NYC Area National Park Units

August 31, 2018

8/23 ThGloria Dei Church National Historic Site is in South Philadelphia only a few blocks from the Walt Whitman Bridge. We were on our way to NJ for Helen’s 55th HS Reunion.

It is also known as the Old Swedes’ Church. It was built 1678-1700 in an area that was known as New Sweden along the Delaware River

It began as a Lutheran Church, but the colony was brought under Dutch and then British control. In 1845 it became part of the Episcopal Church

Interesting early 1700’s grave stones

Flag and plaque identify the grave of a Revolutionary War soldier

Gloria Dei is the oldest church in PA

The Swedish colonists arrived in 1643 on two ships, the Fogel Grip and the Kalmar Nyckel. It was the second voyage for the Kalmar Nyckel, which landed in what is now Wilmington DE in 1638. Models of these ships hang from the ceiling.

The angel Gabriel, common in Swedish churches, also hangs from the ceiling

Rear of church, Gloria Dei may have been the first church in America where an organ was used ~1703

Betsy Ross was married in this church in 1777


8/24 F – started the day preparing for a boat ride on the Great Egg Harbor River in Mays Landing NJ. Alex, Helen’s brother, visited for a couple of hours in the morning.

Unfortunately, Carol dislocated her ankle stepping into the boat. I was able to reset it and we got ice on it right away, however, the injury put her out of commission for the weekend.   We went to lunch with Tom and Loretta at the Tuckahoe Inn while Carol went for X-Rays.


8/25 Sat – spent the day with Carol and Dave and then attended Helen’s 55th HS Reunion.  Cheerleaders doing the HS Fight Song with potato chip bags for pom poms.


8/26 Sun – visited Diane and Pete in Ocean Grove NJ and then drove to West Orange NJ to visit Helen’s cousin Alisa, who prepared a great dinner for us.


8/27 M – Alisa drove us to the Harrison station for the PATH train that takes you into the Oculus below the World Trade Center in NYC. The Oculus is a glass and steel structure designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrave to look like a dove in flight.

We walked around the impressive 9/11 Twin Towers Memorial

One World Observatory (1WTC), also known as “Freedom Tower,” is America’s tallest building (1,776 feet). It was opened in 2015 and is the tallest building in the Western hemisphere, and the sixth tallest in the world.

Walking down Broadway –

Walked about a mile to the African Burial Mound National Monument

Unfortunately, it was not open on Mondays. So, we were only able to tour the outside memorial. Also, as you can see, it was under renovation.


Our next stop was Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange, and Federal Hall National Memorial. I had been here three times before but never inside. Note Helen under George’s right hand.

New Amsterdam’s first City Hall was built by the Dutch in the 17th century. The second City Hall opened in 1703 on Wall and Nassau Streets and housed the British royal governor’s council and the assembly of New York. It was also the New York City Hall.

The building was renamed Federal Hall when New York became the first official capital of the U.S. after the Revolutionary War. It was the meeting place for the Congress of the Confederation. In 1788, the building was enlarged and remodeled. It was renamed Federal Hall when it became the first Capitol of the newly created United States in 1789 and hosted the 1st United States Congress. It was demolished in 1812.

George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States on the balcony of this building on April 30, 1789

The current building was built as a Customs House in 1842


Good summary of this site as well as some early history of the U.S.


We had to hustle to the tip of Manhattan to catch the noon ferry to Governors Island National Monument. It can be seen in the distance. The orange ferry is on its’ way to Staten Island.

Part of the current New York Harbor security force

The Battle of Brooklyn in 1776 was the first and the largest battle of the Revolutionary War. It was a British victory and they held New York for the remainder of the War. After the War, it was determined that New York Harbor needed to be fortified for future defense. The first fort built was Fort Jay on Governors Island in 1794.

Over the next fifteen years four additional forts were built to protect New York Harbor, Fort Gibson on Ellis Island, Castle Williams on Governors Island, Castle Clinton on Manhattan, and Fort Wood on Liberty Island, which became the base for the Statue of Liberty.  These forts prevented the British from taking New York in the War of 1812.

Castle Williams can be seen in the left center of this photo on Governors Island.

