Of all Boston's neighborhoods, none captures the essence of the city more than its North End, a maze of winding colonial streets and backdrop to some of the most significant moments in American history. This North End Boston History tour paints a portrait of the city's evolution from the 17th to the 21st century, uncovering narratives that have shaped America, from revolution to immigration.
North End Boston History Tour
We begin our walk near the Blackstone Block, a small network of alleyways and structures dating back to the colonial era. Situated here is the 18th century home of John Hancock's brother, Ebenezer, adjacent to the Boston Stone. Using the streets themselves as visual clues we'll consider the topographical advantages of the North End—nearly separated from the mainland by inlets and swamps—for the early settlers in Boston. Our stroll will take us through Haymarket, one of the city's longest standing outdoor markets, and a place where North Enders still buy their groceries.
America’s Gateway to Europe
Tracing a path along streets that still bear the names of important Bostonians or long vanished features, we'll discuss the major developments of the North End as it evolved into one of the busiest shipping ports on the Atlantic seaboard and became America's gateway to Europe. We'll use some of the old storefronts and pubs to discuss the rise of a longshoreman class and shipping industry, and paint a portrait of the ethnic and racial changes the North End witnessed as English and Africans settled in the district, followed by Irish, Portuguese fisherman, Jews, and Italians.
The neighborhood's importance is etched on our collective memory through the famous ride of Paul Revere on the eve of the American Revolution. We will look deeply into how the character of this corner of Boston informed and influenced the radicalism of those events, stopping along the way at the 17th century Paul Revere House and Old North Church, the oldest house of worship in Boston. (To learn more about the history of the North End through a different, we suggest our African American History Tour of Boston)
Weaving a Historical Tapestry
The North End is a tapestry of history, with fragments of different centuries all woven together. During the tour, we jump forward at key moments to consider the industrial revolution and Boston's decline as New York rose, and how the factories of the North End moved to the suburbs and then farther afield. Old warehouses, wharves, and tenements are now converted into cafes, restaurants, and condominiums, often stitched delicately into the architecture and context of the city's history. Depending on time and how our conversation unfolds we may end the walk down at the waterfront where a park commemorates the Italian immigrants who've defined the North End in the last hundred years. With kinetic Boston harbor behind us and the new linear park leftover from the Big Dig before us, we'll look back at the North End with a unique sense of its role in the city—and the nation.
Where do we meet? Where does it end?
Generally speaking, we meet at the Rose Kennedy Greenway located on Atlantic Avenue, and end in the North End neighborhood.
Does this tour include the Freedom Trail?
The Freedom Trail does run through the North End neighborhood. Sites from the trail that are included on the tour are Old North Church, Copp's Hill Burying Ground and Paul Revere House.
What if it’s raining?
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your expert will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors. It never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.
Is this tour good for kids and teens?
Yes! We have some excellent family friendly experts who can appeal to the learning styles of children.
Is this a walking intensive tour?
This walk covers about 1.25 miles overall. There are occasional opportunities to sit, use the bathroom, and get something to drink if needed.