Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour

Hello readers! I hope you are all doing well. It’s been a while and I sure have missed you all. I was down for the count with kidney stones and then I moved. The recent beautiful weather here in NJ is making me very excited to explore! However, this next article was from last May. I’m very behind on maintaining this blog, but maybe it works in your benefit because I haven’t run out of places to write about. I am also trying out something new…I uploaded my pictures to Flickr and posted the link here, so hopefully it works out and you’re able to see the pictures. If not, please let me know and I’ll do my best job at an IT job. Without further ado, here’s story about the Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour.


As I previously stated, last May, I had gone on this tour. My friend, Alecia, and I have talked about doing the tour for over a year. Unfortunately, a lot of the dates that would work perfectly for us were already sold out, and we didn’t want to go in extreme hot or cold weather. We were smart last year and booked early (I believe mid-March to get the mid-May date).

We paid approximately $50 some odd dollars last year, but I see it now costs $60.50 for the 90 minute guided tour. With that said, I think the tour was longer than 90 minutes, so that’s great for people who like to take pictures, like me! For more details, click here on how to obtain tickets and information.

Alecia and I picked the second tour, I believe, and it was perfect because it gave us time to take the ferry from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ, to the island. We were a bit early, but that gave plenty of time to check in at the appropriate desk and receive information on the tour as well as fill out a waiver form, then check out the island for a quick once over (we already visited a year prior), grabbed a snack, and made sure we had used the facilities a few times to be on the safe side because there are no working bathrooms once on the tour. (Disclaimer: Don’t drink a lot of water until the tour is over.) At the designated time, we gathered with the few other tour takers (I think there were maybe 10 of us max, but it may have been a smaller group), and headed out behind a gate with our tour guide.

First thing’s first: hard hats! I didn’t look as awesome as I thought and I hoped I would, but it made for a fantastic photo op! (Side note: there’s a picture of me when I was maybe 4 years old in a bathing suit and Fisher-Price yellow hard hat. I was tipping the beak as if saying “Hello there!” or something. One of the pictures in the link is me trying to recreate it.) I think I remember the tour guide going over the basics of watch where you’re going and that sort of thing. And then on with the tour.

The tour was truly remarkable. I had no idea that on Ellis Island, groundbreaking medical technology/discoveries were made on here and no one was cross-contaminated. Doctors and staff took every precaution to be as sterile as possible. For instance, the rooms have rounded off ceilings to prevent bacteria from sticking around after the rooms were hosed down and cleaned. All hallways contain several drains and hoses in order to wash away ammonia after it was used to clean. I wish I remembered all of the details. Doctors also performed autopsies in a room that contained a gallery for other doctors and medical staff to observe. The tour guide did tell us that the deceased in which autopsies were performed on were immigrants whose families could not afford to pay for the body to be shipped back to their homeland, or something to that affect. People weren’t randomly taken and used as subjects. There were specific protocols in the infectious disease wards so no one else gets sick (including all medical staff) or cross-contaminate one disease with another.  It seemed as though the doctors and nurses wanted the immigrants to be able to live in the United States, so they did their best to make their patient well enough to.

It makes me think of a personal story of my own, in which my mother had a very high fever when her, my grandparents, and my 2 uncles were boarding the General Muir in 1952 to come to the United States. My grandfather told my grandmother to wrap up my mother and just go. I imagine if my mother were still stick upon arrival, she would have been taken care of in the hospital.

On a scale of 1 to 10 if I’d go back and do another tour: I’d say 8. Would I recommend this tour to you, my reader? HECK YES! If you enjoy the parts of history that you typically do not read about or hear about, I think this tour is right up your alley!

Thank you again for reading this and let me know if you’re having any troubles with seeing the pictures I uploaded to Flickr.


Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour pictures up on Flickr.

Undercliff Cemetery

This past October 14th was a great day! It was my birthday and my boyfriend asked me what I wanted to do. I suggested dinner, maybe a movie, and he suggested we go exploring. He had never been exploring and was curious to see what it was like. It was such perfect weather, so I had to think of a place and decided to go to Undercliff Cemetery.

Despite living in the area, I really was not familiar with this specific location. I have taken 9W to Hudson Terrace to Edgewater, but had never travelled all the way down  East Palisade Avenue in Englewood Cliffs. I figured if I had my GPS on, we would be good to go. I was wrong. The GPS told me I had reached my destination, but there was only a small parking area to my left and a cliff to my right. We decided to proceed onward, which was cool, but still not the right way. I had to turn back around carefully, as a news headline of “Woman and Man Make K-Turn Off Steep Incline” did not sound awesome. I knew Undercliff Beach was near too, so put that into my GPS this time. It pretty much told me to stop in the same area. This time, my boyfriend suggested we park and look around.

So I parked in the little parking area and once again turned on the GPS to see what happens when I’m walking. Still not much help. We walked one way and nothing. Walked another way and…wait…I saw something: a little bridge that passed over some big rocks. Walked a little closer and I spotted a retaining wall and a few headstones. Finally found it! We crossed the small bridge and were trying to find a way in, so walked around the retaining wall. We had to walk through a small path in which the trees and other brush needed some pruning.

Carefully making our way through the opening in the retaining wall, we saw about  a dozen ore so headstones. Some were broken and some were standing perfectly. There are small paths in the cemetery and it’s kept up fairly well, but still unsure if some of the leaves were poison ivy or oak, so be careful.

