Discover Americas Hidden Gems in New York
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Discover Americas Hidden Gems in New York

New York has many historical parks and landmarks to entrance anyone interested in either American heritage or specifically New York history. May is National Preservation Month and the theme this year is "Discover America's Hidden Gems". This month go visit your local historical landmarks. Each landmark has its own personal story to tell in relation to the history of your local area.

America’s Hidden Gems are all over the nation, including New York State. In New York State alone, there are 22 national parks, over 5,000 listings on the National Registry of Historic Places, four National Heritage Areas and 262 National Historic Landmarks. 

Most people think of Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty right away when speaking of New York and its history. There is so much more to New York.New York has a rich and old history. The Iroquoian and Algonquian tribes were already settled here by 1100 AD. The French arrived in 1524. The Dutch laid claim in the early 1600’s.England laid a claim. New York was one of the original 13 Colonies, again reiterating her deep and rich history. To even attempt to include all her historical landmarks or places would be cumbersome. However, some do deserve a special mention. 

Castle Garden. NPS PhotoCastle Clinton

The Castle Clinton, located on Manhattan, has nothing to do with former President Bill Clinton or Senator Hillary Clinton. It was in fact named after DeWitt Clinton, former mayor and governor of New York. It does represent the growth of the city and the nation. It was originally built with the intention to prevent an invasion from the British in 1812, according to the National Park Service (NPS). After the War of 1812, the fort was deed to the city of New York. Known as Castle Garden then, it became an entertainment center. From 1855 to 1890,Castle Garden was the predecessor to Ellis Island. It welcomed over eight million immigrants to America from 3 August 1855 to 18 April 1890. The Federal Government took over immigration and opened up Ellis Island.Castle Garden received another face lift and served as the New York City Aquarium from 1896 to 1941. The NPS saved the Castle from demolished and reopened it as the Castle Clinton National Monument in 1975. It still receives millions of visitors but now it serves as the ticket office for the Statue of Liberty.

Fire Island

In Patchogue, the shore is known as Fire Island National Seashore. The ecosystems of Fire Islandare maintained in its natural condition by the NPS. Wilderness camping is also permitted in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness area. While there, be sure to visit the Fire Island Lighthouse. This lighthouse was finished in 1858 however it replaced one that had been there since 1826. It sits 168 feet above sea level and can be seen over 20 miles away. The lighthouse itself is operated by the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society in conjunction with the NPS.

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

Martin Van Buren became President of theUnited Statesin 1837 after uniting various opposing political groups. He ran for the Office from his home in Kinderhook, now a National Historical Site. Tours are offered every hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from mid May through October.

Saint Paul's Church. NPS Photo.Saint Paul’s Church

This New York church, located in Eastchester, served as a Revolutionary War hospital. The church tells many a story from colonial times. Many soldiers as well as prominent New York residents are buried at Saint Paul’s, which is one of New York’s oldest churches. The oldest tombstone – the oldest legible stone that is – dates to 1704. At the cemetery lie both American and Hessian soldiers. The church became a National Historic Site in 1943. It became part of the NPS in 1980.

Women’s Rights National Park

In was in Seneca Fallsin 1848 that the first Women’s Right Convention was born. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, along with four other women, invited the public to this convention to discuss the growing and changing role of women in America. Stanton played a pivotal role in women’s rights, authoring many important strategies of the movement in its formative years.

May is National Preservation Month and the theme this year is "DiscoverAmerica's Hidden Gems". PreservingNew York’s history allows future generations to appreciate the diverse background of New Yorkand of our nation. We can still learn much from those long passed.


Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman began writing in 1985, with her work appearing in several local newspapers. From 2003-2009, she spearheaded an online newspaper company, which had two newspapers, the PA Farm News and The latter covered everything from hometown heroes and new businesses to the Nickel Mines Shooting. She received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from LockHavenUniversity. Her interests include history/travel, learning more about diabetes and how to deal with it, genealogy, Orthodoxy, preparedness and gaming. You may contact Jeanne with your comments and questions.

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Comments (1)

Another excellent article and so very well researched. I really appreciate your work, Jeanne. Bravo!