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In December the latest round of Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) awards for 2018 were announced. The event popularly referred to as “Hunger Games” distributes funds to the different regions of the state by category. In this blog, the awards from I LOVE NY are listed in alphabetical order by region and by county within region. The Market New York pool is capped at $15 million. It is defined as follows:

Market New York is a grant program established to strengthen tourism and attract visitors to New York State by promoting destinations, attractions and special events. Funding is available for tourism marketing initiatives, capital/construction projects and the recruitment and/or execution of special events, including meetings, conferences, conventions, festivals, agritourism/craft beverage events, athletic competitions and consumer and industry trade shows.

As always, there is no mention of the Path through History. It is possible that there was a Path-related proposal that simply did not win. As it turns out there is scarcely any mention of history either in any fashion. So despite everything you may hear about New York’s history from government officials, when it comes to putting their money where their mouth is, forgetaboutit. On the other, how many history-based applications were submitted in this category? On the other other hand, how many regions support and promote history-related applications anyway. By now, how many history organizations have given up on the REDC process?

Each award includes the applicant, both government and private, the project title, the project description, and the amount of the award. Not all counties had a recipient.


Albany County
Times Union Center Capital Improvements
Albany County will undertake a tourism capital project of the Times Union Center. The project will involve upgrades of seating replacement, locker room renovations and LED expansion to stay competitive in entertainment industry, and continue offering a vast variety of community events.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Hudson Valley Esports Invitational and Expo
The Hudson Valley Esports Invitational and Expo will make the Capital Region a national destination for up-and-coming professional gamers and solidify the region as a video-gaming hub for developers and players alike.

Albany, Columbia, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady
Albany Symphony Speak Up Festival
The Albany Symphony will present a major national music festival, “Sing Out, Justice!”, and a regional tour of free, outdoor concerts in an uplifting celebration of the Stonewall uprising, 2019 World Pride, and the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The festival will amplify the larger story of New York’s leading role in championing civil liberties from the 19th century to the present.

Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady
GymRat Basketball LLC
GymRat CHALLENGE Sporting Event
GymRat Basketball will use this working capital grant to drive tourism to the GymRat CHALLENGE, by attracting basketball teams, athletes and visitors from outside of New York State to the Capital Region while simultaneously raising awareness of the Capital Region as a major sports event destination.

Basilica Hudson Destination
Expanded Basilica Hudson
Destination Basilica Hudson will host and promote over 35 culutural [sic] programs and events to attract new and repeat visitors, from downstate and beyond NYS, to continue to build interest and visibility for Hudson and the Hudson Valley for visitors from near and far.

South Front Street
Holdings LLC Red Barn Hudson
South Front Street Holdings LLC will create a new destination, RED BARN HUDSON a year round Farm & Flea marketplace, a full-service restaurant + grab & go cafe, a new destination for the Mid-Hudson Region. Showcasing and celebrating the abundant talent of the Hudson Valley, and serving as a gateway to the region, it will be a dynamic, active, year-round creative hub and marketplace.

Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Saratoga Performing Arts Center Multi-Media Marketing Campaign
Saratoga Performing Arts Center will increase cultural tourism to Saratoga Springs and the Captial [sic] Distriction [sic] overall, by creating and executing an integrated marketing campaign (TV, Digital/Social, Print, Outdoor) by promoting it as a world class arts and culture destination to travel decision makers in suburban communities.

City of Auburn
NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center Marketing Plan
The City of Auburn will develop and implement new branding, marketing and destination events for the new NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn. The Center is a heritage-tourism promotion center that communicates the pioneering role that the State has played in the ongoing quest for Equal Rights and acts as a visitor launching pad for visitors to discover Equal Rights attractions throughout New York State.

Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego
CNY Arts, Inc. Arts Marketing Campaign 2019
CNY Arts will market Central New York’s array of arts, culture, and heritage activities as a strong opportunity for tourists visiting friends and family to create meaningful memories. These funds will be used to support this region’s arts and entertainment collaborative marketing platform that showcases CNY’s arts, entertainment, and cultural events..

