Tag: historic parks

The Arnault/Bianchi House   111 First Street Wood Ridge, NJ 07075

The Arnault/Bianchi House 111 First Street Wood Ridge, NJ 07075

The Arnault/Bianchi House

111 First Street

Wood Ridge, NJ  07075

I recently visited the Arnault/Bianchi House for a historic lecture by an actress who portrayed Amelia Earhart. It was an interesting afternoon of listening to the actor keep in character and describe her life just before her flight around the world. After the show, the actor was available for conversation with the audience and there was a light lunch after the performance. I thought this was a nice touch to end the afternoon.

The town of Wood Ridge, NJ,  where the Arnault/Bianchi House is located has made a commitment for the house to be used for cultural events and hands on programs such as poetry readings and author visits.

The house was built in the 1880’s  by one of Wood Ridge’s founding father’s, French wine merchant, Fridolin Arnault. The Frenchman used  to sell his Bordeaux blends on Fifth Avenue in New York City. His relatives, Rudolphe and Annick Proust, traveled from Paris last year to visit the ‘country house’ of their uncle (The Wood Ridge Historical Society).

The second owner was designer Joseph Briggs, Louis Tiffany’s right hand man. Briggs  is responsible for the stained-glass  window designs  at the Church of St. Paul’s and Resurrection in Wood-Ridge. He eventually sold the house to the Bianchi’s . Not much is known about the Bianchi family (The Wood Ridge Historical Society).

Arnault House II.jpg

The inside of the house.

The backyard features gardens, meticulous landscaping, enough lawn space for a a grand social affair reminiscent of the Great Gatsby, benches, decorative stone and the exterior buildings the outhouse and carriage house. The second and third floors are not open to the public and are used for storage and the home still needs some repairs. In most of the lower floors are period furnishes and art work (The Wood Ridge Historical Society).

Please watch the papers and the town’s website for future events.



Assateague Island National Seashore 7307 Stephen Decatur Highway Berlin, MD 21811

Assateague Island National Seashore 7307 Stephen Decatur Highway Berlin, MD 21811

Assateague Island National Seashore

7307 Stephen Decatur Highway

Berlin, MD 21811

(410) 641-2120


TripAdvisor Review:


Bloggers Note: Over the holidays we visited this national park in Delaware when we were visiting my mother. We went to see the wild horses. The horses were so used to seeing humans that they just ignored us. On a beautiful day, it is nice to visit the island and just look at the ocean.

Barrier Islands are among the most dynamic land forms on earth. From ocean to bay, Assateague Island is defined by change.

The rhythms of tides and seasons shape the island. The smallest gust of wind or gentlest of waves moves sand in a ceaseless rearrangements of island terrain. While summer waves and long-shore currents may build a wide beach, most of the year sand is scoured from the shore and moved southward leaving a narrow, steep shoreline. Storms can create inlets or fill them in. They can cut away dunes and wash sand across the island. The retreating dunes mark the islands’s westward movement. New habitats are created-old ones are reinvented. Plants and animals shift and adapt in counterpoint to these changes. On Assateague Island, nature’s rhythmic processes are a brilliant display.

Natural zones shaped and reshaped by wind, wave and current characterize Assateague Island. Distinct plant and animal communities have adapted to each zone. This north-facing view depicts these habitats, left to right from bay to ocean.

Coastal Bays:

Chincoteague Bay and two smaller bays separate Assateague from the mainland. They provide an environment rich in aquatic life and vital to ocean ecosystems. The warm, shallow waters create a productive nursery for mussels, crabs, clams, terrapin and fish. Twice a day, tides rejuvenate these areas and ferry aquatic animals out to the ocean or into the relative safety of the bays.

Just beneath the bays’ surface, in the shadowy world of the seagrass meadows, diverse marine life thrives. Blue carbs molt, hidden in the grasses. Young fish find refuge from predators. Seahorses and pipefish, vulnerable in open water, depend on grasses for anchorage and safe haven. Mud-loving creature cluster around roots. These are the secret gardens of the coastal bays.

Salt Marsh:

Once considered worthless, salt marshes are incredibly valuable areas. They are complex ecosystems defined by the constant ebb and flow of salt water. Tides transport nutrients into the marsh and detritus (decaying plants and animals) out into the bay. Scavengers, like snails, amphipods and fiddler crabs, feed on detritus. They in turn are food for high tide visitors to the salt marsh like fish and crabs. When the tide is out, a banquet is exposed in the mudflats where birds feast on the small creatures that inhabit this transitional area. Few plants can thrive in a salt marsh. Cordgrass, salt meadow hay and saltwort are among those that can. These plants create shelter for willet and rail and hunting grounds for Northern harrier and raccoon. Horses can often be seen grazing on marsh grasses.

