Tag Archive | American Revolution

The 3 Best Walking Tours for Your Vacation/staycation

May 23rd, 2012

One of the advantages of living in six states across my adult life is the amount of travel it’s allowed me to pursue. In total, I have traveled through, over, or in over 22 states and seen both the Atlantic Ocean (in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts) and Pacific Ocean (in California). With my bachelors in psychology and history, I favor historical sites and tours and enjoy the exercise of walking tours in particular. Here are three of my favorite walking tours I’ve personally taken:

The Battle for New York tour (New York City). Spanning Brooklyn, Manhattan, and beyond, this walking tour by Barnet Schecter is found in his book “The Battle for New York” is a combination step-by- step walking tour and guide to New York City’s role in the American War for Independence (the better term for “the American Revolution” since the war was a civil war between Americans even more than it was a conflict between the Crown and the Patriots). Look for the walking tour online at http://www.thebattlefornewyork.com/walking_tour.php or just buy Barnet’s book at your favorite book retailer. Cost of the book is around $30 for hardcover. The cost of the tour itself is just what you spend in bus/subway fare for the sections of this comprehensive “revolutionary” war experience, making it an economical New York City vacation option.

Honorable mention: Big Onion Tours features a very good walking tour of Revolutionary WarManhattan for $18 per person along with dozens of other New York City historical and neighborhood walking tours also available. See http://www.bigonion.com for more information.

The Freedom Trail (Boston). A costumed guided tour of Boston’s most significant “revolutionary” war sites, the Freedom Trail is an exploration of Boston’s 17th and 18th century history and its role in the War for Independence. The classic tour is the “Walk into History Tour” which departs on the hour from Boston Commons (see schedule athttp://www.thefreedomtrail.org/tickets/tours.html). Tickets currently range from $11 for adults to $5 for children and are purchased on a per person basis. Tours last about 50 minutes.

Allegany-Portage Railroad Museum (Gallitzin, PA). Pennsylvania is famous for its railroads and its role in the evolution of transportation in the United States. Among its most famous railroads was the Allegany-Portage line which ran from Hollidaysburg in Blair County to Johnstown in Cambria County. From 1834 to 1854 the Allegeny-Portage served as a vital rail link connecting the water route between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg which only ran in two sections: Pittsburgh to Johnstown and Hollidaysburg to Harrisburg. Covering 1249 acres and run by the National Park Service, visitors enjoy a free self-guided walking tour using their cell phones and typing in the location code along each stop. Don’t feel like walking all day? Check out the park’s history museum for just $4 per person (http://www.nps.gov/alpo/index.htm).

Four Ways to Re-connect with the Spirit of Independence

Originally posted May 30th, 2012

Four Ways to Re-connect with the Spirit of Independence

 

We all love the 4th of July. Parties, fireworks, barbecues! It’s all in fun. But what is too often forgotten is the history behind the holiday. As someone who lived in New York City and New Jersey for 11 years and as an amateur historian, I discovered the stories behind our celebration, stories every American needs to know and explore by walking around, attending lectures, turning on PBS, and touring the surviving places where it all happened to the great enrichment of my life.

Here are four ways you can re-connect yourself:

Watch documentaries and bio-pics. From HBO’s Emmy-award winning bio-pic “John Adams” to Ken Burns series “Thomas Jefferson” and beyond, there are numerous bio-pics on some of the biggest names of the 18th century. For a broader view of the conflict between the Crown/Loyalist Americans and American Patriots (at the time, all Americans considered themselves “British” right up to the Treaty of Paris which ended the American War for Independence) look at the History Channel’s “The Revolution.”

Visit Revolutionary War historical sites. From Prospect Park and Greenwood cemetery in Brooklyn (the largest surviving sections of the battlefield from 1776’s Battle for New York) to Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan to the Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill memorials in Boston and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, there are many preserved landmarks from the American Revolution across the eastern seaboard. This is a great time to visit those historical places. Major cities often feature special walking tours for visiting these locations. In New York, consider Big Onion’s “Revolutionary New York” tour (http://www.bigonion.com/tour/revolutionary-new-york/). In Boston, try the “Freedom Trail” tour (http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/tickets/publictours.html) In Philadelphia, check out The Constitutional’s tours (http://www.theconstitutional.com/index.html). Except for the Philadelphia tour, which I am eager to take in the near future, I have personally taken the other tours and can only praise them.

Attend a reading of the Declaration of Independence. This is one of my favorite 4th of July traditions since moving to the East coast. Every year cities across the nation host public readings of the Declaration of Independence in its entirety. Check your local calendar of events for a reading near you. One of the biggest readings in the country is the annual reading at the Old State House in Boston, MA (http://www.bostonharborfest.com/). Come a few minutes ahead for the 10am sharp reading of the preamble which begins the reading. I attended this same reading in 2008. It was absolutely amazing!

Attend lectures on American History. Often run by the National Park Service, museums dedicated to the American Revolution, and/or state historical societies, you can learn a lot and celebrate American attending the many lectures available on dozens of facets of 18th century American life. Some of the best of these lectures are held year round (New York City frequently hosts at least one on/close to August 25-26, the anniversary of the Battle for New York), so check your local listings for the next lecture in your area. The last “Battle Week” festivities I attended at Manhattan’s Federal Hall involved costumed lecturers and learning experiences on some of the least publicized aspects to the War of Independence — including how Crown soldiers experienced the war, an area rarely considered by Americans.
Learning about our past enriches our lives. Not only does it help us celebrate the 4th of July, but it helps us make better political decisions for ourselves. Through these four methods I’ve become a better consumer of political and cultural information, allowing me to make better choices as a voter.