A Ranger Story
New York: Revolution to Recovery
Occupied, nearly destroyed by fire and depopulated during the Revolutionary War, the once prosperous city of New York rises again after independence in this two-part story told by park historian Steve Laise. You'll hear how the city rebuilds, the New York Stock Exchange is established and the controversial question of how to treat the remaining Tories is resolved. The story concludes with an appreciation of New York in 1800, after it has lost its position as America's political capital but secured its status as the new nation's financial capital.
Click the "play" button below to listen to the full story or use the title drop-down menu to select an individual episode.
Take a Walk in Washington's Footsteps...
through Lower Manhattan and discover the city's dramatic colonial history from the rumblings of revolution to the birth of a new nation with our free downloadable walking tour booklet. Or sit back and take our virtual tour.
Steve Laise is Chief of Cultural Resources for the National Parks of New York Harbor, Manhattan Sites. He is informally known as the park historian.
About his job -- and the path that took him there -- Steve has this to say:
In my case, a life-long interest in history began with my grandfather. I lived in Washington, D. C. and my grandparents were in nearby Fairfax County, Virginia. As my grandfather and I walked the Manasses battlefield, his description of the first battle of the Civil War almost came to life before my eyes. What an interpreter! When we got to Henry House Hill, he made me see General Jackson standing "like a stone wall." I was entranced. My grandfather also had an extensive library of American History which he encouraged me to try to read. Many of those great books were far above my "reading level" but I got the idea that all of them contained exciting stories like he had told me.
In college at William & Mary my major was in philosophy. My graduate work at Penn and teaching job were in philosophy as well. However, I never lost my initial fascination with the "stories" of history. So, I turned to the history museum field and started as director of education at the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia. That position evolved into a combination of curatorial and interpretive responsibility for museum exhibits. This allowed me to connect the exciting stories with real historic objects and images. What could be better?
I've now been with the National Park Service for eighteen years, all in the New York City parks. Although my job titles have changed from time to time, I have always been able to do the research, utilize the collections, and present our part of our common American history to the public. I think that our history is the "glue" that binds us together as a people, whether our families have been here for generations, or we have only just arrived. Our history is a complex mosaic, lightened by idealism but also darkened by occasions of our failure to match those ideals. In either case, it is filled with great stories!