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View of New York Harbor
The History Channel

The History Channel has been a proud partner of the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy since 2006. Together with the Conservancy, it produced this Harbor Parks video and has funded other visitor resources that highlight the harbor's national park treasures.

Harbor Parks Video

Explore the national parks with the rangers who know them best. Discover in this eight minute video how these significant historic and recreational places illuminate the rich history of New York City and its harbor.

To learn more about the parks featured in the video, visit:

Ellis Island
Federal Hall
Fort Wadsworth
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Statue of Liberty

As the park rangers featured in the video explain, the story of New York Harbor and its national parks revolve around these five themes::

Ships in N.Y. Harbor, 1765

Commerce and the ideals of capitalism were introduced to the continent via the harbor in the early 1600's by Dutch merchants who established the colony called New Amsterdam. Over taken by the British and renamed New York, the harbor city at the mouth of the Hudson River prospered as the gateway for inland trade.

Battery Potter

Harbor Defense was vitally important. First the Dutch, then the British, and finally the Americans built coastal forts to protect their valuable asset. As the range of navel weapons increased, forts were required further out in the harbor to intercept hostile ships.

George Washington's inauguration

The Birth of the Nation is a story with its roots in New York, the nation's first capital city. It was here that George Washington was inaugurated as America's first president.


Immigration to the young nation was its peak in the early 19th century. Ellis Island and Castle Clinton were the points of entry for the ancestors of many Americans.


The Ecology of the harbor was badly damaged as a side effect of commercial shipping and the rapid population growth of the 19th and 20th centuries. This pollution was tackled in the 1970's through new environmental laws. Today the health of the harbor is being restored and the opportunity for harbor parks and recreation has begun a new chapter.