The Tale of The Trail

Filed in Arts & Entertainment, Headline, Things To Do by on August 21, 2009 0 Comments


Millions walk Boston’s famous Freedom Trail every year without knowing the story behind the red line. It all started with a journalist who just wanted to make it easier for people to visit the historic sites the city offers. This truly shows the power of one idea!

The journalist, Bill Schofield, realized that if he struggled to navigate his way through Boston’s crooked streets, he could only imagine what non-Bostonians felt like. First, he teamed up with Bob Winn, a member of Old North Church. Winn had kept the building open to the public since 1942 and was known for sharing his vast knowledge with visitors. Schofield used his column on March 8, 1951 to pitch his idea for a route connecting the historic downtown area with the North End to the people—hoping Mayor John B. Hynes (where the Hynes Convention Center gets its name) was reading.

In just a couple weeks, the Mayor accepted the proposal and handed the project over to City Hall to be put into action. In June of 1951, the Freedom Trail was born in The Cradle of Liberty.

By just 1953, about 40,000 people followed the Freedom Trail a year. Today, 3 million use the Trail to experience history—from the oldest public park (The Boston Common) to the turning point of the American Revolution (Bunker Hill Monument), plus 14 stops in between. In addition to offering tours with colonial guides, the Freedom Trail Foundation enables visitors to download a MP3 so they can listen to the tour on their iPod or other player. But be sure to take some time to stop into the sites themselves!

Despite its often narrow and winding streets, Boston can take pride in its effort to organize its historical sites for its guests. This is all thanks to one man with one great idea.


Sara Todisco works as a Tour Guide at the Massachusetts State House and is a contributing writer for

Check out her blog at:

Flickr photo courtesy of Laura Padgett

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