Working on the Long Wharf
The buildings on the Long Wharf were used to record and store the cargo that was transported by merchant ships. Several famous characters held jobs on the Long Wharf. John Hancock, the famous cosigner of the Declaration of independence, worked in a counting house that still exists today. Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlett Letter, worked in the custom house and helped unload coal from docked ships. He writes of his experience:
“I pray that in one year more I might find some way of escaping from this unblest Custom-House; for it is a very grievous thralldom” (7).
The Long Wharf During the Revolutionary War
On September 30th, 1768, British ships carrying soldiers docked at the Long Wharf. These soldiers were sent to enforce the Townshend acts, which were defied by colonial citizens (2). Paul Revere recorded his observations below his engraving of the historic event:
“the fourteenth and twenty-ninth Regiment, a detachment from the 59th Reg, and train of artillery with two pieces of cannon, landed on the Long Wharf; there formed and marched with insolent parade drums beating, fifes playing, and colours flying” (5).
Actions like these would eventually lead to writing of the Declaration of Independence, and the Revolutionary War.
The Changing Role of the Long Wharf
As the United States railway system became more developed, the Long Wharf saw less international, commercial use. Instead, it became a new destination for fishing vessels until the completion of the pier in South Boston (4). The Long Wharf was gradually reduced in size because of its diminished usage.
The Long Wharf Today
By the end of the 20th century, the Long Wharf had become separated from the city of Boston. In the 1960’s, the Boston Redevelopment Authority began working to make the pier a public space, and it was refurbished over the course of several decades. A redevelopment plan released by Sasaki Associates in 1980 notes the condition of the pier:
“Its timber decks on wood piles are in an advanced state of deterioration…Long Wharf in its present condition remains a significant, yet incomplete portion of the downtown waterfront renewal area” (6).
Today, the Long Wharf hosts sightseeing ships and ferries. Several of the original building remain in use today. For example, the Chart House is now an upscale seafood restaurant. It is an easily accessible area, and offers a panoramic view of the Boston Harbor.