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New York History & Museums

In autumn, we buckle down. Hands-on learning keeps our minds free-flowing, even as the temperature drops. New York has plenty of museums and historical sites, so the next time you’re leaf peeping or prepping for a hike, enliven your itinerary with a little historical travel.

If your family arrived in the United States through Ellis Island, you can try to trace their entry from records stored there. The State Museum and many others present the history and culture of New Yorkers, like Irish-Americans and the Iroquois. The Adirondack Museum documents the transformation of an entire region over generations, from logging to tourism and much more.

Broaden your grasp of global issues by scheduling a visit to the United Nations. Visit the homes and explore the archives of impactful New York residents like the Chief U.S. Prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Trials, the author of Rip Van Winkle, or the founder of the Hudson River School of Art. Woodlawn Cemetery is another place to learn about influential New Yorkers while you walk, and there’s a Ghost Walk in October!

Architectural styles have deep roots in New York: tour a 1919 castle in French-Chateau style, a 1930s neo-Georgian mansion, and Lyndhurst, named one of the most beautiful mansions by Forbes. Entire neighborhoods have been designated as historic districts, like The Stockade in Schenectady and the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, so you’ve got yet another opportunity to exercise your mind and your body on a walking tour.

Many pivotal battles were waged in New York State during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and during civil rights protests to obtain the right for women to vote. Fascinating monuments, re-enactments and self-guided tours are well worth an afternoon or longer spent in Sackets Harbor, Plattsburgh, Fort Drum and Seneca Falls.

Learn more about whaling culture on Long Island, or about the river named for explorer Henry Hudson. Lighthouse lovers could combine a hike or boat ride with a trip to Rock Island or Dunkirk. Visit Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum or Old Erie Canal State Historic Park to learn more about the historic canal’s impact on the United States’ economic growth.

Did you know that the first lab built for tuberculosis research was in Saranac Lake? There are New York museums devoted to carousels, cutlery, photography, wheeled transportation and working gristmills too.

The history of farming has increased relevance today as we monitor the evolution of growing methods. After your visit to Queens County Farm Museum, stop at the local farm stands to stock up on fresh crops and give thanks for the bountiful harvest.

NEW YORK CITY (NYC)

Ellis Island and American Family Immigration History Center
1 Battery Park Place
NYC Harbor, NY 10004
Explore 25+ million passenger records for your family's arrival in NYC harbor

Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Parkway
Floral Park, NY 11004
Tranquil farm & fields dating from 1697

United Nations
1 United Nations Plaza
Manhattan, NY 10017
Representatives of the earth's six billion people come to discuss and decide issues of peace, justice and economic and social well-being. Grounds, special exhibits & tours

LONG ISLAND (LI)

Oheka Castle
135 West Gate Drive
Huntington, NY 11743
French Chateau-style mansion; built in 1919, defined by the extravagance of the Gilded Age to the Roaring Twenties

Stony Brook Grist Mill
100 Harbor Road
Stony Brook, NY 11790
Registered historic place, working grist mill

The Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum 
200 Main Street
Sag Harbor, NY 11963
Whale ship owner's mansion; artifacts & history of prosperous whaling port

HUDSON VALLEY (HV)

Hudson River Maritime Museum (through October)
50 Rondout Landing
Kingston, NY 12401
Follow the river through time, 100 to 400 years ago; seasonal exhibits, permanent collections, special events & lectures

Lyndhurst Mansion
635 South Broadway
Tarrytown, NY 10591
One of America’s most beautiful mansions (Forbes Magazine); one of 29 National Trust Historic Sites

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside
9 West Sunnyside Lane
Tarrytown, NY 10533
Home & grounds of author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle

THE CATSKILLS (CT)

Bevier House Museum (through October)
Route 209
Marbletown, NY 12484
300 year old home on National Register of Historic Places; houses Ulster County Historic Society; farm implements, home furnishings, regional Civil War memorabilia, more collections

Delaware County Historical Association
46549 State Highway 10
Delhi, NY 13753
Historical exhibits & events at Gideon Frisbee Homestead

