National Historic Landmark: St. Patrick’s Cathedral


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Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the New York diocese and is perhaps the most famous Catholic Church in the US. It is on the busiest section of 5th Avenue, across the street from Rockefeller Center.


Once inside the doors, it is an oasis of calm in the midst of chaos. Though crowded with tourists when there is not a service, there is still a hush when compared with the blaring horns of the traffic outside.


The land was originally purchased by the Jesuits for a college campus in 1810 and served multiple purposes over the next several decades. At that time, this area was considered north of the city proper.


Construction on the cathedral began in 1858 and took 20 years to complete because work on it stopped during the Civil War. The Gothic Revival-style cathedral was dedicated in 1879 and had the main spires added nearly ten years later. They were the tallest structures in NYC at the time.


Renovations and additions continued into the early 1900s. The Cathedral was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Compare the marble color in this photo, taken in 2010 to the aerial view of the spires from 2014 at the end of the post

The last time we visited, there was an extensive restoration underway. The Cathedral that I’d thought was grey all my life gradually emerged as pristine white marble. The restoration cost $177 million and was completed just in time for Pope Francis’ visit in 2015.


Location: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designated or established: 12/8/1976

Date of my visit: 8/1/2014

The Pietà by William Partridge is three times the size of Michelangelo’s Pietà
From the Top of the Rock, you can clearly see the cross-shaped floor plan in the style of the great European cathedrals.

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area: DeWint House


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The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area  is one of the forty-nine federally-recognized National Heritage Areas in the United States. The Hudson Valley NHA is considered a National Park Service affiliate. Through the partnership with the Park Service and other organizations, the Heritage Area includes over one hundred sites spread across ten counties in New York State.


I visited the DeWint House in Tappan, New York. This site is billed as Washington’s Headquarters in Tappan. George Washington stayed there on four separate occasions between 1780 and 1783.


I stopped first at the Visitor Center in the 1865 carriage house. A later owner of the DeWint house added this structure to the property after returning from the Civil War. There are many artifacts displayed from Washington’s time and there is an introductory video in which two charming children take visitors on a virtual tour.


The DeWint house was built in 1700, evidenced by the numbers set into the brick facade. During the Revolutionary War, it was owned by the DeWint family who had made their fortune in the West Indies. Over the years, the home passed to different owners until the Masons bought it and restored it as a Masonic Shrine in 1932.IMG_2641

George Washington stayed at the DeWint House four times during the Revolution. His most notable visit was the second, when he signed the death warrant of John Andre. Andre was the major who conspired with Benedict Arnold in the thwarted plans to hand West Point over to the British.


During a later stay, Washington negotiated the evacuation of British forces from New York City with British General Carleton.


After watching the video and looking at the displays in the carriage house, I went over to the stone and brick house. The house’s two first-floor rooms have been restored by the Masons and furnished to reflect the 1780s and Washington’s visit.


You can only peer into the rooms through a Plexiglas partition, so taking in the video and the museum displays first is necessary to appreciate the history of the site.


To see my other posts from The Hudson Valley National Heritage Area, please click the links below:

  • DeWint House (Washington’s HQ at Tappan)
  • Camp Shanks
  • Storm King Arts Center– Coming Soon!
  • New Windsor Cantonment– Coming Soon!
  • Purple Heart Hall of Honor– Coming Soon!

Location: 20 Livingston Avenue, Tappan, NY

Designation: National Heritage Area, National Historic Landmark

Date designation declared: 1996 NHA, 1966 NHL

Date of my visit: 8/18/2018


The Pierpont Morgan Library National Historic Landmark


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If you’ve watched the series or read The Alienist, a work of historical fiction by Caleb Carr, you’ve seen a representation of J.P. Morgan as a powerful financier who controlled Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt’s New York City of 1896.


In reality he was the USA’s most influential banker, financing the railroad, US Steel, General Electric, etc… With a group of other bankers, he helped to stabilize American markets during the Panic of 1907.


He was also an avid collector of rare books, manuscripts, antiquities and art with nearly inexhaustible funds. He built a lavish library in 1906 to house his collections. In 1924, his son opened to library to the public as a museum.


