NPS Adventures: General Grant National Memorial

The Roarbots’ series of NPS Adventures takes a big-picture view of one location within the National Park Service and highlights some of the best activities that site has to offer. This is usually done through a kid-friendly lens and almost always includes activities and suggestions we can recommend from personal experience. And pictures. There are lots and lots of pictures. Glad to have you aboard!

Welcome to General Grant National Memorial!

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Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

The Grant memorial is located in Riverside Park, which is in Upper Manhattan, near Harlem and Columbia University. It sits on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River and, despite the impressive architecture in the immediate area (the incredible Riverside Church – a soaring Gothic cathedral – is right next door), the memorial still stands out and is a sight to behold.

Ulysses S. Grant was the United States’ 18th president, serving two terms from 1869-1877 during Reconstruction following the Civil War. He died in 1885 of throat cancer at the age of 63. There are several memorials and monuments to Grant around the country, but General Grant National Memorial is the president’s final resting place, and it’s also probably the most well known. It is Grant’s Tomb, after all.

(Click on all pictures to embiggen.)

Visitor Center

There’s a small visitor center across the street from the memorial. Inside is a small exhibit about Grant’s life, a small bookstore, and the ranger’s office. It’s not an essential stop during a visit to the memorial, but it’s certainly worth a few minutes to check out. There’s another ranger stationed inside the memorial in case you have questions.

Also, if you’re lucky, you might stumble on a historical reenactor in character as Ulysses S. Grant!

Memorial and Tomb

President Grant was originally laid to rest in Riverside Park in a temporary tomb, and the memorial that stands today took 12 years to build. Amazingly, it’s the largest mausoleum in North America. Construction efforts resulted in the largest public fundraising campaign at the time. Some 90,000 people from around the world contributed money.

The memorial was officially dedicated on April 27, 1897 – the 75th anniversary of Grant’s birth. Five years later, in 1902, Julia Grant (his wife) passed away, and the two currently side by side in the center of the tomb.

Junior Ranger

As always, the Junior Ranger program is one of the highlights of any NPS visit for the little Roarbots. It wouldn’t be a visit without a passport stamp and a Junior Ranger badge/pin! The Junior Ranger booklet at General Grant requires kids to explore the site and learn a bit about Grant’s life and the architecture of the memorial.

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