9 Best Historical Sites in New York City

Many people who come to New York City do not realize it’s incredible history. Beyond the soaring skyscrapers, Broadway shows, and 5th Avenue shopping there are very few cities in the world that have so many historical sites as New York does. Many of these sites relate to George Washington and the American Revolutionary War. You can visit the site where George Washington first read the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Army and the location where he was inaugurated as the 1st President of the United States. Visiting New York City is like stepping back in time…


Listed below are my Top 9 Favorite Historical Sites in New York City:

  1. City Hall Park
  2. St. Paul’s Chapel
  3. Trinity Chuch
  4. Bowling Green
  5. The Battery / Battle of Brooklyn
  6. Fraunces Tavern
  7. Stone Street
  8. Wall Street
  9. Federal Hall


New York City History

New York City was the first capital of the United States and home to many of the most important events in the founding of the country. George Washington fiercely defended New York City due to it’s strategic proximity to the Hudson River. Washington viewed the control of the Hudson River to be the “Key to the Continent”. During the American Revolutionary War, the British would occupy New York City from 1776 to 1783.

The sovereignty of the United States was finally recognized by the signing of the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783. On November 25 of that same year, the last of the British troops evacuated New York City.


1)      City Hall Park

Location: Corner of Broadway and Park Rowcastelloplan

City Hall Park is the site of the old city Commons, where on July 9, 1776, General George Washington read the Declaration of Independence to the troops of the Continental Army. This was the first reading of the Declaration of Independence in New York.

In 1776, the northern end of the city Commons marked the border of the developed section of Manhattan Island. At the time, north of the border lay farmland, hills, forest, and snakes.


2)      St Paul’s Chapel

Location: 209 Broadwaynew_york_st-_pauls_chapel_1831

St Paul’s Chapel was completed in 1766 and is the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City. General George Washington was a man of great faith and spent many a day at St Paul’s Chapel in prayer for the Colonies. George Washington’s Inauguration Day Prayer Services were also held at St Paul’s Chapel. On September 21, 1776, during the Great Fire of New York, St Paul’s Chapel was one of the few buildings that survived. It’s survival was helped in part due to a Bucket Brigade. Hundreds of people doused St Paul’s Chapel with buckets of water from the Hudson River to protect it.

In the days after 9/11, St Paul’s Chapel was called “The Little Chapel That Stood” as it served as a refuge for the World Trade Center recovery workers.


3)      Trinity Church 

Location: 75 Broadway

The first Trinity Church building was built by a small group of members of the Church of England in 1698. It was destroyed during the Great New York City Fire of 1776 and was rebuilt in 1790. The legendary founding father Alexander Hamilton is buried in the Trinity Church NYC cemetery.

On September 11th, 2001, many people congregated inside Trinity Church to protect themselves against falling debris.

Trinity Church NYC happens to be one of the largest landowners in Manhattan.


4)      Bowling Green Park

Location: Whitehall Streetkinggeorgeiii

After General Washington’s speech at the city Commons, Patriots stormed down Broadway to Bowling Green Park and tore down the statue of King George III. The statue was sent to a foundry in Connecticut where it was melted into 42,088 musket balls for the Patriots to use against the English. The Patriots also ripped off the iron crowns that were on many of the gate’s posts. The original gate from 1776 still circles Bowling Green Park to this day. Bowling Green New York is the oldest park in New York City.


5)      The Battery / Battle of Brooklyn

Location: Battery Park1024px-battleoflongisland

The Battery is located in a section of Battery Park near where the Hudson and East Rivers converge. This location was home to the first Dutch settlers in New York City who came here in 1623. A battery of cannons were set up at the time to defend the city from attacks. When standing in Battery Park you can gaze out over the rivers and see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and Brooklyn. Brooklyn was the location of one of the great battles of the American Revolutionary War, the Battle of Brooklyn.

On August 27, 1776, British forces clashed with General Washington and the Continental Army in the Battle of Brooklyn. George Washington’s Army suffered heavy casualties and were in danger of being defeated and captured. Two days later on August 29, 1776, under the cover of night General Washington and 9,000 of his troops crossed from Brooklyn to Manhattan to escape British forces. Many historians call this escape the greatest military retreat in history.


6)      Fraunces Tavern NYC

Location: 54 Pearl Street1832frauncestavern

Located in downtown Manhattan and just a few blocks from Wall Street, Fraunces Tavern was first opened in 1762 and is one of the oldest operating taverns in New York City. It is the site where on December 4, 1783, General George Washington gave the farewell speech to his officers of the Continental Army after the Revolutionary War had ended. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Fraunces Tavern houses a museum, bar, and restaurant.


7)      Stone Street

Location: Stone Street

A street located at the current location of present day Stone Street was first established in the early 1600’s. Stone Street, as it is now named, was one of the first paved roads in New York City and provides visitors with a window back in time of what 17th Century New York City street looked like. Nowadays it is a popular meeting spot for Wall Street bankers and social gatherings.


8)      Wall Street

Location: Wall Streetwall_street_1867

Wall Street has become known as the financial center of the United States. Many of the largest financial institutions in the world as well as the New York Stock Exchange call it home.  On the morning of Presidential Inauguration on April 30, 1789, General George Washington walked up Wall Street to the site where Federal Hall now stands to the cheers of crowds lining the street.


9)      Federal Hall

Location: 26 Wall Street

On April 30, 1789, General George Washington was inaugurated as the 1st President of the United States at the site of the current location of Federal Hall. After his inauguration, the Chancellor of New York, Robert Livingston announced, “Long Live George Washington, President of the United States!” to the crowd attending the ceremony at which time they erupted with applause.


Whether you live in New York City or have plans to travel to New York City soon be sure to check out these historical sites.

You won’t be disappointed!

Jeff & The Explorer’s Passage Team

If you have some favorite historical sites in New York City we would love to hear about them just shoot us an email at info@explorerspassage.com or if you would like to learn about our walking adventure in New York City CLICK HERE!