may know April 19th as "Marathon Monday." But it is Patriot's Day, or,
as it is also known, Paul Revere Day. And as Somerville local Bob
Doherty is quick to point out, the marathon tradition might not have
lasted had it not been on Paul Revere day.
The Marathon in its
original form followed Paul Revere's route on his midnight ride. As you
may know, Revere rode through, and was nearly caught in, Somerville on
that historic night in 1775.
He began in Charlestown and turned
around on Broadway when he encountered a small group of British
soldiers. As Doherty said, "You might say it was the greatest horse
race in American history."
Revere warned Winter Hill, whose residents warned Prospect Hill, where they lit torches to warn everyone else.
The unveiling of the first American flag took place on Paul Revere's fortieth birthday: January 1, 1776.
1774, months before the famous Battle of Lexington and Concord, the
Powder House was attacked. It was the incompleteness of the attack that
led to the violence at Lexington and Concord.
The British were chased to Boston, where they remained for a year, until the still-celebrated Evacuation Day.
the great American victory at Saratoga, NY, four thousand prisoners
were taken to Massachusetts, where Revere was a Colonel. Twenty-three
hundred of them were brought to Prospect Hill; the others were brought
to Winter Hill.
In fact, Somerville was nearly named for Paul
Revere's general, Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed at the Battle of
Bunker Hill. The two men were very close: it was Revere who identified
the slain leader's body, and he named his next son after his fallen
When it came time to vote on the name of the city, Warren's cause simply didn't have enough votes.
Revere, however, continued to make an impact on the area after his midnight ride.
continued his job as a silversmith, and worked for America's first
millionaire, Somerville native Elias Haskell Derby, for whom Derby
Wharf in Salem is named.
Revere's foundry made a lot of the city's church bells, some of which may still be in use today.
Curtis Street in Teele Square is named for Revere's grandson Edward Revere Curtis, a Somerville alderman in his day.
For all these reasons, Paul Revere's name and legacy has always been a part of Somerville.
1910, President Taft recognized Revere with a small plaque at
Somerville's Paul Revere park, the smallest national park in the United
There have been other commemorations of Revere: a
now-defunct fountain once existed in front of Somerville High School,
known as the Wilson Monument, dedicated to the memory of Revere's
heroism. Somerville is still home to Paul Revere Apartments, Paul
Revere Liquors, and Lexington and Concord Apartments.
running of the marathon is, in some small way, a reminder of Revere's
inspiring courage in the face of British tyranny. Now that's something
to think about.