The Revolutionary War Comes To Life On Your Hop-On hop-Off Bus Tour!
New York City was first settled in 1624, making it one of the oldest European settlements in the new world. Because of its crucial location as a port, the city quickly grew into the largest settlement on the continent, and from there into a bustling and thriving colonial city. As the harbor trade grew, absorbing increased commerce from both the country's exports to Europe as well as Europe's imports into the New World, the population of New York grew exponentially. The city expanded its borders uptown into modern day Harlem and Washington Heights. Many of the neighborhoods seen from your hop-on hop-off bus tour were not even settled at the time of the revolution. When the nation declared Independence in 1776, it was New York City which was chosen as the nation's first capital city due to its prominence as a center of colonial trade, culture, and politics. When the revolutionary war broke out, one of the first major battles was fought for control over New York City. This was referred to as the Battle Of Long Island, in which British and American forces clashed fiercely in Brooklyn for control over the crucial New York harbor. The Americans were defeated, leading to Washington's famous retreat through Manhattan, fighting the British at their backs as they went. After this battle New York City became the British base of operations for the rest of the war. Many significant sightseeing sites throughout New York have been left behind from this crucial stage of the revolution, many of which case be easily accessed from a hop-on hop-off tour bus. The Morris-Jumel Mansion was George Washington's personal headquarters during the extent of the Manhattan campaign, located in current day Roger Morris Park in Washington Heights. The house took on a particularly notable role during the Battle of Harlem Heights, the stage of the overall battle for Manhattan when a smaller Continental force held the high ground of Harlem, accessible from our Uptown hop-on hop-off tour, and Washington Heights against a larger British Force further downtown. The entire area at the time was undeveloped woodlands, leading to battles among the trees and fields rather than in crowded urban streets, as was the case in Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan during previous sections of the battle for the city. Washington here gained several short-term victories, his first in the entire war, over the advancing British forces which helped reinvigorate morale for the Continental army after his steady losses throughout the city forced him further uptown. About a month later Washington would be forced to abandon the city entirely and retreat over the Hudson to New Jersey. During this entire segment of the battle for Harlem the Morris-Jumel Mansion remained the nucleus of Continental strategy manned and lived in by Washington himself, making it an essential sightseeing spot for the historical sightseer. After Washington's retreat the house was occupied by the British and used by British officers as their own headquarters for the area. Almost as far uptown as you can go lies Fort Tryon Park, a beautiful green area extending from 190th Street all the way up to Riverside Drive. The park includes many walking paths and gorgeous wide views of the New Jersey Palisades across the Hudson River. The park also houses the Cloisters, an old Monastery which has been refurbished as an extension of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, another must-see sightseeing stop on our Uptown hop-on hop-off tour. The building itself is an antique sight to see, in addition to the cultural artifacts and works of art housed within. The park is also famously the site of the Continental army's brave last stand on Manhattan Island, in the Battle of Fort Washington. As British troops continued to capture areas in the greater New York area, General Howe decided to attack Fort Washington, the last Continental stronghold on Manhattan Island itself. The fort stood at the highest geographic point on the entire island. Also importantly, it stood across the river from Fort Lee, another Continental fort, and the twin positions made the lower Hudson virtually impregnable to British Warships, cutting off access to a crucial waterway allowing access to the rest of the state. The position of Fort Washington therefore was considered decisive and all-important. Dislocating the Continental forces from the crucial island entirely would be a major step forward for the British. At the time the fort housed twelve hundred men, and Washington ordered the abandonment of the fort in the face of a British offensive. Colonel Robert McGraw, commanding officer of the fort, decided to stay and attempt to hold the position, bringing in an additional eighteen hundred troops to fortify the defenses. With choppy river conditions precluding a retreat by water, the fort quickly fell to a superior British force attacking from all sides on land. The battle constituted the Continental loss of New York City, as Washington's remaining troops fled to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. On the opposite end of the island, almost as far as you can go downtown, lies Bowling Green Park, a small square in the heart of the financial district. Our hop-on hop-off Downtown tour drives straight through this area, providing easy access to Bowling Green and all the following sights. On July ninth, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to Washington's troops at City Hall. Invigorated by the speech, Sons of Liberty rushed to Bowling Greene, where a large lead statue of King George III had been erected six years prior. The mob tore down the statue after which the metal was melted down and used to forge bullets for the Continental Army. Further downtown, at the very southern tip of the island is Battery Park, named for the artillery positions embedded in the area. The strategically placed weaponry was meant to defend both the Hudson and East Rivers from British warships. At the onset of the war the Continental leadership realized the position was indefensible and ordered the removal of the guns to a more pragmatic location. Under cover of night a team of men were sent to dismantle the guns, but were spotted by a British Warship in the harbor, which opened fire on the position. The Continentals returned fire from Manhattan, and this exchange constitutes the first exchange of hostilities on the Hudson, eventually leading to the prolonged and bloody battle for all of New York City and New Jersey. The Park is a major stop on our hop-on hop-off tour. The fort currently available for visit in the park was built just prior to the war of 1812, and saw activity during that war, not during the Revolution. This fort is Castle Clinton, named for the current mayor at the time of the war. After its retirement from service, the fort became property of the city and was used as a cultural and theatrical venue, for both local New Yorkers and sailors docking in the city. The financial district also includes Federal Hall, the historical site of Washington's first inauguration, although the original building has long-since been replaced. The original bible used by Washington for his swearing-in remains available for viewership. It was also the original building that served as the center for the new American government during the years New York served as the capital of the nation. It was here that Congress met for the first time, adopted the Bill of Rights, and created the Departments of State, War and Treasury, and the United States Supreme Court. A large statue of Washington stands outside the modern building today to commemorate the significance of the site. Whether you're a casual tourist or an ardent historian, New York's war history is a deeply embedded aspect of the city's and the country's history. A hop-on hop-off bus tour will take you to all these major sightseeing attractions to learn even more about New York's famous history!