Maritime Forest:

The forest edge is bordered by a shrub thicket on both bay and ocean sides. This is another transition area between distinct communities. Greenbrier, highbrush blueberry and bayberry thrive here. Trees, stunted and sculptured by salt-laden winds, mingle with shrubs and vines. Guarded by this thicket, the maritime forest is sheltered from much of the wind and provides habitat for some of Assteague’s other residents. While lobolly pine is the dominant tree, southern wax myrtle, American holly and red cedar survive in the shaded understory. The forest is home to white-tailed and sika deer, raccoons and birds like the yellow-rumped warbler and Eastern towhee. Predators like great horned owls and red fox hunt small mammals, birds and reptiles in the woodland.

Dunes and Upper Beach:

The dunes and upper beach are always in motion. Windblown sand and salt dictate the plant and animal life of this stark environment. Less salt-tolerate plants like beach heather and seaside goldenrod hide on the leeward side of dunes, sheltering the small but fierce dune wolf spider as it hunts its insect prey. Plants trap sand, elevate dunes and form a malleable barrier against the assault of wind and water. Where overwash does occur, piping plovers and other birds find prized nestling habitat. The primary beach front dunes are dominated by American beach grass, with its extensive root system and ability to tolerate relentless exposure to the elements. Many creatures visit the beach but ghost crabs enjoy a great view from oceanfront burrows.


So visually compelling are the surf and ocean that it is easy to forget how much happens beneath the surface. Mole crabs, coquina clams and small invertebrates thrive in the inter-tidal zone where crashing waves deliver food and render all homes temporary.  Shore-birds dance away from the surf while attempting to dine on creatures concealed in the sand.

The ocean food web starts with phytoplankton. Most other marine life is dependent upon these tiny plant for survival. The oceans support more than half the species on earth, yet 95% of these waters remains unexplored, offering endless possibilities for discovery.

Surf and Seashore Safety:

National Park Service lifeguards cover North Ocean Beach (Maryland) and Tome Cover Beach (Virginia, in the National Wildlife Refuge) in Summer only Assateague State Park also had lifeguards in the summer.

Mats and floats except U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices are prohibited at all life-guarded beaches. Surf conditions are posted in multiple locations near the beach. Learn about rip currents (seaward currents) and their danger at http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Never swim alone.

Prevent overexposure to sunlight with sunscreen or protective clothing. Biting insects are abundant spring through autumn. Insect repellent and/or protective clothing are recommended.

About your visit:

Assateague Island National Seashore is open year-round. Camping is allowed in designated areas only. Campers may not bring firewood from out of state. Firewood must be purchased locally. Assateague Island Visitor Center is open from 9:00am-5:00pm year round except Thanksgiving Day and December 25th. Here you can get information and see aquariums, a touch tank, exhibits, maps and a film about the island’s wild horses. You can register for camping and get permits for the Over Sand Vehicle (OSV) zone at the campground office on the island. Dates and hours vary for Toms Cove Visitor Center. Contact the park for information; phone and website at right.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is open year-round. The Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center is open year-round except December 25th and January 1st. Hours vary seasonally. Contact the refuge for information; phone and website at right.

Assateague State Park’s beach and parking lot are open year-round, 9:00am to sunset. Contact the park for camping information; phone and website at right.

Accessibility: Visitor centers, restrooms, bookstores and some trails are wheelchair-accessible. Service animals are welcome. Call each area for more specifics.

Regulations: Call or visit each area’s website for regulations on firearms, pets, personal watercraft and more.

Assateague Island National Seashore is one of over 390 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks, visit http://www.nps.gov.

The Parks:

Assateague State Park: Maryland’s only oceanfront state park has two miles of beach for swimming, surfing and fishing. Lifeguarded areas are available Memorial Day through Labor Day. The campground is open late April through October Campsites include fire rings, picnic tables and bathhouses with warm showers. A small number of electric hookups are available. Reservations are recommended. Alcohol is prohibited in all areas of the state park. A park store is open seasonally, offering food and souvenirs. Pets are permitted with restrictions in designated areas. The marina/boat launch; located on the mainland side of the Verrazano Bridge, is a popular fishing and crabbing spot and features seasonal kayak rentals. Visit the Nature Center in the campground for live animal exhibits, arts and crafts and family fun. Entrance fees apply. Assateague State Park offers something for everyone.

Assateague State Park

7307 Stephen Decatur Highway

Berlin, MD  21811

(410) 641-2120


Assateague Island National Seashore:

Explore the national seashore and discover the mysteries of a barrier island. Before traveling across the Verrazano Bridge to the Maryland end of the island begin your visit at the Assateague Island Visitor Center. Watch a film about the wild horses. The visitor center also includes restrooms, a gift shop, exhibits, aquariums and staff to provide information and orientation. Touch a sea snail or horseshoe crab. Ask at the information desk for a Junior Ranger booklet and have some family fun.

