Looking up: Four historic weathervanes to spot above Boston’s rooftops

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Workers return the newly gilded

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There are many reasons to keep your nose to the ground when navigating Boston’s historic streets: uneven pavement, notoriously bad drivers, and twisting streets (thought to be paved over cow paths from the city’s former colonial days) are only the beginning. Keep your head down too much, however, and you may just miss some of Boston’s most important landmarks – its 18th century weathervanes that have witnessed over 260 of American history in the making.

Here are four historic weathervanes to keep an eye out for while wandering the cobblestone streets – how many others can you find? Most are within easy walking distance for guests staying at the Millennium Bostonian on North Street.

Golden Grasshopper – This copper masterpiece has sat atop Faneuil Hall since 1749, and is the exact replica of the vane found above the Royal Exchange in London. Made from hammered copper with embedded green glass eyes, this was one of famed silversmith Shem Drowne’s earliest creations. 1 Faneuil Hall Square

Bull Market weathervane – Take a walk behind Faneuil Hall to Quincy Market and check out the bull weathervane on top of its dome. Named in its honor, the Bull Market was the first market to introduce pushcart shopping in the U.S., and its fleet of wooden pushcarts housed under the Quincy Market glass canopies is constantly changing to reflect the seasons. 1 City Hall Avenue

Long-Johns weathervane – Nicknamed the “long-johns” weathervane because if you squint hard enough it resembles a pair of long underwear flapping in the breeze, this vane was newly gilded and greased in July of 2008. It sits atop the Old State House, Boston’s oldest surviving public building and former headquarters of the British government. Corner of State and Washington Street

Swallowtail weathervane – Shem Drowne created this banner-shaped vane in 1740 and it has sat atop the Old North Church ever since. This shape has been replicated for generations, and variations can be seen all over New England today. 193 Salem Street

Photo courtesy of The Bostonian Society

– Alan Maltzman of BostonCityWalks.com

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