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BOSTON was, until 1755, the biggest city in America; as the one most directly affected by the latest whims of the British Crown, it was the natural birthplace for the opposition that culminated in the Revolutionary War. Boston has grown up around Boston Common, which was set aside as public land in 1634. The obvious first stop on any tour of the city, it is also one of the gems in the string of nine parks (six of which were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, America's foremost landscape architect) known as Boston's Emerald Necklace. Another gem is the lovely Public Garden, across Charles Street, where the two-ton swan boats, which paddle across the main pond, are a less-than-natural, though whimsical, focal point.