Leaving the Battery Maritime Ferry Building, Brooklyn Bridge on right – $1 round trip for seniors!

Governors Island

Fort Jay

Castle Williams

History of Castle Williams – “change is constant”

Returning to Manhattan


Bought a grilled chicken Gyro from a street vender as we walked the short distance from the ferry terminal to Battery Park and Castle Clinton National Monument. Also bought some water, the first vender we saw wanted $2 a bottle, I told him no way! The second vender, 25 feet away, charged us $1 a bottle!

The next three photos show how the city has grown around Castle Clinton

More walking, this time from Castle Clinton, through Battery Park, to the Subway. This is a World War II Memorial.

This is a Korean War Memorial. It states that 54,246 Americans and 58,127 South Koreans were killed from 1950-1953.  That is way different than the 33,686 battle and 2,830 non-battle U.S. deaths stated on Wikipedia.  Also, Wikipedia states that South Korea suffered 137,899 military deaths and 373,599 civilian deaths!

Serbian immigrant at Immigrant Statue

Another view of “Freedom Tower”


Took the Subway (Red Line) to Stonewall National Monument

This is the first National Park Unit (2016) devoted to the story of the LGBTQ community and its efforts for civil rights

The monument commemorates the Gay Uprising of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn and in Christopher Park across the street. In the 1960’s, NYC laws, rules, and policies were anti-homosexual. A police raid on the Stonewall Inn precipitated a “riot” where people fought back. It led to several nights of demonstrations in Christopher Park and was a pivotal point for social change across America. Each year on this date there is a Christopher Street Gay Liberation March that begins in Christopher Park and ends in Central Park.


The next 1.6-mile walk was work – the heat index was >100 degrees! Helen cooling off in Washington Square Park as we walked through Greenwich Village

We had to rush to get to our 4:15 tour at the Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site. This is an Affiliated National Park Unit, which includes a small museum.

There are 7 apartment tours, each telling a different immigrant story. There is also a recreated German beer saloon and several neighborhood tours. We chose the “Irish Outsiders” ($20 seniors) tour on the fourth floor of the tenement – no elevator or AC but they did give us hand fans! The outhouses and water pump (only source of water) was in a small courtyard. So, there were many up and down trips every day.

The tour guide did an excellent job describing the lives of an Irish family who lived here in 1869. Photos were not permitted inside.

Afterward, we watched a 20 min video in the museum and then took the J Train to the Fulton St station and walked to the World Trade Center to catch the PATH train back to NJ.

This was a big day for us in NYC with lots of walking. I had planned to do these National Park Units and other NYC sites over a two-day period. This morning we decided to try and do them all in one day and we did!


8/28 Tu – Visited the graves of Helen’s paternal grandparents (Alexa and Jelena) in Fairmount Cemetery in Newark and some of her other relatives in Hollywood Memorial Park in Union NJ. Went to Panevino Ristorante in Livingston NJ to celebrate Alisa’s birthday.


8/29 W – Drove into NYC and parked near 135th St and Nicholas Ave in Harlem where Helen’s grandparents lived in 1909. We walked through Saint Nicholas Park to the Hamilton Grange National Memorial at 141st St and arrived at 8:30 to be sure that we were first in line for the 10am tour that is limited to ten people.

This was Alexander Hamilton’s home from 1802 until he was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel in 1804 at the age of 46. He called his 13-acre estate the Grange. The house was moved in 1889 and again in 2008 to its present location.

We toured the visitor center and watched a video from 9am until the start of our tour.

Prominent events in the life of Alexander Hamilton

The Constitution

The Duel

Tour of the second floor of the home


Walked 1.3 miles to the General Grant National Memorial on Riverside Dr above the Hudson River

General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the U.S. Army, at Appomattox Court House Virginia in 1865 ending the Civil War. Grant was elected the 18th President of the U.S. in 1868 and served for two terms during “Reconstruction.” He died in 1885 at the age of 63 and is entombed here with his wife Julia.

This is the largest mausoleum in North America and the second largest in the Western Hemisphere. It was the most popular tourist attraction in NYC until World War I.

