Most people recognize Emanuel Leutze's famous 1851 painting of Washington crossing the Delaware (which hangs in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art), but far fewer know where or why he crossed. It was from the site of what is now this park that on Christmas night in 1776 General Washington and 2,400 of his men crossed the ice-studded river, attacked the Hessian stronghold at Trenton, and secured a much-needed victory for the Continental army. Today park attractions, including historic houses and memorials, are divided between the Lower Park and Upper Park.
In the Lower Park, a temporary visitor center (the permanent one is undergoing renovation and should reopen in summer 2012 or thereafter) screens a free 15-minute introductory movie. Here you can purchase tickets for guided tours of the Lower Park, which include the McConkey Ferry Inn, where tradition has it that Washington and his staff had Christmas dinner while waiting to cross the river. You can also see replicas of the
Durham boats used in that fateful crossing.
In the Upper Park, 125-foot-tall Bowman's Hill Tower offers a commanding view of the Delaware River. An elevator takes you up the 1931 tower. A half-mile farther north, the Thompson-Neely House, an 18th-century miller's house, offers tours that tell of life in Bucks County during and after the American Revolution. The house was used as a hospital during the 1776–77 encampment of Washington's army. Some Revolutionary soldiers are buried near the home.
The park holds special events throughout the year, including a reenactment of the crossing in December.