Monday, July 15

Signs Of History: Boston Post Road

Focusing on roads that played vital roles in our country’s history, PBS is releasing a three episode documentary titled “10 Streets that Changed America.” Boston Post Road, a famous route from New York City to Boston that was first recorded in 1673, is featured in the special as a street that “drove America toward revolution,” in the words of PBS.

The basis of such a claim lies in the road’s crucial role as a means of communication. As the name suggests, mail was frequently transported along the route, spreading news from New York City to the rest of the colonies. By forming a communication network among colonial leaders, information regarding independence could flow easily and create a stronger, more unified force. Peter Drummey, who works as librarian of the Massachusetts Historical Society, summarized:

“The most important thing to think about is how important it is leading up to the Revolution and the spreading of revolutionary ideas about independence and personal liberty from colony to colony.”

The American Revolution never would’ve gotten off the ground if the colonists were unable to communicate and work together.

One of the road signs on Boston Post Road, originally put in place by private benefactors in the early 1700s to help travelers unfamiliar with the area, now sits in front of Spencer Country Inn (the road itself forms the inn’s driveway). Statistically, people who live within a five mile radius of the sign will see it 50 to 60 times a month, and yet odds are they have no concept of its historical significance. The idea of passing such an important piece of American history — important enough for PBS to highlight — without any understanding is a shocking one.

Luckily, Boston understands the value of keeping history intact. The city recently saw several of its preservationists undergo a street sign revival in an effort to save and preserve these historical relics. It’s important to know as much as we can about our past so we can be as prepared as possible for our future.

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