Built in 1742 (and enlarged using a Charles Bulfinch design in 1805), this building was a gift to Boston from prosperous merchant Peter Faneuil. This “Cradle of Liberty” rang with speeches by orators such as Samuel Adams—whose statue stands outside the Congress Street entrance—in the years leading to the Revolution. Abolitionists, temperance advocates, and suffragists also used the hall as a pulpit. The upstairs is still a public meeting and concert hall. Downstairs is the visitor center for the downtown part of the Boston National Historical Park. It has exhibits focusing on Boston history and—in keeping with the nearly 3-century history of retail in this space—a bookstore.

National Park Service rangers give free historical talks every half-hour from 9am to 5pm in the second-floor auditorium.

To continue on the Freedom Trail: Leave Faneuil Hall, cross North Street, and follow the trail through the “Blackstone Block.” These buildings, among the oldest in the city, give a sense of the scale of 18th- and 19th-century Boston. In the park at the corner of North and Union streets are two sculptures of legendary Boston mayor (and congressman and federal prisoner) James Michael Curley, the inspiration for the protagonist of Edwin O’Connor’s 1956 novel “The Last Hurrah.” Beyond the sculptures, you'll see six tall glass columns arranged parallel to Union Street. Pause here.