New York State Rhythm and Blues Festival Inc
27th New York State Blues Festival
The New York State Rhythm and Blues Festival, Inc. will come alive in June 2019 when local, regional and national blues acts come together for our 27th NY State Blues Festival in Downtown Syracuse. In a real spirit of “community”, volunteers and local/regional companies provide support, offering fans who travel from out of the area a unique travel destination with a weekend full of amazing music.

Genesee Country Village & Museum
Genesee Country Village & Museum Agritourism Marketing
Genesee Country Village & Museum will use the grant funds to increase targeted tourism marketing efforts throughout the Northeast U.S., Canada and select other countries as well as further promote and expand visitor engagement opportunities at three core agritourism programs. These efforts will grow the number of non-local visitors to the site and the Finger Lakes region, producing a broad economic impact.

Rochester Fringe Festival
Downtown Community Interactive Arts Experience
The Rochester Fringe Festival will host and promote the U.S. Premiere of “PEARL” by Plasticiens Volants, a world-renowned company of artists who will tell a spectacular story using giant inflated puppets, unfolding along city streets and culminating in a finale in the heart of Downtown. Rochester Fringe Festival will bring interactive community performing arts to downtown Rochester.

Rochester Fringe Festival Inc.
Downtown Community Interactive Arts Experience
The Rochester Fringe Festival will bring to downtown Rochester two world-class shows created especially for the city, which willl [sic] feature unique settings and local history.
Arts ACIP $28,800

Rochester Museum &Science Center
Strasenburgh Planetarium Star Projector
The Rochester Museum and Science Center will use grant funds to purchase a new star projector for the Strasenburgh Planetarium renovation.

Special Touch Bakery Inc.
Special Touch Bakery Expansion and Outreach
Special Touch Bakery will increase its marketing for their NYS made products and inspire visitation with a feature guideded [sic] factory tour. Additionally, the grant funds will be used co-promote events with regional food and beverage partners further increasing awareness of New York’s Finger Lakes region.

Visit Rochester
Family Market Tourism Campaign Continuation
Visit Rochester will produce a major tourism program to attract families to the Rochester area is expanding this spring. The program, titled “Bring The Family. Closer.” is projected to attract 4,000 families to the Finger Lakes Region over the next two years.

New York Kitchen
New York Kitchen Campus Development
New York Kitchen will use the funds to support needed facility improvements and a new agritourism marketing program both of which will increase visitation to this tourism destination and the overall Finger Lakes Region.

Tough Mudder Inc.
Tough Mudder Long Island 2019
Tough Mudder Inc. will use grant funds to support the production and operations of the “Tough Mudder Long Island” sporting event, an 8-10 mile obstacle course designed to test participants strength, stamina, teamwork, and mental grit and increasing visitation to the Long Island region.

World Surf League
New York Professional Surfing Competition
The World Surf League will use grant funds to promote Long Island and New York State to fans and viewers worldwide, highlighting the region as a world-class family surfing and coastal destination by launching a landmark professional surfing competition.

Nassau, Suffolk
Discover Long Island
Discover Long Island (DLI) International Marketing Initiative
Discover Long Island will be expanding its cooperative partnership with NYC & Co. in Canada and Australia and continuing its promotional efforts in Germany and the United Kingdom. The campaigns will include digital marketing, collateral development, trade show participation and in-market professional contracts and events.

Nassau, Suffolk
LGBT Network Pride on the Beach 2019
LGBT Network will use grant funds to leverage a tourism surge from World Pride, Stonewall 50 through the coordination and marketing of World Pride Long Island, a weeklong series of attractions including its Pride on the Beach weekend & new Pride Week activities. A digital domestic marketing and advertising effort promoting Long Island’s ecotourism and agritourism assets will drive out-of-state LGBT tourism to Long Island.

