“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.”
Colonial row houses make Charlestown look like the long-lost twin of Beacon Hill across the Charles River, but this neighborhood has survived epic trials. Bunker Hill's 221-foot granite obelisk commemorates the long odds faced by ragtag revolutionaries in 1775, when they battled 4,000 British troops with scant ammunition. Worried about gunpowder shortage, American Colonel William Prescott legendarily ordered, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." Another local war hero is moored at Charlestown's Navy Yard: the USS Constitution, the 1797 ship that survived cannon fire to earn the nickname "Old Ironsides." Today the warship is open to visitors, while kids dress up as sailors in the dockside museum. Survivors of the 1840s Irish potato famine found safe harbor in Charlestown, and the neighborhood's mostly Irish population still frequents the local St. Mary Catholic church, Emmons Horrigan O'Neil Memorial Rink and Tavern at the End of the World. This seemingly innocent neighborhood has earned quite a rap sheet for bank robberies, inspiring the Ben Affleck heist movie The Town.