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  • Cradle of Aviation Museum, Photo Courtesy of Cradle of Aviation Museum Cradle of Aviation Museum, Photo Courtesy of Cradle of Aviation Museum

    Cradle of Aviation Museum

World War I

New York's pride is in the pride of things done. Her leadership is no more due to her great wealth or her large population than to the patriotism of her citizens and the uses to which her wealth is put. In every war in which this country has engaged, she has shown a spirit of sacrifice that has made her preeminent among the States. In this war, New York has outdone her own history."
-- Governor Charles S. Whitman (April 6, 1918)

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War I. New York made an unparalleled contribution to the war effort, contributing more soldiers - over 400,000, 10% of the entire American fighting force -- and seeing more casualties (over 13,000) than any other state. New York's military units became known throughout the world, from the "Harlem Hellfighters" of the 369th Infantry Regiment, the first African-American regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces; to the "Lost Battalion;" to the 69th Infantry Regiment, known as the "Fighting 69th." New Yorkers like Irving Berlin, Humphrey Bogart, Wild Bill Donovan, Fighting Father Duffy and the sons of former President Teddy Roosevelt -- Archie, Ted, and Quentin - were part of the fighting force.

New Yorkers made vital contributions to the war effort off the battlefield as well. State industries built ships and other needed equipment, with New York holding more defense contracts during the war than any other state. The Port of New York was a major point for overseas embarkation for soldiers from across the nation. Everyday New Yorkers participated in local defense committees, joined the medical corps, contributed labor through the Public Service Reserve, bought Liberty Bonds, knitted garments for soldiers and conserved food and fuel. New Yorkers gave over $30 million to the American Red Cross in support of the allied cause.

Starting in 2017, New York State is commemorating the centennial of World War I as part of the national multi-year effort. Travelers can make memories exploring New York's pivotal role in the Great War at attractions and special events throughout the state. Historic sites offer special tours on life during wartime, and museums feature special exhibits with artifacts like tanks, war posters, artillery, communications equipment, soldiers' diaries and more. There are even air shows with World War I biplanes. 

WWI Attractions and Places to See 

Brooklyn Navy Yard and Naval Commandant's House

Leading up to and during World War I, the Yard was an important naval shipyard and base that employed 18,000 men and women constructing everything from major battleships to wooden submarine chasers. Guided tours include a visit to a working dry dock that's been used since before the Civil War, the ornately-decorated 1899 Paymaster building, the former payroll department that is now a whiskey distillery and Building 128, a massive machine shop that was used to deconstruct captured German submarines for research after the war.

Buffalo and Erie County Public Library

From November 2017 - Spring 2019, "Buffalo Never Fails: The Queen City and WWI" is a major collection-based exhibition exploring the region's contributions to the war effort, featuring an extraordinary collection of WWI posters donated to the library in 1919, as well as a war diary by a local soldier, war pamphlets, materials about the sinking of the Lusitania and much more.

Cradle of Aviation Museum   

During World War One, Long Island became the home to some of the largest and most important military flying fields in America. Eight exhibit galleries contain 75 air and spacecraft -- one of the most diverse aerospace collections in the world. The museum's World War I gallery includes a Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny," a Thomas Morse S4C Scout fighter plane and a Breese Penguin non-flying trainer designed to student pilots the feel of airplane controls at near-flying speeds, without the danger of actual flight.

National Purple Heart Hall of Honor     

Exhibits chronicle the changing nature of warfare and combatants through images, artifacts and personal narratives of individual Purple Heart recipients, including a visual timeline of America's 20th-21st-century conflicts from World War I through today, complemented by an interactive display

New York State Military Museum     

Located in the historic armory, housing over 10,000 artifacts relating to the state's military forces, history and veterans, including significant holdings around New York's 27th Division in World War I and World War II and notable state military regiments such as the 369th (Harlem Hell fighters) New York Infantry.

New York State Museum       

From April 2017 - June 2018, "A Spirit of Sacrifice: New York State in the First World War" is a new exhibition using artifacts from museums, libraries and historical societies across the state to tell the story of how New York supplied more men, money, and material to the American war effort in WWI -- and suffered more casualties -- than any other. The exhibit includes a life-size recreation of a trench, ringed with barbed wire, used on the Western Front, from which soldiers fired artillery across the mine-filled no man's land.

Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

A living museum of antique aviation with one of the largest collections of early aeroplanes in the world, as well as automobiles, motorcycles, early engines and memorabilia spanning the period from 1900-1939. Weekend air shows feature Saturdays with pioneer, World War I and Lindbergh era aircraft, and Sundays with a World War I dogfight and barnstorming aircraft.

Staatsburgh State Historic Site

At this fine example of the great estates built by America's financial and industrial leaders, "World War I and the End of the Gilded Age" is a special tour led by a costumed interpreter chronicling how the Mills family's extravagant way of life withered away in the cataclysm of the Great War.

United State Military Academy at West Point

Includes the West Point Museum, the oldest, largest public collection of military artifacts in the western hemisphere, shown in exhibits like American Wars, History of the U.S. Army and History of Warfare and World War I items like a tank and staff car, communications equipment, and the artillery piece that fired the first U.S. shot in the war.

Central New York Living History Center       

A WWI display at the complex's Homeville Museum features a life-size, walk-through trench outfitted with life-like mannequins, barbed wire, sandbags and recreated artillery flashes with sounds, designed to help visitors visualize and understand the realities of combat and its many hardships. Visitors are also able to engage with audio recordings of letters sent home by soldiers and an extensive collection of artifacts, memorabilia, uniforms, helmets, and weaponry.

Lake View Cemetery     

A historic cemetery that includes Soldier's Circle, an area that is the resting place of nearly 1,000 veterans and contains a World War One memorial at its center. Guided and self-guided tours of the cemetery are available.

Polish American Museum      

The collection includes a Polish Legion World War I Blue Army Uniform and 1920 War display.

Schenectady County Historical Society

"Together Until the End: Schenectady in World War I" is an exhibition commemorating the Great War's effect on Schenectady and its people, and will be accompanied by programs and films throughout the year.

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