Revolutionary Tours in NYC

By Andrea Sachs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 29, 2006

Q. I'm interested in Revolutionary War sites in New York City. Is there a bus tour that covers them?

Mimi Pollow, Alexandria

A. Well, none that we could find, but there are lots of good walking tours.

During the Revolutionary War, the Brits and the Yanks battled hard over the Little Apple, which was one of the most strategic spots of the conflict. "New York City during the American Revolution was a focus of the war in 1776," says Karen Quinones, owner and guide of Patriot Tours (718-717-0963, ), which specializes in Revolutionary War walking tours in Manhattan. "Both the British and the Colonists fought to occupy New York City, and in August of 1776, one of the largest battles of the war was fought here." (The Brits lorded over NYC until 1783.)

Since 18th-century Manhattan was so small, most of the Revolutionary War-era sights can be visited by foot in a day. Highlights include the port where the British fleet was stationed; Gen. George Washington's headquarters; Trinity Church and St. Paul's Chapel, houses of worship for the red and the blue; and Fraunces Tavern, where Washington wished his victorious troops a final farewell.

Patriot Tours' 2 1/2 -hour, $20 outings cover most of the main downtown sites. Big Onion Tours (212-439-1090, ; $15) also offers the Revolutionary New York walking tour, which pounds the same ground and era. For a wider scope, Joyce Gold History Tours of New York (212-242-5762, ) organizes private tours that encompass sites in and around Manhattan. A two-hour walking tour costs $250 for up to six people, and a four-hour tour that includes Uptown (site of the Battle of Harlem Heights) or Brooklyn (Battle of Brooklyn) goes for $500, plus a bit more for transportation (price varies according to size of vehicle).

The Web site for Barnet Schecter's book "The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution" ( ) includes a detailed self-guided tour of the relevant attractions with bus, subway and ferry information. For a break from sightseeing, stop by Fraunces Tavern (212-968-1776, ) and eat where Washington once ate.

My mother, sisters and I (living in New Jersey, California and Arlington) are planning a three-day getaway to celebrate my 50th birthday. Any suggestions for a U.S. city that's easy to reach and has good sightseeing and theater?

Joanne Tornow, Arlington

Chicago is your kind of town. By air, the city is about two hours from Virginia and Jersey and around four hours from Northern California, and flights are frequent and nonstop. The capital has endless sightseeing opportunities: architectural tours, museums galore, boat excursions on Lake Michigan, ethnic neighborhoods and more. The city also has standout theater and comedy, including Second City (312-337-3992, ), where many future "Saturday Night Live" stars sharpened their wit, and the venerable Steppenwolf (312-335-1650, ) in Lincoln Park.

Millennium Park, a multi-use venue, hosts music, theater and art. For a list of theaters and upcoming shows, contact the League of Chicago Theatres, 312-554-9800, . Additionally, for an endless array of performing arts, drive 18 miles north to Ravinia, which holds the Ravinia Festival each summer (2007 dates to be announced next year). The shows span from international string quarters to '80s pop music. Info: 847-266-5100, .

For details on Chicago: Chicago Convention and Visitors Bureau, 301-495-7705, .

If you want more equal flight times, St. Louis is about 3 1/2 hours from Northern California and 2 1/2 to three hours from the East Coast. The city's Forest Park is its own world of cultural and natural attractions, with an arts museum, outdoor theater, science center, golf course and more. Other diversions include the International Bowling Museum, the Anheuser-Busch brewery and stables, and the Cahokia Mounds, prehistoric remains eight miles from St. Louis. In addition, the city has a rich theater and dance community, with dozens of companies. Info: St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, 800-916-8938, .

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