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2017-07-17 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Boston, day 1

Knowing what traffic is like in Boston, we were grateful that the Caravan provided a nice Prevost bus to take us in to the heart of Boston:

2017-07-17 Boston Bus

Today we will have an opportunity to take a trolley tour to get oriented around Boston; after the trolley we can further explore areas as we wish…

From the bus we first saw the Boston Skyline:

2017-07-17 Boston - Skyline

And then the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge:

2017-07-17 Boston - Zakim Bridge 2

2017-07-17 Boston - Zakim Bridge 1

This is a cable-stayed bridge, not a suspension bridge.  The difference is that a cable-stayed bridge has one or more towers, from which cables directly support the bridge deck. A distinctive feature are the cables which run directly from the tower to the deck, normally forming a fan-like pattern or a series of parallel lines. This is in contrast to the modern suspension bridge, where the cables supporting the deck are suspended vertically from the main cable, anchored at both ends of the bridge and running between the towers. The cable-stayed bridge is optimal for spans longer than cantilever bridges and shorter than suspension bridges.

The lead designers were Theodore Zoli (from HNTB) and W. Denney Pate (from FIGG).  It has a striking, graceful appearance that is meant to echo the tower of the Bunker Hill Monument (more on this tomorrow), which is within view of the bridge, and the white cables evoke imagery of the rigging of the USS Constitution, docked nearby (more on this tomorrow).

The bus dropped us off at the waterfront; we boarded the trolley for a 90 minute tour of the historic and civic landmarks of Boston.  We were dropped back at the waterfront, leaving us the rest of the day to focus on our own interests.

Boston has nicely marked its sidewalks with a red stripe as a path they call the “Freedom Trail”.  So after our trolley tour we walked the trail and saw many famous sights, most related to the War for Independence.

You will recall the Longfellow poem I quoted when we visited Concord and Lexington:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year.

It goes on to say:

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

So we went to see the Old North Church:2017-07-17 Boston Old North Church

And Paul Revere’s house:

2017-07-17 Boston - Paul Revere House

 

Along the way we saw the location of Cheers bar; Exterior photos of this place were used in the TV show, although the bar inside is nothing like the TV set. The owner has recreated the TV set in another Cheers bar location near the waterfront…

2017-07-17 Boston - Cheers

 

We saw the Charles River; a little regatta or sailing lessons are going on today:

2017-07-17 Boston - Charles River

 

Fenway Park; they play baseball here:

2017-07-17 Boston - Fenway Park

 

We really wanted to see Trinity Church, located in Copley Square; we walked and walked and when we finally got there we saw that it was closed on Mondays. Who ever heard of a church being closed on Mondays? What’s next? Closing the Stockbridge dump on Thanksgiving?

We did get in a nice lunch at La Famiglia Giorgio’s.  And lots of walking.  The bus took us back to the Villa and we slept soundly that night… a good thing, because we come back tomorrow!

 

 

2017-07-15 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Lexington, Concord, and The Shot Heard ‘Round the World; Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer…

We had a free day to explore the region. We chose to tour Concord and Lexington.  After driving to Lexington we joined a trolley ride for a 90 minute to drive along the roads between Lexington and Concord; our guide told us the history of the Battle of Concord and Lexington, the start of the War for Independence.

 

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 01

Our trolley tour told of the first shots fired – it was it Lexington, but no one knows who fired first.  Paul Revere and William Dawes had ridden in from Boston to warn the town that the British were coming. (Although everyone here was British at the time…)

Also, because Longfellow told us, everyone knows:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear 
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, 
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; 
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year. 

 

In 1896 Helen F. Moore, dismayed that William Dawes had been forgotten by Longfellow, penned a parody of Longfellow’s poem:

‘Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear—
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

Revere was arrested, but the word was out. The main confrontation occurred in Concord, as memorialized in the first verse of the Concord Hymn:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

We walked along the area of the first battle, and across the bridge. (Not the original bridge…):

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 01a

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 02

 

There are graves of British here, too:

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 04

 

Along the trolley tour we saw the houses of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  Thoreau’s house is about 1 1/2 miles from Walden Pond, so for all those months when Thoreau was isolated and alone at the pond, he usually walked home for dinner in the evening…

We walked about to see several historic houses in Lexington; this is the house that Revere (and Dawes) were riding to:

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 07

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 09

I know it’s a really old house, but this house (especially the door…) needs some attention:

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 08

 

The Munroe Tavern was occupied by the British as their headquarters:

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 10

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 11

 

After our memories of the history of the war with the British were refreshed, we needed to be refreshed with a little French food:

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 12

We walked about the town a bit, and headed back to the truck:

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 13

 

I had been in this area in 2008, on a bus tour, but not to see historic sights; we were here to see architecture.  I recalled a neighborhood of modernist houses, but I didn’t know where they were or whose houses they were.  I did remember the bus driver pointing out Walden Pond, so I thought we should check out the area and see what we could find.

We easily found the pond.  So I tried turning down some small roads to see what we could find; on my second try we found it!

This is the Walter Gropius house:

2017-07-15 Gropius 02

Walter Gropius founded The Bauhaus in Germany in the 1920s, revolutionizing modern architecture around the world. Apparently, the Germans were not impressed, because they closed The Bauhaus and Gropius fled Germany in the 1930s. After a time as a refugee in London, Gropius was hired to head Harvard’s Architecture Department.  As his fame and influence spread, a nice lady offered Gropius $20,000 and 4 1/2 acres of land for him to build himself a house; here it is:

2017-07-15 Gropius 01

It is Gropius’ idea of a modern New England cottage; wood siding, but vertical, not horizontal; also, horizontal windows, not vertical. Flat roof, not pitched… Plus an angled front porch and a spiral stair just for fun.

Inside the house is wonderful; the entry hall with the traditional center stair:

2017-07-15 Gropius 06

 

The study, with an interior wall of glass block to share light with the Dining Room beyond:

2017-07-15 Gropius 07

2017-07-15 Gropius 08

 

The Dining Room, with the screened porch beyond:

2017-07-15 Gropius 09

 

Upstairs is a lovely deck, with one wall painted his custom-designed color, Bauhaus Pink:

2017-07-15 Gropius 10

 

And the view down from the deck towards the screened porch:

2017-07-15 Gropius 11

After all, what says “New England cottage” more than a screened porch?

Other views around the house:

 

Much of the furniture inside the house was designed by Gropius’ colleague, Marcel Breuer.  Breuer was also given land next door to build his house, along with three other people this lady with the land liked… The other houses are privately owned and were not open, but back in 2008 we were permitted to walk the grounds.

Walter Gropius and his wife lived in the house until their deaths in 1969 and 1980, whereupon it was donated to the Historic Society…

We headed back to the Villa and enjoyed another GAM (Get Acquainted Meeting) with the other caravanners… Once again, an enjoyable time was had by all…

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