One of Boston’s most well known historic sites, Faneuil Hall Marketplace was constructed in 1742 and served as a marketplace and meeting hall since it first opened its doors. Named after the wealthy merchant who provided funding for the hall, Peter Faneuil, this significant structure has been the site of many important and inspirational speeches by famed Americans, including Samuel Adams. When visiting Boston, a stop here is definitely a must do. Read on for the Ultimate Guide to all you can see and do at Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
A Little History
Faneuil Hall was home to merchants, fishermen and meat and produce vendors; it was also where the colonists gathered for events, listened to orators and rallied together for important causes. This site is also where citizens protested the Sugar Act in 1764 and established the doctrine “no taxation without representation.” On the hall’s first anniversary, George Washington led the celebration by making a toast to America. For these, and many other reasons, Faneuil Hall was nicknamed “The Cradle of Liberty.”
Four Great Places in One
Faneuil Hall Marketplace is actually four great places in one location - Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market. Situated around a quaint cobblestone promenade, each one offers a variety of things to do and see. Whether you’re looking to shop, dine or enjoy a variety of entertainment, it’s all here.
The building was named after Josiah Quincy, the Mayor of Boston from 1823-1828. The original structure was built in 1826 and its design is fashioned after Grecian-Doric architecture. Its distinctive granite structure features huge columns at each end.
Top Shopping Destination
Boston shopping doesn’t get much better than this. There are more than 100 of the finest shops and specialty pushcarts within Faneuil Hall Marketplace. From locally owned favorites like A Hat for Every Head, New England Taste, and the Cheers Gift Shop to nationally acclaimed retailers like Ann Taylor, Crabtree and Evelyn, Nine West, Coach and more, everything imaginable is available within the marketplace.
Eat, Drink and Enjoy the Ambiance
After shopping in some of the city’s top upscale shops, indulge your appetite for delicious fare in Faneuil Hall Marketplace. There are 14 restaurants to choose from including McCormick and Schmick’s, Ned Devine’s Irish Pub, Anthem Kitchen and Bar, Durgin Park, Cheers and more. There are also 36 international food vendors within the Quincy Marketplace Colonnade, making it the largest food hall in all of New England. Whatever you’re hungry for, including BBQ, Italian, Asian, pizza, deli sandwiches, chowder, sweets or just a cup of Joe, it’s all here.
Let Them Entertain You
As one of Boston’s most popular tourist destinations, Faneuil Hall Marketplace is always bustling with activity. A host of world-famous street performers wow crowds with their unique talents everyday. One-of-a-kind shows include musicians, acrobats, jugglers, illusionists, sword swallowers, comedians and much more. While you’re here, be sure to catch the renowned Red Trouser Show, The Real McCoy Show, The Yo-Yo Show and more.
New England Aquarium
For whimsical family fun and to discover the wonders of the marine world, head over to the New England Aquarium. Here, you’ll be treated to intriguing exhibits, marine habitats, and a close up view of a variety of species including sharks, penguins, dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles and more.
Hard Rock Café
For great American fare and a view to more than 300 pieces of rock n’ roll memorabilia, take a walk over to the Hard Rock Café. This iconic restaurant, which is a part of the international chain of more than 130 Hard Rock Cafes, is a well-known gathering place.
Old State House
Constructed in 1713, the Old State House was Boston’s main government building during the American Revolution. Famed patriots Sam Adams, John Hancock and John Adams debated here and the announcement of the Declaration of Independence was made from the balcony. Today, visitors to Boston don’t miss a chance to see this historic building.
New England Holocaust Memorial
A tribute to commemorate the loss of more than six million Jews during the Holocaust, this beautiful memorial is definitely worth a visit. Just a few steps away from Faneuil Hall Marketplace, each tower has 24 panels of glass inscribed with messages and lit up by lights meant to symbolize the chimneys in the World War II concentration camps.
Bunker Hill Bridge
A sight worth seeing, the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge is a part of the Big D Project and is named after civil rights activist and American soldier Leonard Zakim who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill. The widest cable stay bridge in the world, the bridge is unique in that it features asymmetrical cables and Y-shaped tunnels.
King’s Chapel is a National Historic Landmark and was founded in 1688. The current stone structure of the church was actually constructed around the original wooden building and was completed in 1754. When the construction of the new building was finished, the wooden church was disassembled and removed through the windows. The church bell, which was hung in 1772, was recast and rehung by Paul Revere in 1814 when it cracked. It is the largest bell ever cast by Revere’s company and the last one that was cast by Paul Revere himself.
King’s Chapel Burying Ground
The burying ground on King’s Chapel property is the city’s oldest burial ground and was Boston’s only cemetery for more than 30 years. Here, many of the city’s most notable citizens were laid to rest including Governor John Winthrop, Reverend John Cotton, William Dawes, Jr., Mary Chilton and Elizabeth Pain. Beyond its historical importance, King’s Chapel Burial Ground is believed by many to be haunted and has been the subject of many paranormal investigations.
Old South Meeting House
This iconic building constructed in 1729 is where the Boston Tea Party began and an important sight to see while in Boston. Take a tour and learn the fascinating story of when Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty inspired the colonists to take action, catapulting the event that led to the American Revolution.
Bell in Hand Tavern
With its claim to fame being that it is America’s Oldest Tavern, the Bell in Hand is a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike. This local pub first opened its doors in 1795 and has been a favorite among printers and politicians, students and sailors. The bar’s first owner, Jimmy Wilson, was Boston’s town crier for fifty years. Enjoy a cold beer and fresh-shucked oysters as you sit amongst a diverse assortment of people.
Washington Street Art Center
To view unique artwork from some of Boston’s most up and coming local artists, visit the Washington Street Art Center. Home to the galleries of 20 artists and a variety of exhibition and event space, the center hosts various exhibitions, performances and classes throughout the year.
Fun Facts about Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall used to be a waterfront property; but in the 1800s the citizens of Boston needed more land so they filled in the harbor, pushing the waterfront back to where it is today.
The famous “Golden Grasshopper” weather vane that sits atop Faneuil Hall was placed there in 1742.
Durgin Park is the oldest existing restaurant in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace; it opened in 1826.
Faneuil Hall celebrated its 150th birthday in 1976 with major renovations.
During the 1976 construction, workers discovered Quincy Market’s Great Dome; a false ceiling hid it. Today the dome is visible after being refurbished.
Street performers began entertaining crowds in the early 1970s and today Faneuil Hall is known as one of the premiere venues for street performances in the world.
Twice a month, between 300-500 people take the Oath of Allegiance at Faneuil Hall and are sworn in as new citizens.