Enjoy the park roads by bike. Observe wild horses feeding in the salt marsh. During summer, visit the Beach Hut for supplies and beverages and swim at the lifeguarded North Ocean Beach. Camping is available a year-round and reservations are encouraged April 15th through October 15th. Expect rustic conditions, vault toilets and coldwater showers. Electric hookups are not provided. Pets are permitted in designated  areas. Avid paddlers and hikers should not miss the countryman camping experience. The Over Sand Vehicle (OSV) zone provides an adventurous getaway (permit required). Nature trails, beach-combing and ranger-led programs will bring back childhood memories, while guided kayak tours and campfire programs will make new ones. Entrance fees apply.

Assateague National Seashore

7206 National Seashore Lane

Berline, MD  21811

(410) 641-1441


Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge:

Originally established to protect migratory birds, the refuge today is a destination for birders, beachcombers, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Careful management of freshwater pools and marshes provides ideal habitat and feeding areas for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and other wetland-dependent species. The refuge is a paradise for birders and photographers. Walk or bike the trails to catch a glimpse of the rare Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel or the Chincoteague ‘ponies’. Drive the Wildlife loop around Snow Goose Pool between 3:00pm and dusk. Expect Toms Cover Hook to be closed during the nesting season of the threatened piping plover. Visit the Refuge-operated Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center and the National Seashore-operated Toms Cove Visitor Center for exhibits, programs and assistance. There is no camping in the refuge, so check in the nearby community of Chincoteague. A lifeguarded beach is available Memorial Day to Labor Day. Pets are prohibited Entrance fees apply.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

8231 Beach Road

Chincoteague, VA  23336

(757) 336-6122


Disclaimer: This information is taken directly from the National Park Service pamphlet on Assateague Island National Seashore State Park. It is really a fascinating place. It covers both Delaware and Maryland. Please check out the website and call for more information.  Don’t miss this interesting ‘gem’.



Camp Merritt Memorial Monument Intersection of Knickerbocker Road and Madison Avenue, Cresskill, NJ 07626

Camp Merritt Memorial Monument Intersection of Knickerbocker Road and Madison Avenue, Cresskill, NJ 07626

Camp Merritt Memorial Monument

Intersection of Knickerbocker Road and Madison Avenue

Cresskill, NJ  07626


Camp Merritt Memorial Monument marks the center of an important World War I embarkation camp, where more than one million U.S. soldiers passed through on their way to and from the battlefields of Europe.

In August 1919, the Bergen County Freeholders purchased land for the monument from what was the approximate center of the camp at the intersection of Madison Avenue and Knickerbocker Road in Cresskill. In 1922, work on the shaft commenced. Modeled on the Washington Monument, the memorial is a 65′ high granite obelisk. On the base are the names of the 578 people who died in the camp, mostly as a result of the 1918 worldwide influenza epidemic. A large Art Deco style carved relief by the sculptor Robert Ingeroll Aitkin (1878-1949) shows a striding “doughboy” with an eagle flying overhead. Set into a large boulder is a copper plaque with a relief of the Palisades, illustrating that Camp Merritt was used as an area for embarkation, designed and made by the local artist Katherine Lamb Tait. In the ground is a three dimensional stone carving of the map of Camp Merritt.

The Camp Merritt Monument was dedicated on May 30, 1924 by a number of state and federal dignitaries. General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing gave the dedicatory address to a crowd of 20,000 people. Camp Merritt, located midway between Cresskill and Dumont and 12 miles from Hoboken, received its first soldiers in October 1917. Originally called Camp Tenafly”, and covering an area that included Cresskill, Demarest, Dumont, Haworth and Tenafly, it was eventually named for General Wesley Merritt, a gallant Civil War officer who was in the service of his country from 1855 to 1900. Little publicity surrounded the camp as it was deemed vitally important to keep troop movements a secret. The soldiers would march with their heavy packs and supplies to the trains or over the Palisades to the Hudson River to board boats that would take them to their European-bound ships docked in Hoboken. The last soldier passed through in the beginning of 1920.

The camp was 770 acres in size and had a capacity of 42,000 men (two thousand of them officers). It was strategically built near major rail lines, facilitating the transport of soldiers to the camp. It contained 1300 buildings of all varieties.  The base hospital alone was composed of 93 buildings. A staff of 300 nurses treated 55,000 sick men. 8000 men representing 40 different nationalities were nationalized in the Camp and made citizens of the US. Camp Merritt had its own newspaper, the Merritt Dispatch established and edited by Charles Philip Barber, which was the only printed record of the camp’s activities. The editor and staff of the Merritt Dispatch were the first to promote the idea of the monument.

