Food Fact, March 5: Boston’s First Liquor License

Photo: Boston Public Library/Flickr

On March 5 in…

Samuel Cole opened the first tavern in Boston.

(© 2011 Michael V. Hynes)

The Backstory 

“On the west side of Merchants’ Row, about midway from State Street to Faneuil Hall, was the first house of entertainment in Boston. It was kept by Samuel Cole in 1634.” — this from a 19th-century source.

It was the Town of Boston that issued the first license to Cole to operate a tavern. Whether Cole led the way or followed the demand, Merchant’s Row, connecting State Street with (now) Faneuil Hall, was a hub of commercial activity in Boston from the 17th century onwards. With the opening of Cole’s establishment, taverns begin to flourish in New England as gathering places for socializing and, eventually, political discussions and meetings. We all know how THAT story ends…