MA-8 Living Amid History


History Trail

The Massachusetts-8th district map was significantly redrawn before the 2012 elections encompassing much of what had previously been the MA-9th district. It has been represented by Congressman Stephen Lynch since then. Representative Lynch had previously been a House member serving the 9th district since 2001.

Cities & Towns in Massachusetts-8th include:

  • Boston
  • Quincy
  • Brockton

Where to lead off the U.S History Trail? Jamestown? St. Augustine perhaps? Plymouth Rock, maybe Philadelphia? All worthy of consideration. For me, though, it had to be Boston.2006Boston066

Boston is not only a richly historic city for all the reasons we are about to go over, it continues to live that history every day. It feels like a city from the 16th century. Not in a gentrified – isn’t that cute way, but in a –  this is the way it is way . There are cobblestone streets here that weren’t installed to be quaint but because they replaced the cobblestone that had been there before it….decades, maybe centuries ago. Spend five minutes driving in Boston and you’ll know this street layout wasn’t designed for automobiles.

You’ve probably already gotten the sense from earlier posts that I like to walk, sometimes a lot and it is my opinion that there is not a finer walking city of anything like the size of Boston in this country. Driving? Forget it. The “T” (subway/streetcar) is serviceable, if not particularly fast. But walking here (unless there is five feet of snow on the ground) is great.

It’s also the best way to see some of the many major historic sites in the city. The Freedom Trail©, a trademarked 2.5 mile walking trail offers inexpensive guided tours but it can also be walked at your own pace and self guided (there is a red line painted on the street and sidewalks that make up the route) as many of the sites are part of the Boston National Historic Park.

One Great Day in the Massachusetts-8th

A note about this section.  One day isn’t long enough to spend in any district – it’s not nearly long enough to really understand the place and everything that makes it unique. But time for both real and virtual expeditions is often limited so I’ve chosen a day to try to encapsulate what the district is like. If you go…and have longer to spend, you should.

Furthermore, these are just the things my family and I would find interesting, many of which I’ve never been to – you probably would find and suggest others. Let us know where it says Leave a Reply at the bottom of the page or better yet,  drop us a line if you’d like to write a guest post about any district. 

9 am:

Our great day in Boston will begin on The Freedom Trail© starting point at the Boston Common.  The Common is the oldest park in the country and British Regulars were camped here in April 1775 before they headed west to confront the American Minutemen at Lexington and Concord.  While at 50 acres, the Common is dwarfed in size by many other city parks around the country (Central Park in New York is over 700 acres by way of comparison,) its central location and proximity to all the historic seats of power in the city have always made The Common a focal point in Boston.


Granary Burying Ground

Boston’s history is underscored by the fact that the “new” statehouse was built in 1798. It is the second stop on the tour and sits at the top of Beacon Hill. According to the City of Boston’s website, the gold dome at the top was originally made of wood shingles but is now sheathed in copper and covered by 23 karat gold. Farther down Park Street are the Park Street Church, which dates to 1809 and the Granary Burying Ground. Cemeteries are not a common site among busy downtown streets in most cities but in Boston, views like this one seem to make sense. Among the 5,000 people buried at Granary are three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence: Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine.

Amazingly, the next burial ground on the Tour is even older. The King’s Chapel was built in 1688 when the Royal Governor found that no one in the city would sell him land to build a church that was not Puritan and it remains an active Ecumenical church. The Burying Ground is the burial site of Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off the Mayflower.

The site of the first public school site in America, a statue of Benjamin Franklin and The Old Corner Bookstore – opened in 1712 and the publishing site of The Scarlet Letter, are the next stops on The Freedom Trail© and then the Old South Meeting House. The Old South Meeting House was at least in some respects, the birthplace of the Revolutionary War. The Boston Tea

Old South Meeting House

Old South Meeting House

Party took place after a meeting here in which 5,000 colonists protested a tax upon tea and then signaled the Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adam,s to go to the nearby port and dump several tons of it into Boston Harbor. The rest as they say….

As you are reading this, if you haven’t been to  Boston before, you are probably imagining cute brick buildings and gaslamp-lit streets complete with college kids dressed in period garb paying off their student loans by blacksmithing for the summer. There’s a bit of this – particularly in the sites and on the tours, which are indeed led by people in costume. But all around you life in Boston goes on because you are smack dab in the middle of the one of the major financial centers in the country. Need a new phone? There’s the Verizon store. Ready for some coffee? There’s Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks and Peet’s. This is all part of the charm of the city but it takes some getting used to.

The 90-minute guided tour, which can actually be done faster or much slower if you are guiding yourself, stops at the site of the Boston Massacre and the Old Statehouse before concluding at Faneuil Hall. This market building dates to 1742 and sits at the site of the old town dock. Samuel Adams and others met here to protest the imposition of taxes both before and after the Tea Party but today you are more likely to see people drinking Sam Adams here than those dressed like him. Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market have dozens of shops and restaurants and thus is a good stopping place for the historic tour. The Freedom Trail actually continues on through the North End and over the Charles River into Charlestown before ending at the USS Constitution but it ends in the Massachusetts-7th district and besides – we’re late for lunch.

12 pm:

The Big Dig is one of the most famous, or perhaps infamous would be a better word, public works projects in U.S. history. Conceived as a way of reducing traffic congestion at the intersection of four major highways, the project was years late and billions over budget. You can follow the link to read all about it but suffice it to say, controversial would be understating it by several degrees. Having said that, the project has literally transformed the way Boston looks and feels .

