Tag Archives: Path Through History

Whither Tourism? The Problems of ‘Path Through History’


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PathThroughHistoryHistoric Hudson Valley announced that it is removing the animals from Philipsburg Manor for a cost savings of $200,000/year. The organization manages several sites including Kykuit and Sunnyside in Westchester County. Two oxen, 18 sheep and lambs, and chickens have been relocated to farm sanctuaries.  In addition, 13 people were let go earlier this year including the site manger of Sunnyside.

Philipsburg Manor and Sunnyside were two of the sites singled out in the August, 2012, Path through History kickoff program as primary tourist destinations in the Lower Hudson Region. I had heard about the departure of the animals through the grapevine. Continue reading

Doing Better Than A ‘Path Through History’


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nycapitolThe recent posts on the role of the municipal historians and the Path through History project have touched a nerve, several actually, as reflected in the emails I have received. Great!

There are serious issues which need to be addressed and few if any forums for discussion. It is astonishing how many people in the history community are not aware of the Path through History project or who have already given up on it on being anything credible – “an elegant show,” “the fix is in,” “I never heard of it.” In this post, I would like to share some things which are being done and suggest some things which should be done. Continue reading

Celebrating Black History in New York State


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Underground Railroad in New YorkFebruary is Black History Month and New York State offers a special window into African American history and American culture as it was a center for 19th century anti-slavery organizations, and home to Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and many other Abolitionist and Underground Railroad leaders. In the 20th century the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) has its roots in the Niagara Movement, whose first meeting in 1905 took place on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls because members were turned away from hotels on the U.S. side. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: A Fork In The Path Through History


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PathThroughHistoryOn January 25, I attended the Mid-Hudson regional meeting of the Path through History project. What follows is my report on the meeting which may, or may not, be the experience and take-away of others who attended (or what is happening in other regions). The Mid-Hudson Valley region includes the Hudson River counties of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, and Rockland, along with Sullivan County in the Catskills. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: NY and The End of the World


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It is with deep regret and heavy heart that I have the onerous task to inform you that once again the world has come to an end. The passing of our beloved planet marks the third time in this still young century when we endured this ignominious ending to our long history.

First came the secular Y2K ending, then the Christian rapture in 2011, and now the Mayan recycling of 2012. The ending of the world has become as frequent as the storms of the century. We scarcely have time to catch our breath before once again the world will fall over its cliff into an abyss from which it can never recover. Continue reading

What’s Our Story? NY’s Paths Through History


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It is time for me to put up or shut up. My previous two posts have been about the Path through History project. I said the conference was a good first step but that the project was at the proverbial fork in the road. Many people in the historic community have witnessed these periodic forays into the world of cultural heritage tourism and our leery about another such effort no matter how sincere. I have pointed out some of what has been done already by different organizations throughout the state and raised the issue of where this project fits in given what has occurred.
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Regional Economic Councils and Heritage Tourism


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The great Yogi said “when you come to the fork in the road, take it.” Truer words of wisdom were never spoken. I thought of this gem of Americana following my recent post about the Path through History sign project.

Appropriately, I will be presenting two responses from two people from two different regions, one private individual and one public employee, one by email with attachments and one by email and phone call. The two individuals will remain anonymous and I will present their thoughts in the order in which they were received. Continue reading

Signage Plans Focus on Local Historians


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Is resurgence in the interest in history a sign of the time?  It seems so as two initiatives to promote the importance of history and heritage of New York both use signs as a means to the end.

At the 2012 conference of the Association of Public Historians of New York State on Long Island, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation used that opportunity to announce that their organization was taking their interest in historical markers statewide. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: Cuomo’s ‘Path Through History’ Project


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Our Governor’s father, also a Governor, was a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln. The son wants to make history as the first President of Ellis Island origin. He has gained a reputation as a passion advocate for the restoration of the Capitol, so much so that he was said that he seemed “at times more like its chief historian—or at other moments, its chief architect, interior decorator and custodian” (New York Times). Continue reading

Size Matters: Advocating for New York History


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Since my emergency post of April 22 a lot has happened.

