Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises


The Home of US History

Boston, the capital of the state of Massachusetts, is one of the most popular tourist locations in the United States (US). Historically, it has been a very important site for the US and, over the years, it has become famous for the prestigious universities such as Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) located in the Boston area. It is also known as the center of American philanthropy.


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A Brief History of Boston

  • Having been founded in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It was named after a small town in England. America's first public school was founded in Boston in 1635.
  • During the American Revolution, many events crucial for the US independence happened in Boston. One such event was the Boston Tea Party, when an entire shipment of tea sent by the British was destroyed in defiance to the British rule.
  • In the 1820s, many Irish immigrants came to Boston, which changed the city's ethnic composition.
  • In the 1900s, Boston encountered economic problems, as many of its factories became obsolete. Since the 1970s onwards, the city's economy started improving again, especially due to the medical and scientific innovations taking place in the city.
  • Today, Boston Marathon is held on Patriots' Day, the third Monday of April, gathering athletes from all over the world. It is the oldest marathon in the world, having started in 1897.

A Brief History of Boston


Freedom Trail

The best way to learn about the historical importance of Boston is to follow the Freedom Trail. This is a 2.5-mile-long (4 km) path that stretches through the city, passing by 16 different locations of historical significance.

The stops, marked with special markers implanted in the sidewalks, include churches, notable buildings, as well as graveyards. Tourists are free to explore the stops on the map by themselves, but the visitors centers also provide maps and give all the relevant information and tips about the stops.

Freedom Trail

Old State House

Built in 1713, the Old State House is a building of historical importance and it is listed as one of the locations on the Freedom Trail. Built on the site where the previous Town House burned in a fire, this building was the seat of the General Court at first.

The Old State House later hosted Boston's City Hall, and had a brief period of commercial use. Since 1881, the Old State house has been stewarded by the Bostonian Society, established to preserve it. It serves as a museum.

Old State House

Quincy Market

Quincy Market is a historic market located in central Boston. Constructed in 1826, the market was named after Boston Mayor Josiah Quincy, who organized the building of the market with no tax or debt. Its red brick interior walls in combination with Roman-style facades make the building quite unique.

Today, Quincy Market is a place where you can see how international Boston truly is. At the market, you can find classic Bostonian food, such as Boston cream pie, the official dessert of Massachusetts, and clam chowder, popular cream based seafood soup. At the same time, you can try food from nearly every corner of the world at Quincy Market, which shows how ethnically diverse Boston is.

Quincy Market

Things to Do in and Around Boston

  • One of the benefits of being in a city on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean is that you can go whale watching. This 3 hour-long tour departs from Central Wharf in Boston, and guarantees you will see humpback and fin whales, as well as dolphins.
  • If you are interested in learning more about the US history, you should definitely hop on the USS Constitution cruise. This boat tour is fully narrated, so you will hear about and see places where Boston Tea Party and other important events took place.
  • Shop on the Newbury Street, one of the earliest roads in Boston, now famous as a shopping district. Besides shopping, you can enjoy seeing several important places in the city, and enjoy the smell of the ocean.
  • Spend an afternoon in Boston Common, the city's central public park. Dating from 1634, this is the oldest city park in the country. Boston Common is also where burial sites of important people like Charles Sprague, one of America's earliest poets, and his father Samuel who fought in the Revolutionary War, are located.

    Boston Common

Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "steward" mean?
    1. protect from enemies
    2. manage, look after
    3. keep something clean

  2. What does "obsolete" mean?
    1. rude, inconsiderate
    2. produced regularly
    3. not used anymore, out of date

  3. What does "defiance" mean?
    1. follow the rules closely
    2. a decrease in power
    3. refuse to obey someone

  4. What does "philanthropy" mean?
    1. helping people by giving donations
    2. being anxious around other people
    3. too many people in a small place

  5. What does "facade" mean?
    1. the front of a building
    2. a building's backyard
    3. the space between two buildings

Collocation Questions

  1. Several __________ sites are located in the Boston Common.
    1. funeral
    2. burial
    3. death

  2. The USS Constitution tour is fully __________.
    1. narrated
    2. described
    3. recounted

  3. The Old State House had a __________ period of commercial use.
    1. fleeting
    2. brief
    3. quick

  4. Boston is home to many __________ universities such as Harvard.
    1. celebrated
    2. renowned
    3. prestigious

  1. Special markers are __________ in the sidewalks to mark the Freedom Trail.
    1. installed
    2. embedded
    3. implanted

  1. Irish immigrants changed the ethnic __________ of the city.
    1. anatomy
    2. composition
    3. formation

  1. Quincy Market was named __________ Mayor Quincy.
    1. after
    2. to
    3. before

  2. Initially, the Old State House was the __________ of the General Court.
    1. seat
    2. center
    3. hub

  3. If you are not afraid, you can go whale __________.
    1. staring
    2. watching
    3. looking

  4. The Old State House has been __________ by the Bostonian Society.
    1. protected
    2. secured
    3. stewarded

Wh Questions

  1. Who were the first Europeans to settle in Boston?
    1. Puritans from England
    2. Italian Jesuits
    3. the Irish

  2. When is Boston Marathon held?
    1. on Christmas
    2. on Patriots' Day
    3. on the Independence Day

  3. What is the official dessert of Massachusetts?
    1. Boston clam chowder
    2. Boston apple pie
    3. C. Boston cream pie

  4. How are the stops on the Freedom Trail marked?
    1. with marks on sidewalks
    2. with statues
    3. with big red signs

  1. Why was the Quincy Market named after Mayor Quincy?
    1. Because he attended the opening ceremony.
    2. Because he was born there.
    3. Because he built the market without any taxation.

Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. Old State House was the Town House before 1713.
    2. Old State House was built where the Town House had been before 1713.

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. Newbury Street is known as the shopping district of Boston.
    2. Boston Common is known as the shopping district of Boston.

True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Boston Tea Party was an important event that helped the US obtain independence from Britain."
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "All stops on the Freedom Trail are public buildings."
    1. True
    2. False

Answer Key

1. B | 2. C | 3. C | 4. A | 5. A | 6. B | 7. A | 8. B | 9. C | 10. C | 11. B | 12. A | 13. A | 14. B | 15. C | 16. A | 17. B | 18. C | 19. A | 20. C |21. B | 22. B | 23. A | 24. B

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