Article updated June 2020
Hamilton has been hugely popular over the past few years, with premiere after premiere, Lin-Manuel Miranda hosting SNL, a PBS documentary… and we still can’t get enough! Ham fever *wink wink* has taken over not only Broadway, but also fashion, politics, and even real estate!
As we dream of that one golden ticket and the chance to freestyle with Lin himself (we’re not throwing away our shot), let’s ‘take a break’ and tour the historic places from the musical to uncover the story they tell about the life of our ten-dollar founding father and the events of the American Revolution.
Here are the iconic Hamilton locations as they were then and as we know them now, more than two centuries apart, with a bit of trivia on the side:
#1. Princeton University, NJ[Listening to Aaron Burr, Sir] Pardon me. Are you Aaron Burr, sir? [..] / I’m Alexander Hamilton, I’m at your service, sir [..] / I heard your name at Princeton. I was seeking an accelerated course of study
Nassau Hall of Princeton University 1837 (left) and current day (right)
Then: The largest academic building at the time, Nassau Hall was the home of the entire American government when Princeton was the capital of the early United States from July to October 1783. The son of Princeton’s second president, Aaron Burr Jr. was known as one of the most brilliant students of the college in the 18th century, graduating a year after James Madison.
Now: It houses Princeton University’s administrative offices and is a designated National Historic Landmark since 1960 for its importance in the Revolutionary War. Former President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Michelle Obama are some of the famous Princeton graduates of present times.
#2. Columbia University (King’s College), NYC[Listening and rapping to My Shot] I’m ‘a get a scholarship to King’s College/ I prob’ly shouldn’t brag, but dag, I amaze and astonish
King’s College Hall 1700 (left) and Low Memorial Library at Columbia University current day (right)
Then: It was founded in 1754 as King’s College but had its activity suspended for eight years once the American Revolution began. King’s College alumni Alexander Hamilton and John Jay played a very important role in the reopening of the academic institution in 1784 under a new name – Columbia College.
Now: Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan and the oldest institution of higher learning in the State of New York. Hamilton Hall with Alexander Hamilton’s statue in front of it are a tribute to the former Secretary of Treasury. Other prominent graduates include President Barack Obama and former President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
#3. Kips Bay, NYC[Listening to Right Hand Man] Hamilton won’t abandon ship/ Yo, let’s steal their canons [..]/ Boom!/ Goes the canon, we’re abandonin’ Kips Bay
British troops landing at Kip’s Bay 1776 (left) and View on the East River in Kips Bay current day (right)
Then: Kips Bay was an inlet of the East River and the site of the British landing during the New York Campaign in the American Revolutionary War on September 15, 1776.
Now: It is a conveniently-located Manhattan neighborhood, known for having a laid-back residential feel amid New York City.
#4. Hamilton Heights (Harlem), NYC[Listening and swaying to Helpless] No stress, my love for you is never in doubt/ We’ll get a little place in Harlem and we’ll figure it out
Hamilton’s residence in a subsection of Harlem 1858 (left) and Hamilton Heights current day (right)
Now: The Hamilton Heights subsection of Harlem is a semi-suburban neighborhood with historic townhouses and brownstones. It derives its name from Hamilton and the Grange, although the house itself has been relocated to St. Nicholas Park and turned into a National Memorial.
#5. Boston, MA[Listening to Farmer Refuted] And what about/ Boston? Look at the cost, n’ all/ that we’ve lost
A S.W. view of the State House in Boston 1793 (left) and the Old State House in Boston current day (right)
Then: The square beneath the Old State House’s balcony was the site of the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770 and from the same balcony the Declaration of Independence was first proclaimed on July 18, 1776.
Now: It serves as a history museum operated by the Bostonian Society and remains one of the oldest public buildings in the US, as well as one of the landmarks on Boston’s Freedom Trail.
#6. Yorktown, VA[Listening and dancing to Yorktown] We negotiate the terms of surrender/ I see George Washington smile/ We escort their men out of Yorktown/ They stagger home single file
Capitulation of the British army at Yorktown 1781 (above) and Arrival of historic ship Hermione on the York River in Yorktown current day (below)
Then: The town is the site of the siege and surrender of British General Cornwallis to General George Washington and the French Fleet on October 19, 1781, event which effectively ended the American Revolutionary War.
Now: Known for its waterfront charm and famous battles, Yorktown offers visitors the chance to tour the Yorktown Battlefield and the American Revolution Museum.
#7. Albany, NY[Listening and singing loudly to Non-Stop] Corruption’s such an old song that we can sing along in harmony/ And nowhere is it stronger than in Albany [..]/ Honestly, that’s why public service/ Seems to be calling me
Slide the arrow left and right to see the two images below:
Albany 1832 (left) and Panorama of Albany and the Hudson River from Rensselaer current day (right)
Then: Real estate transactions increased in Albany during and after the Revolutionary War and in 1797 the city became the state capital of New York. And it was in Albany that Elizabeth Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton held their wedding at the Schuyler family mansion on December 14, 1780.
Now: The state capital is also the economic and cultural core of the Capital District of New York State and future home to the Museum of Political Corruption. The Schuyler Mansion is a museum and a National Historic Landmark since 1967.
#8. Weehawken, NJ[Listening to Your Obedient Servant] Then stand, Alexander/ Weehawken. Dawn/ Guns. Drawn/ You’re on
Slide the arrow left and right to see the two images below:
View of the spot where Hamilton fell at Weehawken 1830 (left) and View of New York from Hamilton Park current day (right)
Then: In the years 1798-1845 Weehawken witnessed 18 documented duels (the most famous being the one between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr) and probably many more off the record. Hamilton’s son, Philip, was fatally wounded in a duel at the same spot where his father would lose his life three years later.
Now: Weehawken is a township in New Jersey with a mostly residential community, as well as a business district. The approximate site of the Burr-Hamilton duel can be visited in the town’s Hamilton Park, which is a short ferry ride away from midtown Manhattan.