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Things to See & Do in New York Back to Top
Castle Clinton National Monument
New York, NY
More than a dozen forts were built to defend New York Harbor at the time of the War of 1812. The Southwest Battery was constructed on the rocks off the tip of Manhattan Island between 1808 and 1811. Although fully armed and staffed, the fort never had occasion to fire upon an enemy. In 1817, the fort was renamed Castle Clinton in honor of DeWitt Clinton, Mayor of New York City. The army vacated the fort in 1821 and the structure was deeded to New York City in 1823. In the summer of 1824, a new restaurant and entertainment center opened at the site, now called Castle Garden. A roof was added in the 1840s and Castle Garden served as an opera house and theater until 1854. On August 3, 1855, Castle Garden, now leased to New York State, opened as an immigrant landing depot. During the next 34 years, over 8 million people entered the United States through Castle Garden, until it was closed on April 18, 1890. The building was altered once again and reopened as the New York City Aquarium on December 10, 1896. It was one of the city's most popular attractions until it closed in 1941. The site is open for visitors daily.
Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
"The greatest thing I have learned is how good it is to come home again," Eleanor Roosevelt once told a friend. This simple statement expresses her love for the modest house near the Hudson River she called Val-Kill, the only home that was ever hers. The only National Historic Site dedicated to a First Lady, Val-Kill is located in Hyde Park and welcomes the visitor as Mrs. Roosevelt welcomed her many guests. Visitors may tour Mrs. Roosevelt's Val-Kill Cottage and enjoy the lovely gardens and grounds on the site.
Ellis Island National Monument
New York, NY
Ellis Island was incorporated as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument on May 11, 1965. Between 1892 and 1954, approximately 12 million steerage and third class steamship passengers who entered the United States through the port of New York were legally and medically inspected at Ellis Island. Reopened on September 10, 1990 after a massive restoration, the Main Building on Ellis Island is now a museum dedicated to the history of immigration and the important role this island claimed during the mass migration of humanity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor
Waterford, NY
The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor covers 524 miles in Upstate New York, including four navigable waterways: Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca; sections of the first Erie Canal; and over 200 municipalities adjacent to the canals. The New York State Canal System is the most commercially enduring and historically significant canalway in the United States. This waterway played a key role in turning New York City into a preeminent center for commerce, industry, and finance. Besides being a catalyst for growth in the Mohawk and Hudson valleys, these canals helped open up western America for settlement and for many years transported much of the Midwest's agricultural and industrial products to domestic and international markets.
Federal Hall National Memorial
26 Wall Street was the site of New York City's 18th century City Hall. Here John Peter Zenger was jailed, tried, and acquitted of libel for exposing government corruption in his newspaper, an early victory for freedom of the press. City Hall hosted the Stamp Act Congress, which assembled in October 1765, to protest "taxation without representation." After the American Revolution, the Continental Congress met at City Hall, and in 1787 adopted the Northwest Ordinance establishing procedures for creating new states. When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, New York remained the national capital. Pierre L'Enfant was commissioned to remodel City Hall for the new federal government. The First Congress met in the new Federal Hall, and wrote the Bill of Rights, and George Washington was inaugurated here as President on April 30, 1789. When the capital moved to Philadelphia in 1790, the building again housed city government until 1812, at which time Federal Hall was demolished. The current structure on the site was built as the Customs House, opening in 1842. In 1862, Customs moved to 55 Wall Street and the building became the U. S. Sub-Treasury. Millions of dollars of gold and silver were kept in the basement vaults until the Federal Reserve Bank replaced the Sub-Treasury system in 1920.
General Grant National Memorial
New York, NY
This memorial to Ulysses S. Grant, victorious Union commander of the Civil War, includes the tomb of General Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. A West Point graduate, Grant served in the Mexican War and at various frontier posts, before rapidly rising through the ranks during the Civil War. Grant's tenacity and boldness led to victories in the Battles of Vicksburg and Chattanooga and Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, scenes depicted by mosaics in the tomb. In 1866 Congress awarded Grant his fourth star making him the first full General of the Armies. A grateful nation twice elected Grant to serve as President of the United States, from 1869 to 1877. Grant's accomplishments include signing the act establishing the first national park, Yellowstone, on March 1, 1872. After the Presidency, Grant settled in New York City. Ulysses S. Grant died of throat cancer on July 23, 1885 in Mount McGregor, New York, and was laid to rest in New York City on August 8th. Designed by architect John Duncan, the granite and marble structure was completed in 1897 and remains the largest mausoleum in North America.
