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  • A photo of statues at the North Star Underground Railroad Museum A photo of statues at the North Star Underground Railroad Museum

    North Star Underground Railroad Museum

New York History Tours

New Yorkers are rightfully proud of their state's many achievements and contributions. This synopsis is adapted from a brief history previously printed in the Legislative Manual. 

You can also follow historic paths from Women's Rights, the Revolutionary War to Civil Rights, Sports History and more at PathThroughHistory.  

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The Revolutionary War

New York has always played an important role in our nation's history and development dating back to early exploration, colonial times and the struggle for independence. Nearly one-third of all battles during the Revolution were fought in New York State, including the Patriot Victory at the Battle of Saratoga. Follow the Path Through History trail to discover and experience the people and places key to the American Revolution.

Did you know?   On May 10, 1775, one of the first significant actions of the American Revolution took place at Fort Ticonderoga. Today, you can follow the Path Through History to the fort, which stands as a monument to those who gave their lives for freedom. 

The War of 1812

The wounds of the American Revolution had barely healed when a second great war of independence raged across New York's northern frontier. The War of 1812 saw the United States emerge a world power, produced Francis Scott Key's Star Spangled Banner, and made Troy's "Uncle Sam" Wilson a national symbol. Much of the war's fighting took place on New York land bordering the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, with decisive battles also fought at sea and on lakes Ontario, Erie and Champlain.

Did you know?  War of 1812 history comes to life in the Greater Niagara region at Old Fort Niagara, which fell to British forces in 1813. Today, the fort is the site of colorful pageantry, battle reenactments, and encampments.

Civil Rights

New York State was at the forefront of the Underground Railroad movement, and its prime location and politics made it a destination of choice for many Africans fleeing slavery along the eastern seaboard. Today, tours of historic sites along the Path Through History help provide a better understanding of this crucial period in history.

Did you know? Harriet Tubman, who escaped from slavery, made 19 trips south to rescue slaves, leading over 300 to freedom. In 1859, Tubman moved to Auburn, where the Harriet Tubman Home serves as a meeting place for youth conferences and as a cultural enrichment center.

Presidential History

Many Commanders in Chief have called New York State home and their legacy lives on through their residences, a presidential library, and monuments built in their honor.

Did you know? The Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, located in Hyde Park, welcomes visitors to the 32nd president's lifelong home for tours of the grounds and luscious gardens.

Women's Rights 

The Women's Rights Movement was born in New York State, in Seneca Falls. Follow the Path Through History to the historic sites that enshrine the valuable contributions of the women who have played a significant role in the history of New York State and the nation.

Did you know? The Stanton House, home of the legendary civil rights leader Elizabeth Cady, is located in Seneca Falls.

Canals and Transportation 

The 524-mile New York State Canal System was key to the growth of industry, commerce, and transportation in New York State. Follow the Path Through History and explore some of North America's oldest water routes as you travel through lush farmland, famous battlefields, scenic port towns and thriving wildlife preserves. The canal system connects with hundreds of miles of lakes and rivers across New York State, linking the Great Lakes with the majestic Hudson River and with five waterways in Canada.

Did you know? An engineering marvel, the Erie Canal was called the "Eighth Wonder of the World" when it was built. Erie Canal Village is an outdoor living history museum that is a reconstructed 19th-century settlement on site of the canal's groundbreaking.

Natural History 

Discover New York State's special relationship with nature along the Path Through History as it takes you from the "Grand Canyon of the East" to a scenic mountain just north of New York City. 

Did you know? One of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S., Letchworth State Park, whose gorge is renowned as the "Grand Canyon of the East," as the Genesee River roars through it over three major waterfalls between cliffs as high as 600 feet surrounded by lush forests. 

Sports History

The site of two winter Olympics, the rebirth of American auto racing, a legendary shrine to the national pastime and the longest operating sports venue in the U.S., New York State has been, and is, at the forefront of sports in America. The Path Through History will shine the spotlight on some of sport's biggest names and brightest places.

Did you know?  A great New York State tradition takes place each summer as historic Saratoga Race Course hosts its 36-day meet from July through September. The race track, celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2013, is the longest operating sports venue in the U.S.


As the point of entry for millions of immigrants, New York State has been at the center of the American immigrant experience. From the New York City skyline - often the first sight of the nation for new arrivals - to immigrant communities in western New York, Path Through History sites show the valuable contributions of these new Americans to the state's cultural and economic growth. 

Did you know? Fort Ontario in Oswego served as the only shelter for Nazi Holocaust survivors in the United States. The Safe Haven Museum and Education Center there tells the story of the nearly 1,000 World War II refugees from Europe, including concentration camp escapees, brought to the region as guests of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Arts & Culture 

The cultural history of the people and communities of New York State is the history of America.   Visitors can explore the dazzling array of New York's arts and cultural history attractions in communities across the state or as part of broader trips across larger sections.  

Did you know?  The Colored Musician Club Museum in Buffalo highlights the history of the oldest continuously run African American musicians club in the US, dating back to 1935.  Its interactive exhibits share the stories of jazz legends who performed there - from Duke Ellington to Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald - and the legacy they left behind.

Colonial History

Founded as a Dutch colony early in the 17th century and later a British colony, New York distinguished itself as the most culturally diverse of the nation's 13 colonies and a colonial leader in politics, commerce, religious tolerance and culture.   

Did you know?   The oldest house still standing in the Mohawk Valley, the Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction was originally settled in 1671 as a fur trading post to meet Native American traders before they reached Schenectady.    

Innovation & Commerce 

New York State's businesses and industries have long dominated American commerce, and the state remains a leading center of invention and science. The state has also been a showcase for many of the industrialists connected to these innovations, whose opulent lifestyle was spectacularly captured in what are now beautiful historic sites. 

Did you know? Thomas Edison moved his Edison Machine Works to Schenectady in 1887, and the city became headquarters for the General Electric Company in 1892.  The International Technology Archives at the Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady preserve that legacy with 1.6 million images from the GE Photograph Collection, as well as 15,000 patents, 1,000 motion picture films and artifacts like the 1878 Edison tinfoil record. 

Native American History 

Long before European settlers set foot on the land that would become New York, Indian nations had built thriving civilizations here.  That culture remains vital today, with over 200,000 Native Americans living throughout the state. 

Did you know? The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native American Studies, in Waverly, is packed with thousands of locally found artifacts from pottery to tools to pipes - the largest such collection in the region. 

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