Presidential Sites – Places of Politics, Policies and Legacies

Category: Misc. Thoughts   Published by

As the end of this contentious, seemingly never-ending, presidential election year nears, one wonders what drives these particular Americans to seek the presidency. Who are they, and why do they run? They are, after all, Everyman.

For insight, look no further than to those who have come before them.  Visit a Presidential Historic Site.  What you’ll find depends on the era, and the president. All former presidents have at least one, with the exception of Zachary Taylor, who has none. Abraham Lincoln has six, the most by far.

A presidential site can be a birthplace, homestead, residence, museum, or library.  Some are thought-provoking in their sheer simplicity; others are Disney-esque complexes designed to dazzle and engage through multimedia presentations, interactive displays, and full-size replicas of Oval Offices. One even has a real Air Force One! Some are cold; others vibrant. Regardless of style, they are a snapshot of the American presidency at a moment in time and provide a sense of the individuals who aspired to, and reached, the pinnacle of power.

The sites honoring early presidents are time-frozen, allowing visitors to imagine.  Established post mortem, they are biographical interpretations – items collected, pieced together, displayed and staged to educate as well as preserve and perpetuate a legacy.

Some early sites are quite simple, like the sturdy, salt box style birthplaces and the four-generation homestead of the two presidents who were father and son, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, in Braintree, Massachusetts, 30 minutes outside of Boston.  Tucked comfortably into the New England countryside, they, along with John Adams’ Stone Library, which contains more than 14,000 historic volumes, provide a real sense of the men and a young nation.

Other older sites are fully restored estates, re-enactments of life as it was. The most popular, Mount Vernon, home of George and Martha Washington from the time of their marriage in 1759 until his death in 1799, is just 16 miles outside of Washington, D. C. While part of the pastoral 500-acre estate remains as it was, it has kept up with the changing times with a new state-of-the-art museum housing 25 galleries and a high tech theater placed underground, beneath pastures where sheep graze, so as not to detract from the 18th century ambience of the home. From D. C. get there by car or take it all in on a Potomac boat cruise .  Avid cyclists might consider biking there via the invigorating 18-mile long Mount Vernon Trail.

Thomas Jefferson’s grand, 43-room Monticello, outside Charlottesville, Virginia, layered with porticos and pavilions, surrounded by gardens and vineyards, and filled with mementos of his travels abroad, reveal the legendary broad interests of America’s 3rd President. However, you won’t find his many books there.  Before there was a Presidential Library system, Jefferson donated his books to what is now the Library of Congress.

 

Some sites are off the beaten path and easily overlooked:

  • Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace, a rebuilt and redecorated brownstone in New York City, reflects the opulence of the Gilded Age.
  • The elegant Woodrow Wilson House is the only presidential home in Washington D.C.
  • John F. Kennedy’s birthplace in the Town of Brookline, just outside Boston, is a place of early memories.
  • Key West, Florida is probably the last place one would expect to find a presidential site, but Harry Truman loved it and spent 11 working vacations there, in the Little White House.
John F. Kennedy Library

John F. Kennedy Library

The 12 full-fledged Presidential Libraries of more recent presidents, large complexes loaded with bells and whistles, are designed to attract, engage, and entertain. They came to be through a plan initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, and agreed upon to by Congress, through which presidential libraries are constructed with private and non-Federal funds, but operated and maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration in accordance with the Presidential Libraries Acts of 1955 and 1986.

From FDR through Clinton, and including FDR’s predecessor, Herbert Hoover, their mission is to preserve and protect the written record and physical history of American presidents.  These “Classrooms in Democracy,” as Reagan called them, focus more on policies and politics, reflecting the role of the presidency today: negotiating the needs of a complex country through a polarized world moving at breakneck speed.

In contrast with the earlier presidential sites, most of these were designed with input from the presidents themselves, and are therefore purposeful, with a legacy in mind.  While large and showy, they are also scholarly places, repositories of thousands of documents available for research, many converted digitally for online access.

