Article Summary: New York City National Parks
Best National Parks in New York City. There’s so much more to this exciting place than the Empire State Building and Yankee Stadium. In this article, we’ll familiarize you with the incredible national park sites that are actually within the city limits.
There are 10 national park sites for you to see on your next visit to the city that never sleeps.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Well, actually it does since I was born and raised in New York City. Not only that but I taught history for over a quarter of a century. Now I enjoy researching and writing these article for More Than Just Parks.
So, What Is A National Park?
We get asked that question a lot because there’s a difference between a “national park” and a “national park site.” To help you understand that difference you might want to check out our article titled: What Is A National Park Really?
If you’re planning a trip to New York City or simply want to learn more about it then I recommend picking up a copy of The Intimate City: Walking New York by Michael Kimmelman.
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Table Of Contents: National Parks In New York City
National Parks In New York City
- New York City National Parks
- Top 10 New York City National Parks
- National Parks In New York City FAQ
- Meet The Parks Brothers
- Map Of National Park Sites In New York City
- List Of National Parks In New York City
- We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
New York City National Parks
1. African Burial Ground National Monument
As a native New Yorker, I’m thrilled at the prospect of so many amazing national park sites in my old stomping grounds.
The African Burial Ground National Monument is a historic site located in Lower Manhattan in New York City. The monument marks the location of a 6.6-acre burial ground that was used from the late 1600s until the mid-1700s as a burial site for both free and enslaved Africans.
During the construction of a federal office building in the 1990s, archaeologists discovered the remains of over 400 individuals buried at the site. This discovery was significant because it provided tangible evidence of the lives and deaths of enslaved and free Africans in colonial New York City.
After years of protests and advocacy by community members and activists, the site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 and later became a National Monument in 2006.
The African Burial Ground National Monument serves as a powerful reminder of the history of slavery and racism in the United States. It also recognizes the contributions that African Americans have made to American society and honors the lives and legacies of those who were buried at the site.
Today, visitors can explore the monument and learn about the history and significance of the African Burial Ground through exhibits, displays, and educational programs. The monument also serves as a site for commemorative events and ceremonies, such as the annual Ancestral Remembrance Day, which honors the memory of those buried at the site.
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2. Castle Clinton National Monument
It’s located at the southern tip of Manhattan Island and it has an amazing story to tell.
The monument was originally built as a fort in 1808 to protect New York Harbor from potential attacks by the British during the War of 1812.
After the war, the fort was used as a military prison and later as an entertainment venue, hosting various events such as theater performances, opera shows, and even a famous circus run by P.T. Barnum.
In 1890, the fort was renamed Castle Garden and became the first immigrant processing station in the United States. It operated as such until 1892, when Ellis Island became the primary entry point for immigrants to the United States.
During the 20th century, Castle Garden served various functions, including as an aquarium and as the headquarters for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. In 1946, the fort was designated as a National Monument, and it was transferred to the National Park Service in 1950.
Today, Castle Clinton National Monument is open to visitors, who can explore the fort and learn about its fascinating history. The monument includes exhibits that showcase the fort’s role in American history, as well as its use as an immigration processing station. The site also offers stunning views of New York Harbor and the surrounding areas.
RELATED: 25 EPIC NEW YORK STATE NATIONAL PARKS TO VISIT
3. Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration
America is a nation of immigrants whose history often began at Ellis Island. Today it’s a historical site, but it opened in 1892 as an immigration station. It served this purpose for more than 60 years until it closed in 1954.
Ellis Island saw millions of newly arrived immigrants pass through its doors. It has been estimated that close to 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island, which is truly amazing.
Today visitors can explore the National Immigration Museum. You can walk the halls of the former processing station just as so many people did over so many years.
The museum was established in 1990 and is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of immigration to the United States, with a focus on the immigrant experience at Ellis Island.
The museum includes exhibits on the history of immigration, the restoration of the main building, and the American Immigrant Wall of Honor, which honors immigrants from all over the world.
Visitors to the museum can explore the restored Great Hall, learn about the experiences of the immigrants who passed through Ellis Island, and see artifacts and photographs that help to bring the history of immigration to life.
The museum also offers guided tours and educational programs to further educate visitors on the significance of Ellis Island and the role it played in the history of immigration to the United States.
RELATED: 10 MUST-SEE HISTORIC SITES IN NEW YORK
4. Federal Hall National Memorial
Once upon a time, the government of the United States operated out of New York City. Federal Hall is where George Washington took the oath of office as our first President. This site was home to the first Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices.
Located at at 26 Wall Street in the Financial District of Manhattan, the current structure is a Customs House, which served as part of the U.S. Treasury Department. Today the building serves as a museum and memorial to our first President and the beginnings of the United States of America.
While you’re there, check out the first inaugural bible, the rotunda view, the inauguration balcony slab, the view of Wall Street, the bank vault, the portrait gallery and the museum store. It’s an incredible place where you can learn so much about our nation’s earliest history.
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5. General Grant National Memorial
Washington was the first victorious general to ascend to the White House. He would be followed by others among them Ulysses S. Grant. Grant (1822-1885) commanded the victorious Union army during the American Civil War (1861-1865) and served as the 18th U.S. president from 1869 to 1877.
The General Grant National Memorial, also known as Grant’s Tomb, is the final resting place of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. It is located in Riverside Park, New York City.
The idea for the memorial was first proposed by Grant’s admirers soon after his death in 1885, and fundraising efforts began. The memorial was finally completed in 1897 and was designed in the classical style, featuring a large dome and columns.
The memorial has undergone several renovations and restoration projects over the years to preserve its historical significance. It is now part of the National Park Service and is open to the public for tours and educational programs.
