Built in 1723, Old North Church is the oldest church building in Boston.
On April 18, 1775 twenty-three year old church sexton Robert Newman held two lanterns out of the steeple window, setting Paul Revere on his midnight ride. Revere rode through the night, alerting Massachusetts citizens to the march of British troops to Lexington and Concord; by the time the British arrived in Concord the next morning, hundreds of patriots were waiting, sending the British back toward Boston. The American Revolution had begun.
Eighteen years before this historic use of the spire, a daring man named John Childs flew off the church steeple in 1757 to the cheers of onlookers below. He used a zip line contraption, and "flew" between the steeple and a nearby tree. The stunt, finished off on his second day of performances by shooting pistols into the sky, led “many people from their business” to view this spectacle, as a local newspaper reported. The loss of business - not the ridiculously dangerous act of jumping off a churh steeple - resulted in a ban on all flying from the church's roof. This ordinance is still on the books today.
A plaque commemorates his bravery, on the brick wall next to the church’s main entrance.