Boston is a city filled with history and is a fascinating destination where America’s colonial past and early history as a nation comes alive. Some of America’s oldest structures still grace the city’s streets however this important historical distinction also extends to a famous floating structure on the water. The oldest commissioned naval vessel in the world can be found in Boston Harbour, moored at the Navy Yard. She is the USS Constitution.
One of the original 6 frigates ordered for the newly founded U.S. Navy in 1794, the Constitution received her name from President George Washington and was tasked with protecting American merchant ships in the Atlantic and to assist in the defeat of the Barbary pirates in North Africa in 1803 - 04.
The Constitution and her sister ships were the finest warships of their day, built strong to withstand imminent battles around the world. While this small fleet could not match European naval powers in numbers it could at least match and even surpass in strength. It is from her reinforced hull and heavy planking that rendered the ship immune from British cannon fire during the war of 1812. Cannon balls seemingly bounced off her sides which resulted in the nickname still used today – Old Ironsides.
The ship and museum are located at the Boston Navy Yard which is across the harbour from the North End and downtown. If walking, follow the Freedom Trail over the Charlestown Bridge and follow signs to the museum. If driving from downtown, take Rutherford Avenue and cross the Charlestown Bridge and turn right on Chelsea Street. Continue to Baxter Road and turn right into the museum area.
Guided tours of Old Ironsides start at 10am and are offered every 30 minutes. The last guided tour starts at 15:30. As the vessel is a commissioned U.S. warship, visitors 18 years of age or older are required to show valid ID such as driver’s license or passport. Those only wishing to visit the museum are not required to present ID. As a commissioned warship the vessel is not fully equipped to handle certain disabilities. The U.S. Navy requests that visitors with disabilities contact the Events Department ahead of time so that arrangements can be made to offer the best possible tour experience. Requests are only accepted via email at Constitution.firstname.lastname@example.org.