Located on Boston’s famed Freedom Trail in downtown Boston near the city’s waterfront, Faneuil Hall is as bustling today as it was in 1742. What once used to be a meeting place to hear speeches during the Revolutionary War is now a marketplace full of food for hungry families with an appreciation for history. Proclaimed the “Cradle of Liberty” by our nation’s founding fathers, this famed “Hall of Free Speech” is an institution of pride for locals and all Americans.
With picturesque walkways lined with cobblestones and bricks, this culturally rich melting pot offers a bevy of upscale boutiques and over 100 stores.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace History
Built in 1742, the Hall met the growing demand for a public meeting house. Merchant Peter Faneuil built the Hall with his own money. He intended the epic hall to become a center of commerce and a meeting place. On a bleaker note, some of Boston’s early slave auctions happened near Faneuil Hall.
Architects designed the Hall in the style of an English country market. The great Hall played an essential role in the politics of the American Revolution and hosted America’s first town hall meeting. Patriots like Samuel Adams and James Otis gave speeches encouraging independence from Great Britain.
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In 1763 James Otis Jr. delivered an address to the public dedicating the Hall to the cause of liberty. Revolutionary debates took place at the Hall between 1764 and 1775. Americans stood on the stone steps to protest the Sugar Act, Stamp Act, and infamous Tea Acts, leading to the Boston Tea Party massacre. American colonists, frustrated with England for enforcing “taxation without representation,” dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor. A fight broke ensued, and British soldiers opened fire on a crowd of citizens which further enraged the patriots and sparked the flames of the impending war.
Faneuil Hall Later Years
Equally important, the Hall gave voice to Julius Caesar Chappelle, who gave a speech promoting the Black Americans' right to voice in the 1890s. In addition, Senator Edward Kennedy and President Barack Obama spoke at Faneuil Hall.
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Today the Hall is a thriving meeting hall and marketplace that operates as an indoor/outdoor mall and food eatery. On any given day, this energetic district of performers, restaurants and national chain stores is lively with a carnival atmosphere. The festive marketplace includes three historic granite buildings: North Market, Quincy Market, and South Market. It has since come under the ownership of the Ashkenazy Corporation.
Boston Mayor Josiah Quincy was greatly responsible for revitalizing and reclaiming the tidal land in front of Faneuil Hall to Atlantic Avenue. One of the first urban renewal projects in our country Quincy said the need for the growing market space. In 1825, he laid the cornerstone for this important marketplace to bring Faneuil Hall Market to fruition, though the public still refers to it as Quincy Market.
Quincy Market is located in the main building of the Hall and continues to be a popular bazaar for Bostonians. What began in 1826 as a small grocery store has evolved to food stalls, fast food and restaurants, and later a celebratory marketplace. Known as a trendy lunchtime attraction for workers and tourists, the market has a two-story seating area surrounding the dome.
Pro Tip: The center offers dog-friendly patio dining at numerous restaurants, and well-behaved leashed dogs are allowed in some stores.
Boston’s renowned Freedom Trail takes visitors through 16 nationally historic sites in the city before and after the American Revolution. Local journalist William Schofield devised the 2.5-mile trail and suggested building a link to connect local landmarks. By 1953, over 40,000 people hit the path annually. Today Faneuil Hall stands in Boston’s Government Center and is a significant stop along the way. The Hall is now part of Boston’s National Historical Park and has become a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
The Boston Common, which dates to 1634, is the oldest city park in the United States. It’s the central public park for downtown Bostonians. The government bought the park grounds in 1963 from settler William Blaxton. Also, Boston Common sits on top of two historic train stations; the Park Street Station and the Boylston Station Park, which became the country's first underground rapid transit station.
Fun Fact: In 2006, Boston clothing company Life is Good® broke a record for the most lit Jack-o-lanterns. Bostonians lit 30,128 Jack-o-lanterns beating the world record of 28,952 set in 2003 by Keene, New Hampshire.
Walking Tours from Faneuil Hall Marketplace
The various walking tours around Boston are as abundant as the many chowder houses. Here are a few guided tours that start in the Faneuil Hall vicinity.
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Boston: Historic Walking Tour of the Freedom Trail
This 1.5-hour tour is an in-depth history lesson about our country’s independence and the brink of the American Revolution. This tour starts on Boston Common, where the Freedom Trail begins. You’ll visit 11 of 16 official landmarks, including the Old South Meeting House, the Boston Massacre Site, Faneuil Hall, and the Granary Burying Ground.
The Boston Freedom Trail Self-Guided Tour
If Boston has you feeling a little independent, you might consider this adventurous GPS tour that explores Boston’s Freedom Trail at your own pace. You can discover fascinating tidbits and stories about Colonial America and the Revolutionary War. This tour also begins at the Boston Common, then heads to the State House, Park Street Church and then onto the Granary Burying Ground. It also hits the Boston Massacre Site, Faneuil Hall, the Holocaust Memorial, and Paul Revere House and ends at the Bunker Hill Monument.
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Faneuil Hall Marketplace Shops
The Faneuil mall has a mixture of locally owned shops and artisan kiosks as well as several prominent national chains that include Coach, Urban Outfitters, Ann Taylor, Godiva Chocolatier, Build-a-Bear Workshop®, PINK, The Black Dog, and Sunglass Hut.
Popular pushcarts and Kiosks include numerous posh art galleries, boho-chic apparel, home décor, sportswear, jewelry shops and local favorites like I Love Boston Sports.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace Restaurants
Visitors can freely browse several food stalls or dine at the many highlighted eateries.
- Boston Chowda Co: This local chain is a crowd-pleaser with its array of chowders, bread bowls and artisan sandwiches.
- Wagamama: If you’re hankering for some incredible Asian-inspired dishes, this Japanese chain is a delicious option with long communal tables to share entrees with family and friends.
- Gourmet India: This quick-serve counter offers Northern Indian dishes to delight the palette. All meals are made from scratch using the best quality cuts of meat and fresh vegetables.
- El Paso Enchiladas: For true authentic Mexican food, El Paso offers classic tacos, burritos, and the most “scrumptious enchiladas in Boston.”
- Regina Pizzeria: This local chain is rich in history and taste. Circa-1926, Regina’s is best known for its thin-crust brick own pizzas, salads, and calzones.
- Fisherman’s Net: This quaint eatery serves traditional fried seafood and clam chowder bread bowls among the hustling market counters and stalls.
- Philadelphia Steak & Hoagie: You can’t come to Boston without trying the clam chowder and the Philly-style cheesesteaks. This Faneuil Hall stop offers the original traditional Philly sub, loaded with meats, peppers and provolone cheese.
Faneuil Hall Transportation & Parking
The Hall’s surrounding area offers many options for public transportation, such as bus routes, subway systems and cabs. There are 10,724 parking garage spaces within a two-mile radius of the marketplace.
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The Faneuil Marketplace and Promenade are open daily.
- Monday: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Tuesday: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Thursday: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
You can find Public Restrooms located at the Quincy Market (behind Faneuil Hall) on the backside of the building. Enter through the CENTER doorway, up toward the Great Hall.