So, exactly how did a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by Providence, impoverished in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar? We braved the torrential downpour and wind unleashed upon NYC today to find out the answer to that very question!
Our tour guide, Gregory, from Outside In Tours was PHENOMENAL! He was part historian, part thespian and had Madison and I hanging on his every word! Bill thought it was fantastic, and even Will, who was very skeptical about this whole walking tour business admitted in the end that it was pretty cool.
We began at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Battery Park. I could not even get clear photos of Lady Liberty due to the inclement weather, but did my best...
We talked inside for awhile about Hamilton's childhood (hoping that the rain would let up a bit - and much to our chagrin, it did not). Gregory recited pieces of a letter Hamilton wrote at the tender age of twelve and impressed upon us that not only was Hamilton a precocious child, but one determined to make a difference, not to mention a name for himself in the annals of history.
When we finally decided to head out into the hurricane-like weather (it turned my umbrella inside out four times in less than a minute!) Gregory took us to a flagpole that had this placard as its base, reminding me that American history IS Jewish history. The Jews came here in 1654 just as the Puritans did in 1620, seeking new beginnings that would grant them religious freedom. It reminds us that America is not built solely on Christianity...
We discussed Hamilton's ties to the Jewish community (via his mother's first husband), then moved on to Bowling Green Park. A couple of cool things about Bowling Green. One, this is the general area from where Hamilton stole the cannons (think lyrics from Right Hand Man).
Two, there had been an equestrian statue of King George III in this park. Rebellious colonists tore it down, removed its head, and sent the body to Connecticut where it was melted down and made into bullets to fight the British. And what of the King's head, you ask? Well, it was sent back to King George III himself with a little note about his head being on a pike (how very French!)
Across from Bowling Green Park is the US Custom House - also known as the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House - and marks approximately where Fort Amsterdam used to stand.
We also saw the building in which Alexander Hamilton's old law firm used to be, but I was not able to get a photo of it. On a personal note, I loved the Bowling Green section of New York - the architecture reminded me of Paris.
Next, we made our way to Trinity Church - the final resting place of the Hamilton family, including Alexander, Eliza and Philip.
We also saw Angelica Schuyler Church's grave.
Not to mention Hercules Mulligan's...
On an unrelated Hamilton note, I spied the grave of Robert Fulton - our very own father of the steamboat.
Trinity Church was simply gorgeous - outside and inside.
After Trinity Church, we headed to Federal Hall. Although not the original building, it marks where George Washington was inaugurated as our very first President of the United States.
This is the very Bible on which he took his Oath in 1789. Since then, Presidents Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush took their presidential Oath on the very same Bible as Washington.
As our tour was winding down, Gregory took us to one last place - the Room Where It Happened! Our final stop was at 57 Maiden Lane - and Madison showed great restraint by not bursting into song here!
Gregory so eloquently left us with words of wisdom to consider from Washington's Farewell Address. We then bid Gregory a fond au revoir and grabbed an Uber back to our hotel where we changed out of our soaking wet clothes (and me into my PJs!) and headed back to PA.
We had not even left Manhattan when a miracle happened. Bill - the man who groaned and moaned every time Madison and I wanted to listen to even one song from Hamilton asked it we could listen to the whole soundtrack on the way home! And the world turned upside down...