Lonely Planet review
‘Her sides are made of iron!’ So cried a crewman as he watched a shot bounce off the thick oak hull of the USS Constitution during the War of 1812. This bit of irony earned the legendary ship her nickname. Indeed, she won no less than three battles during that war, and she never went down in a battle. For her last mission in 1853 she seized an American slave ship off the coast of Africa. The USS Constitution is still the oldest commissioned US Navy ship, dating to 1797, and she is taken out onto Boston Harbor every July 4 in order to maintain her commissioned status. She has been moored here since 1897, when Congressman John F ‘Honey Fitz’ Fitzgerald introduced a bill to make Massachusetts her permanent residence. Navy personnel give 30-minute guided tours of the top deck, gun deck and cramped quarters (last tour 4:30pm in summer, 3:30pm in winter). You can also wander around the top deck by yourself, but access is limited. Plus, you won’t learn all the USS Constitution fun facts, like how the captain’s son died on her maiden voyage (an inauspicious start).