November is New York State History Month. The goal of this initiative certainly is a worthy one. Naturally as historians, a primary source document such as a press release invites a close reading of the text. That’s what historians do and government publications are not exempt from such scrutiny. The exercise is quite productive and one can learn a lot from doing it.
In 1997, the New York State Legislature established November as New York State History Month “to celebrate the history of New York state and recognize the contributions of the state and local historians.” The celebration has been mostly ignored since 2002.
In 2014, the New York State Museum launched a New York State History Month page on its website, which included links to state-wide and regional history resources and a listing of museum events. This year, there is a more comprehensive History Events web calendar. Continue reading
In early October, the New York Cultural Heritage Tourism Network under the leadership of Spike Herzig, a member of the Tourism Advisory Council, hosted a meeting in Seneca Falls for the Women’s Suffrage Centennial.
There were about 85 attendees, mainly from the central New York region. The purpose was to meet, learn, and plan for the upcoming centennials of women gaining the right to vote in New York State (2017) and the United States (2020). The event’s agenda was abandoned as members of the history community began to air their frustrations over Empire State Development’s role in heritage tourism. Continue reading
New York State has heritage areas – 19, scattered around the state.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP) defines these areas on its website: Continue reading
Once upon a time, as all good fairy tales begin, there was a New York State Path through History Taskforce. Some of you may even remember it. August 28, 2015, marked the three-year anniversary of the failed project and since the NYS Historian who was a member of that taskforce has resigned, it is beneficial to examine the fate of this taskforce for the lessons it teaches about what happened. Will we learn from the past or are we condemned to repeat it?
At the kickoff event for the Path project, attendees received two glossy, multicolored booklets. One had a list of the “iconic highway signage” which was to be produced; the other had the conference agenda, a description of the regions with a listing of the selected sites, and the taskforce bios. Continue reading
Heritage tourism is a new name for an old concept. As an archaeology student in Greece, I remember seeing Lord Byron’s name carved on the Temple of Poseidon. His mark among the hundreds of forgotten names reminds us of the well-established motif of traveling to the classical world as part of the Grand Tour. The German word “Bildungsreisen,” used among the nineteenth century elite in Europe, described travel for educational and cultural enlightenment. Continue reading
The Fort Plain Museum is taking the lead in organizing a new marketing association for the Mohawk Valley’s numerous 18th century historic sites. The new association will work to promote eight historic sites in western Montgomery County all within 4 to 6 miles of Exit 29 on the New York State Thruway.
Billed as “Mohawk Country, America’s First Frontier” the association’s first marketing effort has targeted the month of July. Continue reading
Just before the July 4th weekend, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a press release on the state of tourism. The release covered tourism in its totality and did not address specific sectors like adventure tourism, winery tourism, historic tourism, and LGBT tourism, the four pillars of I Love NY promotions. It also did not differentiate between business, vacation, or shopping travelers. (Macy’s chief executive Terry Lundgren in 2013 called Macy’s “ a tourist place” with roughly 6,000,000 tourists a year).
That being said, the number of travelers to the Empire State from elsewhere is impressive and the economic impact is substantial. Continue reading
Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressman Chris Gibson, and Governor Andrew Cuomo have all been in the news recently on the subject of history tourism. It is instructive to compare and contrast their involvement in the subject.
On July 1, Senator Schumer visited the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, Greene County. The site is a privately operated. The cause of the visit was the unexpected discovery what appears to be original paintings from around 1836 by Thomas Cole which had been hidden under layers of paint. Schumer was contacted about federal funding to preserve the art. He not only supports the request, but also toured the site with executive director Betsy Jacks. Continue reading
The hunt by law enforcement officials for two escaped convicts from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora became a nonstop reality show in the media. For several weeks, each and every movement of the convict hunters was chronicled. When one was killed and the other wounded and captures, the show was over. So was the economic windfall. Continue reading
New York has a great story to tell about its role in the American Revolution. In fact it has many great stories to tell, and many people are telling and struggling to tell those stories.
Given the plethora of sites in the state relating to the American Revolution and to the significance of the events which transpired here, one would think that the State basks in the greatness of being the home to so much that was so critical to the founding of our country. Think again. Continue reading
Jurassic World, showcases the plight of executive directors of destination tourist sites in continually developing newer and more exciting exhibits to attract an increasingly bored public. The exhibits at Jurassic World are even more thrilling than our best American Revolution or Civil War reenactments. Continue reading
The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor has paired national parks and canal sites to create five itineraries that introduce people to some of the historic, cultural, and natural sites and recreational experiences within the Erie Canalway Corridor.
Each itinerary features sites, as well as options for side trips, and suggestions for cycling, paddling, walking, and canal tours, as well as nearby places to eat or picnic. Continue reading
June 6th and June 20th weekends offer two contrasting perceptions of how to celebrate the history of New York State. These two weekends highlight fundamental problems with New York State’s approach to state heritage and makes clear that the state of Connecticut demonstrates greater leadership and a more profound understanding of its history community.
Passports are an underutilized resource for promoting tourism and community identity. While I have been a strong advocate for the creation and use of passports at the local, county, and regional basis for schools and tourism, I only now have realized the potential funding opportunity with the latest round of funding through the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC).
This epiphany began at the annual conference of the Association of Public Historians in New York State in Corning in April. On the display table there was a pile of Adirondack Coast Cultural Alliance passports. Continue reading
The Albany-Manhattan bubble is a term I use to describe the alternate reality in which the New York State government operates regarding history tourism.
Recent events in New York, Albany, and Corning (The New York Times Travel Show, Tourism Action Day, a Tourism Advisory Council Meeting, and the Museum Association of New York Annual Conference), and the presentations and comments I heard from by the inhabitants of the Albany-Manhattan bubble, demonstrate a disconnect with the real world and little hope that anything constructive will be done to bridge that gap. Continue reading
A new National Park Service (NPS) report argues that 58,772 visitors to Saratoga National Historical Park (known locally as the Saratoga Battlefield) in 2014 spent $3,296,000 in communities near the park. That spending supported 50 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $4,168,300 according to the report’s authors.
The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz. Continue reading
Two of the speakers at The New York Times Travel Show at the “Focus on New York State Destinations” session were Gavin Landry, executive director of ILoveNY and Ross Levi, ILoveNY vice president.
Gavin was pleased that for the first time New York State had its own aisle at the travel show. He invited people to think of New York State as a country to be visited. Ross referred to four tourist marketing sectors: Adventures and Eco-Tourism, Path through History, Taste NY, and LGBT. Continue reading
I attended The New York Times Travel Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City in January, as a member of the press for The New York History Blog. The event included a special session, “Focus on New York State Destinations,” moderated by Tim Lewis, of Viator Inc.
The company apparently has been hired by ILoveNY to promote tours in New York State. Its website lists 19 tours in New York at present: 16 in Manhattan and three to Niagara Falls, including one-day trips from the New York City. There is a two-day bus trip to Niagara Falls from New York with a “Bargain shop at one of the large outlet malls on the way back to New York.” New York State history does not appear to be a prominent part of its tour packages at present. Again, it should be noted, the company was hired to promote New York State tourism not history tourism in New York State. Continue reading
This post brings to a conclusion the series on the awards granted by the Regional Economic Development Councils in December 2014. The purpose of the series is to provide the history community with information about what actually is occurring in New York State funding.
It provides readers of these posts with the opportunity to draw on the primary source documents about what really is being done. It examines furthermore what Empire State Development is doing with the new money it has received and to determine if the Path through History has substance. Continue reading