Where was the Superbowl played? It was played at the home of the New York Giants and the New York Jets. The media center was in Manhattan. Super Bowl Boulevard, a 13-block extravaganza dedicated to Superbowl activities was located in Manhattan on Broadway at Times Square, crossroads of the universe and was said to have drawn 1,000,000 fans in one week.
The corporate fans on expense accounts tended to stay in Manhattan hotels and eat at Manhattan restaurants. The game itself was played in East Rutheford, New Jersey, but as the New York Times reported: “in the last week, it seems, the Hudson River dried up and New York City extended westward by dozens of miles to claim selective glory.” Sinatra’s not singing “Here’s to you, New Jersey, New Jersey.” These are the facts of tourist life.
When it comes to tourism in the state of New York, the city, meaning Manhattan, dominates. On a smaller scale annually, the same scenario plays out with the U.S. Open in Flushing, Queens. For Cristyne Nicholas, Chair of the New York State Tourism Advisory Council and the Tourist Department, these extravaganzas are what she lives for. She had worked on the failed effort to get the Olympics to Manhattan. When it comes to tourist spending in the state, the city dominates and when it comes to the city, Manhattan dominates. The outer boroughs face the same challenges as upstate concerning getting tourists to visit their historic sites.
The situation is getting worse. New York’s dominance of the state, in some ways, may be dated to 1825 with the completion of the Erie Canal and the creation of the “Empire State.” With trains, transit, parkways, and interstates, an increasing number of people could be funneled into Manhattan on a daily basis. Then Manhattanites began to move outward for vacations and second homes first in the Catskills then further away. Now their presence is felt from Hudson to the Hamptons. Historical societies may find their members and leaders drawn not from locals but from the city people who now have second homes in their communities or who have moved there in retirement. Even elected officials upstate may be from the New York City metro area.
The hollowing out of upstate accelerates the loss of the connective tissue of New York’s past. Since the 2010 census, more people have left New York in the past three years than have left any other state in the country. That includes a lot of upstate people. In China where the number of villages between 2000 and 2010 decreased by 1.1 million (that’s number of villages, not number of people), one local scholar and author said, “Once the villages are gone, the culture is gone.” New York runs the same risk of losing its history as it sheds its past.
Besides being number one in domestic migration, New York is also fourth for in-immigration with more immigrants making New York their home, which probably also favors the city. The net result is a state with less and less connection to New York history.
At a time when the people who have a biological link to New York’s past are leaving the state or dying off and the education curriculum doesn’t promote local or state history, there is a grave danger that the only event in the American Revolution associated with New York will be the fireworks. Our history will begin to disappear from sight and collective memory just as the World War I Centennial (2014) or the 350th Anniversary of British takeover of New York (2014) have.