Gather my children and you will hear … about the other ride of Paul Revere.Not the one on the 19th of April in ’75 celebrated by Longfellow’s poem, but the ones that took him across the Bronx River.
His midnight ride to alert the minutemen of the oncoming British got him into the history books, but Paul Revere did a much more important service to the American Revolution as a long-distance courier, carrying news and messages back and forth between Massachusetts and the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia.
Back then the best land route between Boston and Philadelphia was the Boston Post Road.The unpaved road was a bone-jarring ride of several days for a man on horseback, butRevere was one of the few who had the skill and stamina needed to repeatedly make the round trip.In those days the Boston Post Road veered off from its present-day route and crossed the Bronx River at Williamsbridge before going on to cross the Harlem River at Kingsbridge at the top of Manhattan.Following an old trail known as the Pequot Path or the Old Westchester Trail, the Boston Post Road had milestones placed along it at the order of colonial Postmaster Benjamin Franklin, which kept travelers such as Revere informed of how many miles they had come, and how many bumpy miles they still had to go.
What Revere thought as he clattered across the Bronx River has gone unrecorded, but as he rode south the sight of the river’s oxbow at Williamsbridge would have told him that he had one more high hill to cross before entering Manhattan.After perhaps pausing for a drink at Kingsbridge, and maybe dinner at Fraunces’ Tavern, he’d have taken the ferry across the Hudson to Paulus Hook, and from there enjoyed a fairly level route to Philadelphia.
Stephen Paul DeVillo