Historic Landmarks in new York City

The State of New York has been at the crossroads of many an event throughout history.  The Revolutionary War had several battles that took place here and many immigrants came through the harbor past the Statue of Liberty onto Ellis Island before stepping foot on the mainland.  With so much history at its footsteps, New York City beckons to the visitor to visit the hundreds of historical landmarks within its Boroughs.

New York City consists of five Boroughs: Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island.  Manhattan is home to Broadway and the theatre district, as well as the fashion district and other “must see” places.  Brooklyn has Coney Island while Queens has the Astoria and Flushing districts that boast several landmarks in their own rites.  The Bronx is the birthplace to Hip Hop and has the Belmont district that includes Little Italy.  Staten Island has its own set of history as well.  There are several museums and other attractions to show off the Borough.

New York City was the first capital of the United States of America. The Federal Hall National Monument is located on Wall Street and this is where George Washington took the oath of office as the first elected President of the United States.  The Hall was the home to the first Congress, as well as the Executive Branch and Supreme Court.  While visiting the Hall you can view different revolving and stationary exhibits.

Also along the Wall Street corridor you will find Trinity Church.  Having been founded in 1697 this church is one of the oldest in the area and survives even after the devastation of 9/11.  Daily worship is still held at this Episcopal parish and is home to many of the old and disabled.  Saint Margaret’s House is a 20-storey building with over two hundred apartments that offer living quarters for the elderly. Saint Paul’s Chapel is also part of Trinity and sits directly across the World Trade Center site.  Trinity’s cemetery houses the resting place of many people and is the only active cemetery in Manhattan.

More historic landmarks beckon to the Revolutionary past in New York City.  The Mansion taunts the fact that George Washington actually slept there when the troops had taken part in the Battle of Harlem Heights. With its gorgeous views of the Hudson River and Palisades, the home was also an ideal location for the military to make its headquarters.  The house was built in 1765 by British Colonel Roger Morris as their summer home and after the Revolution would become an inn to travellers.

The Fraunces Tavern Museum was also built in the 18th century and was originally where Stephen Delancey, a merchant, lived.  Samuel Fraunces bought it in 1762 and turned it into a tavern.  George Washington gave his farewell address here and would later be rented for the Department of War as part of the first government.  The museum is part of a complex of 19th century buildings located on Pearl Street in Manhattan.

New York City is not only famous for George Washington’s part in history.  Another historic landmark is Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthplace.  He is the only President who was born in NYC.  He was raised at 28 E. 20th Street.  This was a Victorian townhome and there are five rooms within that reflect their lifestyle as well as artifacts donated by the Roosevelt family.  Park rangers give tours of the home.

Before venturing away from Manhattan, you may wish to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral which has been serving worshipers since 1815.  Joseph Francois Mangin was the architect of this beauty. It holds within a choir loft with a historic organ still in its original condition and was built by Henry Erben in 1852 (model Erben 3-41).  The liturgies held within the church still use this organ. Beneath the church is a labyrinth of mortuary vaults to complement the outdoor mortuary.  Throughout the generations families from Ireland, Germany, France and Italy have called this their religious home. 

Other historical landmarks not to be missed in the Borough of Manhattan are: Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and Castle.  Book hounds and history buffs alike will enjoy the A. Schwarzman Building, home to the main branch of the New York Public Library system. Built in the Beaux-Arts fashion, this landmark stands at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.  

One of the more historical playhouses in town is the Provincetown Playhouse.  The players began their shows in 1915 Provincetown, Massachusetts and would eventually move their troupe to New York City in autumn 1916.  Located in Greenwich Village and near Washington Square and SOHO, 139 MacDougal Street became its new home.  With a growing patronage, a larger place was required and the theatre as we know it today was opened just down the road at 144 MacDougal Street.

Swinging on through the Boroughs we come upon 500 25th Street in Brooklyn, home to Green-Wood Cemetery.  This was America’s first rural cemetery as was founded in 1838.  It was the stylish place to be buried and one of the top attractions in the area by 1860. The large area that the cemetery covers makes for a great place for family get-togethers such as picnics or strolls through the landscape and sculpture gardens.  There are 478 acres that encompass the cemetery, hills, ponds going back to the glacial era, valleys and centuries old trees.  Many hiking trails are available to walk and birdwatchers love the flocks.

A place in Queens not to miss on your historic journey is The Bowne House.  This is the oldest house in the Queens, having been built in 1661.  It is also the oldest in New York City.  John Bowne was an English immigrant who first settled in Boston and would later move here to Flushing while the Dutch ruled the State.  Nine generations altogether would be raised under this roof and would produce members that would become workhorses in regional and national events.  John Bowne himself defended religious freedom in 1662 and this act would later become the Bill of Rights.

Moving onwards toward the waterways again, take a look into Fort Wadsworth, known as “The Guardian of the Narrows” on Staten Island at 210 New York Avenue.  This historic landmark has stood as the guardian for centuries of what is now the Gateway National Recreation Area and has always been the entrance to New York Harbor.  Fort Wadsworth is also has the longest continuous record of active military service in the nation.

There are over 150 more historic landmarks in New York City that can fill the days with excitement and delight for any age group.  Whether you’re looking for museums, religious institutions, places to hike or view the landscapes and cityscapes, you’ll find a landmark.  Enjoy your visit!