We all know Boston has no shortage of walking tours — in addition to the Freedom Trail, our city is home to a 1.6-mile Black Heritage Trail with 10 sites that tell the stories of Boston’s 19th century Black community.
Before you grab your walking shoes, we’re sharing the legacies of a few of the stops you’ll pass on a self-guided stroll past these Beacon Hill landmarks.
📍 Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial, Beacon Street
This bronze memorial by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens honors one of the first Black regiments of the American Civil War. Robert Gould Shaw served as the colonel, and abolitionists like Frederick Douglass helped recruit men for the regiment. The monument was restored and celebrated during a re-dedication event in June 2022.
📍 Lewis and Harriet Hayden House, 66 Phillips St.
This home served as the most active Underground Railroad safe house in our city, sheltering hundreds of people journeying toward freedom. The Phillips Street home was owned by the Haydens, two abolitionists who moved to Boston in 1846 after escaping slavery in Kentucky. Learn more about the Hayden family legacy.
📍 Museum of African American History, 46 Joy St.
The last stop on the trail is New England’s largest African American history museum. The Abiel Smith School + the African Meeting House are both part of the museum. The local school is the first building in the country created for the main purpose of educating Black children. The meeting house, designated a National Historic Landmark, is considered the oldest surviving Black church building in the nation.
Pro tip: Make plans to walk the trail again in the summer with a National Parks Service tour guide to learn more about pre-Civil War Black history in Boston.