What a Week!

I can’t believe it has only been a week since my last post. From Boston to Springfield to Hyde Park and more, I definitely packed a lot in this week. I want to make sure that I include everything I got to do this week, so I may skim some things a bit more quickly in my retelling.

I started this week out in Boston along the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail includes some of the most important sites for events leading up to the revolutionary war as well as a few other historic sites not tied to the revolution. I started out my tour of the sites at Old North Church. The church reminded me more of the Touro Synagogue than any church I had previously been in. It was simple, and it had box pews instead of rows that I was used to seeing. After the church, I went on to Paul Revere’s house. The house and attached museum were simple yet functional. The museum did have some neat information on the timeline of events on the night of Revere’s ride as well as information on the influence that Longfellow’s poem had on the remembering and believing of the ride. Faneuil Hall should have been the next stop along the trail, but it is currently closed for renovations. Instead, the next stop was the Old State House and site of the Boston Massacre. The history of the Old State House and all of the things it was between being a government building and being a protected historic site was really interesting. It was also really mind blowing to see how small and out of place the Old State House was today when at one point it was one of the tallest and most important buildings in Boston. The Boston Massacre as well as several other important events leading up to the Revolution were on display in the Old State House and getting to really dive in and learn more about the history in the place where it happened was fascinating. I went to the Old South Meeting House after the State House. The meeting house show cased dissent and free speech, and it served as an important site for debate and discussion leading up to the revolution. From Old South Meeting House, I stopped at the site of the first public school and the Granary Burying Grounds on the way to the State House. The State House is where the government has operated since 1798. The building was beautiful and so full of the rich history of not just Massachusetts but the country as a whole. I really enjoyed spending time in Boston, and I loved getting to see so much of the history that I had only read about before.

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After a full day in Boston, my next adventures took me to Springfield. I started out my day at the National Armory. I didn’t really know what to expect, and I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the museum. It was mostly about weapons, but also about mass production and innovation in all areas. The armory played a big role in the industrial revolution as well as in setting standards for quality and safety for weapons for years.

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After the armory, I went to the Springfield Museums. I really enjoyed the set up of the museums. There was a science museum, history museum, 2 art museums, and the Dr. Seuss museum that are all next to each other and charge one admission for entry to all of the museums. The art museums were probably my least favorite to visit, they had the standard exhibits that most art museums do but nothing that really jumped out or made them unique to me. I was impressed by the science museum’s presentation and how much they fit into a relatively small museum. I learned a lot at the history museum. From grocery stores to board games and transportation to ice skating; Springfield was a big part of creating a huge variety of things. The Dr. Seuss museum was probably my favorite though. The upstairs part of the museum had more information on the life of Theodor Geisel and some personal doodles from throughout the years. I really enjoyed the downstairs area though. There were life sized characters from many of the Dr. Seuss books, and the walls were painted with pictures and quotes from the books. It really felt like stepping in to the world of the Dr. Seuss books. Everything was made to be touched or interacted with, and getting to spend time with characters I love so much was really neat. The museums also share a sort of park between them that has a Dr. Seuss sculpture garden that was really neat as well.

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I still had some time left after visiting the Springfield museums, and one of the brochures from the museum had suggested the Eric Carle Museum as another place to visit. Since I had enjoyed the Dr. Seuss museum so much and I also loved Eric Carle, I decided to visit. The museum was a bit expensive for what all they had to show, but I still enjoyed it. There was one room dedicated to all kinds of different children’s book art. There were dummy books and hand-written notes that later became picture books as well as beautiful drawings and paintings from children’s books. The second room featured Caldecott award winning books. The award recognizes the most distinguished American picture book for children each year, and I recognized many of the winners throughout the years. The final room was all about Eric Carle. Of course, it featured the hungry caterpillar, but there was also a huge emphasis on the sun and the moon in a lot of his work.

