Black Heritage Trail®
During the 19th and 20th centuries, Boston’s free African American community led the nation in the movement to end slavery and to achieve equal rights. These remarkable patriots established businesses, founded organizations and created schools. Their houses of worship, homes, schools, and Underground Railroad sites make up Boston’s Black Heritage Trail®. Scroll down for more on the tour schedules, maps, and details about the city's free black community, or click on the footsteps to start an online tour of important American landmarks.
BOSTON WALKING TOURS
FREE GUIDED WALKING TOURS
Join interpretive rangers of the National Park Service
National Historic Site (BOAF) for guided walking tours departing from the Robert Gould Shaw and
54th Massachusetts Regiment
Memorial (across from the Massachusetts State House) and ending at the nation's first African Meeting House, which anchors MAAH's Boston campus.
SEASONAL TOUR SCHEDULE
Our BOAF partners offer historically rich guided tours.
Free | 90 minutes | Daily except Sundays as seasonally scheduled;
also available by special appointment: 617.742.5415.
SPRING & SUMMER SEASON:
May 25 - August 29 | Daily except Sundays |
10am, 12pm and 2pm
Call the BOAF office for off-season tours, daily talks in the African Meeting House, or information
about the Faneuil Hall Visitor Center: 617.742.5415.
WALKING TOURS YEAR ROUND
Immerse yourself in amazing history any time your schedule permits. Download our audio tour or take a self-guided tour all year long. Get your map in the Museum Gift Store, MAAH Welcome Center, and online.
Enjoy a voice-guided walking tour developed by high school students for families and children. Click here for audio tour download via CD Baby; available for only 99¢.
Click below to download the NHS Park walking tour brochure (PDF):
Boston African American NHS Park Brochure, Side 1
Boston African American NHS Park Brochure, Side 2
NOTE: The historic homes on the Black Heritage Trail® are private
residences and are not open to the public. Only the African Meeting House and the Abiel
Smith School are open to the public. For more information on our walking tours, please contact the museum.
Amazing History on the Black Heritage Trail®
Between 1800 and 1900, most of the African Americans who lived in the city resided in the
West End, between Pinckney and Cambridge Streets, and between Joy and Charles Streets, a
neighborhood now called the North Slope of Beacon Hill.
The first Africans arrived in Boston in February of 1638, eight years after the city
was founded. They were brought by their enslavers, purchased in Providence Isle, a Puritan colony
off the coast of Central America. By 1705, there were more than 400 enslaved in Boston and the
beginnings of a free black community in the North End.
The American Revolution was a turning point in the status of Africans in Massachusetts.
At the end of the conflict, there were more free black people than slaves. When the first
federal census was enumerated in 1790, Massachusetts was the only state in the Union to
record no slaves.
The all-free black community in Boston was concerned with finding decent housing,
establishing independent supportive institutions, educating their children, and ending
slavery in the rest of the nation. All of these concerns were played out in this Beacon
Click on the footsteps to begin your online Black Heritage Trail® tour.
If you would like to visit individual locations, choose from the list below,
or use our clickable Online Black Heritage Trail® map.
Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial
George Middleton House
The Phillips School
John J. Smith House
Charles Street Meeting House
Lewis and Harriet Hayden House
John Coburn House
Smith Court Residences
Abiel Smith School
The African Meeting House
NANTUCKET BLACK HERITAGE TRAIL® TOURS (click here)
You may also visit the online tour of
the Black Heritage Trail®, Nantucket