- Tour Map available here
- This tour is open to everyone
- Spots are limited, register soon!
- This event is free to join, beverages & food to be paid on an individual basis.
- Though we officially break at 8:30, please feel free to continue your explorations and libations at the many other venues in the financial district. Recommendations within a short walking distance include the Black Rose at 160 State Street or Mr.Dooley’s at 77 Broad Street. (Note that Mr. Dooley’s has an evening cover charge.
The Littlest Bar
We begin promptly at 5:00 PM at the Littlest Bar, 102 Broad Street. The bar, once truly microscopic, moved to this location in 2008 and is rumored to have the best Guinness in the city on tap. The growth of Boston's early 19th century maritime trade led to a series of speculative building projects along the waterfront. In 1805, Charles Bulfinch created a plan for the Broad Street Association which unified the row of stores and warehouses at 5, 7-9, 64, 68-70, 72 and 102 Broad Street (Littlest Bar). This row replaced the decrepit wharves in the area of the original Custom House (we will see its replacement later), and was one of several civic improvements Bulfinch undertook. Bulfinch, though a premier American architect had a penchant for disastrous real estate dealings. His role as developer never yielded a profit despite many ventures.
Departing the Littlest Bar at 6:00 PM we will walk along the Rose Kennedy Greenway to the Granary Tavern at 170 Milk Street. Our short stroll takes us past the Flour & Grain Exchange buildings located at 177 Milk Street, just one block south of the Custom House and our second mercantile landmark. The beautiful granite structure was completed in 1892. The architectural style is Romanesque Revival, with tiered arched windows and a conical roof at the northwest corner. The Boston Chamber of Commerce occupied the building from 1892 to 1902, prior to the Grain Exchange. Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge designed the tiered arches and rock-faced masonry which exemplify the Romanesque Revival style of H.H. Richardson. The sturdy walls and elaborate design reflect an expression of financial security appropriate to the city's commercial circles. Our stop, the Granary Tavern is housed in a mid-19th century warehouse building. Compare the size of this structure with 102 Broad Street and the growth of Boston’s commerce is clear. We will depart the Granary at 7:30 PM to allow time to enjoy dinner from their great pub menu.
Bostonia Public House
Our final official stop 7:30 to 8:30, the Bostonia Public House, 131 State Street. The Bostonia building was constructed in 1902 and has bars on two levels - including a 110 foot walnut bar. When your sweet tooth craving kicks in, the Bostonia has a some amazing desserts such as Bostonia Cream Pie and Milk & Cookies. On our way here, we’ll take a brief detour past the Custom House, 1847 & 1913. This is a monument to 19th century commerce and the twentieth century invention of the skyscraper. The site was purchased on September 13, 1837. Construction of a custom house was authorized by U.S. President Andrew Jackson. When it was completed in 1849, it cost about $1,076,000, in contemporary U.S. currency, including the site, foundations, etc.
Ammi Burnham Young entered an 1837 competition to design the Boston Custom House, and won with his neoclassical design. This building, designed by Ammi Burnham Young is a cruciform Greek Revival structure, combining a Greek Doric portico with a Roman dome, resembling a four-faced Greek temple topped with a dome. Each of the 36 fluted Doric columns are carved from a single piece of granite from Quincy, Massachusetts; weighing 42 tons. Only half these actually support the structure; the others are free-standing. They are 32 feet high.
The entire structure sits on filled land and is supported by 3,000 wooden piles driven through fill to bedrock. Before land reclamation was done in the middle of the 19th century, Boston's waterfront extended right to this building. Ships moored at Long Wharf almost touched the eastern face of the building.
By 1905, increased shipping required the building's expansion. In 1913–1915, the architecture firm Peabody and Stearns added the tower to the base. Although Boston at that time had a 125 ft (38 m) height restriction, the Custom House was federally owned and exempt from it. The new tower's 496 feet made it the city's tallest and was only exceeded in 1964 by the Prudential Tower.
The Custom House was completely renovated in the 1990s, and now is a timeshare owned by Marriott Vacations. The building has luxurious rooms, harbor and city views, a full-service concierge, and an open observation deck on the 25th floor.
The top of the tower is now accessible to the public during limited hours for a small fee. A fenced in area surrounds the top floor and allows visitors to view the city on all sides of the tower.