George Washington’s Birthday is a good time to be reminded of NYC presidential history and consider visiting NYC places connected to US Presidents and First Ladies, including Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Teddy Roosevelt, the first US president born in NYC.
Several of these sites are operated by the National Park Service, and when things are normal once again, Park Rangers will resume tours and historic re-enacters will resume historic reenactments of important events.
There also are NYC transportation hubs named for presidents, including an airport and a tunnel, which we use daily, and there are NYC parks named for First Ladies. .
How many NYC locations related to US presidents have you visited or traveled through?
George Washington took the oath of office on this spot on Wall Street, to become the first US President.
It’s easy to find – just look for his larger-than-life bronze statue guarding the front steps.
There’s a wonderful museum inside, with exhibits about New York City and our role in the early history of the USA, including as the first US capitol city, before that moved to Philadelphia and then to Washington, DC.
including where he worshiped and ate.
This is the oldest surviving private dwelling in Manhattan, built in 1765 by a British officer as a country getaway, when this part of Upper Manhattan was still farmland.
George Washington camped out here briefly, using the house at his headquarters during the Revolutionary War after the British Loyalist owner skipped town.
Washington used the mansion again a few years later for the very first presidential cabinet meeting, which included both Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and lifelong rival Aaron Burr.
In non-Pandemic times, there are regular events here, including paranormal events, because the place is said to be haunted by the ghost of Eliza Jumel, who married Burr in the front parlor days before he shot Hamilton in that famous duel.
Lin-Manuel Miranda also wrote much of his blockbuster musical, Hamilton, here.
including his home and burial site
Dating from 1719, this is where the Sons of Liberty met to discuss how to gain independence from the British, and also where General Washington bade farewell to his Revolutionary War officers, just before taking the presidential oath.
Fraunces Tavern still is a place to eat and drink.
There’s a Colonial-style menu downstairs and a small museum upstairs.
He’s not just the man whose face is on the $50 bill. Ulysses S. Grant was a Civil War general before he was elected President.
Grant and his wife are buried in the largest mausoleum in the United States, which overlooks the Hudson River in Manhattan, close to where they lived after leaving the White House.
There is a small museum inside, including displays of Grant’s close association with Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, which many Southerners still call the War of Northern Aggression.
- National Park Service direct link to what is known officially as the General Grant National Monument.
The first US President born in New York City (Donald J. Trump is the second).
Roosevelt’s childhood home is in what is now called the Flatiron District is a National Historic Site.
Teddy Roosevelt also served as NYC Police Commissioner, and founded the national park system, saving millions of acres of land for public use.
National Park Service direct link to the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site.
- He was also a devoted conservationist, and was one of the founders of the American Museum of Natural History, where there is a the wing named for him.
Called the Four Freedoms Park, this space honoring Franklin Delano Roosevelt sits at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, overlooking the United Nations and lower Manhattan across the East River.
The park opened officially in 2012, and takes its name from one of his most famous speeches – the president’s 1941 State of the Union address, in which he expressed his belief in the universal rights of freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
Meet the Presidents is a permanent exhibit that includes a full-size recreation of the Oval Office. Yes, that’s NYC on the Cheap Executive Editor Evelyn Kanter sitting behind the desk on a recent visit.
The exhibit also has photos or portraits of all the US presidents, info on the issues and challenges they faced while in office, and a treasure trove of historical photos of presidents and international leaders meeting in the Oval Office.
NYC Honors First Ladies
There is a New York City park named for former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Central Park Reservoir is named for former First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
And, of course, many New Yorkers and visitors fly in and out of John F. Kennedy International Airport.
And many New Yorkers and visitors travel between NYC and New Jersey via the Lincoln Tunnel, named for Abraham Lincoln.
For Veterans Day, we published a similar round-up of the top war memorials in New York City, where you can honor the service men and women who served their presidents proudly.
Note that we are not including Trump Tower, which is purely commercial structure, part of the family real estate business, with shops on the lower floors and luxury apartments above, including the sprawling, gilded family triplex penthouse, or any of the other Trump-branded commercial buildings in New York City, because these are not historical presidential sites.
The house in Queens where the ex-president was born and grew up is a private home, not an official historic site managed by the National Park Service. If that changes, we will add it to this list.
- This article was posted originally in Feb. 2016 and is updated annually.
- We last published this article for Election Day in November 2020
Evelyn Kanter also is the author of several NYC and Hudson Valley guidebooks, including my latest, 100 Things to Do in NYC Before You Die.