The Walk to the Sea panel at Government Center has been temporarily removed to facilitate an MBTA remodeling project.
Home About the Walk Find Us Beacon Hill King's Chapel Government Center Old State House Financial District Custom House Rose Kennedy Greenway Long Wharf

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.

Boston's Financial District took root here along prominent King Street (now State Street) with the rich flow of goods that arrived at Long Wharf. Merchants located their offices, stores, and warehouses here, close by the wharves and the merchants' exchange.

The name "Merchants Row" still clings to the cross street on your right leading to Faneuil Hall. Gradually, banks, insurance houses, and commercial buildings surrounded the Old State House, giving rise to a formidable financial district.

In 1891, the Boston Stock Exchange opened at the corner of State and Congress streets, evidence of Boston's importance as a capital of finance. By the late 20th century, the old, twelve-story behemoth was insufficient, as the office towers around it attest. The partial façade of the building still presides at the corner of State and Congress streets, embedded in the base of a modern office tower.