Best Historical Sites in the Mid-Atlantic States Part One In New York vs Jersey
Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria Quinney, Alma
The mid-Atlantic states of New York and New Jersey were among the original 13 American Colonies and share important roles in history. New York has always been an important entry point for visitors and immigrants alike, and some key battles in the Revolutionary War took place in New Jersey. Here, we explore some of the many historical places that you won't want to miss on your next visit.
Method 1: In New York
From the crowded streets of New York City to the quiet communities of Upstate New York, the state features largely in American history. Although New York is home to the Statue of Liberty, its history illustrates that America has a way to go before living up to its ideals.
- 19/11 Memorial and Museum, New York City. Located at the original site of the Twin Towers, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum commemorates the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack, which killed 2,977 people, as well as the World Trade Center Bombing of 1993, which killed six people. See the names of the 2,983 victims engraved on 76 bronze plates, which are attached to the walls of the twin pools signifying where the twin towers used to stand and the Survivor Tree, a Callery pear tree that was recovered from the rubble, badly burned and with only one living branch, which has now recovered and been replanted at the memorial.Advertisement
- 2Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island. The Statue of Liberty was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor, and built out of copper by Gustave Eiffel, who also built the Eiffel Tower. It was a gift from France to the United States and was dedicated in 1886. The gigantic statue is one of the most recognized icons in the world and has become a symbol of freedom and democracy. It was declared a National Monument in 1924 and a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1984.Advertisement
- 3Empire State Building, Manhattan. The iconic Empire State Building is one of the tallest buildings in the city, measuring 1,454 feet high. It took just 11 months to complete, construction finishing in 1931 when it became the city's tallest skyscraper. You can ride the elevator to the 86th floor where you can view the city from inside a glassed-in pavilion, or venture out onto the observation deck where you can feel the wind whistle past your ears as you get a bird's eye view of the city below.
- 4The Flight of Five, Lockport. Built to lift ships up and over the 60-foot limestone face of the Niagara Escarpment, this series of five locks, that ascend in a staircase up and down the Escarpment is a technological marvel. The Flight of Five was first constructed between 1822 and 1825, then enlarged and deepened beginning in 1836 and completed in 1842.
- 5Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Bridge remains a marvel and a testament to American ingenuity. The over one-mile span across the East River was built in 1883, using the steel-wire cables that its designer, John Roebling, also invented. At the time, the bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world and was considered revolutionary.
- 6Lower East Side Tenement Museum. New York City.This museum is made up of a historic apartment building at 97 Orchard Street, where in 1863, some 7,000 working class immigrants lived. It showcases the lives of these immigrants and how they struggled to make new lives for themselves in their new home. Access to the building is by guided tour only.
- 7New-York Historical Society, Central Park West. If you want to see a slice of New York City history from pre-colonial times going forward, the New York Historical Society is where you want to be. Not only does it host revolving exhibits, but is also has an amazing display of artifacts and other pieces of history stored on the 4th floor of the building in which it resides, which is in itself a piece of history.
- 8City Hall Subway, New York City. Underneath City Hall is a now-unused subway station the existence of which used to be considered an urban legend. While you can't get off the subway there, you can ride through it when you take the 6 Train from the Brooklyn Bridge stop northbound. The station is covered in Guastavino tiles and is a breathtaking sight, although you may have difficulty seeing it well due to a lack of lighting and glare from the train's lights. To actually tour the station requires a membership with the Transportation Museum.
- 9Federal Hall Memorial, Manhattan. Federal Hall is one of the most significant historical sites in New York City. It is the site of President George Washington's inauguration, was the first Federal Capitol Building, and was where the First Congress were presented with the Bill of Rights. The original building was destroyed in 1812 but has been rebuilt.
- 11Seneca Falls. Take a walk along the Women's Rights Trail in the town that birthed not only the women's movement, but also the civil rights movement . See the spot where the first Women's Rights Convention happened in 1848 and the chapel where Frederick Douglass declared war on the notion that people of color could be owned as slaves and where Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott railed against the fact that women were denied the same rights as men. Elizabeth Cady Stanton's home is also here and part of the Women's Rights Trail.
- 12The Chrysler Building, Manhattan. The Chrysler Building is another iconic New York landmark, having been completed in 1930 during the race to build the tallest skyscraper in Manhattan. Its unique triangular windows in its uppermost floors lend to its elegance and render it an immediately identifiable landmark which has graced countless films over the years.
- 13Apollo Theater, Harlem. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've surely heard about this historic theater where the likes of Ella Fitzgerald performed for the first time in 1934 and where the careers of Jimi Hendrix and James Brown were launched after they performed there in 1964 and 1962 respectively. Today, the theater hosts performances by big name comedians and rock stars but also welcomes unknowns to perform on Amateur Night.
- 14The Hamilton Grange, New York City. Hamilton Grange was the home of Federalist and founding father, Alexander Hamilton. He had his home built in 1802 but didn't get to enjoy it much, since he was killed in his infamous duel with Aaron Burr only two years after it was completed. It was fully restored in 2011 and is now open to the public once again.
- 15Coney Island Cyclone, Brooklyn. In its heyday in the late 1920's, Coney Island was a hopping resort that everyone wanted to visit. Among the attractions it offered was the Coney Island Cyclone, a wooden roller coaster that was built in 1927. It doesn't have the loops of modern roller coasters, but it's still a thrilling ride as you hear the wheels clacking over the wooden rails as you ratchet up the hill before whooshing down on an adrenaline rush.