J.P. Morgan used the West Room as his private study. Its furnishings reflect his fondness for the art of the Renaissance. It was here that he met with the group of bankers in 1907 to resolve the national economic crisis. There is a vault in this room for the most valuable manuscripts.


The rotunda, with its marble columns and elaborate ceilings, was the original entrance to Morgan’s private study. The blue and white reliefs are modeled after the work of the artist Raphael in Rome. The paintings represent the three ages contained in Morgan’s collections: The Antiquities, Middle Ages and Renaissance.


The East Room is the original library. It is three stories of carved walnut and contains rare books including a Bible printed by Johannes Gutenberg in 1455.


More modern buildings were added to the museum later and contain rotating and permanent exhibits. We enjoyed the Etruscan jewelry section!


Location: 225 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designated or established: 11/13/1966

Date of my visit: 9/6/2015


Merry Christmas from Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District


Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! Merry Christmas to my followers who celebrate and best wishes to all for a Happy New Year.


Earlier this month, my daughter and I visited Ringwood Manor for the Victorian Christmas Event. The Manor was built in 1807 and then purchased by the Cooper-Hewitt family in 1853. The 51 room mansion was donated to the state by Erskine Hewitt, the last heir of the family’s iron fortune.


In December, the Women’s Club of West Milford decorates the first floor of the mansion and hosts an open house to raise funds for the park. We enjoyed browsing the rooms and I remembered some of the history from my previous visit and guided tour. A more detailed post on this park is coming soon! Happy holidays!

Ringwood State Park posts:
  • Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District (Coming Soon)
  • Merry Christmas from Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District
  • Victorian Christmas at Ringwood Manor (Coming Soon)
  • Skylands Botanical Gardens (Coming Soon)

Location: 1304 Sloatsburg Rd, Ringwood, NJ 07456

Designation: National Historic Landmark District, State Park

Date designated or established: November 13, 1966

Date of my visit: 12/8/2018


National Historic Landmark: Lyndhurst


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Lyndhurst is a Gothic revival mansion that sits on 67 acre park overlooking the Hudson river. The New York City mayor William Paulding built  Lyndhurst as his retirement home with architect Alexander Davis. Work began on the structure in 1838. It was so ornate and detailed that it took 5 years to complete.


The building was unusual for its time in that it was asymmetrical and featured a lot of ornamental turrets. It has a wood frame structure with a marble facade giving it a castle-like appearance.  The marble for the building was mined at Sing Sing prison in upstate New York.


The second owner, merchant George Merritt engaged the original architect to double the size of the house. The 7000 square foot addition is virtually seamless because it was all Alexander Davis’ vision.


Merritt had Italian-style murals painted on the ceiling of the drawing room near the entrance. There are twelve panels, each panel representing an hour between sunrise and sunset. Merit only spent nine years at Lyndhurst before he passed away.


The estate was then purchased by Jay Gould, a railroad tycoon. Gould lived there from 1880 until his death in 1892. Ownership of Lyndhurst then passed on to each of his children. Anna Gould, the last surviving daughter, donated the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1961. It became a National Landmark in 1966.


My daughter and I signed up for a basic guided tour of the mansion. I was able to get discounted tickets because of my membership in the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Our guide Nathan met us at the carriage house and visitor center. There was a short film shown about the history of Lyndhurst. Then our group walked up to the mansion and toured the rooms on the ground and second floors.


The National Trust has kept one room very simple and faithful to the way it was during the time of William Paulding, the first owner.


The more ornate drawing room just off the foyer is representative of the time of George Merritt, the second owner. The rest of the house is the way it was when the Goulds lived there.


Nathan told us that Jay Gould was the most hated man in America during his time. He was a ruthless business man who caused the financial ruin, and perhaps suicides, of some of his adversaries.


But in his private life, Gould was a family man devoted to his wife and children. He took a yacht down the Hudson River every day to travel to his office in New York City. This was not an easy commute.


He returned home each evening rather than staying in his city apartment so that he could spend time with his family.

