Many New York City tourists want to see the Empire State Building or Radio City, but history buffs may appreciate a trip to the Upper West Side to the final resting place of President Ulysses S. Grant.
The memorial is massive, rising 150 feet on a hill overlooking the Hudson. Yet somehow, we missed it and ended up coming in around the back, where we ran into some unusual sculptures.
We arrived around 4:15, the memorial closes at 5. Although a bit rushed, we felt we had enough time to see what we wanted.
So why is Grant buried in New York City? He has childhood connections to Ohio and Illinois. Apparently, our 18th president did not have a strong preference of where he would be laid to rest. His family chose New York City, where Grant settled after his presidency.
One thing that struck me was the name of the site: the “General” Grant National Memorial, not the “President” Grant National Memorial. I guess the president may be Commander-in-Chief, but for a military man, maybe the title of “general” is more important? Is there some sort of protocol for this?
Did you know that during the Mexican War, Grant fought under the command of future president Zachary Taylor? (I wonder if they called him “General Taylor” when he was president?)
Another interesting thing we learned is that an African-American man spearheaded the efforts to build the Grant monument. Richard T. Greener credited Grant for helping him succeed, which included becoming the first African-American graduate of Harvard.
There is a decent bathroom (always a priority on a Nerd Trip) and a small gift shop where we picked up some presidential playing cards.
There aren’t nearly as many Grant Memorial souvenirs compared to other New York City attractions; but at one time, his monument had more visitors than the Statue of Liberty!
We saw only a small trickle of people; heat and time of day may have been factors. However, I suspect that many people (even those who have lived in New York their whole lives) do not know much, if anything, about the General Grant National Memorial. If you are in New York City, I recommend you check it out. It doesn’t take long, and we learned a lot!
In our next post, we’ll take you inside the monument, including a look at its impressive architecture.
We leave you with more pictures from the Visitor Center displays.