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State of New York State History

Path through History 5th Anniversary, August 28, 2017

Governor Cuomo Unveils New York’s “Path Through History” to Support Tourism and Economic Development, and Highlight the State’s Historic Past (Press release, August 28, 2012)

On August 28, 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of the Path through History at a conference at Empire State Plaza.

According to the press release, the Path through History was intended to “promote tourism and economic development in communities in every region of the state.” To the best of my knowledge, no figures have been provided and no claim has ever been made that the Path through History project in itself generated any economic development in the communities, any tax revenue, or any heads-to-beds.

According to the press release, in March, 2012, the Governor created the Historic Corridor Task Force composed of leading historians to advise the Thruway and the state on the creation of the initiative. That Task Force subsequently faded into oblivion and has played no role in the Path project since its commencement.

According to the press release, the Task Force was co-chaired by Mark Schaming, Director of the State Museum, and award-winning historian and Senior Vice President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Harold Holzer (long-time Mario Cuomo advisor and nationally-renowned Lincoln scholar). The Path Through History Project subsequently was transferred to I LoveNY which has no history expertise and these co-chairs have had nothing to do with the Path project since its commencement.

According to the press release, one of the members of the Task Force was Ken Jackson, Columbia University (aka Mr. New York History). Subsequently he too has played no role in the Path project since its commencement. He has publicly ridiculed the Path project for its failure and written to the Governor to no effect expressing his disappointment.

According to the press release, the Task Force helped create regional tourist plans. “In partnership with the ten Regional Economic Development Councils, regional workshops will receive $100,000 grants based on their proposal for marketing, planning and regional promotion activities. These workgroups will coordinate with local tourism entities to promote the state’s vast network of museums, historic sites, and other cultural institutions located throughout the entire state.” Do any of these workgroups still exist? Do any of these regional tourist plans exist today? Does the REDC in any region partner with any of these regional workgroups? Is the Path through History project a factor in any REDC funding? These are rhetorical questions. Once in a while a search of the REDC awards for a given year will turn up the phrase “Path through History” but it is rare.

Omitted from the press release was the one major change implemented by the Path through History project in addition to signs and a website. The existing Museum Weekend program was renamed Path through History Weekend(s), moved from May to June and now will be repeated in October. These programs are outside the summer tourist season from July 4 to Labor and are the local events history organizations do and already did for their members and the local community. These local events do not generate heads-to-beds, but sometimes I LoveNY likes to brag about the body count of events it has bagged even though it has acknowledged that it is more of a branding device than a creative act.

I am sure I speak for the history community when I say we all look forward to the accomplishments of the next five years although it will be difficult to match the accomplishments of the first five years.

11 thoughts on “Path through History 5th Anniversary, August 28, 2017

  1. If nothing is being done, why are the Thruway signs painted with “Path Through History?”
    Where is the path through history? Is there a trail on a map that a tourist might follow?
    The placement of the sign is pretty ironic..considering they are not before any of the great tourist areas on the Thruway. They could have at least printed the historic area on the sign which might bring people to the location! Those signs must have cost a fortune and they result in nothing!!

    1. The signs erected after the 2012 commencement of the project are the most visible expression of the Path through History project. There is a website listing the sites which have been designated as Path sites.At this point it is up to you to create your own path based on the information. There are no itineraries, routes, trails, or path. if you are interested in more information feel free to do a search on “Path through History” at the IHARE website. It is a sad story with a lot of disillusioned people.

      1. peter,

        you’ve confirmed my questions about this non-existent ‘path’—-i think it will someday emerge in some kind of moneymaking schemes by shops, stores, companies, whatever is simply a way they will make money……an aside MAY be naming one or 2 historic sites in their business areas!!!

        how very sad, negligent, shortsighted….

        is there any historic group or are there any historians whom you may know who are currently working on a history trail????

        i’m sure you’ve seen the map of women’s historic sites that came out during gov. pataki’s tenure……although it mistakenly doesn’t include ANNE HUTCHINSON, it’s really an important step in guiding folks to some (not all!) NY women’s historic sites.


        toby z

  2. I applied as a site to be on the Path Through History for the Orange County Farmers Museum and have never heard back however I was told that a local historian was asked who we are and what we do so someone did look into us but never contacted me back to say “Yes” you are approved or “No” you are not approved. I find it extremely alarming that a winery can get on the path but a museum cannot. – Orange County Farmers Museum

  3. I was denied a place on the pathway for a number of reasons, but they did not make sense.
    What I operate is somewhat amazing, my residence is on the state and Nat. Register, we have a veterans memorial and a military history room, in our
    store, etc. But no way, notta.

    Gary L Rhodes

  4. Shall we give the program a tombstone at GW? Ha-ha.

    Thanks as always for your insights.

    Lisa W. Alpert | Vice President of Development and Programming
    500 25th Street
    Brooklyn, NY 11232
    (718) 210-3011

    1. Great idea. You know re-enactors since you just did the Battle of Brooklyn. We get the Veterans Corps of Artillery to fire the canons, some bagpipe players for Amazing Grace, and then bury a sign with a Path R.I.P. Headstone. I am sure the Governor would attend the event. We could even do it on a path Weekend!

  5. And now I just finished reading this one! Great questions!

    So did you send your questions to our governor? and, better still,
    did you get any answers?

    Maybe this is why I haven’t seen any way to get info about how to get women listed on the paths to history: BECAUSE THERE AREN’T ANY!!!! right????

    1. Thanks and yes, some posts are sent to the Governor’s staff. NO there has never been an answer and I don’t expect any. After all these years as Governor it is clear that his attachment to New York State history is sincere but quite limited.

      Technically individuals are listed on the Path through History but sites are, sites people can visit. If there is no Anne Hutchinson museum then it would be difficult to get her listed.

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