  • The largest building is the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas; the smallest is the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa.
  • The second largest by mere feet is the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, dedicated in memory of our nation’s 35th president.  A 1960s time capsule, its optimistic idealism is a tribute to this president who placed such a high value on public service.
  • The Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum is a 2 ½ hour drive from New York City in Historic Hyde Park. There’s a lot to see in the 500-acre compound on the Hudson River: FDR’s birthplace, home and final resting place; his retreat, Top Cottage; and Eleanor Roosevelt’s home.
  • The Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri is a scholarly place, sponsoring on-going conferences, lectures and symposiums focusing on the legacy of Truman’s national and global decisions.
  • The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, constructed of Kansas limestone and set on the flat Kansas prairie, is remarkably stark. It highlights Ike’s distinguished military career as well as his presidency, for without the former, the latter might not have happened.
  • Richard Nixon’s legacy was, until recently, tangled in the affairs of Watergate and only included within the Presidential Library system in 2007, through an agreement with the private Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation in Yorba Linda, California and the National Archives to give the Federal government controversial presidential materials, including the famous White House tapes, previously returned to Nixon in the 1980s and 1990s.  Over time, they, along with countless manuscripts and photos, will be available online through the Library’s Virtual Library.
  • Some presidents chose to build their libraries on the grounds of universities, providing easy access for scholarly research. The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is on the grounds of Texas A&M in College Station; the Gerald R. Ford Library is on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, while the Gerald Ford Museum is in his hometown of Grand Rapids.
  • The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is upbeat, just like the man. Located in Simi Valley, just ½ hour from L.A., it feels like a movie set.  It’s the one with Air Force One … and Marine One, the presidential helicopter, and an entire presidential motorcade!
  • In Atlanta, the Jimmy Carter Library is open for research, and the Museum portion of the Library includes historical memorabilia of the Carter presidency, including photos and exhibits related to the Middle East peace efforts and an exhibit of Carter’s Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas has the largest overall number of textual, audiovisual and artifact materials. It took eight flights of fully loaded military cargo planes to get all 625 tons there from Washington!

Each presidential historic site tells a chapter of the American story and provides clues as to why ordinary individuals take the arduous path to the presidency. Whether by choice or by fate, by circumstance or happenstance, by divine providence or a desire for power, the journey for each, as portrayed in these museums, is fascinating.

JFK Library inspires visitors to keep dreaming

Category: Boston   Published by

The last stop on a tour of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum leaves a lasting impression. A pass through the historical exhibits excites the mind with the glamor and constant motion of the Kennedy era. Then, as sudden as the gunshots on a November day in Dallas, visitors enter the soaring pavilion area with a startling sense of finality and, at the same time, hope. Gazing out at the vast sky and Atlantic waters enjoyed so much by John Kennedy, the overwhelming feeling is that the dream of American prosperity and personal fulfillment never ends.

A trip to Boston isn’t complete without a pilgrimage to the banks of Old Harbor to the Kennedy Library to view artifacts from one of the most pivotal periods of the American era.

Visitors can preorder tickets from Trusted Tours and Attractions (http://www.trustedtours.com/store/john-f-kennedy-presidential-library-and-museum.aspx). The company regularly offers discounts on JFK Library admissions on its website and has a satisfaction guaranteed policy.

After a journey through the 1960 campaign, visitors learn the stories behind the famed inaugural speech and two JFK hallmarks, the Peace Corps and space program. The intensity of the Cuban Missile Crisis debate is on full display, and Kennedy’s voice fills the exhibits with selections from his famous speeches. A replica of the Kennedy Oval Office includes some of of his favorite items, including the coconut on which he scrawled an SOS after PT-109’s sinking during World War II.

While the focus is on the president, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy are featured prominently for their White House roles. The JFK Library offers a large and dazzling display of the first lady’s clothing to showcase the style she brought to Washington.

Aside from the public exhibits, the library maintains an exhaustive collection of John and Robert Kennedy’s papers, as well as oral histories on both compiled from their social, political and personal contemporaries. Researchers must inquire with museum officials about scheduling appointments.

JFK Presidential Library Group Tickets & Packages

Category: Boston   Published by

flagApproximately one month before his assassination, John F. Kennedy toured the grounds of Harvard University. The president was considering potential locations for his presidential library and museum. He chose a site near the Charles River and the Winthrop House, which was the dormitory where he lived during his last two years at the university. After his ill-fated trip to Dallas, his family began planning his memorial. President Kennedy’s widow Jacqueline chose I. M. Pei, a relatively unknown architect, to design the museum and library. Due to lengthy delays and opposition to the project, the search committee chose a new location near the University of Massachusetts Boston campus. Dedicated nearly 16 years after the president’s death, the museum overlooks the sea from its ten-acre park complex.

