National Park Units: Does Size Really Matter?

National Park Units range in size from as large as 13.2 million acres to as small as 0.02 acres. So, does size really matter?

Smallest National Park Unit

The smallest unit in the U.S. National Park System is Thaddeus Kosciusko National Memorial, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But even though it is small, it’s story packs a pretty big punch!

We had never heard his name before, but after visiting this National Park Unit, we saw it everywhere! In fact, according to Wikipedia in the US alone there are 5 places bearing his name, including an island in Alaska and a neighborhood in St. Louis Missouri. As you rove around the country you will see monuments and statues, gardens, parks, bridges, schools and even pools with his name.

Don’t get lost! If you are driving down Kosciusko Street, you may be in Brooklyn, New York; Rochester, New York; or Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. And if you are General Thaddeus Kosciuszko Way, you’ll be in Los Angeles, California. See, he is everywhere!

Who is Thaddeus Kosciuszko?

A Polish immigrant and Revolutionary War hero, often called the Polish Patriot who helped America defeat the British.

Some facts:

  • Thaddeus Kosciusko was Polish and came to the country in 1776
  • He had studied engineering in Paris, France and when he arrived, he offered his services to the nascent Continental army
  • In 1777, under the command of George Washington, he built Fort Mercer, on the New Jersey side of the Delaware river, critical to blocking approach to Philadelphia during the American Revolutionary war.
  • From there, he helped with fortifications along the Hudson and planned the defense for Saratoga. Patriot victories in the Battle of Saratoga are considered to be a turning point of the Revolutionary war.
  • Kosciuszko went on from there to design fortifications at West Point, New York.
  • In 1783, Kosciuszko was appointed Brigadier General and was awarded the Cincinnati Order Medal by General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army
  • He returned to Poland in 1784 to help his own country win independence
  • Upon his return to America in 1797, he boarded at the home in Philadelphia that is now the memorial to this Polish-American hero.

This might be the smallest National Park Unit but it is large in historic importance and well worth the visit!


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