Discovering NY Harbor: The Gateway to America

Celebrating the historic and cultural significance of New York Harbor, the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy (Harbor Conservancy) and National Park Service kick-off their summer harbor tours aboard New York Waterway ferries with their Gateway to America cruise, an audio tour that is narrated by actress Kathleen Turner and brings 400 years of New York Harbor’s extraordinary past to life. The boat tour runs five times daily leaving from Slip 5 at the Battery Maritime Building.

Gateway to America is in its sixth season. The boat tour experience offers visitors the opportunity to see the city from a new vantage point &#8211 from the water while learning about the role New York Harbor played and continues to play as the gateway to America for millions of people.

Gateway to America is the only official tour of the National Park Service that ties together all five interpretative themes of the national parks that ring New York Harbor- commerce, military defense, immigration, birth of the nation and harbor ecology. &#8220The tour itinerary weaves together the rich tapestry of New York harbor’s history &#8211 from its first settlement by Native Americans through the tragic events of 9/11, and it offers new insights about the unique geographical and environmental features that made the harbor our nation’s most valuable commercial asset throughout four centuries,&#8221 according to Harbor Conservancy President, Marie Salerno.

Produced by Antenna Audio in the style of a public radio broadcast, Gateway to America is introduced by David Rockefeller, Jr. a co-founder of the Harbor Conservancy and whose family was instrumental in preserving open space through the National Park Service. The Gateway to America tour was the first harbor boat tour to present recorded audio commentary by National Park Service Rangers. Prominent experts like Columbia University professor, historian and editor of the Encyclopedia of New York, Kenneth T. Jackson- Daniel Libeskind, who emigrated to New York from communist Poland as a teenager and became one of the world’s leading architects- Pulitzer-Prize winning author David McCullough- and world-class swimmer Nancy Steadman Martin, (who battled the currents to swim the 28-mile circuit around Manhattan) also provide engaging remarks and insights.

Gateway to America tells stories of the five military forts, now historic icons that protected the city from invasion. The tour illuminates the harbor’s role as the portal to the American dream for generations of immigrants &#8211 including those newcomers who are still shaping the city’s future. Passengers hear sounds, special effects and original music that bring to life the drama of the thriving commercial port.

This 60-minute tour is offered daily beginning Apr. 4 &#8211 May 31 at 11am, 12:30pm, 2pm, and Jun. 1 &#8211 Sep. 30 at 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, departing from the Slip 5 in the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan, located next to the Staten Island Ferry. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Harbor Conservancy’s new ticket booth at Castle Clinton in Battery Park. Prices are: Adults: $18, Seniors (62+): $16, Children: $14, Children under 3: Free.

For more information about other affordable boat and walking tours created by the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy visit:

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