Great Spots for Bird’s Eye Views in Boston

Now that the leaves are off the trees, it’s a wonderful time to see Boston from high vantage points. 


Bunker Hill Monument


There’s no elevator in the Bunker Hill Monument, but once you climb the 294 steps to the top, you’ll find the view is worth the effort. Completed in 1842, this 221-foot granite obelisk commemorates the first major battle of the American Revolution. The colonists repelled two major assaults and inflicted many casualties to the Red Coats. The generals’ strategic vantage point at Copp’s Hill likely helped the British win the battle in the end. Besides the monument, this National Historical Park includes a museum with exhibits on the famous battle, the building of the monument and the history of Charlestown. 43 Monument Square, Charlestown; 617-242-5641;


Copp’s Hill Burying Ground


When it was founded in 1630, Boston was a hilly city; but most of those elevations were used to fill in the Back Bay and other areas along the seaport. However, if you climb to the top of Copp’s Hill, you still get a commanding view of the waterfront. In fact, during the American Revolution, British generals stationed themselves at this old cemetery to direct the shelling of Bunker Hill and the burning of Charlestown. Snowhill Street between Hull and Charter Streets, Boston;


Custom House Tower


At one time, before the area was filled in with dirt for streets and shops, Boston’s old Custom House was near the water’s edge. Torn down in 1847, the building was replaced by a Greek Revival edifice that used the same name but no longer handled ship cargoes and manifests. In 1915, the Custom House was topped by a 495-foot tower, making it the first skyscraper in Boston and, for years, the tallest building in New England. Now, the tower is  Marriott’s Custom House Hotel, featuring  a 26th-floor open-air observation deck that is open to the public at 2 p.m. daily except on Fridays. The views of the harbor area are magnificent! Proceeds from the small fee benefit the Children’s Miracle Network. 3 McKinley Square, Boston; 617-310-6300;


Prudential Center Skywalk Observatory


Head to the city’s second tallest building – the iconic Prudential Tower – for terrific 360-degree views of the city. Built in 1965, the “Pru,” as it is called, is 52 stories tall and features the Skywalk Observatory and Exhibit, which uses a state-of-the-art Antenna Audio Tour to highlight the city’s historic and cultural points of interest. During the winter, the Skywalk is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call ahead; it’s sometimes closed for private functions. 800 Boylston St., #50, Boston; 617-859-0648;


Robin Chalmers Mason is a freelance writer/editor based in Bedford.

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22 Dec 2015

By Robin Chalmers Mason