Governors Island National Monument
New York, NY
Governors Island is a 172-acre island located a half-mile from the southern tip of Manhattan in New York harbor. Its name comes from the time when New York was a British colony and the colonial assembly reserved the island for the exclusive use of New York’s royal governors. When the American Revolution began in 1776, George Washington ordered the island to be fortified with earthworks just prior to the Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn) - the first ever engagement of the fledgling Continental Army with British forces. Two fortifications were placed on Governors Island in the years preceding the War of 1812 as part of an extensive coastal defense system. During the Civil War, Castle Williams held Confederate prisoners of war. After the war, it was used as a military stockade and became the east coast counterpart to military prisons at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. In 1878 the military installation on the island, then known as Fort Columbus, became a major Army administrative center and, in 1939, the headquarters of the United States First Army. When the Army left Governors Island in 1966, the installation became a U.S. Coast Guard base - the largest in the world. Its closing in 1997 concluded almost two centuries of the island’s use as a federal reservation. In 2001, the two historic fortifications and their surroundings became a national monument.
Hamilton Grange National Memorial
Hamilton Grange National Memorial, located at 287 Convent Avenue, preserves the home of founding father Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton commissioned architect John McComb Jr. to design a Federal style country home on a sprawling 32 acre estate in upper Manhattan. This house was completed in 1802 and named "The Grange" after the Hamilton family's ancestral home in Scotland, but served as his home for only two years.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
Kingston, New York
The Hudson River Maritime Museum is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and related industries. The museum offers lectures, tours, classes and workshops, along with exhibits about boating and the Hudson River.
Long Island Children's Museum
Garden City, NY
Long Island Children's Museum invites visitors of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to explore freely, discover their passions, and appreciate the communities and world we share. The museum features 14 themed galleries and a 145-seat theater. Children will love exploring the two-story ClimbIt© structure with ramps going up and down in a spiral pattern. They can create giant bubbles in the Bubble Gallery, make "rain" in the outdoor Our Backyard gallery, play musical instruments, learn about Long Island and much more.
Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site
New York, NY
The heart of the Tenement Museum is its tenement building that was home to an estimated 7,000 people, from over 20 nations, between 1863 and 1935. Visitors tour the tenement’s cramped living spaces and learn about the lives of past residents and the history of the neighborhood. The Museum also offers various programs such as walking tours, plays, art exhibits, and readings that represent the immigrant experience, throughout the year.
Maritime Explorium at Port Jeff Harbor
The Maritime Explorium encourages visitors to explore and play together in our hands-on interactive maker space rich with nautically themed science based exhibits and activities. While our focus is children ages 2-12 and their caregivers, we welcome visitors of all ages. Families exploring the fun and interactive hands-on exhibits at the Maritime Explorium at Port Jeff Harbor will enjoy the excitement of scientific discovery, develop a broadened cultural awareness and experience a sense of artistry while learning about Long Island’s rich and varied maritime heritage.
Martin Van Buren National Historic Site
Martin Van Buren National Historic Site is found in Kinderhook, New York. The Eighth President of the United States, Martin Van Buren purchased the estate in 1839 during his Presidency. Van Buren was born in Kinderhook in 1782, the last year of the American Revolution. He lived until July 1862, sixteen months into the American Civil War. During the seventy-nine years of his life, he was instrumental in the establishment of many of the political practices and party politics which saw the new nation from its inception to its trial by ordeal. The estate grew to 226 acres under his direction and was a profitable working farm. He named the farm Lindenwald. Although the park presently encompasses 38.50 acres, much of the cultural landscape and adjacent lands are conservation land. Some of the conservation land is open to the public. Most of the adjacent lands retain a very high degree of integrity to the period of of President Van Buren's residence. This serves to add environmental and historic context to the life and lifestyle of Martin Van Buren.
New York State Museum
Albany, NY
The New York State Museum is a center of art, science, and history dedicated to exploring the human and natural history of the state. Established in 1836, it is the oldest and largest state museum in the country. From its beginning, the Museum has been home to some of the nation’s leading scientists, including the founders of American paleontology, ethnology, botany and mycology. Its collections rank among the finest in many fields and total more than 16 million scientific specimens and one million cultural objects. Located at the southern end of the architecturally stunning Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza in Albany, the New York State Museum welcomes visitors from across the globe and thousands of students each year. Its 100,000 square feet of exhibition space features several new exhibitions per year in addition to long term exhibitions. The Museum also offers a variety of educational public programs for learners of all ages.
