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How the government shutdown has affected some Boston historical sites

Posted by Andrew Tran  October 10, 2013 01:13 PM

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Freedom Trail tour guide Emily Kovatch said tourists she has talked to are more disappointed with the behavior of the government than the fact some federal sites in Boston are closed.
[Interactive map of shutdown Freedom Trail sites]

With some historical sites shuttered during the United States government shutdown, the Freedom Trail’s signature tour guides are wearing down the heels on their pilgrim shoes to meet demand.

Ticket sales are up on the popular Boston walking tour, said Mimi LaCamera, the president of the organization, as other sites, from the U.S.S. Constitution to parts of Faneuil Hall have been forced to close.

“We’ve been booking more tours because other sites are closed,” she said of the 90-minute walking tours, organized by the non-profit Freedom Trail Foundation. “But we’re open and we’ve had a steady attendance.”

Tour guides lead the tours in full colonial garb. And though two
of the tour’s 16 stops, Bunker Hill and the U.S.S. Constitution, are closed, walking groups do not typically enter those sights during the tours anyway, LaCamera said.

How the U.S.S. Constitution is handling the shutdown: Link.

Tourists can pick up the Freedom Trail from Faneuil Hall or Boston Common. Ticket sales on Boston Common, the more popular place to start the tour, have not changed, but the Faneuil Hall location has seen an increase, said LaCamera. She said this is likely because the National Historical Park tour, which ordinarily leaves from the same locale, is closed.

“We’ve been getting some of those people too,” she said.

Emily Kovatch, a tour guide on the Freedom Trail, said her biggest problem has been informing the public that the tours are still going, and the stops along it remain the same. She spent the first 10 minutes of her Tuesday 10:30 a.m. tour explaining this to her four-person group.

“The Constitution is closed and that’s what I’m really bummed about,” said Kovatch as she adjusted her pilgrim skirt. “But we’ll still see it on the outside like usual.”

Elizabeth Legvold and Gloria Less, a pair of childhood friends, traveled with their husbands from California to Boston to see the fall leaves and historical sites, a trip they booked four months ago, the women said.

While on the Freedom Trail tour Tuesday morning, Elizabeth Legvold said she was disappointed the shutdown occurred during her vacation.

“I wanted to see the Great Hall and the Constitution,” she said. “It’s so disappointing.”

Less agreed.

“It’s sad we’ve been looking forward to this,” she said. “And I’ve only been to Boston once before.”

Elizabeth Legvold’s husband, Lee Legvold, took a different approach, however.

“I’m just mad about what’s going on in D.C.,” he said. “They need to sit down and figure this out like adults.”

According to Kovatch, Lee Legvold’s reaction is more typical of the tourists she’s interacted with.

“There’s been some grumbling,” she said. “But people are more upset that this is happening, not that the sites are closed.”

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

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