Vanderbilt’s Eagle’s Nest NRHP

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The Vanderbilt family, building on the shipping and railroad business started by Cornelius Vanderbilt, became prominent during the Gilded Age (the period after the Civil War.) William K. Vanderbilt was a great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt and he built Eagle’s Nest on the Long Island Sound in 1910 as his summer home.

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I’d previously visited the Hyde Park and Biltmore Vanderbilt mansions…those were built by grandsons of Cornelius, uncles to Centerport’s ‘Willie K.’ Some friends and I were looking for a rainy-day activity on Long Island’s North Shore, so we headed to the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium and took the guided tour of Eagle’s Nest.

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The summer home began as a 9-room Tudor cottage in 1910. By 1936, Willie K had remodeled and expanded it into a 24-room Spanish-Revival mansion, including a wing dedicated to the memory of his son who was killed in a car accident.

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Willie K was a marine biology hobbyist who collected specimens from around the world. He displayed these in a separate building on his 43-acre property. There is also a gallery of his collections on the ground floor of his mansion.

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Vanderbilt was outrageously wealthy as evidenced by the eccentricities throughout the mansion. In one wing there is a carved wooden spiral staircase. Vanderbilt saw this in a monastery in Europe and loved it so much that he purchased it, had it shipped to Eagle’s Nest and tasked his architect with making it fit somewhere in the house. It didn’t fit, so the architect had to add another section and a second story to the house to accommodate the staircase.

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Vanderbilt left his estate to Suffolk County with an endowment to keep it open to the public as a museum. The county also runs a planetarium in a separate structure to help with funding for the upkeep.

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Vanderbilt Posts:

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Location: 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport, New York

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated or established: 9/26/1985

Date of my visit: 3/10/2019

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Long Pond Ironworks National Historic Landmark District

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Long Pond Ironworks State Park preserves the historic village of Hewitt, which was a bustling ironworking community in the 1700s.

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I was driving by after a hike at nearby Jungle Habitat and noticed that the visitor center was open. I stopped in and chatted with the park ranger for a bit.

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This building was once the General Store and also a boarding house for the iron workers. It now houses the museum as well as the visitor center.

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The museum depicts life in Hewitt and showcases many iron artifacts from the period. The ranger told me one of the most precious pieces in the collection is the stove, made at Long Pond for George Washington.

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At the ranger’s recommendation, I took the self-guided tour of the village. The village map depicts the town as it was back then. Today there are less than a dozen structures still standing.

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Because of the water-power of the Wanaque River and the iron ore deposits in the Highlands region, Peter Hasenclever established his Ironworks here.

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Hasenclever also built Ringwood Manor which became home to the ironmasters of Long Pond for the next 120 years. You can read my previous posts about Ringwood Manor here and here.

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After following the path past historic buildings, some ruins and the river, I arrived at the furnace area. The original furnace is under a tarp and is one of the few colonial-era iron furnaces left.

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There are other furnace ruins, built during the Civil War by the Cooper-Hewitt family. These furnaces collapsed in an unusual manner, falling forward instead of into a pile a rubble. The ranger said it could be from people stealing the fireplace bricks (long ago) that formed the arches.

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In its heyday, Hewitt housed 500 ironworkers and their families, most of them German immigrants. The town had a church, a school and a post office. By 1882, the forges and furnaces at Long Pond had ceased operations as the industry shifted to coal power.

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Location: Greenwood Lake Turnpike, West Milford, NJ

Designation: State Park, National Historic Landmark District

Date designated or established: 1766

Date of my visit: August 24, 2015

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The Aloha Tower – NRHP

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The Aloha Tower is a lighthouse on Pier 9 of Honolulu Harbor. When it opened in September 1926 it was the tallest structure in Hawaii at 10 stories. It cost $160k to build, a huge sum at the time.

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Like the Hawaiian Statue of Liberty, the Aloha Tower welcomed immigrants for decades. During WWII, it was painted camouflage. Today, it has an observation deck on the 10th floor, is surrounded by the Aloha Tower Marketplace (part of Hawai‘i Pacific University,) and welcomes cruise ship tourists to the port of Honolulu.

