The streets of Boston are jam packed with history, and since its founding in 1630, authors, professors, politicians, and revolutionaries have left their marks on these historic cobblestone streets. However, there is no Bostonian name more known throughout the world than Kennedy. Using this guide you can walk in the same path, check out some John F. Kennedy's favorite spots, and see some of the places where JFK and the and the rest of the Kennedy Clan worked, dined and called home. From Rose Kennedy's childhood home to JFK last address, this guide will introduce you to these sites in an easy to follow path.
Be sure to check out our full selection of self-guided Boston walking tours.
(A) Start you walk at 401 Hanover St. at Stephen’s Church in the Northend/Little Italy Neighborhood located right across the street from the Paul Revere Statue and Paul Revere Prado. This is the church is the only church building in Boston that is still standing that was designed by the architect Charles Bulfinch (who also designed the Massachusetts House). This is the church where baby Rose Kennedy was baptized a Catholic in 1890 as well as where her funeral in 1995. Rose Kennedy was born in the neighborhood and her birthplace is just down the street.
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(B) Take a right (if facing St. Stephen’s and follow the Freedom Trail (the brick line at your feet) to Fleet St. take a right on Fleet St. and Garden Court St. is on the right, follow Garden Court St. to 4 Garden Court St. and there is where baby Rose lived.
(C) After checking out Rose’s birthplace, follow the Freedom Trail to the series of parks named for her, The Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Greenway is a series of parks which run through several neighborhoods in Boston. It was created as a result of the “Big Dig” which was 16 year construction project from 1997 to 2007 part of which demolished the John F. Kennedy Expressway (which ran on an elevated bridge running through the city) and developed an underground highway (Rt. 93) which now runs beneath the park. Named for the family’s matriarch, her son, Senator Edward Kennedy, played an important role in creating the park.
(D) From the Rose Kennedy Greenway you will spot the large lettering sign of The Union Oyster House, 41 Union Street. This is the United States’ oldest restaurant. The building has been there since 1742, but has been a restaurant since 1826 when the Union Oyster House was opened. John F. Kennedy and the rest of the Kennedy Clan often dined here. Located on the second floor is JFK's favorite booth, where he would sit and catch up on events with the newspaper and a cup of chowder. This booth is dedicated in his memory. (All these sites above are included on our Northend and Little Italy Tour). You could also learn more on your own with our self-guided version.
(E) Follow the Freedom Trail down Union Street to historic Faneuil Hall. Inside Faneuil Hall in 1979, Senator Edward Kennedy announced that he would run for president.
(F) Walking the Freedom Trail down Washington St. to School St. and you will see Old City Hall, where Boston mayors held court from 1865 to 1968, and this is where the office of Mayor John F. Fitzgerald “Honey Fitz”, father of Rose, worked as the 38th and 40th Mayor of Boston 1906-1908 and 1910-1914.
(G) Sitting across the street from Old City Hall is the Omni Parker House, where John F. Kennedy is said to have made his first public speech when he was seven years old. The topic of the oration, which was made in the Press Room, while attending his grandfather Honey Fitz’s birthday party, was how much he loved his grandfather. According to one story, then Mayor James Michael Curley picked up young John and stood him on a table where the boy elegantly spoke for a few minutes about Grandpa John. The Press Room later became the place where he announced his candidacy for U.S. Congress and also where he held his bachelor party, which much have been quite an event. At the restaurant inside the Omni Parker House is Table 40 where one legend has it that JFK asked Jacklyn to marry him.
(H) After exiting the Omni Parker, walk up Beacon Street and you will come to Bowdoin St. One block down on the right, across from the Massachusetts State House at 122 Bowdoin St., is the address that JFK was registered to vote and his last address in Boston before his death.
(I) Just a few doors down from 122 Bowdoin St. is 150 Bowdoin St. and the 21st Amendment Pub. This is one of the waterholes where JFK was often seen and is a great spot to pop into for a bite to eat or a drink.
(J) Across the street from 122 Bowdoin St. sits the Massachusetts State House (1798) (included on our Freedom Trail Tour) and it is here where on Jan. 9, 1961, eleven days before presidential inauguration, JFK gave another speech, in which he quotes one of the founders of Boston and the first Massachusetts Governor, John Winthrop's "city upon a hill" sermon and highlights four qualities that he wanted to associate with his presidency: courage, judgment, integrity and dedication. On the Beacon Street, or west side of the State House, is a statue of JFK in mid-stride exiting the building.
(K) Continue down Beacon St. and at 21 Beacon St. you will see the former Bellevue (now a private residence) where JFK lived in 1946 when he ran for the US Congress.
Other JFK Sites that are not in walking distant of these sites are located at Harvard University and there are a few sites on campus that are worth checking out either on our Cambridge/Harvard University Tour or on you own with our self-guided version of this tour:
(L) Weld Hall: Located inside Old Harvard Yard is where JFK lived as a freshman.
(M) Winthrop House: As an upperclassman at Harvard University, JFK lived at Winthrop House.
(N) The Kennedy School of Government: The Harvard University School which was name for the man.
(O) The JFK Museum: Located in Dorchester, can be reached via the MBTA (Subway) on the Red Line at the JFK/UMass Stop.