We drive to Hyde Park area which is out last stop on this trip. We go here to visit the famous Vanderbilt Mansion which is on the list of national heritages run by the National Park Service. The house is built by Frederick Vanderbilt who is the grandson of the legendary Cornelius Vanderbilt who was a railroad tycoon and the richest man in the world from around 1850 till his death in 1877. Fredericks father William was the main heir of Cornelius so money was abundant in his part of the family. So there was money to build the most extravagant mansion along the Hudson River.
Frederick built the mansion primarily as a summer house for him and his family from 1896 to 1899. The location was chosen so there was easy access to and from New York City on the New York Central Railway – conveniently owned by the Vanderbilt’s. The mansion is overlooking the Hudson and there must be an amazing view from the inside of the house. The only way to go inside the mansion is on a guided tour and unfortunately there is a bit of a wait since the next tour is full. We are told we will have to wait 1½ hour for the next available slot – and since we need to go to Newark to fly out later tonight it will be cutting it a bit tight if we wait for the next tour and then spend a good hour on the tour. So we have to just watch the amazing house from the outside and look at the great land with the fall colours of New York State.
We decide to drive from the Vanderbilt Mansion to another house in Hyde Park – the old home of Franklin D Roosevelt. FDR spend a lot of his life in this nice mansion in Hyde Park where he tried to walk from his front door to the gate of the house after he got hit by paralyzed by sickness possible polio but could be another disease as well. The house was his base until he became president and after he won the office he still used the place as a summer residence. He entertained many important guests here during his time in office – including several royalties from Europe and more significantly Winston Churchill also spend time here during World War II when the two statesmen discussed the situation of the war and how to conduct their combined effort to defeat Germany.
Today the mansion is a National Historical site managed by the National Park Service so the public can go and visit. Unfortunately you can only go inside the house on organized tours. And surprise surprise the first upcoming tour was fully booked so there was another wait – hence we didn’t get to go inside.
Instead we could walk around the park and see the house from the outside – it is pretty big but nothing like the Vanderbilt mansion. But there are other things to see at the mansion in addition to the building. In the rose garden of the estate you will find the final resting place of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. And there is a memorial for the meeting with Churchill during the war – and there is a small monument build out of pieces of the original Berlin Wall. Around this little monument you will see the four freedoms they fought to protect during the war. The freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from want.
We skip the museum also at the premise and decide to head south towards Newark – the drive down takes us across the Hudson which is on a pretty big and impressive bridge so the journey south is scenic at times. Just before we reach the airport we get the last glance of New York across the water.