On the afternoon of July 18, 1776, Col. Thomas Crafts walked out onto the balcony of what was then called Town House and read a declaration that had been signed by representatives of the 13 colonies two weeks earlier in Philadelphia.
Today, members of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Co. recreated the original reading by Crafts, who, as colonel of the Massachusetts Regiment of Artillery played a role in driving the British army out of Boston in March, 1776 (three years after he had helped toss tea into Boston Harbor). Adam Castiglioni captured the reading:
One key difference between the 1776 reading and today's: After the first reading, the crowd tore down the lion and the unicorn - symbols of the British monarchy - and burned them in a bonfire on King Street (later renamed State Street). No such bonfire today; in fact, in 2014, the Bostonian Society put a good deal of time and money into restoring the two symbols.