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Even though I had already fit so much into my day, I still had time left. I went to the Basketball Hall of Fame. I was a little skeptical about going since basketball is probably my least favorite of the big four sports, but I really enjoyed it. The top floor of the museum features short bios of all of the inductees by year as well as a timeline of changes in the sport as the world. It was really neat to see how the timeline of basketball lined up with different world events and how basketball was able to grow in popularity. The second floor had a lot of different memorabilia throughout the years. From some of the first professional jerseys to record breaking players and coaches from every generation to current players and their accomplishments, every time period in basketball’s history felt represented. There was even a whole section dedicated to the media and broadcasting side of the game. The first floor was really just a basketball court. I did shoot some hoops, which was definitely a neat experience after getting to see so much of the game represented in the exhibits and be able to be a part of it.

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My nest day of travelling took me to Hyde Park. I started out the day north of Hyde Park in Kinderhook visiting Martin Van Buren’s home. It was closed from the winter season, so I mostly just took pictures with the house and the statue of Van Buren in town before heading out. After Van Buren’s home I went to the Roosevelt sites which I will get more into later. While in Hyde Park, I stopped at the Eveready Diner which was featured on Food Network and recommended by the locals. The food was good, and the old school diner atmosphere made it a fun place to stop. My last Hyde Park stop was the Vanderbilt Mansion (or summer cottage). The house is the smallest of the Vanderbilt mansions with only 54 rooms in the house. It was interesting visiting in the offseason because lots of items were off display for renovations of covered with tarps to keep them safe while renovations were happening. The estate had beautiful walking trails and views of the river.

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I loved getting to tour the two Roosevelt sites in Hyde Park, and I wish I would have had more time to explore the properties and visit the FDR library. I started out at FDR’s home, springwood. Going through the house and getting to see where FDR did business and how he was able to keep being in a wheelchair a secret was really cool. It was also really neat to see the changes and additions as the home went from being his boyhood home to his adult home that just kept expanding to accommodate family and visitors. The house definitely had working areas, but it also felt so much like a home and a place where life happened alongside of work. After FDR’s home, I visited Eleanor’s home at Val Kill. After FDR, Eleanor became one of the most powerful women in America, and yet she never quit working. From the Human Rights Declaration to the election of JFK, the impact of Eleanor is still all around us today. It was amazing to get to be in the same spaces where so many events that transformed this country took place. It was also really inspiring to see how big an impact was left by so many small and simple actions. My appreciation for the Roosevelts definitely grew after visiting their homes and being reminded of just how many areas of daily like they have had a profound impact on.

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I did take one day to just relax this week, but I wanted to get out and do something on my birthday. It snowed here in New Haven on my Birthday, and it was a very pretty snow that didn’t really affect roads very much which was amazing. I decided to spend my birthday knocking out some closer adventures that weren’t super close to other things. I started out at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich. It was a small museum, but I was again impressed with the attention to detail and presentation of the permanent collections. I also really enjoyed the travelling exhibit on the relationship between the cold war and art and science in the Soviet Union. The Bruce Museum was far less interactive than many museums I’ve been to, which I didn’t really mind.

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After the Bruce Museum, I went to the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport. This museum took interactive to a whole new level. I think there may have been one exhibit in the whole museum that you couldn’t interact with in some way. The Discovery Museum also featured bios throughout the museum on different black scientists and their impact of different research areas. I’m guessing this was just for Black History Month, but it was still really neat to see such a widespread push in every exhibit to emphasis the importance of black contributions.

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Once I got back to New Haven, I wanted to take advantage of it turning in to a really beautiful day. I went to East Rock Park, which boasts having great views of the city. It was a decent walk up to the top, but the city looked beautiful from the top. I saw several hawks along my walk, and I really enjoyed just getting to see and appreciate the city from a new angle. New Haven really isn’t that big of a place, and nature seems to have taken notice. From the rivers to the birds, there really is a lot of natural beauty here, and I’m really glad that I got to experience it.

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I’ve got plenty more adventures coming up in the next several weeks, and I hope they are as fun filled as this week has been. I know that I went through some of what I did super-fast in this post, but it’s so long already. If you want to know more about any specific adventure, leave a comment or send a message and I will definitely go into it more.

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