Niagara Falls State Park
Niagara Falls, NY
America’s oldest state park, Niagara Falls State Park stands today as an American icon and enduring legacy of the visionaries who worked to save it for generations to come. Today, the park’s signature attraction, majestic Niagara Falls, is the dramatic apex of the free-flowing waters of the Niagara River Gorge. Visitors from around the world are entranced by the thundering wonder of Niagara Falls, a gradn tribute to the men and women who fought to preserve it for all.
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
Sagamore Hill was the home of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, from 1885 until his death in 1919. From 1902 to 1908 his "Summer White House" was the focus of international attention. Otherwise, it was the home of a most remarkable fellow. Today, Sagamore Hill is furnished as it was during his busy lifetime. The home is located in Oyster Bay, Long Island, 45 miles east of New York City.
Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site
Mount Vernon, NY
This 18th-century church is one of New York's oldest parishes (1665-1980). It was used as a hospital following the important Revolutionary War Battle at Pell's Point in 1776, and was the scene of various military developments for the next six years. The church stood at the edge of Eastchester village green, the site of the "Great Election"(1733), which raised the issues of Freedom of Religion and Press. The adjoining cemetery contains burials dating from 1704. Increasing industrialization of the area around St. Paul's Church in the early 20th century led to the decline of the parish. In 1942, as part of an effort to revitalize the congregation and draw attention to the site's historical significance, the interior of the church was restored to its 18th century appearance, based on the original pew plan of 1787.
Saratoga National Historical Park
Site of the first significant American military victory during the Revolution, the Battles of Saratoga rank among the fifteen most decisive battles in world history. Here in 1777 American forces met, defeated and forced a major British army to surrender, an event which led France to recognize the independence of the United States and enter the war as a decisive military ally of the struggling Americans. First authorized as a New York state historic preserve in 1927 on the sesquicentennial of the Battles, the Battlefield was made part of the National Park System in 1938 when Saratoga National Historical Park was authorized by the United States Congress. The park now comprises three separate units: the 4 square mile Battlefield in Stillwater, New York, the General Philip Schuyler House eight miles north in Schuylerville and the Saratoga Monument in the nearby village of Victory. The park is located on the upper Hudson River in an area possessing significant natural and cultural attractions appealing to a wide range of visitors from around the world.
Statue Of Liberty National Monument
New York, NY
Located on 12-acre Liberty Island in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty was a gift of international friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and is one of the most universal symbols of political freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and was designated a National Monument on October 15, 1924.
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace NHS is located at 28 East 20th Street, between Broadway and Park Avenue South. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, lived at this site from his birth on October 27, 1858 until he was 14 years old. The reconstructed house contains five period rooms, two museum galleries and a bookstore.
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site
Buffalo, NY
On September 14th, 1901, an anxious Theodore Roosevelt stood in the library of a friend's home in Buffalo, NY. Hours earlier, President William McKinley had died of an assassin's bullet, and now Roosevelt stood ready to rise to the highest office in the land. Roosevelt had been in the vice-presidency for barely six months and had privately feared that his political career was ended with his election to a largely powerless office. Yet at 3:32 pm of September 14th, Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated as the 26th President of the United States as a consequence of unforeseen tragedy. Roosevelt's administration would expand the role of the United States in world affairs, change the relationship between the American government and its citizens, and alter the shape of the presidency itself. The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural NHS preserves the former Ansley Wilcox home, the scene of this fateful turning point in American history.
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
Hyde Park, NY
The Vanderbilt Estate in Hyde Park, New York is perhaps the best, most intact example of the types of estates constructed by wealthy industrialists in the 19th century. The fully-furnished, 54-room mansion is placed in a wondrous landscape with breathtaking views of the Hudson River and distant Catskill Mountains. If offers a glimpse into a past world known by only an elite few.
Women's Rights National Historical Park
Seneca Falls, NY
This park commemorates women's struggle for equal rights, and the first Women's Rights Convention, held at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, NY on July 19 & 20, 1848. Three hundred women and men attended the Convention, including Lucretia Mott and Frederick Douglass. At the conclusion, 68 women and 32 men signed the Declaration of Sentiments drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The park consists of 4.38 acres owned by the National Park Service and 2.45 acres of non-federal land in Seneca Falls and nearby Waterloo, NY. It includes the Wesleyan Chapel and Declaration Park, the Stanton home, the M'Clintock House, where the Declaration of Sentiments was written, a Visitor Center, and an Education and Cultural Center housing the Suffrage Press Printshop.

Teaching Tips & Ideas Back to Top
How I Teach a Large Family in a Relaxed, Classical Way: History
A look at teaching history across several grades using the classical method of education and a rotation of history every four years.
Knowledge Quest
Knowledge Quest offers historical outline maps and timelines designed for the interactive study of world history and geography.

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