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  • Boston Harbor Islands National ParkBoston Harbor Islands National Park Boston, Massachusetts
    The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is a National Recreation Area that is located in the islands of Boston Harbor in Boston, Massachusetts. The region is made up of many islands, a former island and peninsula; most of which can be accessed for recreation, although some are tiny and just perfect for wildlife watching. They are cared for by the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership, and includes the Boston Harbor Islands State Park that is managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; with 21 of the 34 islands part of the Boston Harbor Islands Archeological District. The most favorite attractions include the Civil War period Fort Warren on Georges Island, beaches, hiking trails and the Boston Light on Little Brewster Island that is one of the oldest lighthouses in the country. Spectacle Island and Georges Island are served in the summer months by the ferries that come and go from Quincy and Boston; and these connect on the weekends and summer weekdays with a shuttle boat that goes to the other islands, like Hingham and Hull. A project proposal by Boston mayor Tom Menino and MIT professor Clifford A. Goudey appeared in 1996 to revitalize the harbor's aquaculture and fish population, that would have meant using the old tanks and granite canals of Moon Island. Two of the islands, Spinnaker and Castle, are not part of the National Recreation Area, and two islands that no longer exist, Apple and Governor's were added to the grounds of Logan International Airport before the region was designated. The state park occupies 13 of the islands that was developed in the 1970s by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management and the recreation area was created in 1996. The islands included in the state park are; Slate, Bumpkin, Sheep, Calf, Raccoon, Gallops, Outer Brewster, Grape, Middle Brewster, Great Brewster, Little Calf, Green and Hangman Islands. The Harbor Islands Express gives ferry service from Long Wharf to Spectacle and Georges Islands, with a free service going to the other islands from Georges Island.

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  • Faneuil Hall MarketplaceFaneuil Hall Marketplace Boston, Massachusetts
    Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts is close to the waterfront and the Government Center; and has been a meeting hall and marketplace since 1742. It was the place where many famous men gave speeches about freedom and independence from Great Britain that include Samuel Adams and James Otis; and is today a part of the Boston National Historical Park and grand stop on the Freedom Trail. It has been called the cradle of liberty, but that is more locally and non-historical. The first hall was constructed by John Smibert in the years 1740 to 1742, in the marvelous old style of an English country market, with wide open ground floor and assembly room located above. The construction was funded by rich Boston merchant, Peter Faneuil, hence the name. During its early days, it was where African sheep were kept, brought here from the northwestern area of New Hampshire, although short lived due to the shortage of sheep and the ill conceived ideas to begin it. Sitting high atop the building, a grasshopper weathervane sits and has become a well known symbol of the city. Knowing about the grasshopper became a test for patriots and spies in the revolution, if you knew what the object atop the hall was, then you were a patriot and if not, a spy. It burned down in 1761, but rebuilt the next year, and was largely expanded in 1806 by famous architect, Charles Bulfinch, that doubled the height, width and added a third floor. Also, four bays were added that brought that number to 7, and the former open arcades closed; while the cupola was moved to the other end. Bulfinch added Doric brick pilasters to the two lower floors and ionic pilasters to the third. The reconstruction brought in extra galleries around the assembly hall and made it taller. In the last years of the 19th century, the entire building was rebuilt with non-combustible materials so that the fire that burned it down in the previous century would no longer be a worry. In 1979, the ground floor and basement were changed and the hall refurbished once more in 1992. It is a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hall has become part of a larger festival type of marketplace, called Faneuil Hall Marketplace that also contains three long granite buildings called North Market, Quincy Market and South Market; and has become an indoor-outdoor mall and food establishments. The entire complex is managed by the Rouse Company and the wonderful success that it enjoyed in the 1970s encouraged other cities to copy the idea. In 1979, it was the location of Teddy Kennedy's speech saying he would run for President of the United States, and in 2003, it was the site of John Kerry's concession speech for the 2004 presidential election. It has become the headquarters of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts which was formed in 1638. The bell that hangs in the tower was fixed in 2007 by spraying the frozen clapper with that wonderful lubricant, WD-40, for a solid week and then attaching a rope. Before this the last time the bell had been rung using its clapper was at the finish of WWII, although there have been instances where it was rung by using a mallet. Forbes Traveler announced in 2008 that it was the number 4 place visited by Americans in the top 25 most visited tourist sites in the nation. The gilded grasshopper weathervane that sits on top of the hall was made by silversmith Shem Drowne in 1742 and was gilded with gold leaf over copper, weighs 80 pounds and is 4 feet long. The magnificent weather vane is believed to have been modeled after the one on to of the London Royal Exchange, based on the family crest of Thomas Gresham. It was accidently shipped to the Wren Building at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia and when 3 months had passed by, the designers of the building realized that they had ordered a butterfly weather vane that was mistakenly sent to Charlestown, South Carolina. Within 6 weeks, the weather vane was atop its rightful place at Faneuil Hall, William and Mary had their butterfly and Charlestown had an empty spot on top.

January 11, 2011