“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
Boston's picturesque brick-paved gaslight district was built around one slippery fish. When Massachusetts outgrew its old colonial meeting house, a new state house was built in John Hancock's backyard along Beacon Street. For luck, a replica of the carved pine codfish that disappeared from the old state house during the Revolutionary War was installed in the new gold-domed state house. The neighborhood that sprang up around the Sacred Cod earned its name as a beacon of freedom during the Civil War, when Frederick Douglass recruited an African American regiment to join the Union fight against slavery at the African Meeting House. The historic event is recounted in the film Glory, and at the Museum of Afro-American History on Joy St. Today Beacon Hill is known for mood lighting at cozy bistros like Grotto, 75 Chestnut, Figs and The Paramount. One lamp-lit sign may look especially familiar: Beacon Hill's former Bull & Finch pub was the model for Sam's bar in the TV show Cheers. Fish and chips are on the menu here, but the Sacred Cod is off limits at the State House. After Harvard Lampoon pranksters "cod-napped" it in 1933, police dredged the Charles River, searched the airport and chased the cod-nappers to Roxbury to recover Beacon Hill's favorite fish.