History And The Superbowl Sense of Place

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new york city-thumb-570x379-28128Where 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.


6 thoughts on “History And The Superbowl Sense of Place

  1. Michael Grillo

    New York City played a very important role in Our Founding yet hardly anyone knows or is being taught about it. New York was the originator of the Son’s of Liberty. New York was the scene of the first true Battle of the American War for Independence,( The Battle of Long Island). The first Molly or Molly Pitcher was Margaret Corbin on the Heights of Washington (Battle of Fort Washington, November 16, 1776) New York City was the Nations first Capitol, First Presidential mansion was #3 Cherry Street, right by the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge. 2 years before the infamous Mary Ludwig Hayes. New Jersey is Celebrating their 350th. What Happened to New York? I hear you are not alone. I try my best to get the word of New York’s history whether as Museum Educator at Van Cortlandt House Museum or my portrayals of General George Washington at various other sites and venues.

    1. Peter FeinmanPeter Feinman Post author

      Frequently, the actual history of New York City gets lost among all the other attractions. This year is the 350th anniversary of New York becoming New York but you never would know it. I plan on writing a post about the Bronx state of history shortly. One challenge is just getting the history together to network and plan. Thanks for writing.

  2. David Eberle

    Capitalism and the arts. Capitalism is the most effect system for transferring wealth from the many to the few and this has a profound influence on the humanities of culture. The Revenue of corporations comes from all over, but the profits of these corporations is not distributed in the same way. Profits are distributed to the wealthy who for the most part live in the largest cities. In these cities the profits help to fund the arts and historical sites,while little of this money is distributed to smaller communities. Here, the arts and historical sites struggle for support. The question then is what can be done.

    Beacon, NY is a great example. Beacon has a superb and scenic environment and with the opening of the Dia Art Museum the city has drawn many artists to the community. Furthermore, the City has had enlightened politicians who have championed the arts, the environment, history, green architecture and sustainable living. One of the advantages Beacon has is that the Beacon Arts association,, the Beacon Chamber of Commerce, the Beacon Sloop Club and many other organizations and individuals work together to market Beacon as a weekend destination for New Yorkers. We have two great day hikes (Mount Beacon and Breakneck Ridge). We give free sails on Hudson with the Woody Guthrie, multiple art galleries to visit, and multiple music venues, as well as multiple historical sites. In the near future we will have an Incline Railway and a Hudson River Trail and bike path that will go from Cold Springs to Poughkeepsie.

    In this day and time no one can go it alone. We must all work together. Communities with multiple organizations working together along with the city officials have a much easier time of getting grants. One new idea is to have a history tour involving Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh, Demmings Point where Washington met with Hamilton, Madam Brett’s home, The Fishkill Suppy Depot, the Van Wycke Home as well as Mount Gulian the Birthplace of the Order Of Cincinnatus. We have organized similar trips with Peter Feinman. I am the Community Liaison for the Beacon Sloop Club and a member of the Beacon Chamber of Commerce, The Beacon Arts Association, Southern Dutchess NAACP, and otherwise act as a bridge between the various organizations.

    David Eberle

    1. Peter FeinmanPeter Feinman Post author


      Thanks for writing. Thanks for mentioning the programs which I have done in Beacon and Fishkill and for your hospitality when I have been there.

      Beacon and Fishkill certainly do provide excellent locations for creating paths through history…and I do speak from experience in these two communities. It has been very frustrating with the Ramble to see events in these two places scheduled at random times over four weekends instead of as a coherent program for bus tour operators, day trips from the city, or the residents of Hudson valley. I will say I have learned not to go out on the Beacon Sloop in late October at 5:30 with teachers…it’s too cold and dark!

      Perhaps it is time to call the history community together in the two communities to plan such programs for the residents, teachers, and tourists. That way you can be a beacon to others!


      PS Do you mind if I send your comment and my response to the Dutchess community?


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