- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Boston started here. Charlestown was a thriving settlement a year before colonials headed across the Charles River at William Blaxton's invitation to found the city proper. Today the district's attractions include two of the most visible—and vertical—monuments in Boston: the Bunker Hill Monument, which commemorates the grisly battle that became a symbol of patriotic resistance against the British, and the USS Constitution, whose masts continue to tower over the waterfront where she was built more than 200 years ago.
The blocks around the Bunker Hill Monument are a good illustration of how gentrification is changing the neighborhoods. Along streets lined with gas lamps are impeccably restored Federal and mid-19th-century town houses; cheek by jowl are working-class quarters of similar vintage but more modest recent pasts. Near the Navy Yard along Main Street is City Square, the beginning of Charlestown's main commercial district, which includes City Square Park, with brick paths and bronze fish sculptures. On Phipps Street is the grave marker of John Harvard, a young minister who in 1638 bequeathed his small library to the fledgling Cambridge College, thereafter renamed in his honor. The precise location of the grave is uncertain, but a monument of 1828 marks its approximate site.
To get to Charlestown, you can walk across the Charlestown Bridge from the North End, or take Bus 93 from the Haymarket T station; it stops three blocks from the Navy Yard entrance. A more interesting and speedy way to get here is to take the MBTA water shuttle from Long Wharf in downtown Boston, which runs every 15 or 30 minutes year-round.
Charlestown at a Glance
Elsewhere in Boston
- Back Bay and the South End
- Beacon Hill, Boston Common, and the Old West End
- Boston Outskirts
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's