East End Tourism Alliance
“Seasons of Reasons”- East End of Long Island Tourism Promotions
East End Tourism Alliance will provide common promotional themes for the East End of Long Island, defined and scheduled seasonally, to have a stronger and more consistent regional branding impact on potential visitors. The program will will emphasize promotional themes that work particularly well in the shoulder seasons and outside of peak tourism periods.

Ward Melville Heritage Organization
Celebrating a Legacy: Tourism Marketing Plan
The Ward Melville Heritage Organization will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization and the Long Island Museum to generate new awareness of Stony Brook Village by attracting visitors to a full, year-long program of activities, including tours of its Revolutionary era assets and themed events highlighting the village’s cultural importance both past and present.

Winship Media
Long Island Wine Country Direct Marketing Tours
Winship Media, together with the Long Island Wine Council, will create a new series of educational tourism activities that will drive new direct sales opportunities for Long Island wineries and help reinforce the state’s efforts to promote its craft beverage industry by increasing the number of well-informed, local product advocates throughout the New York City metro area.

Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester
Sullivan County Visitors Association
Dove Art Trail Legacy Connector Project
Sullivan County Visitors Association will undertake a marketing project that will link the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival to Mid-Hudson and Catskill Regional tourism experiences through thematic itineraries and travel packages by using multiple modes of transportation as connectors.

Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Ulster, Westchester
Hudson Valley Tourism Inc.
Discover Hudson Valley
The Hudson Valley Tourism Region and New York Stewart International Airport have formed a partnership to encourage international and domestic travelers to choose New York and the Region as their travel destination. Through this partnership a comprehensive marketing plan was created including outreach to new international tour operators supported by an aggressive advertising campaign.

City Winery
City Winery Hudson Valley
City Winery is acquiring the historic 22-acre Montgomery Worsted Mills. The first phase of construction on this beautiful 120-year site will be to centralize its national winemaking operations, accompanied by a tasting room and cafe.

Storm King Art Center
Storm King Art Center Marketing Project
Storm King Art Center will develop and implement a marketing project that will highlight new public transportation options for visitors, in an effort to increase visitation in an environmentally friendly and strategic manner. The project will also highlight other regional tourist attractions.

Arrowood Farms
Arrowood Farm Brewery Expansion Project
Arrowood Farms will expand production capacity, reduce product costs, and implement a marketing plan that will bring additional visitors to the farm. This will allow the business to meet increased demand, expand distribution and create new jobs.

Defying Labels: Lyndhurst Marketing Plan
Lyndhurst, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will launch a comprehensive marketing plan to promote the State-funded restoration of its historic lower landscape. Opening events will highlight philanthropist Helen Gould and Madam C. J. Walker’s efforts to empower immigrant women and women of color with economic independence in the early 20th century.

Wolf Conservation Center
Education Pavilion
The Wolf Conservation Center will build a new Education Pavilion, to promote conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment and the human role in protecting their future. The new tourism destination will also offer programs and special events to visitors to the Mid-Hudson Region.

Kids Oneida Inc.
Utica Childrens [sic] Museum ReImagined
Kids Oneida will use the funds to relocate and renovate the Utica Children’s Museum, in order to establish itself as a premier tourist destination, thereby increasing visitation to this tourism attraction and the overall region.

Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute
Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Dreihaus Collection
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute will use grant funds to support an expanded marketing plan for the exhibition of “Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Dreihaus Collection,” on view from June 15, 2019 through September 1, 2019 at MWPAI Museum of Art in Utica.

Fenimore Art Museum
Rock & Roll Icons Exhibition and Celebrity Programming
Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown will use grant funds for strategic branding and marketing initiatives to promote a major rock & roll exhibit, featuring photographic portraits of the biggest rock stars of the 20th century, and to publicize live concerts, film screenings, and talks from music industry insiders, further establishing the museum as a key destination for visitors to Central New York.

Red Shed Brewery
Red Shed Brewery Brew Experience NY
Red Shed Brewery Brew Experience NY will promote tourism and the craft brewing industry in Otsego County through a tap room and kitchen renovation and new concert venue hosting quarterly events. In addition, a week long brew experience will be developed in Cherry Valley, NY to create a destination for visitors to immerse themselves in learning about NY craft brewing.

