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.