National Parks of NYC

I have two passports. One is a standard, U.S. passport. The other is a passport to America’s National Parks. I am incredibly nerdy and have been toting the second around on vacations and day trips since 2008. The vast majority of National Parks have a little cancellation stamp that you can press into your passport in the corresponding (and color coded) region location. After a trip to Boston during the National Park Service centennial (hello, celebratory bonus stamps), the Northeast region of my passport was full. This hasn’t stopped me from collecting the remaining stamps. I still don’t have all the stamps for the Northeast region, but I’m three steps closer after a few days in New York City. 
Hamilton Grange National Memorial.

The first stop was a visit uptown to Hamilton Grange. The exhibition area was standard for a National Park: much more information than artifacts. During the tour, we were able to see restored versions of the front entrance, dining room, parlor, and Hamilton’s office. Two rooms (on the otherwise restored floor) focused on the history of the building. This included an entire room, complete with video, dedicated to the 2008 move of the house. Picture a historic home being moved through Manhattan–the image is as crazy as you would think. Overall, the tour focused more on the history of the building than the Hamilton’s life there; the perspective was interesting, but didn’t leave me satisfied.

General Grant’s Tomb (General Grant National Memorial). 
We then walked about a mile to get to General Grant’s tomb (General Grant National Memorial). A trip to the visitor’s center is recommended…the video was incredibly informational, but this might just be because I knew an embarrassingly little amount about Grant’s life. We visited the tomb before the visitor’s center, which was a backwards approach in retrospect. If we hadn’t been so close, I’m not sure that I would have personally found the visit worth the time–not to undermine the incredible accomplishments of General Grant. I certainly took something away from the experience, but was more moved by the video than the largest mausoleum in North America (according to the National Park Service). We skipped the tour at this site due to awkward timing, but were told that the afternoon tours rarely occur anyway.
Theodore Roosevelt birthplace, “room” where the American Museum of Natural History was created. 
The last visit for the trip was Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace. This site had been closed for quite some time, so the anticipation was high. On arrival, I was underwhelmed by the dated displays and movie playing. My perspective quickly turned around when I found out that we would actually be entering the rooms during our tour. Most historic homes use a barrier to keep visitors out of a room or on a designated path, leaving them to gaze at the artifacts from a distance. Our park ranger let the initial barrier rope down and were were free to wander while she spoke–as long as we remained on the same color carpet as her. 
Soon after the tour started, it was indicated that Teddy hadn’t been born in the building we were standing in. He was born in an entirely identical brownstone one building away. This took away some of the emotion that accompanied standing in the “room” where the charter for the American Museum of Natural History was signed. After the tour, I had a really open and engaging conversation with the ranger about some of the strange choices that the National Park Service made in regards to the site. Overall, this experience was my favorite (even if Teddy wasn’t actually born in the building).
From getting my first stamp at the Statue of Liberty to nearly drowning at Fire Island National Seashore, the Northeast region has been quite an adventure: and it isn’t over yet.

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