The Roosevelt trail, from Maine to North Dakota

  • By Beth J. Harpaz AP Travel Editor
  • Wednesday, September 17, 2014 2:45pm
  • Life

NEW YORK — Ken Burns’ new documentary about the Roosevelts — presidents Theodore and Franklin, and Franklin’s wife Eleanor — is bound to stir interest in some of the places connected to them. Here’s a look at some major Roosevelt sites, including birthplaces, family homes, vacation retreats and national parks and monuments from Maine to North Dakota.

For a schedule of upcoming episodes of “The Roosevelts,” click here.


Birthplace: Theodore Roosevelt lived at 28 E. 20th St. in Manhattan from his birth in 1858 until he was 14. The building was demolished in 1916, but later reconstructed and decorated with original and period furnishings. A free half-hour tour tells the story of Roosevelt’s family: He was descended from Dutch traders who made their fortune in New York (Roosevelt means rose field in Dutch, and is pronounced “rose-velt”), and he was Eleanor Roosevelt’s uncle and Franklin Roosevelt’s distant cousin. A sickly child, Teddy became fit using a gym on a terrace off his bedroom here. Museum artifacts include a shirt with a bullet hole; Roosevelt was shot on the campaign trail in Milwaukee but finished his speech before getting medical care. More info:

National Park: This park in the badlands of western North Dakota commemorates Theodore Roosevelt’s sojourn to the region in the 1880s, hunting bison and working on a ranch. More info:

Mount Rushmore: Theodore Roosevelt is one of four presidents whose faces adorn Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, along with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Roosevelt’s legacy includes his leadership in conservation, creating national parks and wilderness areas, and preserving antiquities. He was also seen as a fighter for the common man, taking on corporate monopolies. More info:

Sagamore Hill: This was Teddy Roosevelt’s summer White House, where he vacationed with his family. The home, on the North Shore of Long Island near Oyster Bay, New York, is closed for renovation, though a nearby museum and grounds are open. More info:


Library and museum: Through exhibits on Pearl Harbor, “Fireside Chats,” the New Deal and many other defining aspects of FDR’s presidency, this site in Hyde Park, New York, brings to life his leadership during the Great Depression and World War II. But visitors will also learn about FDR’s personal life, from his domineering mother, to his struggles with polio, to his relationships with Eleanor and other women. Nearby National Park Service sites include Springwood, where FDR was born and lived; Val-Kill, Eleanor’s retreat; and Top Cottage, FDR’s private digs. More info: and

Roosevelt Memorial: This evocative, unusual memorial in Washington, D.C., consists of a series of outdoor galleries with waterfalls, sculptures and famous FDR quotes such as “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Sculptures show FDR with his dog and FDR in a wheelchair. More info:

Warm Springs: Warm Springs, Georgia, was known for therapeutic swimming pools that offered relief from polio. FDR, who was partly paralyzed from polio, frequently visited, regaining some of his strength here and eventually building a home known as the Little White House. He died here in 1945 during his fourth presidential term. Visitors can see the home, pools and other sites related to polio history. More info:

Campobello: FDR had a 34-room summer home off the coast of Maine on Campobello Island, in New Brunswick, Canada, where his mother’s family vacationed. It was here that he first experienced symptoms of polio in 1921. The home is open for tours from late May through Columbus Day (Oct. 13). The area’s rocky shores, trails and driving roads can be visited year-round. A bridge connects Lubec, Maine, with Campobello, but you must have a passport to cross.

Four Freedoms Park: This park, located on Roosevelt Island in New York City’s East River, memorializes FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech, made in 1941, extolling freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. An excerpt is engraved on a granite monument near a bust of FDR. The park, designed by architect Louis I. Kahn, is considered a sleek Modernist masterpiece. Its tree-lined plazas, steps and other structures offer vantage points full of symmetry and angled views for seeing the Manhattan skyline. Reachable via subway or the Roosevelt Island tram. More info:

Hunter College: FDR and Eleanor received this six-story Manhattan town house as a gift in 1908 from FDR’s mother Sara Delano Roosevelt. A single front door opened into two units — one for the mother-in-law and one for FDR and his family. They lived here for decades; this is where FDR recovered from polio, ran for governor and president, and planned the New Deal. It’s now owned and used by Hunter College for lectures and events, and can be toured Saturdays, 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.; 47-49 E. 65th St., New York City.

Click here to learn more about the Ken Burns’ “The Roosevelts” project.

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