After the camp was sold, it suffered three suspicious fires while the buildings were idle, each one worse than the last. The second fire in March of 1921 destroyed a hundred buildings. The third fire was the most spectacular, destroying almost all of what was left of the camp and detonating two stores of dynamite that had been stored for demolition purposes. Eighteen fire companies (including three from New York City, which came by way of the Dyckman Street Ferry) struggled to prevent the fires from spreading to adjacent homes. Other fire companies came from Tenafly, Closter, Bergenfield, Cresskill, Demarest, Teaneck, Hackensack and Palisades.

The Monument is located on the traffic circle and can be reached by foot and is illuminated at night.


2015 Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs

Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from a pamphlet from The Bergen County Division of Cultural Affairs & Historic Affairs in Bergen County, New Jersey. You must stop off on one of the side streets to see the monument and the information boards on the site are off to the west side of the circle. Try to walk around the monument on the circle itself to see the most detail.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park Roosevelt Island, NYC

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park Roosevelt Island, NYC

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park

Roosevelt Island, NYC, NY

TripAdvisor Review:


Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is the first memorial dedicated to the president in his home state of New York. Located on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in New York City, it is the last work of Louis I. Kahn, an iconic architect of the 20th Century. The memorial, which opened to the public in October 2012, celebrates the four freedoms, as pronounced in President Roosevelt’s famous January 6, 1941 State of the Union address: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom of want and freedom from fear.

Our Mission:

As steward of this civic space, Four Freedoms Park Conservancy advances President Roosevelt’s legacy and inspires; educates and engages the public in the ideals of the four freedoms. The Conservancy does this by:

*Safeguarding the memorial as a space for inspired use.

*Fostering community and understanding.

*Igniting conversation about human rights and freedoms today.

On January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his eighth State of the Union address, now known as the Four Freedoms speech. In his address, Roosevelt presented his vision for the world, “a world attainable in our own time and generation,” and founded upon four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

Roosevelt’s call for human rights has created a lasting legacy worldwide, forming the basis for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

For a richer of FDR, his legacy and the four freedoms, visit fdr4freedoms.org

Franklins D. Roosevelt Island: A History

Originally called Minnahannock by Native Americans and Varkins Island  by the Dutch settlers, the island was acquired by the Blackwell family in the 1600’s, who renamed the land Blackwell Island. The Blackwells lived on and farmed it before selling it to the City of New York in 1828 for $30,000.

In the 19th Century, the island was used by the City for institutional facilities, including the Workhouse, Penitentiary, Lunatic Asylum, City Hospital and City Home and given the name Welfare Island in 1921. These institutions served the City until the 1930’s., before gradually being relocated to areas more easily accessible to public transportation.

In 1969, this two-mile island was lease to the State of New York for 99 years. Under New York State’s Urban Development Corporation, Welfare Island  became a beacon for the affordable housing movement within the City. Construction of the Island community was completed in 1975 with four housing developments. In 1973, the island was renamed Franklin D. Roosevelt Island.

Today, Roosevelt Island has a small town fell with approximately 20 buildings and 14,00 residents. The island is home to six landmarked structures and proudly houses Four Freedoms Park, one of the original visions for the Island. To learn more, visit the Roosevelt Island Visitor Center at the Tram Plaza.

(Judith Berdy, President, The Roosevelt Island Visitor Center)

A Memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt

Nearly 40 years before the Park opened its gates to the public, Louis I. Kahn presented his vision for what would become Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. It was a simple idea. “I had this thought,” Kahn said. “that a memorial should be a room and a garden.”

This was 1973. Less than a year later, Khan had died; Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who had announced the project with Mayor John  Lindsay, became Vice President of the country and the City of New York neared bankruptcy.

The future of the memorial seemed a fragile and tenuous dream. Yet, through the power and determination of a small but dedicated group, nearly four decades after Kahn completed his architectural design, Four Freedoms Park became the place he envisioned. In 2012, following 30 months of construction, the Park opened to the public. The Park is operated and maintained by Four Freedoms Park Conservancy in partnership with New York State Parks.

Park Hours:

Open Daily, closed Tuesday

Free to the Public

April-September, 9:00am-7:00pm

October-March, 9:00am-5:00pm

Visit fdrfourfreedomspark.org to learn more about the Park and upcoming events and programs.


Twitter/Instagram: @4freedompark

Part of the New York State of Opportunity: Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Disclaimer: this information was taken from the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation pamphlet. Please call the park or email to check on opening times when in season.