Is your group planning a visit to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston? Trusted Tours and Attractions provides deeper discounts to groups of 10 or more. For more information, please visit our page: Boston Group Discount Tickets

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is the repository for official documents and correspondence associated with his presidency. The museum hosts numerous rotating exhibits and lectures. Museum galleries feature the 1960 presidential campaign, the Oval Office and NASA’s quest to fulfill Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by 1969. The collection includes personal and official memorabilia related to the president’s administration. Personal artifacts include gifts from heads of state and artwork, such as sculptures and paintings. Visitors can see the coconut on which Kennedy inscribed his request for help after the PT-109 was sunk near the Solomon Islands. The museum also houses the Ernest Hemingway Collection, which includes manuscripts and thousands of pictures, newspaper clippings and letters.

Family Things To Do In Plymouth, MA

Category: Plymouth   Published by

hillPlymouth is the location where the Pilgrims came ashore in 1620 and the site of the first Thanksgiving. When visiting America’s Hometown, consider these top 10 family friendly attractions.

  1. Native Plymouth Tours is a one-mile excursion through the historic town center. The story of the colony is relayed from the perspective of Native Americans who lived in the area when the Pilgrims first arrived. Guests will learn how these diverse groups interacted. The tour highlights life before and after the Plymouth Colony.
  2. A Plymouth Twilight Ghost Tour is a journey into a mysterious realm. Explore famous burial sites and haunted locations as guides weave macabre tales. You will see sites that inspired poignant legends and folklore like the town square, which frequently served as a graveyard. The tour includes some of the oldest tombstones in the United States.
  3. Plimoth Plantation is a hands-on, interactive, living history museum. Costumed interpreters re-create colonial and Native American life in the early 17th century. Children can watch a variety of demonstrations, talk to the interpreters and perform period-era chores. The plantation also has a petting zoo.
  4. The Mayflower II is full-scale replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims from England. Climb aboard to gain an insight of the conditions that they endured during the ocean voyage. Families will see the captain’s quarters and the cargo hold, which stored the provisions for the colonists. The Mayflower artifacts are historically accurate reproductions.
  5. The Plymouth National Wax Museum has more than 150 life size figures arranged in 26 scenes from Plymouth’s history. Highlights include the departure from England, the landing at Plymouth Rock and the signing of the Mayflower Compact. History will come alive as your children tour the museum.
  6. Plymouth Grist Mill is situated on the bank of Town Brook. The museum illustrates how corn was milled into flour. A reproduction of the original mill, the current structure contains parts that date from the early 19th century. You will see how the flow of water powered the mill’s gears.
  7. Imagination Island is an indoor theme park. There are mazes, tunnels and slides. Children can jump in the moon bounce and play with Legos, dollhouses, cars and trains. Pirates, firefighters, monarchs and superheroes reign supreme at Imagination Island. The attraction has a play area designed to entertain younger children.
  8. Boomers! is 20,000 square feet of family fun. This indoor play zone has laser tag and a large variety of age-appropriate hands-on, interactive play structures. There are arcade games, mats, nets, ladders, tubes and slides. While the children are playing, parents can enjoy the massage center.
  9. Edaville USA is a family theme park with 12 vintage amusement rides. It is the oldest heritage railroad in the country. Families can see how cranberries are harvested. Popular rides include Thomas the Tank Engine and a Ferris wheel. During the holiday season, the park is ablaze with a Festival of Lights.
  10. Captain John Whale Watch is an offshore excursion to the migration routes of Atlantic whales. During the marine wildlife cruise, a naturalist will provide insights into the local area as you sail out from Plymouth Harbor past Gurnet Light. You will also see dolphins, porpoises and other marine animals. Remember to dress for the open-air conditions on the boat.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Promo Coupon Code

Category: New York   Published by

The Metropolitan Museum of Art showcases the greatest collection of classical art in the Western Hemisphere. Visitors enjoy free guided tours as they experience a greater appreciation for some of the greatest art in the world. Admire work from Monet, Van Gogh, and an abundance of other special exhibitions. Come view the museums collection of over 2 million displays of various art. Immerse yourself in artistic culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For a limited time, save $2 on Metropolitan Museum of Art discount tickets only through TrustedTours.com

Coupon Code: nymm2 ($2 Off)
Use Coupon Code with the Purchase of Tickets Here: http://www.trustedtours.com/store/metropolitan-museum-of-art.aspx

Operating Times: See schedule above. Closed: January 1, Thanksgiving Day, December 25.

Booth Location: 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street New York, New York 10028

Nearest Intersection: 
5th Avenue and 82nd Street

Parking: Pay Parking is available at Fifth Avenue and 80th Street. Validate parking ticket for a discount at the Uris Center Information Desk near the Museum entrance.

Age Requirements: Children 12 yrs and under are free with paying adult. Senior Ticket: 65+ yrs with ID. Students must show ID.

Promo Code: nymm2 ($2 Off)
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