For a truly interesting reality show, tune in to living history across New York. The settings are spectacular— from Montauk Lighthouse on the tip of Long Island to Old Fort Niagara near Niagara Falls.
History With a View
With the historic river as its centrepiece, the magnificent Hudson Valley is called the landscape that defined America. A unique style of art, the Hudson River School, was founded here by 19th-century artists Thomas Cole and Frederic Church. Washington Irving created whimsical stories, such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, inspired by local colour. Get a glimpse of their colourful lives as you explore the homes of prominent residents, from farmers to presidents. In Sleepy Hollow Country discover Sunnyside, Washington Irving’s charming 19th-century cottage or Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate with its inspiring architecture and sculpture collection. Head to Hyde Park to relive the Gilded Age at the Vanderbilt Mansion, surrounded by Italian gardens and sweeping river views, and explore Springwood, the Roosevelt family estate where FDR entertained world leaders.
You can visit the Victorian mansion of FDR’s famous Uncle Teddy, on Long Island. Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay was Theodore Roosevelt’s boyhood home and served as his summer White House during his presidency (1901-1909). Just outside Rochester, step into the past at Genesee Country Village, one of the nation’s largest living history museums. Meet the farm animals, try old-time crafts and games, and watch costumed interpreters demonstrate 19th-century skills from cooking over an open hearth to throwing pottery and blacksmithing. Over 50 historic buildings on 600 acres range from a pioneer homestead to a grand octagon house.
Echoes of the Past
Explore Saratoga National Historical Park in Stillwater, where an American victory marked the turning point of the Revolution. Saratoga Battlefield brings history to life with colonial demonstrations, battle re-enactments and an annual 4th of July Celebration. Nearby, see Major General Philip Schuyler’s country home and the 155-foot Saratoga Monument. On 2,000 scenic acres in the Adirondacks, Fort Ticonderoga guards the historic portage between Lake Champlain and Lake George. Experience defining moments in American history and discover how nations fought to control a continent. Take a ride up nearby Mount Defiance for stunning views.
American history plays out every day at Fort Stanwix National Monument, a full-scale timber fort in Rome. Learn the stories of people who survived harsh conditions along the Oneida Carrying Place, and follow their footprints on the superhighway of the 18th Century. Historic sites in the Thousand Islands-Seaway region come with splendid views of Great Lake Ontario. Costumed guides re-enact War of 1812 camp life at Sackets Harbour Battlefield. Demonstrations at Fort Ontario highlight its key role in American history, recreating the lives of soldiers and civilians who lived there. Watch heroic scenes of the French & Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812 unfold amid colourful pageantry and battle re-enactments at Old Fort Niagara, overlooking Lake Ontario. Relive the colonial era as you stroll through encampments at this historic fort located about 15 miles from Niagara Falls. Imagine what it was like to live on a huge warship in WWII. Tour the Buffalo/Erie County Naval & Military Park, a floating museum on Buffalo’s lakefront, to see a WWII submarine, guided missile cruiser, and the Destroyer USS The Sullivans, named in honour of five brothers who lost their lives in the Battle of the Solomon Islands.
There’s Always Room for…NY Americana
Saddle-up for a seaside trail ride at Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk, the birthplace of the American cowboy. On a horse drawn wagon tour of the nation’s oldest working cattle ranch, you’ll hear stories about some of the local legends. Nearby, experience 19th-century Long Island on a stroll amid the restored homes and shops at Old Bethpage Village. In Central New York, Cooperstown’s National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum reflects American history as it tells the story of our national pastime. History is a sweet treat in LeRoy (Greater Niagara), where the JELL-O Gallery highlights America’s most famous jiggly dessert and TV personalities like Bill Cosby, Kate Smith and Jack Benny who promoted it. The museum features classic horse drawn sleds, carriages and a 1908 Cadillac. Step into television history in Chautauqua-Allegheny, where the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Centre highlights the groundbreaking 1950s comedy, I Love Lucy.
The Underground Railroad
Experience dramatic stories of the struggle to end slavery. After outlawing slavery in 1827, New York was at the forefront of the Underground Railroad movement. With more anti-slavery organizations than any other state, it had strong abolitionist leaders—including Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and John Brown. Access via New York’s land and water routes provided good options for travel or settlement. Before the end of the Civil War (1865), thousands of people passed through New York as they travelled to freedom in Canada. Tour the former homes of abolitionists, retrace the routes taken by freedom-seekers, and explore related sites and museums on the Underground Railroad Heritage Trail.
© NYSDED-Photo by Darren McGee / Credit Visit Visit Buffalo Niagara & Lewiston Council on the Arts