The Battle of Harlem Heights
New York has always been a hotbed for independence, starting back in 1775, with the Revolutionary War. The state played a decisive role in America’s fight for freedom from England, with a third of its battles being fought (and Britain’s surrender) on its soil. There are many fascinating Revolutionary War historic sites to visit across New York where you can learn way more than what you may remember from history class. Here's how Harlem, and ten other important New York sites, made history in the Revolutionary War:
1. THE BATTLE OF HARLEM HEIGHTS
The Battle of Harlem Heights was fought on what is now Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus. There, you can find a plaque that reads “to commemorate the battle of Harlem heights, won by Washington’s troops on this site, September 16th, 1776,” on the university’s mathematics building. The battle of Harlem Heights offered a boost of morale after George Washington’s troops, who were outnumbered, successfully warded off the British, and were able to keep northern Manhattan from being taken over.
120th Street between Broadway and Riverside Drive, just west of Columbia University, New York, NY
2. FORT TICONDEROGA
Known to American soldiers in Revolutionary days as the “old French fort,” the battles and events that happened at Fort Ticonderoga shaped the course of American history more so than most other sites. It played a role in both the American Revolution and the French & Indian War. Nestled in the Adirondacks, just across Lake Champlain from Vermont, this fort boasts both natural upstate beauty and a trove of history to discover. Guides in costume help tell the story, along with daily programs and tours, hands-on activities, and special events -- including (loud) demonstrations of firing a canon.
102 Fort Ti Road, Ticonderoga, NY | (518) 585 - 2210
3. OLD FORT NIAGARA
Photo: Old Fort Niagara
Americans were the third nation to occupy this fort after the signing of the Jay Treaty in 1794. Before that, it was held by the French and the British. Today, Old Fort Niagara is open to visitors most days of the year, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. If demonstrations and reenactments are what you’re after, Old Fort Niagara hosts musket and cannon demonstrations daily. It is considered to be an ancient fort, and some locals even report that it is haunted by a fallen French soldier.
102 Morrow Plaza, Youngstown, NY | (716) 745 - 7611
4. FORT STANWIX
Named after the British General who led its construction efforts, John Stanwix, Fort Stanwix is located in Rome, New York, and is a national historic landmark where visitors can learn all about the treaties signed there, and how the events that occurred at the fort impacted the Battle of Saratoga. Visitors can walk through the star-shaped fort and view war artifacts in its onsite museum.
112 East Park Street, Rome, NY | (315) 338 - 7730
5. FORT TYRON PARK
Fort Tyron Park in Washington Heights, located in north western Manhattan, was named after Sir William Tryon, the last British governor of Colonial New York. The Battle of Fort Washington took place here in 1776. While American troops lost this battle, it goes down in history as the battle where Margaret Corbin, who accompanied her husband into battle as a nurse, took control of a cannon after her husband perished. You can find a plaque dedicated to her efforts at 190th Street and Fort Washington Avenue.
Riverside Drive to Broadway, West 192nd Street to Dyckman Street, New York, NY
6. FORT ONTARIO
Photo: City of Oswego
Located in Oswego, this site welcomes guests from May to October. Fort Ontario played a role in the French & Indian War, The Revolutionary War, and World War II. Visitors can expect a first-hand look at the officer’s headquarters, the soldier’s barracks, period furniture, and living history reenactments. The fort also holds several special events throughout the season.
1 East 4th Street, Oswego, NY | (315) 343 - 4711
7. FRAUNCES TAVERN
If you prefer your history lesson served with a burger and beer, reserve a table at Fraunces Tavern in the Financial District of Manhattan. Not only is it New York City’s oldest tavern, but it was also a meeting and strategizing place for the Sons of Liberty, the political organization headed by Samuel Adams and John Hancock, among others. George Washington frequented the haunt, too. The restaurant features different rooms to indulge in delicious food and drinks, as well as a museum full of artifacts and documents. Who says you have to learn on an empty stomach?!
54 Pearl Street, New York, NY | (212) 968 - 1776 (hehe!)
8. THE BATTLES OF SARATOGA
What was arguably the exact turning point of the Revolutionary War, the Battles of Saratoga have a special place in American history. The British, feeling overly confident after taking Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Edward (northeast of Saratoga Springs), underestimated troops of the Continental Army, and between the victories arising from the first (September 19, 1777) and second (October 7, 1777) Battles of Saratoga, it was precisely enough for French allies to finally recognize our Independence, and send reinforcements in. The site has since been commemorated at the Saratoga National Historic Park. Here, visitors can hike Victory Woods, get a glimpse of the Saratoga Monument, tour Schuyler House (home of American General Philip Schuyler), and feel the gallant energy of the battlegrounds.
648 Hwy 32, Stillwater, NY | (518) 664 - 9821
9. ORISKANY BATTLEFIELD
Just south of the Mohawk River in Oriskany, New York, this is the site of “The Bloodiest Battle of The American Revolution”. Legend has it that the “creek ran red with blood.” Despite it’s harrowing history, Oriskany Battlefield today is a beautiful park with walking paths, open fields and spaces, and trees.
7801 Hwy 69, Oriskany, NY | (315) 338 - 7730
10. VAN CORTLANDT HOUSE MUSEUM
This museum is in the oldest house in the borough of the Bronx. Throughout the Revolutionary War, George Washington used the house as his home base. Today you can visit for a group tour and learn the stories of the people and families who made New York history during the Revolutionary War.
6036 Broadway, Bronx, NY | (718) 543 - 3344
New York makers celebrate places, and the period-appropriate staples, along the journey to victory!
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