On December 6, 1917, a munitions ship blew up in Halifax Harbor, causing the largest explosion until the atomic bomb was invented. The city was devastated; thousands were killed and injured. Before the day was over, Boston had loaded a train with doctors, nurses, and supplies. The train raced through the night and through a blizzard to bring relief to the desperate city. Today, Nova Scotia gives Boston a Christmas tree each year as a token of thanks.
Boston and Halifax
- The official report of the Boston Halifax Relief Expedition, the first train of supplies to reach Halifax after the disaster.
- Personal accounts of the explosion collected by the Nova Scotia Archives
- Pictures of the devastation following the Halifax explosion, as well as relief efforts by the people of Massachusetts.
- A report from the British Journal of Opthamology about advances in the care of eye injuries inspired by the tragedy in Halifax.
- A WBUR interview with John U Bacon, author of The Great Halifax Explosion.
- More information about the Halifax Tree presented to Boston by the province of Nova Scotia each year.
- An article from the Canadian press explaining how Nova Scotia spends $242,000 to present Boston with our official Christmas Tree.
- Boston and Halifax dignitaries place a plaque on Boston Common to mark 100 years of partnership.
Featured Historic Site
This week we tried something new with out historic site recommendation. We put together an itinerary that will be sure to impress your out-of-town friends and family.
Start out on Boston Common to see the city’s official Christmas Tree, donated by Nova Scotia in recognition of the relief our city provided after the 1917 Halifax explosion. Follow that up with outdoor figure skating at the Frog Pond. (Mon 10:00AM-3:45PM, Tue-Thu 10:00AM-9:00PM, Fri-Sat 10:00AM-10:00PM, Sun 10:00AM-9:00PM, Closed Christmas Day.)
After that, walk down Tremont Street to King’s Chapel. Their Bells and Bones tour will take you up to the bell tower to view their Paul Revere Bell, then down to the basement to see the crypts. (Tours are offered at 11 AM, 12 PM, 2 PM and 3 PM on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays; tours are offered at 2 PM and 3 PM on Sundays.)
Continue down Tremont Street to Government Center. Cross through the plaza, pass Faneuil Hall, walk through the historic Blackstone Block, and get lunch at the Union Oyster House or Boston Public Market.
On the show, we recommended following that up with a visit to the Federal style Harrison Gray Otis House on Cambridge Street, but we hadn’t realized that the Otis House closed for the season on November 30. Instead, wind up your walk at the Old State House. It was the seat of government in Massachusetts from the 1630s until the turn of the nineteenth century. Relive the impressment riots from Episode 54, ponder the site of the Boston Massacre, and gaze out the window where the Boston first heard the Declaration of Independence read aloud. (Open 7 days, 9am-5pm. Closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.)
This week’s upcoming historic event is a Boston classic, the 244th anniversary Boston Tea Party Reenactment. The event will be held on Saturday December 16th at 6:30pm in partnership between Old South Meeting House and The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum:
“Gather at Old South Meeting House, the actual historic landmark where the colonists met in 1773, with Boston’s infamous rabblerousers like Samuel Adams, Paul Revere– and even some crown-loving Loyalists– to debate the tea tax and demand liberty from the British crown! Then join the procession to Griffin’s Wharf accompanied by fife and drum and scores of colonists and line the shores of Boston Harbor to witness the destruction of the tea firsthand as the Sons of Liberty storm the Brig Beaver, tossing the troublesome tea into the sea!”
Get your tickets now, as the event will sell out!