When the great Puritan Migration brought thousands to the coast of Massachusetts between 1630 and 1640, the waters of Boston's Town Cove lapped the shore here. Early buildings, facing the sea, existed on only one side of Merchants Row.
Bostonians, however, continually added land among the old docks and built new wharves extending farther into the harbor. By 1711, construction on Long Wharf had filled in another block of King Street (now State Street), from which Long Wharf extended.
Merchants Row once led to the Town Dock. Bostonians filled in the dock in 1728 to make the land on which Faneuil Hall was completed in 1742. Ships could unload at the back of the market, as pictured at near right. Upstairs, a meeting hall hosted town business, lectures, and speeches, such as those of Revolutionary firebrand Samuel Adams.
Between 1824 and 1826, Boston added more land and three badly needed, new markets behind Faneuil Hall, including Quincy Market. In the 1970s, Boston renovated all four markets to create the first of America's "festival marketplaces." Today, the marketplace eateries serve throngs of office workers and tourists. Faneuil Hall still hosts public events, and the shoreline has moved even farther out to sea.