Monday, September 19, 2011

Alexander Hamilton's Historic Home Re-Opens in Harlem

Founding Father Alexander Hamilton's home from 1802 to 1804 in Harlem has been re-opened to visitors by the National Park Service after a $14.5 million restoration.

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton is one of the most important figures in United States history. He helped lead the military success of the colonies during the Revolutionary War; he signed the Constitution on behalf of the New York State delegation to the Constitutional Convention, and he led the campaign for adoption of the Constitution by the States. Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury, and his economic thoughts have had a potency that have made them the guiding principals of the economic systems of many of the world's largest economies in the 19th, 20th, and 21st Centuries.

Only Benjamin Franklin ranks with Alexander Hamilton as a non-President whose face appears on United States paper currency. Hamilton appears on the $10 bill, and Franklin appears on the $100 bill.

Born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, Hamilton was the son of an Irish father and a Dutch mother. He made his home in Upper Manhattan and lived in a home he built and called the "Grange" until his death in 1804.

Hamilton Grange Reopened

Hamilton's home remained in Upper Manhattan after his death and was moved once, but it only moved a block. It was then moved one more block in 2008 and restored after falling into disrepair and being reduced in size to fit into a tight space as the Manhattan street grid stretched northward.

The $14.5 million restoration has transformed the historic home back into what it was in 1802, but it has also added modern touches.
As stated in the New York Times:
A crisp, intelligent exhibition about Hamilton and his accomplishments has been mounted on the basement level, created by the National Park Service. It includes a interactive video display in which questions about Hamilton are answered by an avatar speaking Hamilton’s own words.
The restored Hamilton home is likely to be a destination for visitors in Manhattan for many years to come. It will help teach new generations to respect the accomplishments and views of Alexander Hamilton, and it will help reinforce the origins of the name of the Harlem neighborhood in which it sits - Hamilton Heights.

The Hamilton Grange reopened last week with great fanfare. As a National Park Service site in the midst of a New York City park, the reopening is an example of cooperation between national and local authorities. Such cooperation is dreamt of in the Constitution that Hamilton defended so eloquently and so effectively when it was itself more a dream than reality.

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