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Archive for U.S. travel

America’s Oldest Synagogue

By Linda Tancs

In colonial times, Newport, Rhode Island, welcomed its first Jewish residents as early as 1658. A century later, the population had grown substantially with the rise of the mercantile trade, giving rise to the need for a place of worship that was named Congregation Jeshuat Israel (Salvation of Israel). It was later renamed Touro Synagogue after Newport natives Abraham and Judah Touro, who both provided bequests to see to the perpetual care and maintenance of the Congregation’s properties. Designated a National Historic Site in 1946, the synagogue boasts a connection to George Washington, who adopted many of the views on religious liberties and the separation of church and state that were espoused by the congregation’s president during his address to Washington at Newport. In fact, Washington’s written response to the congregation is an annual celebrated event, lauded and commemorated as possibly having the greatest impact on America and American Jewry. The next annual reading of George Washington’s historic letter “To the Hebrew Congregation at Newport” will take place on Sunday at 1 p.m.

A Feast for the Eyes in Santa Fe

By Linda Tancs

This weekend marks the 96th annual Santa Fe Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Begun in 1922, the market is the largest and most prestigious juried Native American arts show in the world. It attracts over 100,000 visitors from around the world who buy art directly from roughly 900 artists from over 200 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. and Canada. Items include pottery, sculpture, textiles, paintings, wooden carvings, bead work, baskets, drums and bows and arrows. The event is preceded by Indian Market Week, a series of events in Native film, literature, music, fashion and visual art.

Breaking Up in Hollywood

By Linda Tancs

Forget about tea and sympathy. Apparently a better way to get over a relationship is to create art about it at the Museum of Broken Relationships in Hollywood, California. Originally founded in Zagreb, in 2010 it won the EMYA Kenneth Hudson Award as the most innovative and daring museum project in Europe. Exhibits include everything from wedding dresses to an ax used to break an ex’s furniture, accompanied by the contributor’s personal yet anonymous story. Cathartic? Maybe. But remember the immortal words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

The Residents of Green-Wood

By Linda Tancs

Composer Leonard Bernstein. Artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. Politician Boss Tweed. Newspaper magnate Horace Greeley. They’re just some of over 500,000 permanent residents of Green-Wood, one of the first rural cemeteries in America. Founded in 1838 and now a National Historic Landmark, its 478 acres include hills, valleys, glacial ponds and paths. In addition to its famous occupants, the site has Revolutionary War roots, the Battle of Long Island having been fought along what is now its grounds. It also boasts one of the largest outdoor collections of statuary and mausoleums. Located at 5th Avenue and 25th Street in Brooklyn, New York, admission is always free. Take the trolley or a guided or self-guided tour.

The Washingtons of Fredericksburg

By Linda Tancs

The land registry of Fredericksburg, Virginia, is brimming with history about George Washington and his family. For instance, there’s the first president’s boyhood home at Ferry Farm, so named because people crossed the Rappahannock River on a ferry from the farm into town. Later, George Washington purchased a home in town for his mother Mary, a white frame house on the corner of Charles and Lewis streets. It’s within walking distance to Kenmore, a Georgian-style mansion that was the home of Mary’s daughter Betty Washington Lewis. Betty’s husband Fielding Lewis once owned land upon which St. James’ House was built, one of the few 18th century frame houses still standing in Fredericksburg. It was owned by James Mercer, a lawyer for Mary Washington. And then there’s the frame home built by George Washington’s youngest brother Charles around 1760. Now known as the Rising Sun Tavern, it became a tavern in 1792 when it was purchased by the Wallace family and operated for 35 years as a stopover for travelers.

Burying the Hatchet in Montana

By Linda Tancs

“Garry Owen” is an old Irish quick-step that can be traced back to the 1800s. The town of Garryowen, Montana, was named after the old Irish tune, purportedly one of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s favorite marching songs. It was the last song played by the band for Custer’s men as they left the Terry column at the Rosebud River, the lead-up to the Battle of the Little Bighorn—a definitive engagement between the U.S. Cavalry and northern tribe Indians (including the Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapaho) known as “Custer’s Last Stand.” A registered historic site, the town is privately owned and the only one within the battlefield. It is the site of the Custer Battlefield Museum, housing important Indian War period artifacts and manuscripts related to Custer, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and the 7th Cavalry as well as a lock of Custer’s hair. You’ll also find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the burial site of one of the first casualties of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The granite tomb was dedicated 50 years after the conflict in 1926 during the Burial of the Hatchet Ceremony featuring White Bull (a Sioux Indian) and General Godfrey.

Big Red

By Linda Tancs

The most photographed lighthouse in Michigan is Holland Harbor Lighthouse, affectionately known as Big Red. The bright red structure seen today on the south side of the Holland Channel is a descendant of the first structure built on the site in 1872. For a great view of Big Red, visit Holland State Park and walk along the boardwalk to the north pier (wheelchair accessible). You can also view it from Mt. Pisgah, where the dune staircase takes you 157 feet above sea level. Otherwise, it is a quarter-mile walk to the lighthouse across sand and gravel from the park entrance, and visits are limited to one hour.

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