United States History Runs Deep in the Eastern U.S.
History can be a dull subject when taught in class. While flipping through a massive textbook, listening to the teacher spout date after date, it’s tough to comprehend the significance of each event and the human toil that shaped the life we are free to live today.
Those elements come alive whenever you experience an historic site firsthand, especially in the United States. As anyone who has listened with rapt attention to the lyrics of “Hamilton” will tell you, American history is surprisingly engaging when absorbed through the senses. This is best accomplished at world-famous sites throughout the Eastern seaboard, where the roots of democracy, freedom and justice for all are etched into the very land itself.
The next time you visit any one of these celebrated cities, take a moment to seek out their historic offerings. They will change the way you view not only the past, but also the present.
As one of the oldest towns in the original 13 colonies, Boston has played staging grounds to some of America’s most notable chapters. A stroll through these streets finds you face to face with spots that paved the way for America today, and while you could walk all 2.5 miles of The Freedom Trail to see the 16 most prominent places of historical interest, you’re also free to carve your own path through the city and see what speaks the most to you. No matter which route you take, there are three sites you simply can’t miss.
The Boston Massacre proved to be one of the critical events to fuel the American Revolution. On March 5, 1770, a small group of Bostonians confronted a British officer and sentry for not paying a bill. As more locals joined the angry group, more soldiers were called to the scene. The squad of squirrel-nerved British soldiers eventually opened fire on the taunting crowd. Known as “The Shot Heard Around the World,” the event proved to be a catalyst for American independence. See the fateful street corner for yourself, with a cobblestone marker placed in the median at the intersection of State and Congress streets.
If there’s one event more quintessential to Boston’s involvement in the Revolution than the Boston Massacre, it would be the Boston Tea Party. Taking place on December 16, 1773, a party of Bostonians disguised as Native Americans snuck aboard anchored British ships and dumped a substantial shipment of tea into the harbor in protest of taxation without representation. Today, you can have your very own tea party at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Get an in-depth look at history through the historical reenactments and exhibits of the museum before boarding an authentic 18th century merchant ship to throw tea into the harbor yourself.
The final must-see site commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill. Taking place on June 17, 1775, the first formal battle of the Revolutionary War sprawled out over the hilly landscape adjacent to Boston. While the British eventually claimed the field (and thus the town), they suffered substantial losses to the local militias, and it proved a moral victory for America. The monument on the hill today commemorates not only the first solid step towards independence from England, but the lives lost in pursuit of the land of the free.
“The Eliot Hotel is located in the midst of one of Boston’s most sought-after historic neighborhoods: Back Bay. Within walking distance of our four diamond hotel is the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Boston Public Garden, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Boston Public Library, Fenway Park and more — all paying homage to the city’s rich history or a part of that history themselves.”
– Maureen Toomey, The Eliot Hotel
If there was an American town to rival the historical significance of Boston, it would undoubtedly be Philadelphia. Within these streets, a slew of critical events took place, helping to shape both the American Revolution and the nation that followed. While you can follow the extensive American Revolution Trail of Philadelphia for the full scope of the city’s involvement, you’re also welcome to pick and choose the highlights or sites that might interest you most.
Perhaps the most recognizable of Philadelphia’s attractions is The Liberty Bell. Originally hung from the steeple of Independence Hall and rung on occasions of governmental alerts, its famous crack did not grow noticeably distinct until sometime in the beginning of the 19th century—at which point it was also becoming a prominent symbol for abolitionist societies. Today, while it no longer rings in the conventional sense, its presence on the Independence Mall continues to help foster freedom to ring in the minds of many.
Another symbol of Philadelphia in his own right, no resident is as beloved by his city as Benjamin Franklin is by Philadelphia. Granted, there’s a lot to love, and it’s all present at the Benjamin Franklin Museum, where you can discover his accolades and accomplishments as a founder of civic institutions, a diplomat, a scientist and of course—a printer. Besides the many hands-on exhibits allowing you to foster your own creative spirit, the Benjamin Franklin Museum houses the ghost of Benjamin Franklin’s abode: a standing steel structure in the outline and location of Franklin’s former house and print shop. While the man and the home may be gone, his innate curiosity and innovative ideas live on here, and a simple visit is enough to foster them within your life for years to come.
The end-all, be-all most important place to visit within Philadelphia is Independence Hall. During the summer of 1776, 56 delegates gathered within this quaint hall to kickstart the Revolution with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The words written here have an implicit weight that has yet to be matched anywhere else, and as such the walls still echo with the very thoughts that have altered history. Independence Hall is unquestionably the birthplace for the American Idea, and any visit here provides a somber chance to reflect on just what those words mean in the modern day.
“After visiting Philly three times within the past year, I can honestly say that the city’s culinary scene is nearly as amazing as its history. Scarpetta is a can’t-miss Italian restaurant in The Rittenhouse, a fine hotel with a superb location. And the new R2L Restaurant provides breathtaking city views from the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place.”