#onthisday in 1755: Earthquake knocks the Faneuil Hall Grasshopper from its perch

Faneuil Hall exterior, grasshopper weather vane, circa 1970s, Waterfront series, Boston Landmarks Commission image collection, Collection 5210.004, Boston City Archives

 At 4:30 in the morning on November 18, 1755, an earthquake roused Bostonians from their beds. The earthquake lasted more than a minute, and most heavily damaged parts of the City that were built on fill. One of the earthquake’s victims was Faneuil Hall’s grasshopper weather vane, which was thrown to the ground by the earthquake’s tremors.

Shem Drowne, the Boston metalworker who had fashioned the grasshopper, repaired the grasshopper and restored it to its place on top of Fanueil Hall. However, only a few years later, in 1761, the grasshopper was again damaged by a fire at the Hall. This time, it was repaired by Shem’s son, Thomas. 

The grasshopper continued to find its way to earth. On Evacuation Day in 1889, a flag being lowered knocked it to the ground. In 1974, it was stolen and missing for more than six months. Despite its adventures, the grasshopper always seems to return to its perch!


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