You know all about Gettysburg, Bunker Hill, and Valley Forge, but it might surprise you to learn that many important developments in America’s founding revolution took place right here in New York City. These 5 spots are not just great neighborhoods to visit — they’re a living lesson in American history.
Van Cortlandt Park – The Bronx
One of NYC’s largest parks, this patch of land abutted by neighborhoods like Riverdale and Norwood was the site of the headquarters of both sides during the conflict. Both George Washington and British General William Howe would (at different times, of course) use the Van Cortlandt House in the park’s southwest region as a staging area. The Van Cortlandt family land was bought by the City of New York in 1888 and now stands as one of the Bronx’s finest natural attractions.
Fort Wadsworth – Staten Island
This neighborhood, named for the historic battery built to defend New York Harbor from British ships, boasts unmatched views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan. Sitting directly on the Narrows adjacent to the Verrazano Bridge, riders on the Belt Parkway or the bridge itself have probably taken notice of the distinctive fortress. The structure once known as Flagstaff Fort now stands today as a tourist attraction and educational site.
Fraunces Tavern – Manhattan
Visitors to the Financial District can drink like George Washington in this historic site where the General gave his famous farewell address to his officers after the war was won. Now home to both a bustling modern bar/restaurant and historical museum, Fraunces Tavern has been restored after years of use as a tourist attraction. Designated a Historic District, the Tavern and adjacent buildings stand as an oasis of Old New York in the ultra-modern FiDi area.
Old Stone House – Brooklyn
In JJ Byrne Park between 4th and 5th Avenue in Park Slope, nestled among the playground and basketball courts, visitors can enjoy a piece of Revolutionary history. This restoration of the 1699 Vechte-Cortelyou House commemorates the 1776 battle, a major loss for the nascent American military. A small museum inside the modest house contains relics and recounts the long battle, the largest of the war.
Nathan Hale Statue – Manhattan
While there’s some controversy concerning where he was actually hanged for spying by British loyalists, the most well-known memorial to Revolutionary martyr Nathan Hale is located in the heart of Lower Manhattan in City Hall Park. The eternal words he’s remembered for (another source of controversy) are inscribed around the base: “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” The statue’s style might look familiar to New Yorkers, as the work of its sculptor Frederick William MacMonnies (a Brooklyn native) is featured across the city, from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to Civic Virtue next to Queens Borough Hall.