Paterson Great Falls: Overlook Park

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When I visited Paterson Great Falls for the Native American Heritage celebration, it was held in the brand-new Overlook Park. The Overlook’s main feature is an amphitheater facing the falls. The last time I’d been there, the area had been crumbling into the river with a chain link fence keeping people away from the edge (we’d had to find an opening to poke our lenses through to get a shot.)

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Besides the amphitheater,  a new stairway connecting the Overlook section with Mary Ellen Kramer Park was added. Previously, we’d had to exit the park, walk around the block and renter to cross the bridge to the far side of the falls. Much-needed improvements were also made to the parking area. Parking is still limited when there is an event happening…there were a few cars waiting for me to leave so they could pounce on my spot in the afternoon.

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Funds for the $2.8 million renovation came from New Jersey’s Green Acres fund, the NPS centennial grant, the county’s Open Space fund, the City of Paterson and Rutgers University.  The park has big plans for future improvements, including a Great Lawn on the Allied Textile Printing site and a fancy new visitor center which they are hoping to build in time for Great Fall’s 10th anniversary in 2021.

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Scroll down for a video clip of the falls taken from Overlook Park.

Paterson Great Falls posts:

Location: 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 11/7/2011

Date of my visit: 11/4/2018

 

Paterson Great Falls Native Heritage Celebration

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In November, we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the USA…a time to gather with family and give thanks for all of our blessings. But it is also an observance of the first Thanksgiving, when the Native Americans and Pilgrims feasted together after the Native Americans helped the new settlers survive their first difficult year.

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For Native American Heritage Month, Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park hosted a celebration, with performances by the Silver Cloud Dancers and a tour of the Lenape exhibit at the Paterson Museum. You can see my earlier post on Paterson Great Falls by clicking here.

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The Lenape Nation, called Lenapehoking, included Paterson (and all of New Jersey, parts of New York, PA and Delaware), but the Lenape did not live around the falls. They did fish here in the Passaic River.

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The Silver Cloud Dancers are an inter-tribal group, with singers, drummers and dancers. They performed both traditional and contemporary dances, while providing insight into the history of the pieces.

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I attended the morning show and the timing was just right for the sun to create a rainbow in the mist under the bridge, serving as a spectacular backdrop.

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The dancers performed a traditional men’s dance, traditional women’s dance and then the more contemporary, ‘fancier’ versions of each.

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One of the vocalists led a singalong, teaching us the words to a simple song.

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Here is a short video of the traditional men’s dance. This is a warrior’s victory dance.

Location: 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 11/7/2011

Date of my visit: 11/4/2018

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Independence NHP: Congress Hall

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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.
In 1790, Philadelphia was chosen as the temporary capital of the newly formed United States. The recently constructed Philadelphia Courthouse was loaned to the Federal Government as a meeting place for the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Our ranger first took us into the large courtroom on the first floor which was used by the House of Representatives.  The furniture here is not original as the desks were auctioned off once the capital moved to DC. The NPS reacquired some of the originals, but they are in the upstairs rooms. So we were able to sit at these authentic looking desks with ink wells while the ranger talked.
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Next we went upstairs to see the room used by the Senate as well as some other smaller committee rooms where large paintings of France’s King Louis 16th and Marie Antoinette adorn the walls. These were gifts from France after the American Revolution ended.
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In 1800, Washington, DC became the US capital and Congress Hall reverted to serving as the Philadelphia courthouse.

Location: 6th & Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA

Designation: National Historical Park

Date NPS designation declared: 1951

Date of my visit: August 2017

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Independence NHP: Independence Hall

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We started our day at the Independence Visitor Center to pick up our tickets for the Independence Hall tour. The rangers were very helpful and gave directions to various sites and even got us on an earlier tour than the one we’d reserved. (Be sure to use the restrooms here because there are none in the historic buildings once you go through security.)

