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George Washington in New York City, Places That Matter

george washington plaque new york city place matters

For President’s Day we highlight the places where George Washington first listened with his troops to the Declaration of Independence, and where he lived during his first year as president. Both spots were nominated to the Census of Places that Matter by Chester Burger.

On July 9, 1776, with the huge British invasion force already encamped in Staten Island, New York’s Provincial Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. That same day General Washington gathered his troops near the Common to hear the Declaration. Chester Burger points us to an area “about 100 feet east of City Hall’s Broadway fence, in a grassy area south of the parking spaces in a restricted area.” A plaque marks the spot but there’s currently no public access.

Thirteen years later, on April 23, 1789, marching bands and crowds of New Yorkers paraded with a newly elected President Washington to his new residence at No. 1 Cherry Street. A deteriorating plaque marks the spot of his since demolished mansion.  On April 30th, at Federal Hall at Broad & Wall Streets, Washington took the oath of office and swore to uphold the Constitution.

For a great account of New York City during the War for Independence and as the nation’s first capitol, see Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 by Edwin Burrows and Mike Wallace.