The United States has packed a lot of history into the 240 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed, much of which is represented in this week’s Bucket List column. With July 4th and the Independence Day holiday just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to reflect on some of the country’s most famous historical sites. From Ellis Island to Pearl Harbor, these seven destinations will resonate with history buffs.
Paste Travel’s Bucket List columnist Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India and conquering volcanoes in the Philippines.
1 of 7
Undoubtedly one of America's most famous patriots, Paul Revere rode into history books on horseback as he warned of approaching British troops in 1775. His home still stands today in Boston's North End and is open to the public as a museum. Officially the oldest building in the city's downtown, Paul Revere's house is maintained as a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Photo by Matthew and Heather, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
2 of 7
Historically speaking, few U.S. destinations resonate as profoundly as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the site of the deadliest Civil War battle. Four months after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous and poignant Gettysburg Address and the words "Fourscore and seven years ago" have echoed throughout our country ever since. Today, it's protected as the Gettysburg National Battlefield within Gettysburg National Military Park.
Photo by Rob Weir, CC BY-NC 2.0
3 of 7
Engraved with the words "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," the Liberty Bell has served as a symbol of our country's fight for independence and later for those fighting for freedom during the abolitionist movement. The Liberty Bell originally hung in the Pennsylvania State House and today is housed in the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. Folklore surrounds the bell, mainly what historical events it tolled and how it got its famous crack, but few deny the symbolic and historical importance it has for this country.
Photo by Brian Moran, CC BY-NC 2.0
4 of 7
Within the Rotunda of the National Archives in Washington, DC you'll find not one, but three of our country's most important political and historical relics--original copies of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. It also houses the Emancipation Proclamation and Louisiana Purchase Treaty, among its many other American artifacts. Located in the National Mall at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, the National Archives is open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
Photo by Thomas Hawk, CC BY-NC 2.0
5 of 7
Visiting Colonial Williamsburg offers you the chance to walk the streets of colonial America. From 1699 until 1780, it served as the capital of Virginia, the epicenter of the American colonies. At just over 300 acres, this living museum provides ample opportunities to witness and experience colonial America in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War through lively historical reenactments and restored buildings, including the Governor's Palace, Raleigh Tavern and the Capitol.
Photo by Ron Cogswell, CC BY 2.0
6 of 7
New York's Ellis Island played a significant role in the journey of more than 10 million immigrants in their quest for a better life. Between 1892 and 1954, it served as the nation's main immigration station. Many Americans' family folklore contains stories of passing through its doors after first arriving in the country. Today, the site is home to the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, which is located in the original processing complex. According to the museum's website, nearly half of all Americans are direct descendants of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island.
Photo by Helder Caixinha, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
7 of 7
Launching the U.S. into World War II, the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces became "a date which will live in infamy," as President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously declared. While the area remains an active military base, several memorials are housed there and are open to the public. The USS Arizona Memorial, within the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, sits above the USS Arizona where 1,102 sailors and marines were killed during the attack.
Photo by Doug Pieper, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0