Jay Gould’s ‘laptop’: Each day this 100 pound folding desk was locked up and carried to Gould’s boat to accompany him to his office in NYC. He kept all of his records here.


Location: 635 S Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designated or established: November 13, 1966

Date of my visit: August 24, 2018

There is Tiffany glass-work throughout the mansion. Tiffany was a neighbor of the Goulds.
These elaborate ironwork and marble breakfronts are actually coverings for the radiators.
The high-ceilinged art gallery on the second floor
Madonna of the Roses, hanging in the art gallery
Bedroom of one of the Gould daughters



National Historic Landmark: The US Capitol Building


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


It’s been over ten years since we spent a day touring the many monuments and memorials in Washington DC while on a road trip to visit family in South Carolina. We went right to the Capitol Building’s ticket booth when it opened, but the day’s walk-up tickets were quickly distributed and we weren’t able to get in. Nowadays, you can reserve free tickets in advance through the Visitors Center online, through some private tour companies or through your senators or congressional representatives.


Lesson learned in reserving DC tours in advance, we took some photos of the building and surroundings before taking a hop-on and off bus to see the monuments that don’t require reservations. Someday we will go back and take the tour.


The Capitol building began construction in 1793 and was designed by a physician named Thornton utilizing a neoclassical architectural style. The cornerstone was laid by President George Washington.

2007_1123(010)The British set fire to it during the war of 1812, but heavy rains kept it from being destroyed and it was repaired. From 1850-1868, the building was expanded and a new dome installed to accommodate the growing number of legislators. In 1960, the last expansion brought the Capitol to its current size of over 175 thousand square feet.


In 1960, the Capitol was declared a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. From its steps, you have a great view of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial across the National Mall.

Location: East Capitol St NE & First St SE, Washington, DC 20004

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designated or established: 12/19/1960

Date of my visit: November 7, 2007


Glacier National Park: Going to the Sun Road


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


The 50 mile Going to the Sun Road first opened to traffic in Glacier National Park in 1933 and remains a key attraction in the park today. On our first trip down Going to the Sun Road, we began at the East entrance in St. Mary (scroll down to the end for the video clip) and took a Red Bus tour of the Eastern side. We toured the road in our rental car a few more times that week and saw something different each time.


Going to the Sun Road is partially closed during the colder months and very difficult to plow due to the twists & turns, sheer cliffs and the fact that they get snow drifts of up to 80 feet in the higher elevations. The plow crews started work at the end of April this year and when we got on a plane bound for Kalispell at the end of June, the road still was not completely open. Late on the night of our arrival, the Park Service tweeted out the happy news that Going to the Sun was open for the summer season!


When the road opened in the 1930s, it was an engineering marvel and was a three-year project that actually took 11 years to build. The design of the road changed over the course of the construction from multiple switchbacks carving up the mountain to Logan Pass to only one long switchback called The Loop, reducing the visual impact, but increasing the cost and time needed for the project.


The road is named for the mountain it cuts through on the East side of the pass. Legend has it that a Native American god came down from the sun to teach the Blackfeet how to hunt and left his image in the mountain upon his return to the Sun. The source of that legend is in dispute…is it a Blackfeet legend, or did a European settler make the whole thing up?


On our trips up and down Going to the Sun, we saw tunnels, glaciers, beautiful mountains and valleys and countless waterfalls crossing the road. We were thrilled to have four bighorn sheep cross the road in front of our car one evening, pose for photos and then clamber up the cliff next to us.


Another time, when all I had handy to take photos was my phone, we saw two black bears (one blonde, one brunette) frolicking by the side of the road. We’d heard a ranger talking about this duo on a hike earlier that day. Apparently the couple had come together to mate and there were multiple visitor sightings of the same bears in the St. Mary area.


To see all of my Going to the Sun Posts, please click the following links:


Location: Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier Park, MT 59434, USA

Designation: National Park, NHL

Date designated or established: 5/11/1910, Road added to NHL in 1997

Date of my visit: 6/24/2018

Bighorn traffic jam at the East Tunnel…can you see him peeking over the hood of the car in front?