We left Augusta in the morning, spent a couple hours wandering Portland and arrived in Boston around 3:00. Dawn was here a year ago to see a client and I was here about 25 years ago, but we’ve never been together. This is the first city on our bell tour where we’ll stay more than one night.
With that in mind, we set out to explore the city knowing we can visit the bell any time this weekend, since it’s outside on the steps of a public building. We already had to adjust the trip slightly, as some bells were inside government buildings that were closed on weekends and Veterans Day this past Wednesday.
We made our way walking from our hotel in the Back Bay area to a little Italian place in the North End that Dawn visited last year.
We followed the walking directions on Dawn’s phone through the hotel district, through the ritzy-titzy shopping district and diagonally across Boston Common.
At the top of the hill I could see the gold Capitol dome and recognized it from my research as the home of the bell. We could see the bell (circled above) atop the front steps of the original part of the building. The gates were locked, so we would not be able to run right up the steps and take our photos, but I was not worried. We found a side entrance, passed through metal detectors and looked for the door that led to the front steps. Unable to find a door that would not set off an alarm, we returned to the park rangers at the security entrance. We asked to see the bell and they told us that area was permanently closed to the public and clarified the bell was a replica and not the original.
We explained that we had already seen five of seven bells on our journey and that this was to be number six – and we’ve come all the way from Colorado.
At that point, I could see their interest pique and thought we might have a chance. They talked amongst themselves and decided that a very nice ranger named Russ would give us a private tour.
Russ told us this bell was still able to be rung, but they had nothing to ring it with. As we walked outside, through a locked gate and up the front steps, Russ pointed out the much more popular JFK statue and explained that it too was off limits to the public until popular demand prompted them to make it accessible at certain times.
The bell is in great shape and looks like it’s been outside for most of its life. This is one of the few bells that does not have a crack painted on it and I have to say I prefer the replicas sans-crack.
The bell itself is behind a locked gate, presumable to prevent unauthorized ringing. Jerry in Allentown told us of folks he met who bragged of ringing the bell in Dover. It really has never crossed my mind to try to ring a Liberty Bell replica. Without me even asking, Russ unlocked the gate and I was in.
Our visit was quick and Dawn forgot to repeat her new pose, but we were excited nonetheless.
As we continued on to dinner, we realized just how fortunate we were. Had we arrived at the State House less than an hour later, it would have been closed. Had we tried to see the bell Saturday or Sunday, as was our plan – we would have been out of luck. Fortune was smiling upon us indeed.
We made it to The Daily Catch in the North End before 5:00, which was also really fortunate – as just an hour later there would be a line halfway down the block to get in. The Google profile of this restaurant generously describes it as snug and informal. We were seated right away at two of the approximately 25 chairs available.
Dawn sat about three feet from the open flames of the open kitchen while I sat across from her about two feet from the front door. Dinner was amazing and we had a great first day in Beantown.
We’ll see the sights in Boston, visit our client on Monday then head to Providence for our last bell of this tour on Tuesday…