New York City and the Revolutionary War

Without the Revolutionary War, there would be no "United" States. Prior to 1775, the U.S. consisted of thirteen British colonies that operated independently. Within the colonies lived some who wanted to break from British rule, Patriots, and those who wanted to remain under British rule, loyalists. In response to failed negotiations between the British and the Patriots lobbying for independence, British troops invaded the colonies in April of 1775, demanding the surrender of their guns and ammunition. The Patriots refused and, as a result, they fought the British in the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. The British retreated in defeat. In June of 1775, however, the British "won" the bloodiest battle of all. Their victory came at a high price with over 1,000 British soldiers killed or wounded in the Battle of Bunker Hill. More importantly, it bolstered the belief that the Patriots could ultimately win their freedom.

The American Revolution was a fight to form a nation. Breaking free from Britain, a new form of government was established. Initially a democracy, it soon became apparent that "rule by the people" was not entirely practical. According to the CIA, the U.S. is a Constitutional Federal Republic, and the only one of its kind.

Meanwhile, the guerrilla warfare engaged in by the Patriots put British soldiers on uncomfortable ground. Unlike other "gentleman's wars" of the time, the Patriot "soldiers" didn't "line up." Instead, the "Yankee scoundrels" fired from behind trees and stone walls.

After the initial battles in Massachusetts, the Patriots realized that in order to defeat the British they would need to unite. Doing so, Washington guessed that after fleeing to Nova Scotia, the Redcoats, as British soldiers were sometimes called, would return to New York. He was right. More than one-third of Revolutionary War battles took place on New York soil. Today, you can partake of the abundant history of fifteen of these sites throughout New York City, and many more throughout the State of New York.

15 Historic Sites of the Revolutionary War You Need to Visit in NYC

St. Paul's Chapel - Financial District

1. 209 Broadway at Fulton Street

Commissioned in 1776, a memorial for Brigadier General Montgomery stands at St. Paul's Chapel. Montgomery is considered a martyr of the Revolution, having fallen during one of the early battles of the Revolution. In addition, George Washington attended the chapel immediately after his inauguration, as the first American President in 1789. Alexander Hamilton performed military drills in its churchyard.

Federal Hall National Memorial - Financial District

2. 26 Wall Street near Nassau Street

Formerly the British colonial city hall, this site served as the meeting place for the Continental Congress of the US following the Revolutionary War.

Fraunces Tavern Museum - Financial District

3. 54 Pearl Street near Broad Street

In August 1783, when the last of the British troops left NYC, George Washington led his troops on a parade in celebration. Fraunces Tavern was their last stop. On December 4, 1783, he met there with officers of the Continental Army to bid them farewell before departing to his beloved Mount Vernon.

Bowling Green - Financial District

4. Broadway and Whitehall Street

Bowling Green Park is the oldest public park in NYC. Its first statue was of George III. After the reading of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the crowd toppled it. Ironically, it was sent to Connecticut where it was melted down and made into ammunition.

Morris-Jumel Mansion - Harlem

5. 65 Jumel Terrace near Sylvan Terrace

Built by Colonel Roger Morris and his wife, the Morris-Jumel Mansion originally sat on 135 acres of land stretching from the Harlem River to the Hudson River. Built on the second highest point of Manhattan, it served as headquarters for General Washington and his officers in autumn of 1776. Monitoring the movements of the British from this vantage point, Washington planned the Battle of Harlem Heights, which landed the first of his many victories.

Hamilton Grange National Memorial - Harlem

6. 414 West 141st Street inside St. Nicholas Park

Alexander Hamilton's New York home was moved twice before finally settling on its current site. Now it is once again surrounded by parkland that was originally the Hamilton Estate.

Fort Tryon Park - Washington Heights

7. Broadway to the Hudson River between 190th and Dyckman Streets

Fort Tryon Park was named after the last British Governor of colonial NYC and became a national monument in 1983. It shares history with Margaret Corbin, the first woman to receive a military pension.

New-York Historical Society - Upper West Side

8. 170 Central Park West at 77th Street

The oldest museum in NYC, this museum features fascinating artifacts such as paintings of George Washington and his inauguration chair. They offer other Revolutionary exhibitions throughout the year so be sure to check their exhibition calendar.

The Old Stone House - Park Slope

9. 336 Third Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues

The Old Stone House is a museum that sits in Park Slope's Washington Park. The site of the 1776 Battle of Brooklyn, it displays clothes, uniforms, and ammunition from this era.

Green-Wood Cemetery - Sunset Park

10. 500 25th Street at Fifth Avenue

Greenwood Cemetery is the site of the Battle of Brooklyn Heights. The battle was the largest of the Revolutionary War with 42,000 combatants.

Fort Greene Park - Fort Greene

11. Myrtle Avenue to DeKalb Avenue between Washington Park and St. Edwards Street

Once the site of Fort Putnam, Fort Greene Park houses the Prison Ship Martyr's Monument. Soon after the Battle of Brooklyn, the British captured and detained nearly 12,000 men and women. They were held in British ships under horrid conditions and many of them died. The monument was built in their honor.

Historic Richmond Town - Staten Island

12. 441 Clarke Avenue

Staten Island became one of the five boroughs of NYC in 1898. New county offices were established in o northern Staten Island. The former County Clerk's and Surrogate's offices were historically preserved and are now part of Historic Richmond Town. The site is over 100 acres so these two buildings are just a small piece of the rich history of Richmond Town.

Fort Wadsworth - Staten Island

13. 210 New York Avenue

Fort Wadsworth is one of the oldest military forts in the US. Captured by the British during the Revolutionary War, it never saw a battle. It's still intriguing to relive its history by exploring the fort, its underground tunnels, and amazing views.

The Conference House - Staten Island

14. 298 Satterlee Street near Hylan Boulevard

On September 11, 1776, this former home of Christopher Billopp was the site of negotiation between members of the Continental Congress and George III's representative, Lord Richard Howe. Unable to reach an agreement, it became obvious that a war was inevitable. The Conference House became a historic site in honor of this meeting.

Van Cortlandt House Museum - the Bronx

15. Broadway at West 246th Street inside Van Cortlandt Park

The Van Cortlandt Mansion is the oldest surviving house in the Bronx. George Washington used it as his headquarters at various times during the war.