Boston is one of the most historical cities in the country, and Charlestown is the oldest neighborhood. With a rich Native American and colonial past, nowadays Charlestown still welcomes people from all over the world to settle in this scenic section of the city along the harbor between the Charles River and Mystic River. The neighborhood is bordered by Cambridge to the west, East Boston and the North End to the south, making for an ideal geographical location in the center of all the action. In recent years, Charlestown has been welcoming a budding foodie scene alongside many classic bars and attractions to learn about the local history.
Before Charlestown was colonialized, the area was known as Mishawum by Native American tribes in the northeast, called the Algonquians. Once the colonial Americans came through, the area claimed became smaller and was dubbed most of the peninsula after the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. This is also the end of the Freedom Trail that runs through much of Boston today.
Fast forward to the 1860s during a large wave of Irish immigration. Due to its location close to downtown Boston and job opportunities in fishing and industry, many people from Ireland settled in Charlestown. Even today the neighborhood is proud of their heritage, as is many other areas of Boston, despite rising property value and gentrification.
The visitors in Charlestown that enjoy history usually head straight for the Bunker Hill monument to climb up its 294 steps to enjoy sweeping views of the city. This neighborhood is also home to the oldest commissioned Navy vessel, the USS Constitution, docked in the Charlestown Navy Yard. They offer tours and have an interesting museum inside the ship.
When it comes to dining, Charlestown has a mix of classic and progressive choices nestled in rows of beautiful, red brick row houses. One of the most famous spots to savor upscale culinary delights is Figs, headed by top chef Todd English. On the other hand, Charlestown has one of the oldest pubs around for a quick bite and pint too called the Warren Tavern, established in 1780. There’s a few more eclectic selections, such as the Tangerino hookah bar and restaurant with Middle Eastern faire and Vivian’s Café for hearty Tex Mex. There’s a few with pretty harbor views as well like Pier 6, which also boasts classic lobster rolls.
Annual Events and New Happenings
With such close proximity to downtown Boston and other thriving neighborhoods, Charlestown does not host the big name festivals and events that some other areas of the city have. The new Downeast Cider House that popped up in Charlestown a couple years ago hosts small music festivals and tours year-round under the Tobin Bridge.
In June, the National Park Service hosts the Battle of Bunker Hill Day Parade that runs through Main Street and beyond. There are people dressed as colonial soldiers, musket firing and fife playing to commemorate the historic battle nearly two and a half centuries ago. Guest can also check out the free Bunker Hill Museum and Charlestown Navy Yard in the same weekend.