It’s a bronze statue on a tall granite base.
Located in the Cambridge neighborhood, Harvard University features a statue of John Harvard, the namesake of the Ivy League institution. It has become tradition for students to rub the statue’s left toe for good luck.
Just across the street from the university sits a statue of Charles Sumner. Sumner was a U.S. Senator during the Civil War and a leader of the anti-slavery movement.
No one was more important in the anti-slavery movement than Harriet Tubman. Her contributions to the Underground Railroad are memorialized with this statue in Boston’s South End, in the parklet known as Harriet Tubman Park:
Alexander Hamilton! Alexander Hamilton! The inspiration for the musical, one of the Founding Fathers himself, has his own Boston statue:
Located next to each other downtown, Boston Public Garden and Boston Common feature a number of impressive statues. None better than George Washington himself, perched high on a pedestal atop a horse:
Parkman Plaza has three bronze statues of nondescript figures meant to honor the values of Learning, Industry, and Religion. This one is the Religion statue. It depicts a man kneeling with his arms extended as he looks to the sky.
Next to it are the Industry and Learning statues:
Head to Old City Hall for statues of Josiah Quincy III and Benjamin Franklin. Quincy has an extremely long list of accomplishments: United States Senator, mayor of Boston, Municipal Court judge, president of Harvard University.
Franklin, meanwhile, was one of the most important early Americans. Though he’s mostly celebrated in Philadelphia, Ben is honored with a statue at Old City Hall. Franklin was born in Boston before moving to Philly at age 17.
The British are coming! Paul Revere’s famous Midnight Ride is commemorated with this statue in the North End near Old North Church.
Boston visitors should spend some time at Quincy Market for excellent shopping, dining, and people watching. Take notice of this unique statue at the market. It’s former Boston mayor Kevin Hagan White. This is one of the “newer” Boston statues, as White held office from 1968 to 1984.
But my favorite statues in Boston were the “living statues.” Aka, people who stand perfectly still as if they’re made of stone, only to surprise unsuspecting passersby by suddenly reaching out to them.
These were cool to see, since I remembered that one of my favorite singers, Amanda Palmer, used to perform as a living statue here.
Boston must be one of the best cities in the U.S. for historic statues and living statues both!
By the way, if you’re up for a road trip, consider the drive from Boston to Acadia National Park, with stops in Portland and Bangor on the way!
Have you ever had the experience of visiting Bunker Hill or seeing the Boston statues?