Memorial Day is right around the corner, falling on May 29th this year. In observance of the holiday, we’ve rounded up a list of activities taking place throughout the city in honor of those who lost their lives while serving in the country’s armed forces. In addition to the various Memorial Day parades, here is our pick of 10 alternative activities — from a film screening in Times Square to two viewings of Manhattanhenge.
1. Memorial Day Concert and Celebration Events at Green-Wood
The Green-wood Cemetery is hosting its annual Memorial Day concert, which takes place from 2:30 – 5:00pm on May 29th. Now in its nineteenth year, the event includes works from permanent residents liked Fred Ebb, Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Leonard Bernstein. This year, it will also feature the ISO Symphonic Band, which was founded 1995 to sponsor talented New York City students. While the concert is free, RVSPs are recommended, and special Memorial Day walking and trolley tours will also be taking place following the concert.
Manhattanhenge takes place four times a year, but the first event falls on Memorial Day. The Half Sun event will take place on Monday, May 29th at 8:13pm, followed by a Full Sun event on Tuesday, May 30th at 8:12pm. Later in the summer, there will be two additional viewings on Wednesday, July 12th at 8:20pm and Thursday, July 13th at 8:21pm.
Watch the sun meld into the horizon in perfect alignment with Manhattan’s East-West numbered streets. The prime viewing locations, according to the American Museum of Natural History, are large cross streets such as 14th, 34th, 42nd, 57th, and 79th. As a compliment to the event, the museum will also be hosting a special public program to discuss the history of the spectacle followed by a viewing at 79th Street. For more information, click here.
3. Untapped Cities Tours: VIP Ellis Island Tour + Art Deco Tour
We’re excited to bring our readers on a very special VIP Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital Complex, which takes place on May 27th. The event will not only include a tour of the historic buildings, but also a private film screening of the documentary “Forgotten Ellis Island,” a meet-and-greet with author and director Lorie Conway, and an autographed copy of her out of print book. We’ll explore places not on any other public tour route (including our standard tour, which already goes off-limits).
Also join us for our newly launched Walking Tour of New York Art Deco Architecture, led by Anthony W. Robins, New York’s best-known Art Deco guide. On May 28th, we’ll bring visitors past the stunning monuments of the 1920s and 30s—from the towering Empire State Building to the Gramercy House on 22nd street.
4. Public Viewing of ‘Just a Common Soldier’
Earlier in the week, veterans and active military will gather in Times Square for a public viewing and video presentation of the poem “Just a Common Soldier,” which will be played on a digital billboard on Tuesday, May 23rd. Hosted by The Times Square Advertising Coalition and actor/producer Tony Lo Bianco, the event begins at 10:25 am, and will feature a speech by U.S. Air Force veteran, Lt. Gen. Dick Newtown. According to organizers, it will provide New Yorkers with an intimate meet-and-greet experience with veterans and other service members.
5. Coney Island’s Childs Restaurant Building Exhibition
The Coney Island History Project’s newest exhibition for the 2017 season opens on Memorial Day weekend. Entitled “Neptune Revisited: Terra Cotta Relics from the Childs Building, Last of Coney Island’s Boardwalk Palaces,” the show will feature original polychrome pieces from the Childs Restaurant Building, as well as archival photographs, ephemera, and an illustrated timeline documenting the history and restoration of the building.
According to the Coney Island History Project, the Childs Restaurant Building, completed in 1924, has survived “years of isolation” at Coney Island as everything else nearby was either shut down or demolished. Learn more about this colorful, nautical-themed building with a short history film, which can be viewed above.
6. 7th Season of Rite of Summer Music Festival at Governors Island
The 7th season of Rite of Summer Music Festival takes place on Governors Island, launching on Memorial Day weekend. Hop aboard a ferry and head across the river to enjoy free concerts, which will take place daily at 1pm and 3pm at Colonels’ Row and Nolan Park. The season kicks off this year on Saturday, May 27th with Talujon Percussion performing Dark Full Ride. See the full line up of events here.
7. New York Historical Society: World War I Beyond the Trenches
Image from New-York Historical Society
The New York Historical Society is launching its newest exhibition: World War I Beyond the Trenches, which will be on display from May 26th to September 3rd. In honor of the centennial of America’s involvement in World War I, the exhibition will examine the war through the eyes of American artist across generations, including works from George Bellows, Georgia O’Keeffe, Horace Pippin and a masterpiece by John Singer Sargent, which has never traveled to New York before.
Moreover, historic artifacts — ranging from uniforms and military gear to a soldier’s illustrated letters to various propaganda posters — will be displayed throughout the museum to provide greater context.
Also check out 10 Traces of World War I You Can Still Find in NYC.
8. Fleet Week at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
From May 24th to the 29th, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is offering free activities on the pier in honor of service men and women. Interactive events and a lineup of performances will take place throughout the week, including the arrival of the Fleet Week ships, a dedicated Memorial Day ceremony, a movie on the flight deck (Top Gun) and guided tours. See the full list of events here.
9. Central Park Memorial Walk
Head to Central Park on Memorial Day for a special guided walk, which will shed light on various places in the park that have been used to honor veterans. Highlights of this tour include Maine Monument, Merchant’s Gate, Heckscher Ballfields, 7th Regiment Memorial, S. Rankin Drew Memorial, Navy Terrace and Navy Walk, 307th Infantry Regiment Memorial, Red Cross Memorial Flagpole, 107th Infantry Regiment Memorial, and the Arsenal. The event takes from 11:00am to 1:00pm, rain or shine.
For more on Central Park, we’re also hosting a dedicated walking tour, revealing the secrets of this iconic green space:
10. Self-guided Tour of New York City’s Forts
Take yourself on a self-guided tour, discovering various military sites around New York City. Check out 10 Traces of World War I You Can Still Find and discover 18 of NYC’s Former Military Forts. From Fort Hamilton to the Sixty-Ninth Regiment Armory, there’s plenty of prominent places to visit for a truly “Untapped” experience.
Next, check out Vintage Photos: Memorial Day in NYC Through the Ages.