My New York Post

7:33 PM Monday, April 28, 2008

I know that Jill doesn't appreciate this stuff as much as I do, so I don't expect her to publish it. However, for the rest of you - you get the joy of learning something on our blog too!
I am a huge National Park fanatic - and yes, I'm a real fanatic about it. I can attribute my sensation with these places due to my passionate patriotism. I joked many times that Lady Liberty is the only other woman in my life. I wish I could claim ingenuity in that comment, but I stole it from someone who I greatly admire- Ronald Reagan.

Every place we visit inevitably has a National Park stop along the way. There are 391 National Park "units" in the country. These are subdivided into many categories such as National Parks, National Monuments, National Seashores, etc. These places are located in every state of the union (and territories) except Delaware. If you get the chance to visit one, please do so and look for opportunities to appreciate it. Many sacrifices have been made on our behalf for us to be able to appreciate this great land of ours. I am grateful to the men and woman who have given service to our country. Many have given their lives (many of these places are monuments to those great ones that have come before) so that we might live today in freedom and liberty.

As you wait for the ferry to Ellis Island (it's a dependent unit of the Statue of Liberty National Monument), you are in the shadow of this beautiful building. It's the Central Railroad of New Jersey's terminal in Jersey City. It was build in 1864 and is quite a fun architectural site to look at from the outside. It is no longer operational but from what I have read, it seems to have been a very busy part of the New Jersey Railroad in the late 1800s.

On the way to Ellis Island, you watch a beautiful Manhattan skyline whiz by. The island of Manhattan is a large pile of shist (yes, that's the correct spelling) stone. It's an extremely solid stone and supports the tall skyscrapers the adorn the island.

What you may or may not know that is that Manhattan island is part of 5 boroughs (counties) that make up New York City. Ready... Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and finally Manhattan Island. All of them are islands except the Bronx, which is connected to the main part of New York State.
Ellis Island is majestic today. The restoration efforts that began in the 1990's have created a wonderful place of history and storytelling. An audio tour is available for a very inexpensive fee. In fact, it only costs $18 for the ferry ride to these two sites and for the audio tour at both sites as well. Such a bargain for New York City.

As I was walking through the immigration center, I thought about the 20 million people from all over the world that found a home in America. They had to go through quite the ordeal to become a citizen of our country. Quite the contrast to the requirements of today.

As you gaze slightly south of Ellis Island you see beautiful Liberty Island, named for it's famed occupant, standing tall welcoming in the many visitors to New York each year (44 million last year).

The Statue of Liberty has a famous story to go along with her famous presence. I encourage you to take a little time to understand the story of how she got here. It's quite remarkable. The story takes place over almost ten years of our history. The statue itself was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States. America was responsible to furnish the pedestal on which she stands. In the construction process, we ran out of money. Joseph Pulitzer, a great American journalist and publisher of The World wrote to the people of New York and encouraged them to donate to the statue. He printed the names of every single individual who donated in his newspaper... even the ones who only donated a penny. Pulitzer was a Hungarian immigrant who believed that the statue should be a truly American monument. He succeeded in raising $100,000 dollars (keep in mind this was 1876... that was a lot of money back then) and all of it was raised by regular American folks who wanted the statue here. It wasn't until World War I that Americans actually began to associate the monument as something American, rather than French. I'm sure glad she's here.

Castle Clinton National Monument
Castle Clinton National Monument is the headquarters for the Statue of Liberty Tour. It served as part of the fortifications around New York during the Battle of 1812. Some of the fort remains, but it now the centerpiece of Battery Park - a park at the end of Manhattan Island.

The fort itself is mostly a round structure, but they have done some archaeological digging to expose some of the outer walls. All in all, not my favorite of the sites I've ever seen. The exhibits are weak. Most people walk through here to get onto the ferry to the statue and probably don't even know they are in a National Monument.

Federal Hall
My reason for liking this place has nothing to do with the fact that I got my picture taken next to George Washington... The address is 26 Wall Street... and Washington stares proudly at the New York Stock Exchange. Fitting considering that he helped create the biggest and strongest economy in the world. He stands upon one of the richest streets in the world too, right smack dab between the Trump Building and Holy Trinity Church (the oldest church in New York). Federal Hall was the place where George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States.

Theodore Roosevelt's Birth Home
Teddy Roosevelt spent the first 15 years of his life here. It's in the Flatiron District of Midtown Manhattan... named for the iron shaped building at it's center. Roosevelt's house is very small compared to the huge buildings surrounding it. It seems awkward and out of place, which makes it very cool to look at. Unfortunately, it was closed when we got there... on Sunday. Who would have thought.

U.S. Grant Burial Mausoleum
Truly one of the strangest places I have every been. The place is located in Harlem, right next to Riverside Church. We were there on April 27th... coincidentally, that was Grant's birthday. Hence, the reason the place is decked out in flags everywhere. Grant was the 18th President of the United States. Before that, he was the Commanding General of the United States... the first one to hold that title since George Washington. His administration was known as the most corrupt administration in our history. Not because of him, but because of his cabinet. Oddly, he died a very, very poor man. He spent the last few years of his life battling a very acute case of throat cancer, but was offered 70% of the proceeds of his memoirs. He wrote them diligently and died two weeks before they were printed. His widow received $450,000 for the sale of the two volumes... a gigantic sum of money in 1876. His last donation was to his family - he was finally able to take care of them.


  1. Great pics John! I also love seeing historical sights! I also love architecture and art....would love going to Europe! Looks like you both had a great time!


  2. Fabulous travelogue, John. I believe you and Jill had a wonderul holiday! Love the blog info and the pics.


  3. Great pics and info ... looks like a fabulous trip - except I'm quite disappointed I don't see any info on taking in a show!! There are so many great ones there that I'm dying to see (some for a second or third time)! That and shopping - but we obviously each have our interests ;)


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