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Dominating Boston Harbor with nearly a half-mile stretch commencing from the State Street (formerly King Street), the Long Wharf was indeed the longest pier in Boston, Massachusetts. The Wharf extended well past roughly 80 other wharves rising out from the Shawmut Peninsula. The Wharf extended the State Street?s commercial area far into the harbor.

Built in 1711, the Long Wharf had served a prominent role in the city?s maritime industry, and being the busiest harbor in Boston, it also had witnessed and welcomed the arrival of royal governors, chained pirates, British troops, and other historic events. British General Gage and his troops arrived here in 1774 to suppress Boston's revolutionary force and escaped Boston in 1776 from this same wharf.

Initially, the Long Wharf measured about one-third of a mile long and began
from the coastline adjacent to Faneuil Hall. However, as the years passed, water areas on the inland end were acquired, extensively shortening the wharf. Along with that, several prominent structures, such as the Quincy Marketplace and the Custom House, started to emerge in the Wharf?s surroundings. The deeper water at the end of the pier allowed for larger ships to dock there, providing more opportunities for commerce. Soon after, warehouses and shops were built along the Wharf making it the most active and the greatest maritime structure in the city.

During the 18th century, the Bunch-of-Grapes Tavern was at the Wharf?s outset. While his mother runs their tobacco shop, John Singleton Copley, a famous painter, was enjoying his childhood on the Wharf. Remarkably, the Gardiner Building that was built in the 1760s still stands on the Long Wharf making it the oldest surviving structure there. This building that once accommodated the John Hancock?s counting house is now a restaurant serving the thousands of visitors to the wharf.

One of the developments on the Long Wharf in the 19th century was the construction of the Custom House Block, a warehouse that was built on the crest of the wharf in 1848 and continued to operate until sometime in the 21st century. One of the most unforgettable moments on the Wharf was when the fugitive slave Anthony Burns was brought there in 1854 to be returned to slavery in Virginia. The entire downtown Boston was shut down and tens of thousands of people took to the streets in protest. It was also during the 19th century that the striking appearance of the Wharf had changed. The Atlantic Avenue was cut through this and other wharves in the late 1860s.

In the early years of America, the vibrant harbor of the Long Wharf was the focus of the shipping industry. Sailboats bound to Europe, the East Indies, or even China set sail in this extensive dock. However, Long Wharf got separated from the business district of Boston when the elevated John F. Kennedy Expressway was constructed along Atlantic Avenue in the 1950s.

40 years later, the Big Dig project that aims to address the traffic decongestion in the area, the Central Artery was constructed below ground, restoring access to Long Wharf which is now a flourishing cultural and recreational area.

Today sailboats have been replaced by ferries and sightseeing boats that provides service to the wharf?s visitors. Ferry transportations heading to Provincetown, Logan Airport and the Harbor Islands National Recreation Area set forth from the pier. And to educate the visitors of the Long Wharf about its history, several small cruises can be enjoyed there.
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