While all eyes are on Washington right now, New York City is rich with its own presidential history and historical sites. With President’s Day Weekend upon us, it's a perfect opportunity to show your patriotism and brush up on NYC's history with a visit to some of its presidential historical sites. Here are 11 must-visits you may not even know about!
Theodore Roosevelt was born and raised in a brownstone on East 20th Street in Manhattan between Broadway and Park Avenue South right off Gramercy Park. It's open to the public from 9am-5pm and for events. Roosevelt, you may recall, grew into a great outdoorsman, boxer, and of course, the 26th president now immortalized on Mount Rushmore. The Flatiron and Gramercy Park neighborhoods are a lovely stroll anytime of year, with lots of dining options on Irving Place, Park Avenue South, and Union Square nearby.
If your time is limited and/or selfies are your game, Madame Tussauds in Times Square features lifelike sculptures from George Washington to Barack Obama. It’s not every day you can take a picture with both Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton!
Roosevelt Island was named for Franklin D. Roosevelt, and now features the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, named after the four freedoms he outlined in one of his most famous speeches, in 1944. The park is the first memorial to FDR in New York State.
If a visit to Four Freedoms Park leaves you yearning for more FDR, head to Roosevelt House at Hunter College, where FDR and Eleanor lived for more than 25 years, and where his transition team assembled after he won the Presidential election. Roosevelt House features a number of timely exhibits about FDR’s life and work, as well as today’s politics and campaigns.
Federal Hall National Memorial on Wall Street in lower Manhattan is where George Washington took the oath of office as our first President, and home to the first Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices. Federal Hall is now a completely free museum.
The Conference House Museum on Staten Island was the site of the peace conference of 1776 where John Adams, Edward Rutledge, and Benjamin Franklin met with the King’s representative, Lord Richard Howe to discuss America’s independence. Public tours are every Friday, Saturday , and Sunday from 1pm-4pm.
Before Wave Hill was a horticultural haven for the public in the Bronx, it was a private 28-acre estate with greenhouses, gardens and a gray stone mansion that was rented by prominent figures including the family of Theodore Roosevelt, who lived there during the summers of 1870 and 1871.
General Grant National Memorial (Grant’s Tomb) in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side is the final resting place of President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia. It’s also the largest mausoleum in North America.. Riverside Park also provides a beautiful backdrop for your Instagrams!
If you are more of a self-guided type, there’s always the six-story walk-up at 339 East 94th Street where Barack Obama lived when he studied at Columbia University, or the site of Bill Clinton’s former office on 125 Street in Harlem.
Honorable mention goes to Founding Father and not-quite President, Alexander Hamilton:
Aside from going to see the Tony-awarding winning Hamilton on Broadway, head uptown to the Hamilton Grange National Museum which is open year-round and is located in Manhattan's Hamilton Heights Historic District. Admission is free and the museum is typically open Wednesday through Sunday but will also be open this President’s Day.
In Lower Manhattan, Wall Street Walks offers a Hamilton themed tour, with stops where his contemporaries, George Washington, Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson lived, as well as narrow streets that have changed very little in 200 years and some of the old haunts, like Fraunces Tavern, where Hamilton frequently went for dinner or drinks. I've done a Wall Street tour before and it's super interesting.
You can also check out NYCGo.com a great resource for everything happening around the five boroughs
Happy President's Day!