Tag Archives: Memorial

H is for Hamilton

Located at  414 West 141st Street, New York, NY 10031
Memorial Website:  https://www.nps.gov/hagr/index.htm

Hamilton Grange National Memorial

The Hamilton Grange National Memorial is the home of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. This handsome memorial is a must-visit for any person interested in the early history, especially financial history of the United States.

Hamilton played a significant role in forming the fundamental principles and policies of a young United States. An economic visionary and financial genius, he was instrumental in putting in place a new financial system and economy for the nation. 

He actually came to America looking for military glory, and promptly joined the American revolution at the age of 18. He rose in ranks to become Lieutenant Colonel. Always eager for action, he had his horse shot out from under him in the battle of Monmouth. He leaves the army in 1781 after the surrenderer of the English commander Lord Cornwallis. (The revolution officially ended on in 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.)

Later in 1798, he was appointed Inspector General of the army and second in command by George Washington when Washington assumed his position as the head of the US army, in view of worsening US-French relations. Hamilton began building an army, and his plans for training officers ultimately evolved into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Alexander Hamilton was appointed the first Secretary of the treasury, by George Washington, the first president of the nation. Hamilton took over a nation mired in debt, established a modern financial system, restored the nation’s credit, promoted a mixed economy of manufacturing and farming, and helped bind the states together into a single nation.

Hamilton was a prolific writer who wrote his first political pamphlet at the age of 17, ‘A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress,’ supporting the right of the First Continental Congress to authorize a trade boycott of England. Among other publications, he has authored 51 of the 85 essays, collectively called ‘The Federalist Papers’, supporting the ratification of the Constitution. James Madison and John Jay were co-authors.

Hamilton and 31 others set forth the guiding principles for an anti-slavery group, the New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves. The society pledges not only to show compassion towards those held in captivity but also to work towards their freedom.

Hamilton supported federal assumption of all state debts to stimulate the economy and strengthen the Union, in his report ‘First Report on the Public Credit’ written after much research and study and submitted to the Congress. When this plan faced heavy attack, Hamilton struck a deal with Madison to encourage northern members of Congress to move the nation’s capital to Philadelphia for 10 years, and then to a Southern site on the banks of the Potomac River, in exchange for Virginia’s support for federal assumption of state debts.

The end to a brilliant life came in a duel in 1804, when Aaron Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. No one knows the specific reason but it is believed to be based on gossip that at a dinner party, Hamilton stated Burr is a ‘dangerous man, and not to be trusted’. Hamilton was grievously wounded and died the next day.

The Grange is believed to be the only home Alexander Hamilton ever owned. It was moved from the original spot two blocks away in 1889, and again in 2008, but the current 1-acre site is part of Alexander Hamilton’s original 32-acre estate. 

It is built in the Federal style, completely symmetrical. The home’s interior rooms have been restored to their original condition. The foyer, parlor, study and dining room are open to the public. 

The two octagonal rooms, the parlor and dining room, are filled with windows on one side each. With the ability to open the doors between the rooms, and open the windows to the outdoors, these rooms would have created a pleasing open-air feeling in the home.

Rooms which were the sleeping quarters of the family are on an upper floor and not open.

By today’s standards, the house is not big. The open rooms give a clear of the family’s outer face… how they met with others, entertained, and did business.

The memorial is full of useful information about the beginnings of our country. There are also some exhibits that are hands-on and interactive within the house. The website too, has a ton of information, including a virtual tour of the place.

10 Apr 2023

G is for Grant

Located at W 122nd St & Riverside Dr, New York, 10027
Memorial Website:  https://www.nps.gov/gegr/index.htm

General Grant National Memorial

Referred to as Grant’s Tomb, General Grant National Memorial is the most photogenic memorial in the New York City area. Surrounded by the beautiful Riverside Park, and beautifully symmetric, it is visible even from the boats on the Hudson.

This memorial to Ulysses S. Grant, victorious Union commander of the Civil War and president of the United States, is a granite structure, 150 feet high, and 90 feet wide on each side. An estimated 80,000 people pay their respects to President Grant annually. The monument hosts art and events throughout the year.

Designed by architect John H. Duncan, the granite and marble structure was completed in 1897 and remains one of the largest mausoleums in the United States. On April 27, 1897, an estimated 1.5 million people attended the parade and dedication ceremony for the Grant Monument. In 1959, management was transferred to the National Park Service, and the site was renamed the General Grant National Memorial.

Donations from around the world were made totaling more than $600,000 toward the construction of the Grant Monument. At that time it was the largest public fundraising effort ever. 

The classical lines of the memorial’s architecture are very impressive. Doubtlessly this is one of America’s most ornamental examples of commemorative architecture.

Grant, a West Point graduate, served in the U.S.-Mexican War and the Civil War. His leadership and war skills led to victories in the battles of Vicksburg and Chattanooga and Commander Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. In 1866, Congress awarded Grant his fourth star making him the first ‘General of the Army of the United States.’ Grant was elected twice to serve as president of the United States, in 1868 and 1872. 

