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Boston's Top 10 : Charlestown Navy Yard

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Some of the most storied battleships in American naval history began life at Charlestown Navy Yard. Established in 1800 as one of the country’s first naval yards, Charlestown remained vital to US security until its decommissioning in 1974. From the 200-year-old wooden-hulled USS Constitution to the World War II-era steel destroyer USS Cassin Young, the yard gives visitors an all-hands-on-deck historical experience unparalleled in America.

Visitors’ Center

  • Building Number 5

  • 617 242 5601

  • www.nps.gov/bost

  • North Station (green & orange lines)

Water shuttle from Long Wharf

Bunker Hill Monument

  • Open 9am– 5pm daily; last climb 4:30pm

Naval Yard Visitors’ Center

  • Open 9am–5pm daily

USS Cassin Young

  • Open Jul–Aug: 10am–5pm daily, noon–3pm off-season

USS Constitution

  • 10am–3:50pm Tue–Sun (Thu–Sun in winter)

USS Constitution Museum

  • Open 10am– 5pm daily (9am–6pm summer)

  • Many sites remain open one hour later in summer


Old Ironsides

Given her 25-inch (63-cm) thick hull at the waterline, it’s easy to imagine why USS Constitution earned her nickname “Old Ironsides.” Pitted against HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812, the ship engaged its enemy in a shoot-out that left Guerriere all but destroyed. Upon witnessing British cannon balls “bouncing” off USS Constitution’s hull, a sailor allegedly exclaimed, “Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron.” The rest is history.


Defensive guns

Try some pub grub at the atmospheric 18th-century Warren Tavern (

2 Pleasant St
).

Visitors must pass through a metal detector to board the USS Constitution.


All sights at Charlestown Navy Yard are free.


Muster House, Commandant’s House, and the Ropewalk are closed to the public



Top 10 Attractions
  1. USS Constitution

    First tested in action during the War of 1812, the USS Constitution is the world’s oldest warship still afloat. A tugboat helps her perform an annual turnaround cruise on July 4th.

  2. Bunker Hill Monument

    Ten minutes’ walk from the yard is this 220-ft (67-m) granite obelisk, which has towered over Charlestown since 1842. It commemorates the first major battle of the American Revolution .

  3. Navy Yard Visitors’ Center

    Begin your stroll through the Yard at the National Park ­ Service-operated Visitors’ Center, where you can pick up literature about the site’s many attractions and check on tour schedules.

  4. Marine Railway

    The Navy Yard constantly evolved to meet changing demands and developments. The marine railway was built in 1918 to haul submarines and other vessels out of the water for hull repairs.

  5. USS Constitution Museum

    With enough activities to keep kids entertained and plenty of nautical trivia to satisfy a naval historian, this museum brings USS Constitution’s 200 years to life. This watercolor on ivory is of 19th-century naval hero Commodore William Bainbridge.

  6. Ropewalk

    This quarter-mile-long (0.5 km) building (1837) houses steam-powered machinery that produced rope rigging for the nation’s warships.

  7. Dry Dock #1

    To facilitate hull repairs on the navy’s ships, Dry Dock #1 was opened in 1833. The granite dock was drained by massive steam-powered pumps. USS Constitution was the first ship to be given an overhaul here.

  8. Commandant’s House

    The oldest building in the yard (1805) housed the commandants of the First Naval District. With its sweeping harbor views and wraparound porch, this elegant mansion was ideal for entertaining dignitaries from all over the world.

  9. Muster House

    This octagonal brick building was designed in the Georgian-revival style popular in the northeast in the mid-19th-century. The house served as an administration hub, where the Yard’s clerical work was carried out.

  10. USS Cassin Young

    Never defeated, despite withstanding multiple kamikaze bomber-attacks in the Pacific, this World War II era destroyer could be considered USS Constitution’s 20th-century successor.

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