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Bunker Hill Monument

Updated: May 5, 2024

The following post will cover details about where to find the Bunker Hill Monument, when you can visit the museum, and how to climb the structure.

It is free to visit and is one of the best things to do in Boston for free!


WHAT IS THE BUNKER HILL MONUMENT?

At the end of the Freedom Trail sits the Bunker Hill Monument, a 221-foot tall granite obelisk marking the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution.

Originally it was an 18-foot wooden pillar which was erected in 1794 by the King Solomon’s Lodge of Freemasons of Charlestown to honor those who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Later, construction of the monument began on June 17, 1825 with the laying of cornerstone.

Fought on June 17, 1775, the battle itself wasn’t a victory for the colonists as the British troops took the hill after three bloody charges.

But it was a huge moral victory for the colonists, as it proved that they could inflict major casualties on their adversaries and stand tall against the mighty British Empire.

The site is called Bunker Hill, even though most of the fighting actually took place at Breed’s Hill, which is where the monument actually stands. Bunker Hill is actually further north.

During the battle, one of the deadliest single battles of the American Revolution, the British suffered 226 killed and over 900 injured with many of the casualties being officers.  

The Colonists took a casualty count of 139 killed and over 250 wounded.

It was the Battle of Bunker Hill that gave birth to one of the most famous battle cries of the American Revolution, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes”, which was shouted that day as the colonists were running low on ammunition.

It is debatable which colonial officer yelled this, but depending on which version you encounter, some sources credit General Israel Putnam or Colonel William Prescott.

Visitors can climb to the top of the monument and get a good view of the rest of the city.

We cover how to get access to the monument in the section below.


HOW TO CLIMB THE MONUMENT

If you want to climb to the top of this attraction, head into the Bunker Hill Lodge that adjoins the Monument to request free passes.

Passes are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Find out more information. from the Bunker Hill official website.

The Bunker Hill Monument is open daily from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, with the last entry to climb the monument at 4:30 pm.

There is no elevator to the top, so it's a bit of a workout getting there. But climbing the 294 steps to the top is well worth it when you see the view!


WHAT TO SEE AT THE BUNKER HILL MUSEUM

The Bunker Hill Museum is at 43 Monument Square at the base of the Hill and is a great little museum.

The museum is part of the Boston National Historical Park, thus it is free to visit!

It is open every day from 10 am - 5 pm, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

Upon entering the museum, you’ll see several displays that cover the history of Boston, Charlestown, and Bunker Hill.

Bunker Hill Museum

There are also some display cases with historic relics such as books, plates, and other items.

On the 2nd floor, you’ll find a diorama of the battle of Bunker Hill which recreates the conditions of the event using miniatures.

In addition to that, there are also more displays and authentic artifacts including weapons used in the battle and other notable items.

If you look above the display cases and the historic information provided on the walls, you’ll see a mural stretching across the main room which depicts the battle of Bunker Hill.

Next to it is the Bunker Hill Lodge (also called exhibit lodge), established in 1902, with an architectural design reminiscent of a Greek temple both internally and externally.


HOW TO GET TO THE BUNKER HILL MONUMENT

The Bunker Hill Monument is located at the end of the Freedom Trail. It is about a 15-minute walk from the Copp’s Hill Burial Ground.

If you look at our self-guided Freedom Trail tour, you will see Bunker Hill Monument is Stop S.

While you can walk to the Monument easily by following the Freedom Trail, the best way to get there is by using the MBTA Water Shuttle.

It is a short boat ride over to Charlestown, and you can enjoy what amounts to a quick, scenic harbor cruise along the way. It costs just $3.25 (free if you have an MBTA Subway Pass).

The shuttle departs from Boston’s Long Wharf (map) at the New England Aquarium and will whisk you over to Bunker Hill Monument in 10 minutes.

The Bunker Hill Monument is about a 5-minute walk from where the shuttle docks.


NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

If you want to explore the area nearby the Bunker Hill Monument, here are some top attractions which will interest you.


Charlestown Navy Yard

Adjacent to the monument, the Charlestown Navy Yard is home to the USS Constitution Museum and the USS Cassin Young, a preserved World War II destroyer that serves as a museum ship.


Freedom Trail

The Bunker Hill Monument is a significant stop on Boston's Freedom Trail, which means you can follow the trail through the area and visit other historical sites like the Massachusetts State House and Paul Revere's House.


Paul Revere House

Paul Revere House is the oldest surviving structure in downtown Boston, built around 1680. It was the home of Paul Revere, a silversmith and patriot known for his famous "midnight ride" during the American Revolutionary War.


USS Constitution

Located nearby in the Charlestown Navy Yard, the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat and offers guided tours for visitors.


Copp's Hill Burying Ground

This historic cemetery is a short walk from the monument and is the final resting place of notable figures from colonial times.


Boston Common

Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States, established in 1634. Located in the heart of downtown Boston, it offers green spaces, walking paths, recreational activities, and is historically significant in American history.


Old North Church

A short distance from the monument, this iconic church played a crucial role in the American Revolution and offers guided tours.


The Warren Tavern

Located near the monument, this historic tavern is named after Dr. Joseph Warren, a Revolutionary War hero, and offers a chance to experience a piece of colonial history.


FREQUENTLY AKSED QUESTIONS

How long did it take to build Bunker Hill Monument?

Built to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill, construction of the monument began on June 17, 1825 with the laying of cornerstone by the directors.

However, due to funding issues and various delays, the construction process was not completed until October 1842.

As such, the Bunker Hill Monument took approximately 17 years to finish.


Why is it called Bunker Hill?

Bunker Hill is called so due to a miscommunication during the Battle of Bunker Hill, which actually took place on Breed's Hill in Charlestown.

American forces intended to fortify Bunker Hill for strategic advantage over British soldiers, but mistakenly fortified Breed's Hill.

When asked about the location, a loyalist referred to it as Bunker Hill. The British forces then named the battle after Bunker Hill, where it did not actually occur.


How good is the view from the Bunker Hill Monument?

The view from the Bunker Hill Monument is excellent. It offers a commanding panorama of Boston and its surrounding areas.

Visitors can see iconic landmarks such as the Massachusetts State House, the USS Constitution, and the Boston skyline.

The view also includes Boston Harbor and the Charles River, providing a unique perspective of the city's historical and modern architecture.


Which is taller: Bunker Hill or the Washington Monument?

The Washington Monument is taller than the Bunker Hill Monument.

The Washington Monument stands at approximately 555 feet, while the Bunker Hill Monument is 221 feet tall.


Which is older: Bunker Hill or the Washington Monument?

The Bunker Hill Monument is older than the Washington Monument.

The Bunker Hill Monument was completed in 1842 to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolutionary War.

On the other hand, the Washington Monument was completed in 1884, honoring George Washington, the first President of the United States.


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About The Author

Brian Burgess

I was born in Cambridge and have been living in the Boston area all my life. I am a graduate of Boston's Emerson College with a degree in communications with a journalism/history focus. I have been leading tours for Free Tours By Foot Boston since it was started in the city of Boston in 2012, and enjoy sharing my knowledge of Boston's rich history with not only the guests on my tours, but with everyone I meet. <a href="https://freetoursbyfoot.com/contributors/brian-burgess/" Read More...
Updated: May 5th, 2024
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