The mausoleum, accessed by going down a flight of steps, contains the red granite sarcophagi of Grant and his wife Julia Dent Grant. 

Scenes from the battles are depicted in mosaics in the tomb along with other artwork. The collection includes historic objects and memorabilia associated with Ulysses S. Grant, military objects, bronze busts and statues, and the archives of the General Grant Monument Association, the private organization responsible for designing and building the mausoleum. Flags from the Union Army regiments commanded by Grant along with military details, are also displayed.

The message emblazoned on the facade of the memorial, ‘LET US HAVE PEACE’ is from Grant’s note accepting the nomination for president in 1868. It became his unofficial campaign slogan as well. The message coexists with many war-like eagles on the premises.

The memorial is surrounded by Riverside Park, originally designed in 1874 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.A viewing pavilion overlooking the Hudson River was not accessible to the public when I last visited in October 2022. Same with the Visitor Center and restroom facilities.

A 400 ft mosaic Rolling Bench was created by artist Pedro Silva and the City Arts Workshop, around the memorial’s plaza, in 1973, with involvement from community volunteers including hundreds of children.

08 Apr 2023

F is for Federal

Located at 26 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005
Memorial Website: https://www.nps.gov/feha/index.htm

Federal Hall National Memorial

This is where the history of the United States as a brand new young country began, where its first president was inaugurated. After that momentous event, Federal Hall took on many roles, always playing a significant part in the development of the US.

History of the site

City Hall

The original building at 26 Wall Street served as New York’s first City Hall. When City Hall opened its doors in 1703, it stood at New York’s northern edge. But as the years passed, and the city grew up around it, City Hall became the physical, political, and cultural center of the municipality and every kind of public assembly in colonial New York took place at City Hall.

This is where the Stamp Act Congress (October 7 – 25, 1765), also known as the Continental Congress of 1765, consisting of representatives from the British colonies in North America, held its meeting to draft its message to King George III demanding ‘taxation without representation’ come to an end. 

In 1785, when New York became the capital of the United States under the Articles of Confederation, Congress convened at City Hall.

Federal Hall

To welcome the first truly national government, the city remodeled and renamed City Hall as Federal Hall and it became home to the entire U.S. Government during its first year of its operations under the Constitution. Here on April 30, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. 

The first amendment to the constitution, which came to be known as the Bill of Rights, was passed here.

As the United States capital moved to Philadelphia in 1790 the building was turned into quarters for the state assembly and courts. (The capital moved in 1800 to newly built Washington, D.C.)

State and local government used Federal Hall until 1811. With the opening of the current New York City Hall in 1812, there was further need for the structure and the Federal Hall building was demolished.

U.S. Custom House (1842 to 1862)

In 1833, the firm of Town and Davis was awarded the contract to build a new Custom House building on the site after they won a design competition. The architectural style of the building borrowed from the Parthenon in Athens and the Pantheon in Rome, thus symbolically representing the ideals of Greek and Roman civilizations.

This vault displays a variety of imported goods from the mid-1800’s, when this building served as the Custom House.

The new Custom House opened in 1842. Customs duties collected here on imported goods provided most of the government’s operating income.

US Sub-Treasury (1862-1920)

In 1862, when the Custom House moved to larger quarters, the building became a Sub-Treasury. From this financial stronghold flowed the capital for railroads, telegraph lines, and the development of the American West.

In 1883, John Quincy Adams Ward‘s bronze statue of George Washington was put up on the Subtreasury’s ceremonial front steps.

The Federal Reserve Bank replaced the Subtreasury system in 1920, and the Subtreasury office closed on December 7 of that year. 

Historic Site

After that many government agencies, including the FBI, the Passport Office and other government agencies, used the building as their offices on a temporary basis. In 1939, after the government announced plans to demolish the Subtreasury building, a group called Federal Hall Memorial Associates raised money to prevent the building’s demolition. On April 29, 1939, it was announced that the Subtreasury would become a historic site. The building was designated as Federal Hall Memorial National Historic Site on May 26, 1939.

In 1955 it was designated ‘Federal Hall National Memorial,’ part of the National Park System. And in 2015, Federal Hall was designated a ‘National Treasure’ by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In addition to detailed information about the New York Harbor area’s federal monuments and parks, the memorial has information on the marine environment as well.

The memorial has several other exhibits.

A parade led by military troops and followed by dignitaries and officials in carriages escorted Washington to Federal Hall for the Inauguration. 

George Washington’s Inauguration Gallery, including scenes from the inauguration

History of the Federal Hall building, tracing it through the many iterations

Freedom of the Press, the imprisonment and trial of John Peter Zenger

New York: An American Capital, preview exhibit created by the National Archives and Records Administration. Among the items displayed as part of this exhibit is the balcony slab upon which Washington stood during his first inauguration.

A Portrait Gallery featuring paintings of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton as well as a display showing the restoration of Hamilton Grange National Memorial on its new site in St. Nicholas Park in Harlem.

07 Apr 2023