The Freedom Trail is a popular route for exploring Boston’s historic sites, and it also happens to pass a number of the city’s most interesting points of architectural interest. This guide includes the official stops along the original 1.2-mile trail, and highlights other important buildings along the way, from Colonial to Contemporary. A separate guide covers the second half of the Trail to Charlestown.
Downtown Boston faced a period of decline after WWII, and in 1951 a local journalist proposed that the city create a walking path linking historical sites to boost tourism. Mayor John Hynes took up the idea, and the Freedom Trail was an immediate success. For the 1976 U.S. bicentennial, the Trail was extended to Charlestown.
Today, over three million people visit the Freedom Trail annually. Brick and granite pavers mark the trail and bronze medallions label each site and make the Trail easy to follow. Directional signs indicate upcoming attractions and walking distances, while map kiosks along the route provide historic interpretation and a contemporary map.
The non-profit Freedom Trail Foundation markets and preserves the Trail, and (along with others) offers guided tours starting on the Boston Common: https://www.thefreedomtrail.org/index.html. The National Park Service curates the Boston National Historic Park from visitor centers in Faneuil Hall and the Charlestown Navy Yard: https://www.nps.gov/bost/index.htm.