You know all the lyrics to Hamilton: An American Musical, and now you can make them come to life in a whole new way.
Hamilton: the Musical
The epic hip-hop musical by the famed Lin-Manuel Miranda needs no introduction. You’ve likely watched and rewatched (now thanks to Disney+), if not live in New York City, and you delight in reciting your favorite lyrics.
But have you taken yourself on a virtual journey back in time to walk the same streets Hamilton and his compatriots would have walked? Dined at the same establishments, and eaten the same sort of foods he would have eaten? This portrait (along Part 1: Downtown Manhattan) helps you dive into the story and lyrics of Hamilton,
All Hamilton, All Day
You already have this on, correct? No? Don’t wait for it! Press play immediately.
The playlist begins (of course) with the Original Broadway Cast recording of the soundtrack which is nothing short of epic. You have likely listened so much that you’ve memorized all the words, so have you challenged yourself to sing karaoke-style over the instrumental version of the album? And have you graduated to the The Hamilton Mixtape album featuring a star-studded plethora of other artists leaving their mark on the famed soundtrack?
Also included here is the Billie Holiday version of “Yankee Doodle” which we were told about on our tour of Morris-Jumel. Our guide enlightened us that while most of us know it as a bit of a cooky children’s song, it was first sung by British troops as a way to insult the American Soldiers. The “stuck a feather in his cap and called it Macaroni.” does not refer directly to the pasta of the same name, but was instead a term akin to metrosexual or hipster; a term for a high-fashion English male fond of a top-heavy wig. Then of course the feather refers to taking on the traditions of the native Americans rather than the high-fashion of Italy. Billie Holidays version is a bit of a comical refutation on this story.
Fuel up for your day in the same way Alexander Hamilton and the other characters of Hamilton: An American Musical would likely have done when they were alive: johnnycakes! My first taste of homemade johnnycakes catapulted me through time back to a grade school field trip to Plimoth Plantation where the pilgrims gave us a taste of what they were making, telling us that these corn cakes were what kept them from starving their first winter in Plimoth Colony. The wheat they had boarded the Mayflower with had spoiled, and the Native Americans showed them how to make this johnnycakes with local corn. More about that on What’s Cooking America.
The barebones recipe is just cornmeal, salt, hot water and bacon drippings and is ok drenched in maple syrup, but adding flour, eggs, sugar and baking soda takes it to the next level and has secured it a spot in our regular brunch rotation.
Map of Hamilton Sites
Part 2: Uptown Tour
The Morris-Jumel Mansion, in Harlem has several claims to fame, and we highly recommend a grounds and mansion tour*. Now known by the names of two families who lived there longest, it is the oldest remaining house in Manhattan, it also has two intersections with the characters of “Hamilton.” Aaron Burr lived there, wedding fellow-widow Eliza Jumel, and the upper room in the octogonal addition was Washington’s war room for a spell.
Before you go, we highly recommend you watch the Song Exploder episode about the song “Wait For It.” where you can hear Lin-Manuel Miranda talk about his explosive song offering Aaron Burr’s side of the Hamilton story. Miranda tells about how wrote much of the song in what was once Aaron Burr’s bedroom In the Morris-Jumel Mansion, in Harlem.
The above selfie was takin in the main parlor, to the left when entering at the front door. It was currently being refurbished so we were able to walk in. It is this room where the actual wedding of Arron Burr and Eliza Jumel took place.
* If it’s still pandemic times, make sure you visit their site and reserve tickets ahead of time!
While you are uptown, make sure to also visit The Grange, Hamilton’s Harlem Estate, and now a National Memorial Site. Commissioned by Hamilton himself, it was completed just 2 years before his fateful duel. It was the only home he ever owned, and he would visit by stagecoach from his Manhattan Law office several days a week.
Apparently the grounds were designed according his own sketch, and he enjoyed tending to the gardens on his visits. Of note were thirteen sweet gum trees, representative of the thirteen original colonies.
*Pandemic note: Their site and google claim it’s open but as of May 2021 it was not and the groundsman wasn’t sure when it would reopen again.
Weehawken Duel Site
- Don’t forget to review the lyrics for the song “Ten Duel Commandments” as a refresher beforehand.
- Check out the “Weehawken” song in the Bonus section below….
The infamous duel sites are located directly below Hamilton Park, in Weehawken, New Jersey. While the actual site of the duels far below, the visit allows for an understanding of why the location emerged as the duel site, and for an absolutely incredible view of the Manhattan skyline.
Above depicts the view from atop the palisades in Wehawken, looking out over the Hudson River towards Manhattan on a gorgeous spring day in 2021.
Below is the bust of Hamilton, flanked on each side by the plaques memorializing his fateful duel, and the duel site in general, both dedicated on the 200 year anniversary of Hamilton’s duel.
Nearby was Hamilton’s son Philip’s fateful duel with George I. Eacker, in 1801.
Fun fact: the pistols used in each of these duels are apparently located in the offices of J.P. Morgan Chase on Park Avenue.
The Schuyler-Hamilton House is reportedly where Eliza was staying when the courtship with Hamilton began. In Morristown, NY, it was the country house of Eliza’s uncle.
The fab lyrics continue with this rap about the township of Weehawken from “Central Park” show on Apple. AND, it is of course the amazing voice of Daveed Diggs that animates Helen. And I don’t have to tell you Hamilton superfans that Mr. Diggs plays two roles in Hamilton: An American Musical; Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson.
Note: The book Where Was The Room Where It Happened?is a great pocket companion for this! Somehow we only came across it after compiling these outings and composing the posts ourselves, but by the time I went back to Fraunces a second time for better photos I took it along and was not only great reading material for my solo lunch, it provided great additional detail and context. It also has it’s own tours ready for you!