Thursday, July 30, 2015

Independence Day in NYC

At 3am on the fourth of July for the past 19 years, lawyer and historian James S. Kaplan has led a walking tour of lower Manhattan, explaining New York's role in the American revolutionary war. He calls it his 'personal fight against historical ignorance'. When I realised I was going to be landing in New York late on the third of July, I stumbled across an event listing for this tour in the Time Out guide and thought "why not"? It's unlikely I will be in the US on this important day again. My knowledge of American history is pretty poor and I was keen to know more. So I booked my $20 ticket online, and after only three hours sleep, hopped in a cab from my hotel down to City Hall to join around 40-50 other people strolling behind James with his megaphone along the empty city streets in the early hours.

Promoted by the Fraunces Tavern Museum, the walking tour passes historical sites of significance in and around what is now the financial district. Many people know about the role that Boston and Philadelphia played in the war for American independence, but relatively few have heard the fascinating tales of what happened in New York. The tour concluded at 7am by laying wreaths on the graves of revolutionary war heroes Alexander Hamilton, Marinus Willett and Horatio Gates, in the Trinity Church Graveyard. Then back to my hotel to sleep for a few hours, so I could enjoy the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks later on.

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