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Independence Hall was built in 1732 to be the Pennsylvania State House. It is the birthplace of the USA, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and signed.

You can reserve a guided tour of Independence Hall on the NPS website for a nominal fee (it cost me $7.50 for the 5 of us.) Tickets are free on the day of, but tours do book up quickly. Getting tickets for the tour is the only way to see the inside of the building where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The tour is pretty brief, but interesting and it is inspiring to stand in the place where our founding fathers formed our nation. The tour is limited to the first floor rooms most of the year, but may include the second floor in early winter months.

IMG_9652Our ranger first took us into the Courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It was here in 1776 that the Patriots stormed in and tore down the King’s coat of arms in an act of defiance.

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Next we went to the Assembly Room.  This is the room where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. It later became a shrine to the founding of America, housing the Liberty Bell. After his assassination, Lincoln’s body was laid out here before burial.  Now it has since been restored to its 1776 appearance.

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Afterwards, be sure to wait on the line for the tour at the congressional building next door…there are no reservations for that one and it is much more extensive than the one in Independence Hall. I will cover that in a future post. Both tours really drove home the awe and respect we should all have for what these men accomplished in 1776.

Location: Chestnut Street, between 5th and 6th Streets, Philadelphia, PA

Designation: National Historical Park

Date NPS designation declared: 1951

Date of my visit: August 2017

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Thomas Edison National Historical Park: Laboratory Complex

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The Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserves the home and laboratories of the prolific inventor. The mansion in Llewellyn Park and the laboratory in West Orange were two separate NPS sites in the 1950s. They were combined into one park, restored and re-opened in 2009.

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I arrived at the visitor center on Edison Day! The good thing about visiting on Edison Day was that there were rangers and docents in every room of the laboratory buildings giving tours or demonstrations. The not-so-good: no tours of the nearby mansion because all rangers were needed in the lab complex.

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Over one thousand inventions came out of Edison’s New Jersey laboratories, including the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, batteries and motion picture cameras. It was the invention of the stock market ticker that made Edison wealthy and provided him the means to open his laboratories. Science!

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Location: 211 Main St, West Orange, NJ 07052

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 3/30/2009

Date of my visit: 6/02/2018

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A movie camera in Edison’s library/office
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The machine shop on the 1st floor of the laboratory
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A mold created in the machine shop for phonograph records. This was put into use at the factories in the complex.
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Edison forever changed the world with the invention of the electric light bulb in his Menlo Park lab in 1879.
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Edison’s three-story library and office in the laboratory building
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Edison actually preferred working in this less fancy office/lab to his ornate library
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Batteries?
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The tape-recorder’s predecessor…this machine stored voice recordings on wax cylinders.
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A recording studio on the third floor.
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This is the chem lab in a smaller building next to the main lab building. A fire started in a lab like this in 1914 and burned down 13 factory buildings.
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The Black Maria is on the left of this photo. This building was designed for recording motion pictures.

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Morristown National Historical Park: Ford Mansion

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The Ford Mansion in Morristown National Historical Park was built by Jacob Ford, Jr. in 1774. The home is considered a mansion because of its grand hall, formal parlor and palladian windows. These were meant to showcase the Fords’  wealth which was earned in the family’s iron forge business.

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Ford served in the militia, but died of pneumonia in 1777. His wife, Theodosia, took ownership of the house and kept the family businesses running…unusual for a woman in those days. She rented the house to Continental Army soldiers and weathered a smallpox outbreak as a result.

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George Washington arrived  in 1779 and paid to rent the Ford Mansion. He, his wife, aides and servants moved in while his army camped nearby in Jockey Hollow.

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Theodosia and her children lived in two downstairs rooms of the house while Washington was in residence.

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The location was ideal for Washington and his troops as it was midway between Manhattan (capital for the British Army) and Philadelphia (the American capital.)

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The Ford businesses also provided critical resources for Washington’s army. Washington used the Ford Mansion as his headquarters until June of 1780.

