Thursday, May 29, 2008

JFK Boston Walking Tour

John F. Kennedy, the epitome of endless youth, would have turned 91 years old today. Can you believe it? Kennedy remains one of America's more popular presidents, and this native son of Boston is still beloved in his hometown. If you want to relive the days of Camelot, by all means go to these two sites around Boston:

John F. Kennedy National Historical Site. JFK was born on May 29, 1917, in a modest, three-story house on a tree-lined street in Brookline. The bed in which the president was born, his bassinette, and the piano on which he took lessons are among the items on display. The house is open between May and September. (83 Beals Street, 617-566-7937;

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum. A visit to the museum begins with an 18-minute introductory film covering JFK’s career before the 1960 presidential campaign. That’s followed by exhibits encompassing the campaign and the Kennedy presidency up to the final tragic day in Dallas, which is commemorated by a darkened hallway in which news coverage of the assassination plays on a continuous loop. (Columbia Point, 617-514-1600;

And there are some Kennedy-related landmarks in downtown Boston that you can see on this walking tour from the State House to the new Greenway (Click here for a Google map of the route):

1. Massachusetts State House. Underneath the distinctive golden dome of the State House, which sits atop historic Beacon Hill, is a bronze statue of a youthful JFK in mid-stride, hand in his suit jacket pocket. The statue is in front of the west wing of the State House. Despite its presence in front of the State House, JFK never served in the Massachusetts legislature. (Beacon Street, 617-727-3676)

2. 122 Bowdoin Street. This building located adjacent to the State House looks nondescript from the outside, but apartment 36 served as JFK's registered voting address and headquarters for his congressional campaign.

3. Parker House Hotel. Kennedy announced his candidacy for Congress in 1946 at the venerable Parker House Hotel. While it's better known as the birthplace of the Boston cream pie and Parker House rolls, the hotel's Parker Restaurant is where JFK proposed to Jackie. (And rumor has it that JFK had his bachelor party at the hotel as well.) (60 School Street, 617-227-8600;

4. Faneuil Hall. Faneuil Hall was the site of JFK's final campaign speech in 1960, a one-hour nationally televised address. In addition to its meeting space, Faneuil Hall today is part of a marketplace with shops, restaurants, and outdoor entertainers. (Congress Street, 617-242-5675)

5. Union Oyster House. JFK used to visit the Union Oyster House, famous for its traditional Yankee seafood fare, every Sunday to read the newspaper over a bowl of lobster stew. His private booth, number 18, in the dimly lit, upstairs Pine Room is dedicated in his honor. (41 Union Street, 617-227-2750;

6. Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. Gardens, fountains, and outdoor cafes will soon heal the ugly scar left behind after the burial of the elevated highway that for decades separated downtown Boston from the waterfront. The new park, named in honor of JFK's mother, will be dedicated this fall. (Incidentally, the elevated highway that was torn down was named after Rose's father, John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald.) (617-292-0200;

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