When people think of true patriotic American history, most people don’t think of New York – they go for Boston, or Philadelphia. But I think New York is really the greatest symbol of American Patriotism. It’s where the New York Stock Exchange was founded (duh), making New York the center of the American economy, which established America as a super power. New York also became the home of thousands of immigrants, creating a diverse city. While many walk the freedom trail in Boston, a lot of people pass up the opportunity to visit the historical revolutionary sites in New York. Although New York as a city was loyal to the crown, there were enough patriots to create some history in this city.
New York was a much smaller city back in the Revolutionary Era so the majority of these sites can be all walked. The walk is only 30 minutes total without stopping to view sites.
New York’s City Hall is the original city hall from New York’s colonial days. Security around the building is tight, so you won’t be able to get close for a good look, but it is worth starting here to note that this is where George Washington first read the Declaration of Independence to the people of New York. The people of New York became so riled up at the reading, that they rioted and marched all the way down to Bowling Green and tore down a statue of King George III.
South Street Seaport
The Seaport is home to some of the oldest architecture in Manhattan, including a renovated sailing ship. There is also the Fulton Fish market, and the South Street Seaport Museum. Additionally, there is a mini Smorgasburg here.
You’ve probably heard of Trinity Church, given its fame for being the second oldest church in Manhattan. When the church was built, it was the tallest structure in Manhattan, which is hard to imagine now that it stands next to sky scrapers.
Wandering the grave yard is eerie, but necessary to take note of how old and worn the grave stones here are. This is also were Alexander Hamilton is buried. Of course, the national treasure is hidden under Trinity Church (JK).
New York Stock Exchange
Across Broadway from Trinity Church is Wall Street, which is now a pedestrianized street, you will find both the NYSE and Federal Hall. Securities Markets were stablished in New York before the NYSE in 1790, when Alexander Hamilton issued bonds in order to help the government deal with the overwhelming debt from the American Revolution. The NYSE was not organized until March, 1817. Unfortunately due to security reasons, the general public is not allowed to visit the interior of the Stock Exchange.
Most people don’t know how Wall Street received its name, although it is a pretty simple story. in the original Dutch settlement they built a wall on the northern end of their land for security. A street ran along the wall, which they name “Wall Street.” Today’s Wall Street runs along that original path.
Across the street from the NYSE, is Federal Hall. Federal Hall was the site of George Washington’s inaugural speech after becoming the first president of the United States, as well as the first Capitol Building of the United States.
First thing you will probably see as you are approaching Bowling Green is the mob of foreign tourists trying to take pictures with the Charging Bull statue. So many selfie sticks. It was barely possible to even see the Bull. The Bull was originally a piece of “guerilla art.” The artist, Di Modica, spent thousands to create the statue following the 1987 market crash, and left it in front of the NYSE on December 1989. The public’s love for the new statue ensured that the government installed it just two blocks south of the NYSE at Bowling Green. The statue is clearly a symbol of American’s strength and perseverance through ups and downs (there is an irony here that the foreign tourists particularly love this statue).
If you look towards the fountain in the center of the park of Bowling Green, this is where the statue of Kind George II stood, before the angry mob tore it down following George Washington’s reading of the Declaration of Independence.
I wrote a more lengthy blog post on Fraunces Tavern a couple days ago, and would recommend going here to read everything amazing about this place. Fraunces Tavern is actually considered THE oldest tavern in New York City. It was a secret meeting point for the Son’s of Liberty, and a favorite spot of the Founding Fathers. So popular that, in fact, George Washington hosted a farewell dinner to his officers here. The tavern is beautiful, and you can visit a small but really valuable museum in the upstairs of the building. They hold some original American flags, and other Revolutionary memorablia. You won’t be able to help feeling patriotic in this Tavern, and it is a great place to end a walking tour with some beers (try the Samuel Fraunces Ale!) and traditional Tavern Food.
As an extra add on, while down in the financial district seeing the historic sites, you can also stop by St Paul’s Chapel, where George Washington attended service immediately following his oath of office, and One World Trade.