The Bunker Hill Monument in Boston is the site of the first major battle in the American Revolution, known as the Battle of Bunker Hill. Today tourists in the Boston area can see the monument that now commemorates this crucial event—a granite obelisk that's 221 feet high rests upon site of the battle, and the area around it is protected as a Boston national historical park. Like other historical attractions in Boston, such as the Old North Church and Boston's historical graveyards, visiting Bunker Hill allows visitors to gain a glimpse into the founding days of the United States.
The Battle of Bunker Hill occurred on June 17, during the Siege of Boston at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. Although it is the name of Bunker Hill in Boston that has become famous today, the battle actually took place on neighboring Breed's Hill. The British forces at the time were garrisoned in the city of Boston, and they planned to spread out to occupy the surrounding hills, including Bunker Hill and Breed's Hill.
Upon hearing of the plan, the New England colonial forces besieging the city decided to occupy the hills in order to prevent the British forces from spreading out and breaking the siege. The colonial forces were up against a better-trained and better-equipped army, but surprised the British by repelling two major assaults before being defeated. They inflicted heavy casualties on the British forces, with almost half of the British killed or wounded in the battle, so though the British were able to seize both Bunker Hill and Breed's Hill, the casualties inflicted on them were so great that they were unable to break the siege of the city.
During the battle at Bunker Hill in Boston, Colonel William Prescott issued the now-famous order, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes," to ensure that each shot would count. The colonial forces' strong defiance of the British encouraged them to fight on, and the Siege of Boston was eventually won after eleven months of fighting.
The Bunker Hill Monument was erected between 1827 and 1843, with granite transported by the Granite Railway, specially constructed for the purpose. The original monument on the site of Bunker Hill in Boston was a wooden pillar, eighteen feet high and topped off with a golden urn, constructed by King Solomon's Lodge of Masons to commemorate Dr. Joseph Warren, a Mason who was killed in the battle. Later, the Bunker Hill Monument Association built the granite obelisk and maintained the grounds until 1919, when it became part of the Boston national historical park.
Visitors to the Bunker Hill Monument can view the granite obelisk and a statue of Col. William Prescott in front of it on the summit of Breed's Hill. You can also climb the 294 steps to the top of the monument for a spectacular view of the surrounding country. As this is a part of the Boston national historical park, admission is free to the site. Many visitors choose to end their Freedom Trail trek at Bunker Hill, and it is located close to other attractions such as the USS Constitution, Faneuil Hall, and the Boston Aquarium.