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The Northeast Region
Debra Ritteron 20 October 2014
Transcript of The Northeast Region
Do you remember the questions I asked you when we began our journey?
The first question was why we call the Northeast the “birthplace of our nation.” After visiting Boston and Philadelphia, you should know the answer. Boston is where the American Revolution began. And Philadelphia is where Americans first declared their independence from Great Britain.
Lake Erie Connects the Northeast to the Midwest
Have you ever sung a song called “The Erie Canal”? You are looking at the canal that inspired the song. A canal is a ditch dug across land. Often canals connect one waterway with another. The Erie Canal is a 340-mile-long ditch that connects the Hudson River with the Great Lakes.
New York City, New York
Welcome to Mount Washington in New Hampshire. At 6,288 feet tall, Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast. On a clear day, visitors can see for a hundred miles from its top.
Mount Washington has some of the world’s most severe weather. It can snow here all year long. The peak is also one of the windiest places on Earth.
Welcome to our train tour of the historic Northeast. My name is Ms. Mariner. I will be your guide for the next few days. When not leading tours, I work in my town’s local history center. So you’ll hear a lot from me about the past as we go.
Our tour will take you to many different places. Each one has a story to tell about the Northeast and its people.
As we visit these places, I want you to look for answers to three questions. First, why do we call the Northeast the “birthplace of our nation”? Next, why did our nation’s first factories start here? And finally, what large cities are found in the Northeast? You’ll hear and see clues to the answers to these questions as we travel along.
Watch your step as you climb aboard. Our first stop will be in the beautiful state of Maine.
We are at West Quoddy Head in the eastern corner of Maine. The tribal name of the American Indians living here is Wabanoki, which means “living at the sunrise.” And they are. This is the most eastern point of land in the United States. The sun rises here before anywhere else in the country.
The West Quoddy Head Lighthouse was built in 1808. Its light and foghorn continue to keep ships from crashing into Maine’s rocky shore. Some people find foghorns annoying, but my grandfather didn’t. He trapped lobsters near here. “On a foggy day,” he liked to say, “there is no prettier sound than a foghorn’s moan.”
The Northeast coastline is dotted with
, where boats and ships can anchor safely. These harbors weren’t always here, however. Long ago, this coastline was smooth. Then Earth entered a long cold period known as the ice age. Mile-thick sheets of ice called glaciers spread over much of the Northeast.
As the glaciers slowly moved across the land, they carved deep grooves into the coastline. Later, the ice melted. Then the sea flowed into these low places. That’s why you see so many harbors along the Northeast coast today.
At our next stop, you’ll see what glaciers did to the mountains of the Northeast.
The Northeast Coast
Mountains of the Northeast
My family visited Mount Washington when I was your age. We rode the Mount Washington Cog Railway to the top. This train is the second-steepest mountain-climbing train in the world. The wind speed that day was 75 miles per hour. My mother still believes that if she hadn’t held on to me, I would have blown out to sea. The highest wind speed ever recorded here was 231 miles per hour. That was in 1934.
Mount Washington sits in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The White Mountains are part of the Appalachian mountain range. The Appalachians are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.
This is Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims landed here almost 400 years ago. You can visit a reproduction, or copy, of their ship, the Mayflower, in Plymouth Harbor.
At Plymouth, you can visit the Mayflower II, a copy of
the Pilgrims’ ship. In 1620, the Mayflower left England with 102 passengers aboard. All of the passengers were headed for Virginia. Less than half of them were Pilgrims in search of religious freedom. The rest simply wanted to make their home in America. The Pilgrims called these settlers “strangers.”
Storms blew the Mayflower off course. Instead of Virginia, the ship reached New England. Sick of stormy seas, the Pilgrims decided to stop there. But they had a problem. There was no government in New England. And some of the “strangers” looked like troublemakers. What would you have done in their situation? Think about this as you leave the train to visit Plymouth.
Welcome back. I’ll tell you now how the Pilgrims solved their problem. Before going ashore, they drew up an agreement called the
. It said that they would set up a government and make laws for the good of everyone. Each man signed the compact. Then the passengers elected a governor to lead the government.
