A 2 miles trek to explore some of the Waterfront and the Greenway, with a foray in the Financial District and two stops at the Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall area.

Shopping, sightseeing and strolling are on the program, with three visits to three very different places. You’ll be outside half of the time (details and photos below the map)

Highlights: Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, New England Aquarium, Christopher Columbus park, BosTix booth, the Greenway, the Harborwalk, Tea Party museum, BSA space, International Place building, Custom House tower, the Great Hall

A: Your trek starts at City Hall Plaza ( like the North End Trek), but this time you are going to take the stair on the right of City Hall. You’ll see Faneuil Hall in front of you, below, and, most likely, street performers in front of it.  On its right, a BosTix booth where you can buy performances tickets for half-price the day of the show, or go and pick-up the ones you’ve bought online.

Faneuil Hall has been a marketplace since 1743, and is now part of a National Historical Park. Enter the building to admire it, find a kiosk staffed by the Park Services and get information about all of the other National Parks in and around Boston, go and buy stamps to a small post office, or shop for souvenirs.

B: You’ll come back to Faneuil Hall at the end of this trek as there is another part of it to explore, but right now, you’re either heading to Quincy Market, the next historical building you’ll find once you step outside of Faneuil Hall, or to the shops on each side of it, situated in North Market or South Market. More street performers will entertain you on the plaza in front of Quincy Hall, or in the cobblestones streets around it.

You are in a market complex built in the 1800’s when Faneuil Hall run out of space to host all the vendors willing to sell food here. The tradition is kept alive up to a point at Quincy Market with food-stalls of all kinds under its roof, tables and benches in its center, and gift stalls under glass enclosures. The other buildings host restaurants, specialty shops, and office space.

C: You can easily spend one or two hours in the Faneuil Hall/Quincy market area, but once you are done, head east toward the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. You’ll find a carrousel on your way, made of animals typical of New England, an information booth about the Boston Harbor Islands National Park, then grass, benches and views of sailing boats and yachts. It’s a good place to relax a little after your shopping spree, and before the next step!

D: When ready, follow the Harborwalk toward the New England Aquarium. You’ll pass piers where ferries will bring you either to other cities along the Boston bay, to the airport, or to the harbor islands. At the aquarium, go and see the seals next to the tickets booth, on the left. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever see seals so close again!

On the right of the Aquarium, you’ll find plenty of tables and benches if you need some. Otherwise, keep walking. You are now on a more residential part of the waterfront, with some public art and luxury apartments on piers facing the sea.

E: Once you’ve reach the Boston Harbor Hotel, go under the arch to reach the Greenway. Follow it on you left amid trees, flowers beds, and temporary art installations, surrounded by the skyscrapers of the Financial District on your right, and office spaces on your left.

F: At the next intersection, go left on Seaport Boulevard and go back to the Harborwalk (you could have followed it all along since the Aquarium, but the stretch of the Greenway you just did is a very pleasant one). You’ll pass the Intercontinental Hotel with its impressive blue glass façade, and some interesting public art on each side of its entrance.

On the other side, across the channel, you’ll see the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum. If you come at the right time, you’ll even see people re-enacting the throwing of the tea shipment unto the water. If you want to do it yourself, the museum is just a few yards away.

You also stand where the Great Boston Fire of 1872 started, destroying nearly all the Financial district and part of downtown Boston. A panel along the Harborwalk will tell you what happened there in more details.

G: Once you are done reading it, find Pearl Street and the Boston Society of Architects (BSA). Both will be on your right. At the BSA space, on two floors, free and open to the public, you’ll discover what design and contemporary architecture mean. The models of projects crafted by the most famous architects in the world will make you travel to far away places, and marvel at what creativity can do.

After your visit, keep going on Pearl Street until you reach the Greenway, and take it on your right. You’ll walk again between sculptures, lawns, trees, and beds of flowers.

H: Once you reach Oliver Street, take it on you left. You are now in the Financial District, and you’ll understand why if you come a weekday.

For an even better experience of it, enter the International Place building on the corner of Oliver and High Street. It’s the 6th tallest skyscraper of the city, but you won’t be able to access the 46th floor, nor the others, if you do not have a pass. You’ll however find a central glass dome there, with a winter garden and a rain fountain, surrounded by shops, restaurants, and a café area. There are tables and chairs under the dome, around the fountain, but will you dare sit there amid the business men and women having tea and looking at numbers on computers, it’s up to you .

The building itself is very remarkable, inside and outside, with marble and granite imported from Europe and Africa, and unique architectural details mixed with classical lighting fixtures. A small pyramid tops it, illuminated at night.

From the central garden, go to a circular and impressive hallway, and exit on High Street.

I: You’ll find the Greenway in front of you again, and you’ll take it on your left. This section is a more open space, with gathering places. Its main attraction is a giant ring  fountain with pulsating shoots of water going in the air at different intervals, surrounded by a temporary exhibition -visible until 2020,  of the twelve symbols of the Chinese zodiac. Note that the fountain is working from May to October only, and very popular during hot summer days!

Once you see Central Street, go left to have a look at the Custom House building, now a Marriot hotel, yet also a  protected Historical Place.

Built in 1837 in a neoclassical design, its tower, the most recognizable part of the building, the part that you’ve already seen countless of time during your treks but never approached, has been added in 1915 when ships were so numerous that the original structure was becoming too small to accommodate all the requests for customs paperwork. You ‘ll wish you could enter and visit it, but the only way to do so is to reserve a room. Perhaps you’ll do that next time you come to Boston.

J: In the meantime, take Commercial Street to go back to Quincy Market/ Faneuil Hall. There is here an historical structure you can visit freely, and well worth a look, the Great Hall. It’s on the second floor of Faneuil Hall, and you access it when facing Quincy market. Many famous speeches have been made between these walls by very famous politicians, and new citizens emerge through its doors every week after their “Oath of Allegiance” ceremony.

It seems to be a good ending to this trek, does it not?

You can now go back to City Hall Plaza or, if you want to keep walking, take the North End Trek

Good to Know: There are public restrooms at Faneuil Hall (in the basement), next to the Great Hall (second floor), at Quincy Market (in the basement), and at the BSA space. Free wi-fi on City Hall Plaza and the Greenway. Benches or tables and chairs in many different places along the Waterfront and the Greenway.

T-stop: Government Center (start and end)

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