Often celebrated as a masterpiece of civic architecture and decorative design, the New York State Capitol sits majestically at the head of Albany’s State Street. The story behind the most expensive capitol building ever to be constructed is a fascinating one.
Built between 1867 and 1899, the Capitol was the work of four different architects, who each worked under exasperating conditions – geological, structural, and political – with hundreds of highly skilled masons and exceptional stone carvers. After completion, the building attracted controversy – seen by some as an atrocity of jumbled architecture and by others as a successful blending of architectural forms. Continue reading
The Museum Association of New York (MANY), New York’s only state-wide membership association representing museums, historical societies, zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums, said in a statement to the press that it views Governor Cuomo’s 2015-16 Executive Budget as “a good starting point for ongoing discussions about the value of museums and other similar institutions to the overall State’s economy and quality of life.” Continue reading
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision in December to ban the use of hydrofracking in New York State was politically astute. The governor asserted he is merely following the recommendations in a new report from the State Health Department, A Public Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Development.
That report, based on four years of research, is also politically judicious. It avoids condemning hydrofracking or sensationalizing its potential health risks. Instead, it concludes that “the overall weight of the evidence from the cumulative body of information” studied for the report demonstrates that there are “significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes that may be associated with HVHF [High Volume Hydraulic Fracking], the likelihood of the occurrence of adverse health outcomes, and the effectiveness of some of the mitigation measures in reducing or preventing environmental impact which could adversely affect public health.” The 184-page report is buttressed by 74 references, mostly well-documented studies and reports from the past few years. Continue reading
The Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) awards for 2014 were recently announced. These councils were created by Governor Andrew Cuomo as a conduit for the disbursement of state funds among 10 designated regions. Each region holds meetings to discuss the economic development proposals which have been submitted for their region. The approved proposals are then submitted for statewide consideration and the results were announced in December. Now that the 2014 awards have been announced, it’s time to consider what it all means for the history community. Continue reading
What do you give as a present to someone who already has everything? By every official measure from the Albany-Manhattan bubble, the Path through History is a rip-roaring success. This makes the choice of a 2nd Birthday gift difficult. Nonetheless, I would like to try to offer some suggestions.
which also take into account Bruce Dearstyne’s concerns, raised both by post in New York History and at State Legislator Engelbright’s New York History Roundtable, May 29, about the failure to observe the designated New York History month in November. Continue reading
August 28, 2014, marked the two-year birthday of the Path through History. It’s pregnancy was a long and troubled one with a delivery date long after the original May target. I attended the birthing of the program. I still have the paperweight distributed at the meeting. I still have the two slick glossy pamphlets distributed at the meeting. I even still have an unused napkin from the Executive Mansion reception where I met the Governor and two of his daughters. Didn’t we all have such hopes for the project then!
Now at the two-year anniversary, who will blow out the candles on Path through History birthday cake on August 28, 2014? Logically one would expect the head of the project to do so. Who is the head of the project? Continue reading
A few years ago a delegation of environmentalists and officials from the Adirondack Park visited Lake Baikal in Russia. So large that it is often mistaken for a sea, Lake Baikal is the deepest and largest (by volume) freshwater lake in the world, and thought to be the world’s oldest as well. Famous for its crystal clear waters and unique wildlife, the lake is under threat by pollution, poaching and development.
An Adirondack lawyer on the trip told me that they had a boat ride with a group of Russians. One of the Russians said to him “Why are we wasting our time with Americans? Russia has a culture that produced great writers like Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Turgenev and Chekhov, great musicians like Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, and Rimsky-Korsakov and great dancers like Baryshnikov, Nureyev, and Nijinsky. What has America contributed to the world?” Continue reading
I have used the term tourist-industrial complex to refer to the recipients of the New York State funding from the Path through History project, but the funding goes beyond the Path project or even tourism. This funding did not go to the history community. Instead tens of millions of dollars went to advertising. That has now become an issue in the media and in the ongoing gubernatorial campaign.
A recent article by Joseph Spector, the Albany Bureau chief of Gannet Company attempts to address where the money funneled to Empire State Development (ESD), which includes ILoveNY and therefore the Path through History project, went. Continue reading
Two of the buzzwords for the Path through History project have been “cooperation” and “collaboration.” Achieving them has been difficult, particularly given the number of small historic sites that simply do not have the staff to spare for such an effort. Another problem has been the lack of support for history tourism by the tourist departments. I’ve been told they might promote something if you bring it to them, but will not help create it.
As it turns out, there is a new area where county tourist departments are cooperating and collaborating in support of a trail with statewide implications: the supernatural. As previously reported in The New York History Blog, haunted mansions are big business, especially at Halloween. So the next time you are re-evaluating your organization’s strategic vision, keep in mind the opportunities of positioning yourself to appear on New York State’s “Haunted History Trail.” This is not another April Fools prank; there are lessons to be learned from this endeavor. The website of the “Haunted History Trail” includes the following “About the Trail”: Continue reading
As reported in my previous post on lobbying in Albany, I had the opportunity to briefly chat with Ken Adams, President and CEO Empire State Development and Commissioner of New York State Department of Economic Development. This includes ILoveNY and the Path through history.