The General Grant National Memorial is an important symbol of national unity and serves as a tribute to President Grant’s legacy and his contributions to the country as a military leader and president. It’s also a place of remembrance for all who have served in the military, as well as a popular tourist destination.
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Top 10 New York City National Parks
6. Governors Island National Monument
Governors Island National Monument is a former military fort located in New York Harbor. The island has a rich and complex history, having served as a military base for over two centuries before being transferred to the National Park Service in 2003.
The island was first used as a military base by the British during the American Revolution and later served as a strategic defense post for the United States during the Civil War and World War II.
In 1966, the island was transferred to the Coast Guard and served as a major support center for the service until 1996.
Today, Governors Island is a popular tourist destination and public park, offering visitors a chance to experience the island’s rich history and natural beauty. The island features scenic views of the harbor and the Manhattan skyline, as well as historical landmarks such as Fort Jay and Castle Williams.
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7. Hamilton Grange National Memorial
With Lin Manuel-Miranda’s hit musical and movie Hamilton, America’s interest in its first Secretary of the Treasury has never been higher. What better time then to travel to Hamilton Grange National Memorial.
He was into obscurity in the British West Indies, but Alexander Hamilton went on to become George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War. Afterward, he became one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers.
He was an impassioned champion of a strong federal government, and played a key role in defending and ratifying the U.S. Constitution. He was America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, George Washington’s most influential cabinet advisor and the father of America’s banking system.
The Grange is believed to be the only home Alexander Hamilton ever owned. Located in Manhattan’s Hamilton Heights Historic District, visitors can tour Alexander Hamilton’s home. You will be treated to exhibit galleries containing historical information about Alexander Hamilton.
Guided tours as well as self-guided tours of the home’s three restored period rooms are also available. And, if that’s not enough, you can also view fifteen- minute introductory film on demand.
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8. Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site
The Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site is an opportunity to travel back in time to a world of different cultures representing different racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
It’s housed in a tenement building that was built in 1863 and served as home to an estimated 7,000 working-class immigrant families between 1863 and 1935.
The museum was established in 1988 with the goal of preserving the history of immigrant life in New York City and interpreting the experiences of the diverse groups of immigrants who lived in the tenement building.
The museum includes restored apartments that depict the living conditions and lifestyles of immigrant families from different time periods and countries of origin.
Visitors to the museum can explore the restored apartments and learn about the challenges faced by immigrant families as they adjusted to life in a new country.
The museum also offers guided tours and educational programs to further educate visitors on the history of immigration to the United States and the role that the Lower East Side played in shaping the country’s cultural and social landscape.
RELATED: 36 EPIC NATIONAL PARKS IN WASHINGTON D.C.
9. Statue Of Liberty National Monument
The Statue of Liberty has come to represent freedom, democracy and justice that societies around the world have sought to emulate. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks in both America and the world.
Just as the American Revolution became a joint effort between America and France so did the Statue of Liberty. The French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi created the statue itself out of sheets of hammered copper, while Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the man behind the famed Eiffel Tower, designed the statue’s steel framework.
The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the people of America. It was erected atop an American-designed pedestal on a small island in Upper New York Bay, now known as Liberty Island, and dedicated by President Grover Cleveland in 1886.
RELATED: 10 MUST-SEE HISTORIC SITES IN NEW YORK
Things To See & Do
There are many things to do and see at this historic monument, including:
- Take a tour of the Statue of Liberty: Visitors can climb the staircase to the crown of the statue for panoramic views of New York City and the harbor. Guided tours are available to provide historical context and information about the statue’s significance.
- Explore the museum exhibits: The museum at the base of the statue features exhibits on the history of the statue, including its creation and symbolism, as well as the history of immigration to the United States.
- Visit the gift shop: The gift shop at the base of the statue offers a variety of souvenirs, including books, prints, and replica items related to the Statue of Liberty and immigration.
- Take a ferry ride: Visitors must take a ferry to reach Liberty Island, and the ferry ride provides views of the statue and the harbor. The ferry also stops at Ellis Island, another important site in the history of immigration to the United States.
- Attend a ranger-led program: The National Park Service offers ranger-led programs, including talks, walks, and interpretive programs, that provide insight into the history and significance of the Statue of Liberty.
- Enjoy a picnic: There are picnic areas on Liberty Island where visitors can relax and enjoy a meal with friends or family.
- Watch a film: The museum at the base of the statue features a film that provides historical context and information about the statue and its significance.
10. Stonewall National Monument
The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began on June 28, 1969. New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City.
The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar. This led to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park.
Stonewall National Monument is a new national park unit. It’s located in Christopher Park and is a part of New York City’s Historic Greenwich Village. Visitors can the exhibit on the fence at the park and also virtually.
National Parks In New York City FAQ
Did You Know There Are 12 National Park Sites That Surround The Port of New York City? These 12 sites preserve more than 400 years of American history! We invite you to explore the past and investigate its relevance in our lives today.
The Adirondack Park was created in 1892 by the state of New York. Containing six-million acres, the Park is the largest park in the contiguous United States. It covers one-fifth of New York State, is equal in size to neighboring Vermont, and is nearly three times the size of Yellowstone National Park! The state of New York features some amazing national parks.
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Central Park influenced the development of urban parks nationwide and is widely regarded a masterpiece of landscape architecture. Central Park is a National Historic Landscape (1963) and a Scenic Landscape of the City of New York (1974).
Why Trust Us About National Parks In New York City?
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. We’ve spent our entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, USDA, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
Map Of National Park Sites In New York City
List Of National Parks In New York City
- African Burial Ground National Monument
- Castle Clinton National Monument
- Ellis Island
- Federal Hall National Memorial
- General Grant National Memorial
- Governors Island National Monument
- Hamilton Grange National Memorial
- Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site
- Statue Of Liberty National Monument
- Stonewall National Monument
We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then sign up below!
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