We live in the Prospect Hill neighborhood of Somerville, just a block below the crest of the hill. There’s a tower at the top, with a flagpole flying an early American flag. It’s the Grand Union Flag, and it was first flown atop Prospect Hill on January 1, 1776, by George Washington, who was encamped there after his retreat from the Battle of Bunker Hill. The flag was raised in defiance of the British command, who could see it from Boston Harbor. I see it every day when I look out my office window:
Every year at noon on January 1 there is a re-enactment of the flying of the flag, complete with a George Washington on horseback:
This year we braved the freezing cold once again to watch the ceremony. The payoff is at the end, when the tower turret is opened and we can climb to the top for a panoramic view of the entire city and beyond. It’s no wonder the hill was considered a strategic asset; the view goes on for miles.
The tower itself was built in the 1800s to commemorate the importance of the site. It’s one of hundreds of historical markers scattered throughout the city.
Once I was driving my friends Scotty and Katrine to the airport. The both live in Las Vegas, but Katrine is from Amsterdam. As we drove, I pointed out various landmarks, including the Bunker Hill monument, which is illuminated at night.
Katrine asked me “How do you know all of this about where you live?”
I answered “You can’t help but learn it; you just absorb it after living here for a while. After all, this is where all the history comes from.”