The Farmers’ Museum
Craft Brewing Exhibition and Signature Event, Hopsego
The Farmers Museum in Cooperstown will utilize grant funds, through a strategic branding and marketing initiative, to publicize a new craft brew-themed exhibit, expand the museum’s signature summer event, Hopsego, and bolster the unique craft brewing and hops programs in its 19th-century historic village, further establishing the museum as a key destination for tourists in Central New York.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame
Top Nine Artifacts to See Program
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will create and promote a ‘Top Nine Artifacts for Your Favorite Team’ marketing program, connecting fans to their favorite team and driving additional visitation to the tourism destination and overall region.

Universal Hip Hop Museum
The Universal Hip Hop Museum/BronxPoint
The Universal Hip Hop Museum will undertake a capital project to build the only state chartered educational museum focused on the preservation of the Hip-Hop culture, located at Bronx Point in the Lower Grand Concourse area and is the cornerstone of scholarly research, preservation and activity for NYC and beyond.

Womens [sic] Housing and Economic Development Corporation
Bronx Music Hall – This is Bronx Music
The Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation will produce the Bronx Music Hall Grand Opening to celebrate the kick-off of the new Bronx Music Hall in the South Bronx. This world-class event will strengthen tourism, attract 600+ visitors, feature at least four highly acclaimed music artists and/or bands, and announce the arrival of the Bronx Music Hall as a new destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
Bedford Stuyvesant Tourism Development Plan
Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation seeks to develop the tourism potential of Central Brooklyn, the focus of the project is the creation of a comprehensive Feasibility Study/Tourism Marketing Plan to develop tourism in Central Brooklyn. The project will particularly emphasize music, dance, theater, visual arts and healthy living. In addition, the project calls for the production and enhanced marketing of a couple of high-visibility events – the Restoration Rocks music festival and the Annual 10K Run.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Marketing
Brooklyn Botanic Garden will be completing a decade long series of capital campaign projects, representing the most significant renewal in the Garden’s 108-year history, with enhancements throughout its 52 acres. Brooklyn Botanic Garden will use a tourism marketing campaign to introduce new audiences, regionally, domestically and internationally to a new and improved botanic garden.

New York
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
Children’s Museum of Manhattan: A Durable Tourist Attraction
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan will use the grant funds to assist in restoration of the exterior of a 1903 landmark building to be the Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s new home. This will create a structurally stable, watertight envelope, repair façade deterioration, and protect the building from continued damage. The new museum will be a beacon for family tourists and double annual attendance.

Heritage of Pride
World Pride 2019 and Stonewall 50 Marketing Campaign
Heritage of Pride will develop and promote an entire month of programming and events tied to NYC Pride as NYC will be welcoming the world for the first WorldPride to be hosted in the United States to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
Major Capital Investment Project
La MaMa embarks on a capital investment to renovate a multi-building complex in the East Village. Once completed, the project will enable La MaMa to expand its programs, increase services to the community, improve visitor access & comfort, and bring the aged complex into a new state of being for NY’s last remaining original Off-Off Broadway theatre.

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
Stonewall 50 and World Pride NYC Marketing Plan
Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art will use funds to support the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and World Pride. Leslie-Lohman Museum, the world’s only LGBTQ art museum, presents “Art after Stonewall,” the first major exhibition to examine the impact of the LGBTQ civil rights movement on the art world accompanied by educational experiences and programming that connects the world of LGBTQ art to the residents and visitors of New York.

NewYork [sic] Historical Society
Equality and Justice for All: New Museum Educational Galleries
New-York Historical Society will establish a dedicated gallery space throughout the Museum to exhibitions exploring topics of freedom, race, equality, and civil rights in America. The state-of-the-art galleries will primarily explore the long struggle of African Americans for full rights as citizens with future exhibitions widening the lens to include other marginalized groups.

