Bunker Hill Monument – Boston, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura
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Boston, Massachusetts

Bunker Hill Monument

This monument on Breed's Hill proves that one of the most famous battles of the Revolutionary War is misnamed. 

Rising 221 feet above surrounding Charlestown, Massachusetts, the granite Bunker Hill Monument commemorates the famous Revolutionary War battle that took place on… Breed’s Hill.

Don’t worry, they didn’t build the monument on the wrong hill; the Battle of Bunker Hill is just commonly (and understandably) thought to have taken place on Bunker Hill. In reality, most of the fighting took place on June 17, 1775 where the monument is today, on Breed’s Hill.

The Battle of Bunker Hill was one of the American Revolution’s first confrontations, fought during the redcoats’ siege of Boston between the British and the Colonists for control of the heights surrounding the city. Though the Americans put up a good fight and felled approximately 1,000 redcoats, the British ultimately won the battle, taking both Bunker and Breed’s Hills.

Towards the end of the battle, Colonel William Prescott is thought to have shouted the famous order, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” to his American militiamen as the British charged their position on Breed’s Hill, where a statue of the colonel now stands beneath the monument’s obelisk.

A major stop along the Freedom Trail, the obelisk is especially notable for the view from its pinnacle. If you’re up to its 294-step challenge, the panorama of Boston and the surrounding area from the top of the spire is well worth the exercise. The small chamber at the pinnacle of the climb also features a metal grate embedded in the ground, which sits above a 200-plus-foot shaft that drops away to the very base of the monument and somewhat terrifies anyone with a reasonable fear of heights. 

Know Before You Go

Parking may be scarce, but you should be able to find a spot along the street after circling the square a couple of times. Watching the sunset over Boston is possible from the late fall to early spring, but make sure to arrive before 4:30PM as it is the latest you can start your climb.