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You must take a ranger-guided tour in order to see the inside of the house.

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Tickets for the tour are first come, first served and can be purchased at the Washington’s Headquarters museum, Wednesdays through Sundays in the Spring and Summer.

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I took the tour with a friend in the beginning of the season and it was actually pretty full.

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Location: 30 Washington Place, Morristown, NJ 07960

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 3/2/1933

Date of my visit: April 2016

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Boston National Historical Park: Freedom Trail

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The Freedom Trail runs through Boston and Charlestown in the Boston National Historical Park. It is a 2.5 mile red brick path running past a collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers, most from the American Revolutionary period. There are 16 official stops on the trail with plenty to see in between.

We were in Boston for a long weekend for a U2 concert and found ourselves following the freedom trail over the course of a few days in our travels. The red brick path made it pretty hard to get lost in town.

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While waiting for a table in Boston’s North End, we followed the path up the block and used the half-hour wait time to explore the Old North Church. This was the launch point for Paul Revere’s ride. Because its steeple is the tallest in Boston, patriots in Charlestown were warned that the British were advancing across the Charles River by the appearance of two lanterns shining from the highest point.

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We followed the Freedom Trail behind the church, through Paul Revere mall, to his statue in front of St. Stephen’s. Then it was time to hurry back to the restaurant for some good Italian food.

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We had lunch at Quincy Market one day and afterwards walked over to Faneuil Hall.  Faneuil Hall is an official stop on the Freedom Trail because it is considered the birthplace of free speech. It is the site of America’s first Town Hall meeting and continued in this capacity for over two centuries. Did you know that new American citizens are still sworn in here? I didn’t, not even after going inside, because what greeted us on the ground floor was the cacophony of dozens of food and other merchant stalls surrounded by throngs of tourists. We went downstairs to where the visitor center was supposed to be, but all we saw were a few placards and public restrooms. I see now on the website that it is undergoing renovation, so maybe it will be worth the stop when it’s done.

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We also picked up parts of the trail by riding a hop on, hop off sightseeing bus. Our bus pass included admittance to the Boston Tea Party Museum. This is not part of the National Park, nor is it on the Freedom Trail, but it is an excellent re-enactment of the catalyst for the American Revolution.

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When you enter the museum, you are assigned the role of a person who lived in Boston in the 1700s and attend a meeting where you are incited to rebel against ‘Taxation Without Representation’ by an actor in costume. You are then led through various aspects of the conflict, moving through the building and out onto the docks, culminating with boarding the reconstructed ships and throwing fake tea over the side like the angry revolutionary you are. Sounds hokey, but really it was fun…grade-A edutainment!

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After the Tea Party, we walked back to the Freedom Trail and over to Kings Chapel, an Anglican Church ordered by the king in the late 1600s. No one would sell land to build a non-Puritan church, so the King ordered it built on the city’s burial grounds.

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There’s a statue of Benjamin Franklin next door. Though we usually associate him with Philadelphia and his role in the birth of democracy there, he was actually born and raised in Boston.

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Finally, we headed towards the Boston Common. On the way we passed the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill. The distinctive dome has been many things: originally wood, then plated in copper by Paul Revere, covered in gold leaf in the 1800s, painted grey during WWII and then gilded again. It is the oldest building on Beacon Hill and the State government still conducts its business there.

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Boston Common is America’s oldest public park, dating back to the 1600s.

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We loved the “Make Way For Ducklings’ sculpture. I read that story many times to my daughter when she was little.

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You can see my other posts on Freedom Trail sites by clicking Charlestown Naval Yard or Bunker Hill Monument.

We passed through Winthrop Square while walking the trail between the Navy Yard and Bunker Hill. Winthrop Square is a small park and was the site of colonial militia training grounds.

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Location: Boston & Charlestown, MA

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 1975

Date of my visit: 7/15/2015

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