1. MANY/Museumwise held its annual conference
2. APHNYS held its annual conference at the same time
3. The NYS Board of Regents met
4. Gov. Cuomo created a New York Education Reform Commission
5. Gov. Cuomo’s “Path Through History” initiative scheduled a meeting for May 21

Let’s see if it is possible to make sense of some of these developments. Continue reading

Governor Plans New Roadside Signage Project


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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the launched of a “Path Through History” initiative designed to highlight New York State’s history and bolster tourism and economic development. The initiative is hoped to raise the profile of the state’s network of museums, historic sites, and other cultural institutions.

“The first step in the initiative will be to establish uniform road signs in different locations across the state that promote local historic sites from New York’s history,” a press statement said.


In addition to the new sign system on the Thruway, the initiative includes:

· Installation of new “Path to History” information kiosks at Thruway rest stops

· Customized “Path to History” tours on such topics including Industry and Technology; Women’s Rights and Civil Rights, New York and Independence; Civil War, and Scenic Wonders.

· Improved signs on local roads to encourage visitors to visit local historic and tourism sites

· A web-based interface that allows Thruway travelers to learn more about key historic sites in the Thruway corridor and to follow “Path to History” routes

“This initiative will use New York’s rich history to encourage tourism, local economic development and serve as an educational tool for all New Yorkers,” the Governor said in a prepared statement. “The exhibits that we have set up in the Capitol have turned the building into a tribute to New York and now it is time to expand that to include the wealth of history that our state has to offer.”

“The initiative will foster cooperation and coordination among institutions and regions and focus on the entire state, highlighting that critical events, historic buildings, and important movements have added significance when they are interpreted within the entire state and nation’s history as a whole,” the state asserted, adding that “the initiative is designed to drive heritage tourism in New York, boosting local economies across the state, and supporting the state’s many communities with historic sites and cultural exhibits.”

The Governor also announced the creation of a Historic Corridor Task Force to advise the Thruway and the state on the creation of the initiative. The Task force will be co-chaired by Mark Schaming, Director of the State Museum and Vice President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Harold Holzer and include Robert Harris of Cornell University, Kenneth T. Jackson, Professor in History and the Social Sciences at Columbia University, and Lisa Keller, Professor of History, Urban and Women Studies at SUNY Purchase.

Thruway Chairman Howard P. Milstein said in the statement to the press that “Governor Cuomo’s historic sign initiative will greatly assist in fostering increased economic development and tourism in the Thruway and Canal Corridor. I’ve instructed our staff to consider several additional specific ways to be innovative and energetic in making all we can of opportunities to enrich our customer’s experience, and increase traveler’s awareness of New York’s many historical and recreational assets.”

Harold Holzer, Senior Vice President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said, “It was not, after all, an accident that New York became, as George Washington had predicted, the ‘Empire State,’ or that the tiny settlement in lower Manhattan became the ‘Empire City’ and the capital of the world. No other place – not Massachusetts, not Virginia, and not Pennsylvania – even comes close to the Empire State when all things are considered. New York State was the leading contributor of men, manpower, and funds to save the Union and end slavery during the Civil War. With the Governor’s leadership, sustained effort, determination, and hard facts, we can convince our fellow citizens that today’s America took shape in yesterday’s
New York.”

Mark Schaming, Director of the State Museum, said, “When Americans think of history they do not think of New York. And when they think of New York they do not think of history. New York is known to most Americans as a destination not to study the past but to experience the present, whether the bright lights of Broadway, the racetrack at Saratoga, or a river cruise
up the Hudson. The Governor’s Historic Tourism Initiative is designed to change this perception of New York among both residents and visitors to show that events in New York have dominated and defined the larger American experience.”

The Historic New York Initiative follows the recent renovation of the New York State Capitol, which includes hundreds of newly installed displays relating to New York State’s social, technological, and political history. The Hall of Governors now includes identifications of each past Chief Executive, together with the dates of their service. A timeline of state history has been etched on the walls of the Second Floor, where the
Governor’s office is located.

Photo: The historic marker at the edge of the Forest Preserve near Ticonderoga, installed in 1935.