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Oahu Posts:

Location: 155 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96813

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date established/designated: May 13, 1976

Date of my visit: April 13, 2019

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Golden Gate Park: Japanese Tea Garden -NRHP

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The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was originally built for the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. It is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States.

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After the World’s Fair, Makoto Hagiwara modified the Japanese Village exhibit into a permanent Japanese Tea Garden, importing many of the elements from Japan. He was the caretaker until his death in 1925, when his daughter took over for him until she was forced into an internment camp during WWII.

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During the War, the garden was renamed the Oriental Tea Garden and Chinese servers took over at the tea house. The Hagiwara home and Shinto Temple were destroyed. The garden was restored to the Japanese Tea Garden after the signing of the peace treaty with Japan.

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After visiting the nearby  Science Academy, we visited the Tea Garden, took a stroll through the lovely landscaping and had tea at the tea house.

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Location: 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designation declared: 10/15/2004

Date of my visit: August 14, 2012

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The drum or moon bridge is designed to look like a full circle when reflected in the water. It is also intended to make people slow down and appreciate the garden.

Princeton Historic District: Princeton University – NRHP

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Princeton University is one of the nine Colonial universities founded before the American Revolution. It dates back to 1746, when it was The College of New Jersey in Elizabeth and then moved to Newark. In 1756, it moved to its current site in Princeton, New Jersey into the original Nassau Hall building.

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The college was renamed Princeton University in 1896 has consistently been ranked the USA’s top university over the past two decades. Many influential people have graduated from the institution including two US presidents and twelve US Supreme Court justices. It is currently around $66,000 a year to attend Princeton, if you can get in.

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After the completion of Nassau Hall (a national landmark on its own), the campus continued to expand around it. Today, the Princeton campus sits on 500 acres with many gorgeous Collegiate Gothic style buildings and some more modern architecture on the south side.

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A friend from out of town wanted to photograph the architecture, so we drove down to the campus only to find it was move-in day for the students and abuzz with activity. The good thing about this is that there were plenty of people to offer directions and we were able to ride the campus bus from the parking lot to the historic section.

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Location: 125 Faculty Rd., Princeton, NJ

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated or established: June 27, 1975

Date of my visit: 9/3/2016

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The Princeton University Chapel opened in 1928, replacing an older one that had burned down.

Coit Tower – NRHP

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Coit Tower is a 210-foot tower in Pioneer Park on Telegraph Hill, one of San Francisco’s seven hills.  The tower was completed in 1933 using funds from Lillie Hitchcock Coit’s bequest to beautify the city of San Francisco.

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Coit was an eccentric socialite who wore pants, smoked cigars, gambled in mens-only clubs and liked to chase fires. She is said to have pitched in to help the firemen fight a blaze near her home. This was considered unusual behavior for a lady in those days.

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The tower is dedicated to the firefighters who died in the city’s long history of fires. Some say the structure resembles a fire hose nozzle, though the architect insisted that was a coincidence.

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Visitors can buy a ticket to the observation deck on top. We rode in the old-time elvator, complete with elevator operator, to the top to see the panoramic views of the city and the bay.

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Location: 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated/established: 1/29/2008

Date of my visit: 8/16/2012

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View of Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower from Lombard Street.

Navy Pier: NRHP

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Navy Pier is on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan and is 3300 feet long with 50 acres of attractions and restaurants. It is the top leisure destination in the Midwest, so on our weekend in Chicago, we had to visit.

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Navy Pier first opened in 1916 as the Municipal Pier and served multiple purposes. It was a freight dock, expositions were held there and later it served as a prison for WWI draft-dodgers. In honor of WWI Naval Veterans, it was renamed Navy Pier in 1927.

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The Navy used it as a training center during WWII, complete with living quarters, shops a theater, eateries and a hospital. After the war, the University of Illinois used it as a campus until they outgrew it.

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By 1989, the pier had fallen into disuse and begun to deteriorate. The city organized a redevelopment committee. In 1995, the pier had it’s grand re-opening as a modern retail and entertainment complex.  When we visited, it was undergoing another metamorphosis for the 2016 Centennial.

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Location: 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated or established: 9/13/1979

Date of my visit: 5/23/2015

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