Today, Americans believe that people should make their own laws and elect their own leaders. We call this form of government a
. During the Pilgrims’ time, when kings and queens were the rulers of countries, this was a bold idea.
We are now visiting the Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Common is America’s first public park. And Boston is one of America’s oldest cities. It is also where the fight for America’s freedom from Great Britain began.
In 1775, many people in the 13 colonies did not want to live under British rule anymore. Fighting broke out between colonists and British troops about 20 miles outside of Boston. The conflict moved into Boston later that year.
This was the beginning of a long war called the American Revolution. The fighting lasted for six years. The
led to the overthrow, or end, of British rule of the colonies.
Two historic trails begin at the Boston Common. The first is the Freedom Trail. This walking tour takes you to places where the fight for freedom began. The trail ends at Bunker Hill. One of the early battles of the American Revolution was fought near this hill.
The second trail is the Black Heritage Trail. On this walking tour, you will learn about the long history of African Americans in Boston. The trail ends at the African Meeting House. This meeting house is the oldest African American church building in the United States.
Which trail should you take? I recommend both. Just be sure to wear good walking shoes.
Work on the Erie Canal began in 1817. At that time, there was no good way to move goods from the Northeast to the Midwest. Moving goods by horse and wagon was slow and costly. Moving goods by boat was faster and cheaper. But there was a problem. The Appalachian Mountains lay between the Midwest and the Northeast. No river crossed the mountains.
The men who built the Erie Canal solved that problem. They dug a 40-foot-wide ditch from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. Along the way, they built 83 locks to help carry boats over the mountains. Locks are used to raise and lower boats in the water.
The Erie Canal opened for use in 1825. It was an instant success. Freight prices between Lake Erie and New York City dropped from $100 a ton by road to just $10 a ton by canal. New York City was soon the nation’s busiest seaport.
We are in New York City. More than 8 million people live here. It is the largest city in America.
New York City has always been a city of immigrants. The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle here. People from other parts of Europe and Africa followed. Together, they made New York City a city of many cultures, or ways of life.
Today, people still come to New York City from all over the world. Just listen to people talking on the streets. You will hear English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Hebrew, Italian, Korean, and many other languages.
Are you wondering how New York City finds room for all of these people? The answer is—up in the air! A hundred years ago, New Yorkers began building skyscrapers. People live and work in these very tall buildings.
The Empire State Building is one of New York City’s most famous skyscrapers. This office building has 102 stories, or floors. Visitors can go to the very top of the building and look out at the view. You could climb the 1,860 stairs. But I suggest that you take the elevator.
One of my favorite movies is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. So I was very excited when my family visited Hershey, Pennsylvania. At last, I got a chance to see a real chocolate factory. Yum!
Later, I wondered why America’s first factories were built in the Northeast. I think there were two main reasons. One reason was waterpower. The first factories were built alongside rivers. The rivers rushed down out of the mountains. This rushing water turned big waterwheels that made the machines in the factories run.
A second reason was people power. The Northeast was a good place for people who wanted to start businesses. Candy maker Milton Hershey was one of these people. And there were many people to work in these businesses.
More than 100 years ago, Hershey started a candy business here in Pennsylvania. He used a system called mass production in his factory.
is a way of making very large quantities of the same product. The Hershey bar was America’s first mass-produced candy bar. Today, Hershey’s factory is the largest chocolate factory in the world.
We’ll stop here to learn more about mass production. Enjoy your visit. And try not to eat too much chocolate.
The Birthplace of the
United States: Independence Hall
You are looking at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was here that the United States was born. We celebrate our nation’s birthday each year on Independence Day.
The date of our nation’s birth was July 4, 1776. On that day, leaders from the 13 colonies met in Independence Hall to approve the Declaration of Independence. This statement told the world that the Americans had formed their own nation. They called the new country the United States of America
Americans fought a long war to win their independence. It was called
The American Revolution
. Great Britain finally agreed that Americans should govern themselves. But how would they do that?