The Central Artery Overpass, which connected the north of the city and New Hampshire to the South Shore and eventually Cape Cod, ran, literally, between all the historic sites we’ve just visited and the waterfront.  I lived in the city for awhile in the 80s and remember the area under the bridge as a Gothamesque collection of dark alleys and dead ends. Today the bridge is gone, the highway is underground and a beautiful park (the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway) connects Faneuil Hall with Boston Harbor.

Boston is a wonderful food city, more on this in a bit, but part of what makes it great is the existence of places like our lunch spot, The Barking Crab. Although its become so popular that some people might call it touristy, I think the place has stayed true to its roots – really good  seafood- mostly fried, served casually at picnic tables inside or out. A basket of Fish and Chips and a pitcher of beer will really make you wonder whether you have to do anything else in the afternoon.  We’ll find a way to break away though.

 2 pm:Boston,_Museum_Wharf,_Hood_Milk_Bottle

After a morning of touring historical sites, particularly if you do it with children, you are going to need a change of pace. A 10-minute walk south along the new Harborwalk, which runs along the Fort Point Channel and offers a very nice view of Boston, is the Boston Children’s Museum. I have not been to this museum yet but it gets great reviews and has a long reputation for not only creating fun experiences for kids but also for doing it in a research-based approach that promotes brain development ; the museum was among the early pioneers of “hands on learning.” and if exhibits like the “New Balance Climb” – a 3 story vertical maze don’t captivate the kids (and parents,) there is always the ticket booth built into a giant milk bottle.

4 pm:

The new pedestrian connections to the Seaport area have transformed this part of the city too. For many years the Seaport was an industrial area really only visited by people in the trade. But today, the Seaport – roughly defined as the area east of the Fort Point channel to the Boston Main Channel, has several new swanky hotels and restaurants.  The Human Capital Institute has been having conferences at the Seaport World Trade Center for a few years now and I will be there again at the end of the month. It’s a nice area to walk around and made so, in part, because it is still very much a working dock.

After walking around a bit we might find our way for a beer at the Harpoon Brewery next to one of the piers.  Harpoon has a brewery 2 miles from my house in Vermont but Boston is the beer’s birthplace and they have a new brew hall at the seaport patterned after a German bierhaus and although they don’t serve food per se, they do offer excellent pretzels. If you go early in the week– go early – it is only open until 7 through Wednesday

Also of note in this area is a very cool place to see music. The Blue Hills Bank Pavilion is a couple of blocks away from Harpoon and as an outdoor amphitheater, offers some amazing views of Boston and goodtour-harpoon-s-lux-brewery-in-boston music all summer. You’ve already missed Florence & The Machine, which played this week. but on the docket for the rest of the season are everyone from Peter Frampton to Smashing Pumpkins to Meghan Trainor and Flogging Molly. This last is an Irish Punk band from Los Angeles, though they are popular in Boston. But also of this genre are the Dropkick Murphy’s, who hail from Quincy, MA – smack dab in the middle of the Mass-8th – here’s a musical introduction to take you through the rest of this profile.

6 pm:

Without bothering to research it I’m going to go out on a limb and say Italian food is the most popular “ethnic” food in the United States – so much so that we’ve co-opted dishes like pizza as national foods. For authentic Italian food in this country there are not many places I’ve been to (maybe North Beach in San Francisco…maybe?) that I would go before I’d go to the North End in Boston. The neighborhood, which is really only a few blocks, has dozens of very good Italian restaurants. I don’t think you can go too far wrong walking up Hanover Street and back down a block away on either Salem or North Street.  But awhile back my friends Dave and Linda Forman, who are among a few of my go-to people for food recommendations, introduced me to a lovely place called Carmen. It’s quite small but terrific food and great atmosphere. Buongustaio.

More Days?  – More Things to See and Know in the Massachusetts-8th

What Matters Here?

Tpp成員國One of the interesting things about this district is that relatively few of its residents live amid the historic sites listed above; those are located in a downtown business and commercial area. Instead, most people of the Mass-8th live in South Boston, the smaller cities of Quincy and Brockton or one of several South Shore towns.  The result is that the district is made up of citizens with quite different socioeconomic backgrounds, from the well heeled suburbs of Hingham to the historically mean streets of Brockton. That would generally make it more difficult to come up with common issues that unify residents but since no one chose to run against Congressman Stephen Lynch in the 2014 election, it seems reasonable to infer that the ones he lists on his website are representative of the majority of views.

Among the ones I’ve seen on every page thus far: Economy, Education, Health Care, Veterans’ issues, Rep. Lynch lists a few that don’t appear on many member’s pages including Anti Terrorism Financing, Social Security and Retirement Security and Labor and Working Families. On this last issue, Congressman Lynch has parlayed his interest into an official role, he was the founder and continues to co-chair the Congressional Labor and Working Families Caucus. This past week, he came down hard against enabling Fast Track for the Trans Pacific Partnership and took to Twitter to make his case. “The #TPP is not on the right track. Congress should be engaged in the process, which is why I oppose #TPA.” He continued, “We need to stop a bad trade deal that will hurt American workers. #NoFastTrack.” A fuller, more traditional media account is here.  What do you think? Live in the Mass-8th?  Is the Trans Pacific Partnership good for you?

 Next Up:

The Restaurant & Food Trail begins this week in the California-5th

The History Trail follows the route of Paul Revere to the Massachusetts-3rd

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