The Fort Ticonderoga Association
Ticonderoga Marketing
Fort Ticonderoga will use the grant funds to develop and implement a marketing plan to showcase Fort Ticonderoga as a cultural and historical landmark with both world-class collections and exhibits that will bring tourists from all over to the region.

Essex, Franklin
LPEC Quality Destination Inc. Empire State Winter Games
LPEC Quality Destination, Inc. will be hosting the 2019 Empire State Winter Games – Go Global event. In its 39th year, the Games will bring together athletes from across NYS, Northeastern US, Canada, and beyond to compete in over 30 winter sports events.

Adirondack Sky Center
Astroscience Center Tourism Capital and Marketing Project
Adirondack Sky Center will cover partial funding for site preparations and construction work for the AstroScience Center, and tourism marketing and communications, including the Adirondack Sky Festival -a new special annual event celebrating Adirondack Skies, in partnership with The Wild Center.

Pendragon Theatre
Pendragon Theater – Relocation Capital Project
Pendragon Theatre will repurpose a downtown Saranac Lake building to create a state-of-the-art theatre facility on an under-utilized site, providing more activities for tourists and reinforcing downtown redevelopment.

LUMA Projection Arts LLC
LUMA NY Waterways Mist Projection
LUMA Projection Arts LLC will develop and promote “LUMA NY Waterways Mist Projection”, LUMA Projection Arts Festival’s newest feature to hypnotize and inspire the city of Binghamton and increase visitiaton [sic] to the overall Finger Lakes region.

Catskill Revitalization Corporation
Day Out With Thomas the Tank Engine at the Delaware and Ulster Railroad
Catskill Revitalization Corporation will present, “Thomas the Tank Engine” at the Delaware and Ulster Railroad (DURR) in Arkville during the summer of 2019. The eight-day, two-weekend long event is expected to attract 10,000 riders in addition to several thousand more people for event-related activities.

Aprile Ventures LLC
Glamping at Watkins Glen
Aprile Ventures LLC will develop a world-class Glamping destination and Craft beverage venue. As part of its innovative multi-regional strategy, the “Glamping at Watkins Glen” project will support tourism, enhance the outdoor experience for visitors and promote awareness of the abundance of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and resources that New York has to offer.

Watkins Glen
International Out-of-State Traveler Campaign 2019
Watkins Glen International will create and promote a marketing plan to attract out-of-state travelers to the Southern Tier’s largest weekend sporting event, NASCAR at The Glen.

Schuyler, Tompkins
Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce
The Apple of Our Eye Elevating the Reputation of New Yorks [sic] Craft Cider
Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce will promote agriculinary tourism experiences year-round with a focus on quality craft cider producers, authentic farm visits and expanding seasonal anchor events like Apple Harvest Festival, Finger Lakes Cider Week, Open Farm Days Weekend and Press Bay Holiday Market with the goal of becoming the Craft Cider Capital of NYS.

The Corning Museum of Glass
Make Your Own Glass (MYOG) Expansion Capital Project
The Corning Museum of Glass will expand The Studio and the Make Your Own Glass workshop, creating the international comprehensive center for artists, students, and visitors working with glass. This will provide an opportunity for The Corning Museum of Glass visitors of all ages and skill levels to have exciting, memorable, new, and unique experiences trying many types of glass working.

Dunkirk Local Development Corporation
Dunkirk Great Lakes Grand Prix Boat Races
The Dunkirk Offshore Grand Prix is a new-to-New York State, internationally televised powerboat race that will bring excitement to the City of Dunkirk on the beautiful shores of Lake Erie. The event will feature racing, live music, food, and more, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to the region and highlighting all of the great things that Western New York has to offer.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens Facilities Project
The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society, Inc. is a premier cultural destination in
Buffalo’s South Park, engaging visitors with a unique plant collection, educational programs, and stunning landscape and architecture. The Botanical Gardens plans to grow its offerings in a newly constructed facility designed to complement the existing Lord & Burnham-designed Conservatory.