In 1787, some of the best thinkers in the nation met in Independence Hall to answer that question. They talked and argued for months. Then they wrote a new constitution, or plan of government, for the country. We still live under that plan today.
The United States Constitution is based on the idea of democracy. Under this plan of government, we, the people, choose our leaders.
also protects our rights. You have the right to say what you think. You may follow any religion you choose. You have the right to a fair trial. These and many others are rights that the Constitution provides and that Americans hold dear.
Our Nation's Capital
Does this building look familiar to you? It is the Capitol Building. It is one of the great landmarks of the city of Washington, D.C.
Washington is our nation’s capital. It is the home of our national government. It is the place where the people who have the power to make rules and decisions for our country do their jobs.
The work of our government is important to all of us. The government creates the rules we live by. Picture what life would be like without rules. Think about it as you leave the train to visit Washington, D.C.
Welcome back. Now that you have had a chance to think about how important rules are, let me tell you a bit more about our government’s rules, or laws.
Our government’s laws help to make sure that each person’s rights are protected. Our rights include the right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.
The government also works for the common good. This means that the government tries to act in ways that serve all people, not just a few. Our government seeks to provide an equal chance for all people. It tries to treat all people fairly.
Our government is based on the idea of democracy. The word
means “rule by the people.” One way in which the people in the United States rule is by choosing their leaders. People choose leaders in elections. Voting in elections is a key part of being a good citizen.
Our Government Buildings
The national government of the United States has three branches, or parts. Each branch has a different role. Each helps promote the common good and protect people’s basic rights. And each has a special building it calls home.
Congress is the legislative branch. It makes laws for our country. Voters in each state elect lawmakers to represent them in Congress. Congress works in the Capitol Building
The president of the United States is the head of the executive branch. The president’s main job is to make sure that laws passed by Congress are carried out. The president is also elected. The president lives and works in the White House.
The judicial branch is the third branch of government. It is made up of the nation’s courts. This branch guarantees that the laws passed by Congress are obeyed. The courts also seek truth and justice. They decide questions and disagreements about our laws.
The highest court is the Supreme Court. Its home is also in Washington, D.C. —in the Supreme Court Building. One of the Supreme Court’s jobs is to make sure that laws passed by Congress follow the United States Constitution. The Constitution explains what the U.S. government and its leaders can and cannot do. The Supreme Court also helps make sure that government treats all people fairly.
Our National Monuments
Washington, D.C., is more than a home to government. It also has many famous landmarks. You have visited the Capitol Building and have seen the White House and the Supreme Court Building. Other buildings honor the ideas and the people that have helped make our country great. Still others hold some of our national treasures.
Washington, D.C., has many monuments. These are buildings that help us remember important people or events. The Washington Monument celebrates the first president of the United States. His name was George Washington. The Jefferson Memorial honors Thomas Jefferson. He was our third president. Jefferson also wrote the Declaration of Independence. This document says, “All men are created equal.” It gives some of the main ideas that have shaped our government.
In Washington, D.C., you can see the signed copy of the Declaration of Independence. It is at one of the city’s great museums—the National Archives. Also in the National Archives are the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution in 1791. It lists our most cherished freedoms. Thanks to the Bill of Rights, we have the freedom of speech. We can speak out if we are unhappy with our government. The Bill of Rights also promises us freedom of religion. These are just two examples.
As you have learned, there is much to see and do in Washington, D.C. You can find out about our nation’s history. You can learn about the ideas that are important to our country. You can celebrate our past. I hope you have enjoyed your visit!
I also asked you why the nation’s first factories were built in the Northeast. We talked about two reasons. The Northeast had a lot of waterpower for running factories. And it had people who enjoyed the challenge of starting new businesses, as well as people who wanted to work in them.
Also, new methods of transportation encouraged people to build factories here. Canals and railroads lowered the cost of moving goods to customers.
My last question was what large cities are found here. You visited some of the largest cities in the Northeast: Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.. You also stopped at two smaller towns, Plymouth and Hershey. Which city or town would you most like to visit again?
Our tour of the Northeast is ending now. I hope you enjoyed your trip as much as I enjoyed being your guide.