“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
At the heart of Boston is a cow pasture that made U.S history. Early colonists used Boston Common for grazing cattle until 1640, when it became America's first public green space. The Puritans cast a long shadow over the Common, erecting a public gallows for hanging accused witches and hapless Quakers. Today, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Lyric Opera perform tragic deaths on the Common strictly for entertainment. Kids play epic games of tag across the Common's 50 acres of history, from the Puritans' spooky Central Burying Ground to the lawn where Dr. Martin Luther King led 1960s civil rights protests. Bostonians have skated across frozen Frog Pond each winter for centuries, and couples have sweated out first dates in pedal-powered Swan Boats on the Public Gardens Lagoon since 1877. Tricorn-hatted docents from the Common Visitors Center lead visitors along the Freedom Trail, in the footsteps of revolutionaries who plotted the Boston Tea Party at Old South Meeting House and were buried in Granary Burying Grounds. Sleek downtown buildings rub shoulders with colonial brick landmarks on School Street, where a mosaic marks the site of America's first school around 1635. Charles Dickens was a regular at downtown's historic Omni Parker House—but he probably would have enjoyed a drink in the Clink, the new Liberty Hotel bar inside the former Charles Street Jail.