As a history nerd, I love taking a deep dive into a destination’s past. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t understand where people have come from, you’ll never understand where they are now. It’s a big reason why I love museums so much.
As one of the oldest cities in the country, New York City has a lot of history.
First settled by the Dutch as “New Amsterdam,” the Dutch the city surrendered to the English in 1664. The city was a major trading center located at the mouth of the Hudson River. After the Revolution, New York was the hub of America’s power and government, officially becoming the nation’s capital in 1789 when George Washington was sworn in. While it’s no longer the nation’s capital (it moved to Philadelphia the following year and then to Washington, DC in 1800), NYC was still the beating heart of the country.
Since I love adding “themes” to my travels, a great theme for your visit to New York is colonial history – and much of the city’s colonial history is still present today.
Most of the sights are located in the financial district (one of the most underappreciated parts of NYC), so it’s easy to visit everything in a day.
1. The Battery (aka Battery Park)
Located on the southern tip of Manhattan, this park is where the Dutch built Fort Amsterdam in 1625 to defend their settlement. The British took the area over in 1664 and eventually renamed it Fort George. The fort’s cannon battery wasn’t used until 1776 when American forces took it over after declaring independence. While the fort was mostly destroyed during the Revolution, the battery was expanded after the war’s end.
Today, there are over 20 monuments and plaques in the park, covering everything from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 to immigration and much more. You can wander around the fort and then stroll through the surrounding park and take in the beautiful waterfront views of the harbor, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.