New York City Parks Week 2009

September 19-27

In celebration of the release of the 6-part Ken Burns documentary "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," the National Parks of New York Harbor are holding an array of special events and activities throughout the 10 national parks in New York City from Sept. 19 through September 27.

In the coming weeks, check back for details as we post each event/activity here and on the individual park web pages.

African Burial Ground National Monument will celebrate Family Day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 26. The park has planned a day filled with family friendly activities. Arts and crafts workshops, dance performances and ranger led art tours will be available throughout the day.

"Uncover the Story of the Burial Ground through Archeology" on Monday, September 21 and Friday September 25, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Replica artifacts will be used to demonstrate how archeologists and anthropologists reconstructed the rich history of the African Burial Ground.

"Children’s Story Time" will take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. September 22-24. Young children explore the history of the African Burial Ground during a group reading of “Jalani and the Lock” by Lorenzo Pace. The reading is followed by a discussion of the opposing concepts of freedom and enslavement and a ranger-led walk through the African Burial Ground memorial. The program concludes with a ranger-led walk through the Federal Monument on-site and to the neighboring Foley Square, where the sidewalk medallion and city memorial to the African Burial Ground are located. The city memorial, “Triumph of the Human Spirit,” was designed by Lorenzo Pace, also the author of “Jalani and the Lock.”

On Thursday, September 24, join several artists at 7 p.m. for "Honoring the Ancestors: Artists Reflections." This event is a viewing and discussion of art and architecture created to commemorate the African Burial Ground.

Teens and adults are invited to join the walking tour "A Broader View: Exploring the Early African Presence in New York" to get a fuller perspective on the role of free and enslaved Africans in the development of New York City while walking through the streets of lower Manhattan. Social, political, cultural, and economic aspects of African and African American life are explored and discussed. "A Broader View" will be offered at 2 p.m. September 20-27 and at 7 p.m. on September 22. Reservations are required for the walking tour. Call 212-637-2019 or visit

The events will take place at the African Burial Ground National Monument, located on the first floor of the Ted Weiss Federal Building at 290 Broadway. Upon entering the building, the public will have to go through airport like security. Reservations required. Call 212-637-2019 or visit

For more information about African Burial Ground National Monument or any of its events and programs, click here.

Castle Clinton National Monument will offer a "History of the Castle" tour each day at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. This free 20-minute ranger guided tour illustrates the colorful history of Castle Clinton and how it served as a fort, entertainment center, immigration depot and aquarium. Call 212-344-7220 for more information or click here.

Federal Hall National Memorial will commemorate September 1776 on Sept. 24 with a full day of costume interpretation, complete with period music and a lecture by historian Barnett Schecter, author of "The Battle for New York."

Federal Hall will also host the special exhibition "Obata's Yosemite" from Sept. 8 through Sept. 25. Chiura Obata was one of the earliest Japanese artists to live and work in the U.S. In 1927, he visited Yosemite National Park. This exhibition of 27 prints and watercolors and a series of 20 progressive proofs offers insight into the work he did while visiting Yosemite.

Rangers at Federal Hall also offer special programs/tours by reservation. Those include:

  • The Battle for New York: 1776-1783

  • The Critical Years: 1783-1789

  • Defend Wall Street: The Draft Riots of 1863

  • Finance, Commerce, & Defense

  • George Washington as a Leader

  • God Save the King: The British View of the American Revolution

  • The Good Americans: The Loyalists

  • Greek Revival in the New World

  • Printing Press: Weapon of Revolution

  • Rule Britannia: The Royal Navy

  • 18th-Century Military Arts

To learn more about Federal Hall, located at 26 Wall Street, click here.

Gateway National Recreation Area is holding an array of events at its three units: Jamaica Bay, Staten Island and Sandy Hook, N.J. Here are a select few.

Jamaica Bay

  • Take a "Sunset Tour of the Ryan Visitor Center" on Wednesday, September 24 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Learn how the original Floyd Bennett Airport Terminal and Control Tower worked and see the plans for the upcoming restoration of this historic structure. Reservations required. Call 718-338-3799.