Method 2: In New Jersey
From the lights and glamor of the Boardwalk to the battlefields of Princeton and Monmouth, New Jersey plays an important role American history. See the house where George Washington slept on the way to his inauguration as the first President of the United States, and where he took a chance by taking a dispirited battalion of Continental troops across the river to give them hope that they would eventually come out victorious. Hike through part of the Appalachian Trail to see the state as the early settlers did, and step aboard the massive USS New Jersey to see the ship that played an important role in America's triumph over the Japanese in World War II.
- 1The Board Walk, Atlantic City. The famed Boardwalk is an essential slice of Americana from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and for that reason alone is a must-see for anyone visiting the Garden State. It consists of a four-mile promenade which was built in 1870 and along which much of Atlantic City's entertainment, resorts, and attractions are located.Advertisement
- 2Cape May Lighthouse, Cape May Point. The lighthouse that sits atop Cape May Point is not the original lighthouse, which was built in 1823. The current lighthouse was built in 1859 after it was determined that the original one had to be moved. The Cape May Lighthouse stands 157 feet tall and affords a commanding view of the peninsula.
- 3Thomas Edison Historical Park, West Orange. See where Thomas Edison lived and worked on some of the most useful inventions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His laboratory and Queen Anne-Style home have been carefully preserved in their original states, including artifacts and decorations from his time. Be sure to arrive early if you want to join a guided tour, as tickets sell l out quickly.
- 4USS New Jersey, Camden. The New Jersey is an Iowa-class battleship that was launched in 1942 and served in a much-storied history until the 1980's. She is one of the largest battleships the Navy has ever built and has won the most accolades out of any ship in the fleet. She was at the head of the Pacific Fleet during World War II when Admiral Halsey commanded it from her bridge, and served her final tour in the Middle East in the 1980's. She sits at dock on the Delaware River a floating museum where you can see artifacts of her various engagements as well a tour of the vessel, including the famous bridge. Additionally, you have an opportunity to spend a night aboard her or enjoy a twilight tour.
- 5Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, Jersey City. This station played a huge role in processing the European immigrants who came through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954. It was here that they were funneled to after they had successfully completed their screening and where they bought tickets for the trains that would take them to their final destinations in their new country.
- 6Waterloo Village, Stanhope. During the 19th century, Waterloo Village was a mill village that grew around the Morris Canal and the grist mill. The grist mill still functions as it did back then, and the supporting structures that developed around it, such as the General Store, Blacksmith, and homes for the workers that lived there have been preserved to resemble their original state. If you're there during certain days, you can see historical presentations regarding how the small town functioned.
- 7Emlen Physick Estate, Cape May. Constructed in 1879, this 18-room home is a great example of a style of American architecture popular at the time known as American Stick Style. Architect Frank Furness was commissioned by Dr. Emlen Physick Jr., a son from a well-to-do Philadelphia family, to design this home.
- 8The Appalachian Trail, Delaware Water Gap. Part of the famed Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia through to Maine, can be accessed here. The trail has been designated a National Scenic Trail and preserves some of the prettiest countrysides in the United States. It encompasses some 72 miles of New Jersey's wilderness, with very little development in the surrounding area. While you are hiking the trail, you can really get a sense of what it must have been like 200 years in the past.
- 9Princeton College, Princeton. Princeton was founded in 1756 and is one of the top-rated Ivy-League schools on the East Coast. It sprawls over 1,600 acres of tastefully groomed grounds, with lovely brick and stonework buildings that date back to colonial times. Albert Einstein famously produced his final works here, as well.
- 10Princeton Battlefield State Park, Princeton. On January 3, 1777, General George Washington and his Continental troops surprised and defeated the Redcoat troops that were camped on this site. The fighting was fierce amid the snow and the chill winter wind, but General Washington and his loyal soldiers won the day. Some of the heaviest conflicts occurred around Clarke House, the home of Thomas Clarke which he built in 1772. Brigadier-General Hugh Mercer, a close friend of Washington's, was mortally wounded in the battle; he was carried to Clarke House where he died nine days later.
- 11Monmouth Battlefield State Park, Manalapan. The fields and forests of this state park commemorate one of the largest battles in the Revolutionary War, which took place in June of 1778. Every June, a full-scale re-enactment takes place with costumed players camping out in the forests and taking to the fields in a simulated battle. Also in the park is the Craig House, where John and Ann Craig lived with their three children. British forces used the Craig homestead as a hospital for their injured during that battle.
- 12Boxwood Hall, Elizabeth. Elias Boudinot, who presided over the Continental Congress when it ratified the Peace Treaty with Great Britain lived in this house, which was built in 1750. His friend, George Washington, visited him here on his way to his 1789 inauguration as President of the United States.
- 13The Hermitage, Ho-Ho-Kus. The Hermitage has a history that dates back to colonial times when the original structure was built. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington stayed there with his staff. Architect William Ranlett renovated the building in 1845, changing its style to the then en vogue Gothic Revival style, of which it remains an excellent example.
- 14Washington Crossing State Park, Titusville. Washington State Park includes the site formerly known as Johnson's Ferry and was the location where General Washington and his Continental troops, numbering around 2,400, landed after crossing the Delaware River. While Washington was camped on the other side of the river with his men, he saw how demoralized they were after having suffered a string of defeats. He determined that they needed a victory to rally their spirits, so he decided to march on a garrison of Hessian troops located in Trenton, New Jersey. After they crossed the river on December 25, 1776, a swell of hope surged through the men, as they were moving once again.
- 15Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park, Somerset. This state park commemorates the time, before the advent of a modern road system, when the canals were used to haul freight using mules or steam tugboats. The canal system was built in the 1830's and connected the Delaware River to the Raritan River. It consists of the main canal, which is 36 miles long, and its feeder canals, which are 22 miles in length.
Categories : Travel & Leisure
Recent edits by: Maria Quinney, Kathy McGraw