Thomas Cole National Historic Site 
218 Spring Street
Catskill, NY 12414
Founder of Hudson River School of Art; first stop on the Art Trail

CAPITAL-SARATOGA (CS)

Irish American Heritage Museum
370 Broadway
Albany, NY 12207
Year-round exhibits, events & genealogical research available

New York State Museum
New York State Capitol
State Street
Albany, NY 12207
Exhibits include Fire Engine Hall, Birds of New York, Black Capital: Harlem in the 20s

The Stockade
Intersection of Green, North Ferry and Front Streets
Schenectady, NY 12305
NY’s oldest collection of 17th to early 20th century homes, businesses and churches; Annual Walkabout and Stockade Villager’s Art Show

THE ADIRONDACKS (AD)

Adirondack Museum
Routes 28N & 30
Blue Mountain Lake, NY 12812
“The best of its kind in the world” (NY Times); documents transformation of the Adirondacks from mineral and lumber resource to resort and recreation getaway

Battle of Plattsburgh Museum and Interpretative Center
31 Washington Road
Plattsburgh, NY 12903
September events re: Plattsburgh and the War of 1812

Saranac Laboratory
89 Church Street, Suite 2,
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
First lab built in the U.S. for the research of tuberculosis

THOUSAND ISLANDS-SEAWAY (TI)

10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Museum
Heritage Center, Building 10502
South Riva Ridge Loop
Fort Drum, NY 13602
Preserving the division’s history and morale; war of 1812-present

Rock Island Lighthouse (weekends through Columbus Day)
Fisher’s Landing, NY 13641
One of only six mid-19th century lights built along the St. Lawrence River

Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site
West Main & West Washington Streets
Sackets Harbor, NY 13685
Center of American naval and military activity for the upper St. Lawrence Valley and Lake Ontario

CENTRAL LEATHERSTOCKING (CL)

Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum/ Old Erie Canal State Historic Park
717 Lakeport Road
Chittenango, NY 13037-8584
Excavated three-bay dry dock, model canal boats

Fenimore Art Museum
New York State Historical Association
5798 State Highway 80 (Lake Road)
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Elegant 1930s neo-Georgian mansion; presents perspective on the heritage & history of America through some of the country’s finest examples of art

Otsego: A Meeting Place
Fenimore Art Museum
5798 State Route 80
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Outdoor exhibit of native customs, the lives and culture of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people through their art, stories, and objects

FINGER LAKES (FL)

George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film
900 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607
Exhibits and history at home of the founder of modern image-making

National Women’s Hall of Fame
76 Fall Street
Seneca Falls, NY 13148
Visit on autumn Induction Weekend; public tickets available at website

Woodlawn Cemetery
Ghost Walk (October)
1200 Walnut Street
Elmira, NY 14902
Annual guided historic tour of grounds

GREATER NIAGARA (GN)

Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village 
3755 Tonawanda Creek Road
Amherst, NY 14228
Extensive collections and historic buildings, creative activities and events

Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum
263 Michigan Ave
Buffalo, NY 14203
Vintage carriages, automobiles, bicycles, and motorcycles

Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum
180 Thompson St.
North Tonawanda, NY 14120
Premier national historic site; fosters an appreciation for the unique heritage of the carousel and related industries in the Niagara region

CHAUTAUQUA-ALLEGHENY (CA)

American Museum of Cutlery
9 Main Street
Cattaraugus, NY 14719
200 years of regional enterprise, including knives, swords, edged tools and weapons, plus blacksmith ledgers, factory records, interviews with cutlers, more

Dunkirk Lighthouse Museum(through October)
1 Lighthouse Point Drive
Dunkirk, NY 14048
Established 1826; explore the historic lighthouse; Famous Ghost Tours of the Light House & Grounds (October)

Robert H. Jackson Center
305 E. Fourth Street
Jamestown, NY 14701
Archives & exhibits; country lawyer from Chautauqua County served as U.S. Attorney General, U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Chief U.S. Prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Trials

 

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