That chat led to an email, written March 5th, which is posted below. He has not responded. Continue reading
Thurman Thomas, Buffalo Bills Hall-of-Fame running back (on Twitter), has been named to the state Tourism Advisory Council by Governor Cuomo. He is being recommended for the position of Vice Chair on the Council. I confess that I was not aware that there was such a council. But there is, eighteen members strong.
The members are appointed by the Governor with recommendations from the temporary president of the senate, the minority leader of the senate, the speaker of the assembly, and the minority leader of the assembly. The chairs of the senate and assembly committees on tourism, recreation and sports development are non-voting, ex-officio members of the council. There is no compensation to the council members who meet five times annually. Continue reading
In my last post here at The New York History Blog, I reported on a recent tourism press release issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.
Today I’d like to turn to the Governor’s State of the State address as it relate to history, history tourism, and cultural heritage tourism more generally.
Here is some of the relevant text: Continue reading
In October 2012, a few months after the kickoff of the Path though History program, a New York Daily News headline noted: “Unhappy with the state’s tourism performance, Gov. Cuomo has ordered a restructuring of the state’s efforts, with an eye toward attracting more visitors upstate.”
“He wants to do a better job with promoting, marketing and branding,” the paper reported a source in the Cuomo administration as saying. The Governor was appealing for you, the paper said, to visit the home of Uncle Sam in Troy, see Niagara Falls, visit the Finger Lakes wineries, or even the Herkimer County Cheese Museum .” Continue reading
PLEASE HELP, Santa. What we really want for Christmas is a women’s trail.
When members of the U.S. Congress and the New York State Legislature open their doors in January 2014, chances are that they will have received notice of our holiday appeal.
The reason for asking Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves for assistance is because of the urgent need for help in obtaining funding to advance women’s trails on both the state and federal levels. Realistically Santa might not be able to deliver on trails by December 25th, but that’s no reason to give up. Continue reading
Westchester County decided that historical heritage is not important. It is too insignificant to waste any time, energy, and effort supporting.
I was reminded of this reality in a recent article in the local paper entitled “Hotels Get Upscale Updates.” Coincidentally, the hotel is where the annual conference of social studies teachers in the Lower Hudson Valley had been held until this year. In fact, according to the article the $15,000,000 renovation followed the $12,000,000 renovation at the hotel where we will be meeting this year. Continue reading
August 28, 2013 not only was the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” March on Washington, it also was the one year anniversary of the kickoff of the Path Through History project. That event was attended by hundreds of people from throughout the state and heralded a bold vision of the role of the history of the state in New York’s future.
I have the paperweight handed out to commemorate the event, and two slick, glossy, color booklets distributed for the event. I even have an unused napkin from the Executive Mansion with its image as a souvenir of the event. What I don’t have is any hope for the project of great potential and little achievement. Continue reading
Last Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo inaugurated the Adirondack Challenge as an upstate tourist initiative. The Indian River rafting challenge was issued to New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who, according to news reports, is more familiar with yachts than inflatable rafts. The State defeated the City by 18 seconds in the three mile race. A wet and good time was had by all.
Governor Cuomo’s love for upstate (in particular the Adirondacks, not, say Syracuse), is well known. According to the New York Times a year before the Path through History roll-out, the Governor “has conspicuously avoided leaving the state” save for driving on the Palisades Interstate Parkway when headed north from the city. As Cuomo put it: “You can have the best vacation of your life right here in the state of New York. I see no reason to go anywhere else. It’s my state and I’m sticking to it.” Continue reading
From a press release issued on May 31, 2013:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that more than 400 special (emphasis added) events are planned for New York State’s Path Through History Weekends and Museum Week at venues throughout the state…. “Last year, we launched Path Through History to highlight the rich cultural history of New York and to boost tourism in our state,” Governor Cuomo said. “This weekend is the start of the Path Through History Weekends as well as Museum Week, which will offer some of the best opportunities for families, history buffs, and students to explore over 500 historic institutions and sites in communities all across the state. I encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of these events this summer.”
Aren’t you excited to know that more than 400 special events were planned for these two weekends and the following week in June? Aren’t you eager to see the results of the all the regional planning sessions and state leadership that has gone into creating the special events? Continue reading
Someone I know sent me an e-mail in response to my posts about the Path through History asking me “What do you think has motivated Cuomo to launch the $60 million tourism initiative?”
That is a big question and I don’t claim to be privy to the inner sanctum of the Albany decision-makers or to the workings of Cuomo’s mind.
What follows then is a speculation on my part. Continue reading
Volunteers can now sign up for the second annual “I Love My Park Day” on May 4th – a statewide effort to help clean up and beautify New York’s state parks and historical sites. At last year’s event, thousands of New Yorkers pitched in to paint, plant, clean, build, and make repairs across the state.
This year’s volunteer effort is especially important as many of our parks are still recovering from damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. New York’s parks are one of our state’s most treasured assets, and this event helps ensure that New Yorkers and visitors to our state can continue to enjoy and appreciate New York’s natural beauty. To find an event near you and sign up, click here.