Get Schooled in American History
Want to learn about the history of America and NYC? These eight spots will teach you more about history than the Hamilton soundtrack. From historic homes to museums, these interactive places are a great way to learn about our founding fathers and Brooklyn's history. This is the closest you'll get to hopping in a time machine.
Lefferts Historic House
You don't need a key to enter this historic 18th-century house in Prospect Park. Stop by the Lefferts House on Thursday through Sunday and holidays, 12–5 pm, and for a three dollar suggestion, you can tour this home. Peruse the period rooms, stroll through the working garden and other exhibits. Enjoy an interactive historic experience by partaking in activities including churning butter, candle making, etc. Afterward, visit the carousel in Prospect Park, which is located next to the house. This is a perfect pairing for a family friendly afternoon.
Old Stone House
In August 1776, during the American Revolution, the Battle of Brooklyn was taking in what is now Park Slope. Visit the museum at the Old Stone House, a "reconstructed 1699 Dutch farmhouse that was central to the Battle of Brooklyn." Located in the center of Park Slope, the house has exhibits on the Battle of Brooklyn, the American Revolution and colonial life. The house is also a vital part of the current community in Brooklyn, and houses theatrical and other cultural events throughout the year.
Harbor Defense Museum
Learn about Brooklyn's military history at this small museum housed on an army base. The Harbor Defense Museum at Fort Hamilton is worth the trek through security. The knowledgeable guides will lead you through the exhibits, at this museum with a mission "to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret historically significant materiel related to the history of Fort Hamilton and New York City's harbor defenses." There is also a Cannon Walk "designed to provide a historical perspective of the ordnance used during the coastal defense era." Kids will also enjoy a visit to this museum, and seeing the canons and other weaponry used to defend our coast. If you can only visit on Mondays, it's by appointment only.
Learn about the Industrial Revolution at BLDG 92 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The museum is free and open Wednesday through Sunday from 12pm to 6pm. See the current exhibit, Brooklyn Navy Yard: Past, Present and Future, which "introduces the generations of people who worked, or were stationed, at the Yard, who lived in the communities surrounding it, who shaped the Yard over time and who now are creating its future." If you've ever wanted to visit the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which has been undergoing a transformation in the past few decades, this is your chance.
The Wyckoff House Museum
Did you know the oldest building is located in Brooklyn? Brooklyn is home to the Wyckoff House Museum, the oldest building in New York City. The The Wyckoff House & Association, "preserves, interprets, and operates New York City’s oldest building and it’s surrounding 1.5 acres of farmland." You can visit the home and tour the property located in Canarsie. Housed in Fidler-Wyckoff Park, the Grounds are open to the public Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. It's a five dollar fee to enter the house and three dollars for students and children. Check out the Wyckoff Museum site for information on current events at the house.
New York Transit Museum
For the past forty years, visitors have been learning about the history of the New York City transit system at the New York Transit Museum. Housed in a decommissioned subway station in downtown Brooklyn, the museum is home to a large collection of vintage subway cars. Walk through the old cars and see how history has changed through the subway ads. The upper floor has exhibits on the subway and transit history. You don't have to pay an entrance fee to visit the gift shop, which has some of the most unique subway and bus themed products. It's a seven dollars for adults and five dollars for kids. It's open Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 4pm and Saturday & Sunday: 11am – 5pm.
Brooklyn Historical Society
Learn about Brooklyn History at this stunning Brooklyn Height's architectural gem. The Brooklyn Historical Society was founded in 1863 and was originally called the Long Island Historical Society. The name was changed but it's still "a nationally recognized urban history center dedicated to preserving and encouraging the study of Brooklyn's extraordinary 400-year history." If you check out the doorknobs, you can still see signs of the old name. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 12pm to 5pm and entrance is ten dollars. On the first Friday of the month, the museum offers free evenings from 5pm to 9pm, expect in the summer months. The Brooklyn Historical Society's library with wood paneled walls and in wall bookshelves filled with special collections and archives is also a must-visit, and is open Wednesday-Saturday, 1pm to 5pm.
Stroll through this picturesque cemetery where George Washington and his troops fought the Battle of Brooklyn. The cemetery has been in Brooklyn for 175 years and visit the final resting place for some of Brooklyn's most historic figures. The Green-Wood Cemetery offers historic trolley tours that highlight various sections of the cemetery and are led by tour guides. On August 28th, the Green-Wood Cemetery will host the The 240th Commemoration of the Battle of Brooklyn, with a parade and a commemorative ceremony. Don't forget to look for the colorful parakeets that nest in the trees and structures at the cemetery.