Unfortunately, so many headstones were illegible due to the elements, I’m sure. The cemetery sits atop a mountain with the Hudson River below and trees all around, so nature is a key role in this. On Find-a-Grave, it shows a few members of the same family are buried here, but I’m not sure if this is a complete list of all those resting here. Undercliff was a small fishing colony settled by the Dutch in the early 1800s. The History of Englewood’s website explains more on what happened to those who resided here and that this cemetery is a historic site.

It was such a beautiful October day, but being shaded by the trees, being so close to the water, and the wind picking up, it felt like it was at least 50 degrees. However, my boyfriend absolutely loved this little exploration and can’t wait to check out more places with me. I have made a new exploration partner. Yay!

Directions: Look up Undercliff Cemetery to get to tayhe area if you are unfamiliar. Once you are in Englewood Cliffs, take East Palisade Avenue to the end (the retaining wall is there) and bear left for Henry Hudson Drive. As soon as you see a small building (it appears to be an old snack bar to me) and a flat area that’s open, park in that area. Once you’ve parked, walk back towards the shed and you’ll see what looks like stone piles/structures all over. (Side note: what are these? Old tables for picnicking? Fire pits?) Keep walking through this clearing and you’ll see the small bridge and cross over it. Stay on the right of the wall and the opening is on the left.

Maywood Station Museum

Hello everyone and Happy 2017! I’m very behind in posting, especially on this one, as I had visited this location in July 2015.

For the history of this train station and museum, please click here for the official site. There is a sign on the building that provides the history of the train station as well. I have included a close-up of it.

What I find very interesting is the fact that this station was built in Maywood when it was underdeveloped. If you are familiar with this town, you will know that today, the train station is minutes away from Route 17 and Bergen Commons shopping mall. This area was mainly farmland and homes. This station was built to provide transportation for both passengers and freight, leading to Jersey City, NJ and Middletown, NY.

If you browse the official Museum’s website, they provide a schedule of events and which days they are open. I believe they will reopen in the spring and close at the end of fall or beginning of winter. Go enjoy!

End of 2016 Post

Hello! I hope everyone is doing well and getting ready to enjoy the holiday season. 

I haven’t gone anywhere, but also physically haven’t gone to many places either. Life happens and this year was huge for me, so unfortunately, like last year, I stopped posting for quite sometime. I still have a few posts before I run out of places to post about. 

My friend and I actually just discussed today that we will blog at least once a week in the new year. Whether I have pictures to post or not, I’m going to try my best to keep up! I used to post every Tuesday and Thursday this summer, so I’ll post either on a Tuesday or Thursday in the new year. 
Happy Holidays (whichever you celebrate) and Happy New Year!

Harmony Presbyterian Church and Graveyard

In the quaint town of Harmony stands this historic church and graveyard. The first church meetings were in the 1790s and was founded in 1807, then rebuilt in 1886. There’s a very curious sign on the building that reads “This plaque dedicated to the memory of all those souls who lie beneath this foundation.” Hmm…very curious.

As with many cemeteries, especially in this area it seems, there are Rev War, Civil War, and WWI soldiers buried here. It seems like in the cemeteries in Bergen County, there are usually Rev War and WWII soldiers/vets buried and not so many Civil War or WWI. I find this amazing, so don’t mind me. What I thought was pretty cool too was behind the church is also a road. Across from that is a cornfield. Reminded me very much of “Field of Dreams.”

Ringwood Manor Victorian Christmas

This past December had some record-breaking (or at least in my lifetime record-breaking) warm weather. My friend, Alecia, and I had gone into NYC to see The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and I barely needed my winter coat. Consider this post your Christmas in July!

On December 12, 2015, I learned how to make my father’s family’s potato salad recipe that was used when his aunt and uncle owned Barth’s Deli back in the 1930s in Bergenfield. FYI Barth’s Deli is present-day Dan’s Deli, which is the high school mecca. Also on this very day, Ringwood Manor was hosting a Victorian Christmas event where you get to walk through the Manor and learn some history, while seeing how the home would have been traditionally decorated during various times, along with some Victorian and Edwardian fashions. You were also welcomed to walk around the property. It was in the 60s that day, so we got to really enjoy the grounds.

You are not permitted to take pictures inside the Manor so I actually listened and didn’t try to be sneaky with a “selfie.” I plan on coming back here, so I don’t want to have my picture on a poster with the words “Do not allow entrance” over it.

I won’t go into detail or link you to the history of the Manor, because I do plan on visiting again. Plus I bought a book that I need to read still. However, I will link the official Manor website so you can check for upcoming events.

Cornelius Low House

Built in 1741, the Cornelius Low House (also known as Ivy Hall) sits on River Road in Piscataway. It was the home of a wealthy merchant, Cornelius Low, Jr., and his family. It is now owned by Middlesex County and serves as a museum. I don’t recall seeing a blue historical marker, but the House became part of the National Register of Historial Places on May 27, 1971. It also is part of the New Jersey Register of Historic Places.

When you visit, there is an interpretive path that tells the history of the home and the original village name of Raritan Landing. The interpretation comes from small metal structures depicting a scene. It leads from the back to a parking lot belonging to Rutger’s University. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to park there, but I did. Once you reach in front of the house, you can really appreciate what it must’ve been like during the time of the original owners. It’s pretty quiet up there already, so must’ve been more wooded and much more quiet. And it’s quite a site.

There is a “ghost” of the building, which is where the kitchen used to be. By this, you see the original building and then bricks surrounding the area and expanding the room. I have a picture below so you can see what I mean. Nothing supernatural here, just progress.