I’ve been watching the John Adams HBO series starring Paul Giamatti and feeling a little patriotic so today my friend Mike and I walked around looking for a plaque commemorating the execution site of an American Revolutionary War Hero, Nathan Hale, and eventually we found it on the side of a Banana Republic.
According to a NY Historical Society plaque on the West side of Third Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets, Nathan Hale, the American Revolutionary war hero, was hanged by the British, “probably within a hundred yards of here.”
The hanging site of Nathan Hale is significant because it is where he uttered his famous last words (there are many conflicting accounts of these words, but all accounts give the same general sentiment which boil down to what follows),
“I only regret that I have but one life to give my country.”
Really quick summary: Nathan Hale was born in Connecticut and attended Yale before becoming a schoolteacher.Â In 1776 he was a 21-year old captain in the Continental Army.Â He volunteered to gather evidence behind enemy lines but was somehow found out by the British. He was questioned by British commander General William Howe who was headquartered in the Beekman Mansion (near 51st St and 1st Ave, then a rural area.) Howe ordered Hale’s execution which took place the morning of September 22, 1776.
Two other sites purport to be that of Nathan Hale’s execution- one at City Hall Park and one at 44th Street and Vanderbilt near Grand Central Terminal.
One account (sorry, no reference) which supports the Upper East Side location states that on the morning of September 22, 1776, Hale was marched up the Post Road to Park of Artillery next to a Pub called The Dove Tavern which is known to have been near 66th Street and 3rd Avenue.
Image via The C.I.A.
Image via Corbis
In 1985 the state of Connecticut named Hale its the official state hero.