Happy 100th Anniversary, National Park Service!

Happy 100th Anniversary, National Park Service!

Thursday, August 25, 2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS). To celebrate this momentous occasion, guests have free admission to every national park from August 25 through August 28. When using social media, tag your posts #FindYourPark or #EncuentraTuParque!

Federal Hall National Memorial (NPS Photo)

The NPS is near and dear to my heart: you can say I was weaned on the National Park Service, being that both my parents worked or still work for the organization. Some things I have learned along the way: Not all National Park Service areas are actually National Parks, so each entity is called a “unit.” Of the 413 NPS units, only 58 are designated as National Parks. Other NPS units are monuments, memorials, lakeshores, etc.

The good news is living in NYC—or traveling here—gives you access to many NPS units. And what better time to make a visit to these historic sites than the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service?

African Burial Ground National Monument (Financial District) – This important historical location was used by free and enslaved Africans and Americans of African descent in the 17th and 18th centuries and was a significant archeological find in 1991.

African Burial Ground National Monument (NPS Photo)

Castle Clinton National Monument (Financial District) – Castle Clinton, formerly known as Southwest Battery, was a fort constructed for the War of 1812. Called Castle Garden in the 1820s, this was an opera house and theater and later an immigrant processing center.

Federal Hall National Memorial (Financial District) – The “Birthplace of American Government,” this is where George Washington took his oath of office and became the first president, as well as housed the first Congress and Supreme Court.

Fire Island National Seashore (Long Island) – This coastal NPS unit is perfect for folks who enjoy hiking, canoeing, boating, fishing, sightseeing and other outdoor activities. You can also visit the Fire Island Lighthouse that has two floors of exhibits about maritime history of the area.

General Grant National Memorial (Harlem) – The largest mausoleum in North America, this is where President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia, are laid to rest.

Governors Island National Monument (Governors Island) – The summer 2016 season is open though Sept. 25. Guests can walk around the island and learn more about New York Harbor, Fort Jay and Castle Williams.

Hamilton Grange National Memorial (Harlem) – Founding father and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton owned this home in NYC. Admission and tours are free and period rooms are accessible by guided tour only.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site (Lower East Side) – An Affiliated Site of the NPS, this museum gives visitors a chance to see how working class immigrants made lives for themselves in the tenement apartment building of 97 Orchard St.

Statue of Liberty National Monument (includes Ellis Island at Liberty Island) – Make advanced reservations to visit the grounds, pedestal and crown of Lady Liberty. Also, visit Ellis Island and its Immigration Museum where people can see exhibits and take tours regarding the 12 million immigrants who passed through here from 1892-1954.

Statue of Liberty National Monument (NPS Photo)

Stonewall National Monument (West Village) – The June 28, 1969 uprising at Stonewall Inn was one of the most important moments in the Civil Rights movement for members of the LGBTQ community. The monument itself is located across the street from Stonewall Inn, as Stonewall Inn is a working bar and privately owned.

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site (Flatiron District) – Teddy Roosevelt was the only U.S. president born in NYC. He also had a huge hand in making the NPS what it is today. He signed the Antiquities Act in June 1906 that allowed the president to protect historic landmarks and other areas of historic or scientific interest. (It was under President Woodrow Wilson that the National Park Service was created on August 25, 1916.)

And here’s a link to NPS celebrations at various units all over the country.

President Obama has approved almost two dozen new NPS units during his eight years in office, including one of my dad’s parks (Pullman National Monument). It will be exciting to see what new units are designated in the coming years by future presidents.

Happy 100th Anniversary, National Park Service! And here’s to many, many more.

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