  • Enjoy a 3-hour "Jamaica Bay Sunset Cruise" boat tour of Jamaica Bay with the American Littoral Society on Satuday, September 26 from 4 to 7 p.m. Learn about the history, ecology, and wildlife of the bay, and see many migrating species. The $45 ticket includes a narrated tour and onboard snacks. Reservations are required. Call 718-318-9344.

  • The National Park Service will host a Beach Campfire at Jacob Riis Park, Bay 14, Friday, September 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. Park rangers and volunteers will give talks on the natural and historic treasures found at the park, all in a beautiful beach setting. A sing along will follow. Bring a chair or blanket. Reservations required. Call 718-318-4300

Staten Island

  • Take a "Lantern Tour of Fort Wadsworth" Wednesday, September 23 or Friday, September 25 at 6:30 p.m. Enjoy one of Gateway's most popular tour as you explore the historic sites of the fort on this ranger-led lantern tour. Reservations required. Call 718-354-4500.

  • Tour Historic Fort Wadsworth Wednesday, September 23 through Sunday, September 27 at 2:30 p.m. This free 90-minute tour takes visitors through historic Fort Tompkins and Battery Weed. No reservations required.

Sandy Hook

  • Discover what survives at Sandy Hook that would have been seen 400 years ago by Henry Hudson and other early explorers, when the National Park Service presents "Henry Hudson on Sandy Hook" at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Sandy Hook Visitor Center. Also find out about the first encounters between native Lenape people and the explorers who landed at Sandy Hook.

  • Visit a Nike Missile radar site restored to the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis on Cold War Day, Sunday September 20 from noon to 4 p.m. beginning in the Sandy Hook Visitor Center, Parking Lot L at Horseshoe Cove. See Cold War era military displays. Veterans of Fort Hancock are welcome to join us and share their stories. Call 732-872-5970 for more information.

For a complete list of events and activites at Gateway National Recreation Area, click here.

General Grant National Memorial will honor the president who signed the legislation creating Yellowstone National Park with a special program called Grant's Tomb After Dark. This candlelight tour of the memorial offers a new way to experience this important site.

The Rangers at General Grant NM are also offering two tours daily throughout the week:

  • Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb

  • Grant's Life Through Architecture

To learn more about this national park, located at the intersection of 122nd Street and Riverside Drive, click here.

Governors Island National Monument goes back in time with a presentation at 2:30 p.m. on September 19 in Pershing Hall in Nolan Park on the island. Join Eric Sanderson, author of "Manhattan: A Natural History of New York," and uncover the natural landscape of New York City in 1609.

The park explores its connections to other National Parks on September 20 at 1:30 p.m. in the Admiral's House with the NPS Ranger-led talk "The National Park Connection." The talk delves into the stories of several of the officers, soldiers and civilians who were part of the history of Governors Island who also have significant ties to sites such as Yellowstone and Gettysburg among others.

To learn more about Governors Island, click here.

Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site invites visitors to join the staff for a memorable walking tour of this National Historic Site, encompassing an orientation program, museum exhibitions, the 18th-century stone and brick church that served as a Revolutionary War hospital, and one of the nation’s oldest cemeteries. The free guided tour is offered Monday to Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. No reservation is required.

To discover more, click here.

Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island has planned two special events: An Evening at Liberty Island on September 24 and An evening at Ellis Island on September 25. Each evening will include a ferry ride, an NPS-Ranger led tour of the island and light refreshments. Details regarding time and ticketing are still being worked out. Please check back with us for more information.

Additionally, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island offer three types of tours: self-guided, audio and Ranger-led.

To visit the park's website, click here.

Theodore Roosvelt Birthplace National Historic Site will offer "TR, the Making of a Legend" tour of the historic site Tuesday, September 22 through Saturday, September 26 at 10 and 11 a.m., noon and 1, 2, 3, and 4 p.m. Not all Presidents were born in log cabins. One was actually born in a New York City brownstone! Visit the birthplace and boyhood home of Teddy Roosevelt and see what it was like to grow up in the "gilded age." No reservation required. In addition, visitors may also explore the ground floor gallery, which contains hundreds of original items from Roosevelt's colorful life.

To learn more about this national park, click here.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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