Faneuil Hall and the surrounding Quincy Market
combine to make one of Boston
's most amazing tourist attractions. Originally, Faneuil Hall was used mostly as a meeting hall, constructed before the Revolutionary War
by one of Boston's richest citizens. Because of a renovation project in the mid-1970's, Faneuil Hall and its surrounding area have become a wonderful place to visit, shop, and enjoy outdoor entertainment.
Peter Faneuil, a merchant of great renown that lived in Boston, was responsible for the construction of Faneuil Hall in 1742. While there was a small group of stands selling goods at Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market had not yet been established. Instead, Faneuil Hall was used as a meeting hall for important government officials and became an important part of Boston's political history. Faneuil Hall was known as the "Cradle of Liberty" and is not far from the current Government Center in downtown Boston. The easiest way to get to Faneuil Hall, as a matter of fact, is to take the MBTA Green Line to Government Center. Faneuil Hall is right across the street from the T stop.
Some important events happened at Faneuil Hall during the Revolutionary period. Numerous orators gave speeches there and the seeds of revolution sprouted into real ideas. This tradition is still strong, and Faneuil Hall continues to be Boston's soap box.
Under the leadership of Mayor Josiah Quincy, Quincy Market was founded in 1826. Faneuil Hall began to be known as a commercial center as well as a government hall. The market was extremely successful, but not well-maintained. It steadily lost its beauty and popularity until its renovation in the 1970's. After the renovation was completed, there was more space for shops and outdoor entertainment, and the whole area was given a facelift. Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market began to see more visitors and their glory was restored.
Entering the Faneuil Hall marketplace area is almost like stepping back through time. Cobblestones line the walkways, and antique-style shops abound. There are a lot of small monuments dedicated to Boston history and many statues of famous Bostonians. Without a doubt, the best time to visit Faneuil Hall is in the winter. Snow and holiday lighting only add to the magical atmosphere that is present at all times in the marketplace.
The shops in the area sell a wide variety of merchandise, from art to sports memorabilia to jewelry. There is even a specialty store for left-handed people, known as Wacky Planet. The surrounding restaurants and food stands are nothing short of magnificent, and are diverse enough to satisfy everyone. Because the renovations of the 70's have brought people back to the Faneuil Hall area and downtown Boston, more restaurants, pubs, and other attractions are springing up all around.
Perhaps the best part about Faneuil Hall is the outdoor entertainment you will find. There is almost always a live band playing. I've seen a ragtime band full of senior citizens and war veterans as well as a reggae band with a drummer half my age and twice my skill. There are always clowns and other random entertainers walking around to spread joy, as well.
My only pet peeve about Faneuil Hall is that it shuts down so early. It's never officially open past 9:00 PM, though some of the restaurants and pubs are open past that. Only a few establishments stay open past 1:00 in the morning, so if you want to paint the town red past that time, you'll have to find some other place to do it. In spite of this, Faneuil Hall has a special ambience about it that is found in no other place I've visited.