The Visitor Center is located across West Riverside Dr

Groucho Marx is often noted for the question “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” During his hosting of the TV quiz show “You Bet Your Life” during the 1940s and 50s, he would sometimes ask an easy question so that a contestant could win some money or a prize. Technically, some people argue that no one is buried there because both Grant and his wife are above ground – like this guy.


It was another scorcher of a day, so I walked back for the car while Helen waited in the Visitor Center.  I picked her up at 2pm and we were able to make the 3:30 tour of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site on Long Island. Flag at half-staff for the death of Senator John McCain.

Sagamore Hill was the home of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, from 1885 until his death in 1919. Our tour guide was outstanding. Unfortunately, no photos were permitted in the house.

Some information from signage on the grounds

Roosevelt’s son Ted Jr built a home on the property in 1937. It now serves as the Theodore Roosevelt Museum at Old Orchard.

TR is noted for his statement “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

He is also one of my favorite Presidents because of his support and protection of the natural environment

Had lobster and fried clams at a marina in Bayville and then drove to the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale where we stayed for two nights


8/30 Th – 45min to the Queensborough Public Library Archives in Jamaica Queens Long Island to search for information on Helen’s grandfather who owned the American Tire Repair Co in Far Rockaway, (Queens) NY from about 1910 until 1920. In 1920 he returned to Serbia with his family to open the first Ford dealership in Yugoslavia. We were unable to find any new information. We also drove to Far Rockaway and went to the addresses of two houses where he lived as well as his business address. All had been razed and new buildings were at these sites.

After lunch, we drove to the Fire Island National Seashore Lighthouse and Visitor Center

Though hot, it was a nice 1-mile hike (round trip) on a boardwalk to the lighthouse

Fire Island Light Station, Fresnel Lens Building

Lighthouse and Museum

Lighthouse and Life Saving Stations on Long Island

I climbed the 182 steps to the top of the lighthouse

View East, Atlantic Ocean on right, Great South Bay on left

View West toward Robert Moses State Park and Causeway

Humpback whale bones

We drove another hour East to the Fire Island Wilderness Visitor Center. I dropped Helen off and went looking for parking. The only free parking I found was a half mile away.

On my walk back to the Visitor Center, I stopped at the TWA Memorial at Smith Point Beach

Fire Island National Seashore – magnify map for a better view

We expected to do a 3-mile hike on the beach, however, the flies and mosquitoes were SO BAD that I just walked briefly on the beach and then walked back to get the car to then pick-up Helen and head back to the Long Island Marriott.


8/31 F – left at 7am and arrived at Saint Paul’s Church National Historic Site in Mount Vernon north of NYC at eight. That gave us an hour to tour the cemetery before the Visitor Center opened.

Here Lays the Body Cap’ Will Pinkney, Deceased 11th day of March 1751, Aged about 75 Years

Caleb Morgan grave 1803 Aged 84 – “Oh mortal man as you pass by, Are you one now so once was I, Your glass has run and still is running, Remember death and judgements coming.”

Abigail Morgan grave – The wife of Caleb Morgan who departed this Life the 17th day of August in the year of our Lord 1782 Aged 54 Year 9 Months and 25 Days. Cherub on stone represents the soul in heaven

Jeremiah Fowler died in 1724. The farm community of Eastchester was so small that only his initials JF appear on the tombstone

Fowler family tomb, the son fought for the Patriots, whereas the father, a judge, fled to Nova Scotia during the Revolution because he was a Loyalist

American Revolutionary Soldiers

“This marks the site of the sand pit in which are buried those Hessian Soldiers who died in the Church when used as a hospital 1776”

Model of church when used as hospital

“In Memory of Thomas, a Servant of Philip and Deborah Rhinelander, who departed this Life, September 2nd 1819, Aged 21 Years – Well done thou good and faithful Servant; enter thou into the Joy of My Reward”

Entering St. Paul’s Church

My congregation of one –

Ten Commandments +

Back of church

Visitor Center adjacent to church, 15min video

Election of 1733 on Eastchester’s Village Green, that raised the issues of freedom of religion and the origins of an independent press

Washington reading the Declaration of Independence to troops on the Village Common NYC – July 9, 1776

We were to stop and see friends in NY and OH on the way home, however, Helen came down with a cold. As a result, we drove home arriving at 9:30pm.


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