Erie Land Development LLC
Dunkirk Wingate Hotel & Recreation Center
The Dunkirk Wingate and Recreation Center Project will feature a new eighty-three room, nationally branded hotel, restaurant, distillery, beer garden, swimming pool, and outdoor recreation center both facilitating existing tourist experiences and attracting new tourists to Chautauqua County.

Visit Buffalo Niagara
Buffalo Wing Trail Marketing Initiative
Visit Buffalo Niagara’s Buffalo Wing Trail is a guide to twelve of the most iconic bars, taverns and pubs around Buffalo serving the city’s culinary creation. The Buffalo Wing Trail Marketing Initiative will enable this area to implement an integrated marketing campaign to raise the awareness of Buffalo and Western NY’s to foodie travelers.

Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation
From Rivers to Rainbows – WorldPride 2019
Destination Niagara USA and Dutchess Tourism have entered into a partnership with New York City, who is hosting WorldPride June 2019. Grant funds will be used to support a marketing plan with the goal to leverage the momentum of the expected 3 million visitors to the event, inspiring them to explore more of New York State including Dutchess and Niagara counties.

A Rose by Any Other Name Is Still the Tappan Zee Bridge

What can we learn from the controversy over the naming of the Tappan Zee Bridge? What lessons can be drawn by looking at the larger picture? Let’s examine the data and see if we can put the pieces together. Start with the above-the-fold headline in my local paper on August 31, 2018:

Cuomo or Tappan Zee: Names Feed Identity Crisis by Frank Esposito, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

The article recounted the ongoing struggle to preserve the historic name of Tappan Zee Bridge in contrast to the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. The former bridge could be located in one and only one place; the latter bridge could be located anywhere in the state. Confusion continues given the signs to the Tappan Zee Bridge which still exist on the highways and byways, in the internet, and in our minds. The article ends with a reference to the son in the gubernatorial debate when he, too, referred to the Tappan Zee Bridge.

The article on page 3 on the same day is entitled “Cuomo Pressed on Tappan Zee Name, Toll” by Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau. The moderator asked the candidate if he is open to renaming the bridge.

By coincidence, earlier in the same month, Tappan and Rockland County resident Steve Dunlop wrote an opinion piece for the same newspaper entitled ’Tappan Zee’ Played Pivotal Role in American Revolution (8/5/18). Dunlop was referring to the “Tappan Sea Skirmish” using the British name (“zee” suffered the same fate as “New Amsterdam” when the British replaced the Dutch). The skirmishes were on August 3 and 16, 1776, in attacks on the five British frigates anchored near where the current bridge is located. Dunlop declares that the unexpected resistance offered by the Americans served to inspire other Americans along the Hudson Valley and put the British on notice.

Pushing back to June, the headline in the local paper was:

Tappan Zee Bridge Name Supporters Deliver Petitions to Andrew Cuomo (6/7/18). The article also was by Jon Campbell who has chronicled the violation of federal regulations with Cuomo’s I LoveNY highway signs (see below). The article reported the delivery to the Governor’s office by ten members of Save Our Tappan Zee of a two-foot high petition with over 108, 000 signatures asking for the change of the name to the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge.

The previous day an article Tappan Zee Bridge Name Change Awakens a Grassroots Movement that Cuomo Can’t Stop appeared in the local paper by the aforementioned Steve Dunlop. I imagine the title was crafted by the newspaper and not the guest writer. Dunlop described the process of the name change by Cuomo as follows:

The vast majority of New Yorkers don’t pay attention [to Capital politics]. Gov. Andrew Cuomo knows this well. A master of statecraft, he exploited that very somnolence when he snuck the name change at the close of the 2017 legislative session, then stuck it in the session-ending reconciliation session. He did it with no fanfare, and not even a token attempt to muster public support. He did it because he could. And he could because no one was looking.

Dunlop reports on a growing grassroots effort by the history community, especially in Rockland County, to advocate for something specific in Albany. Remember the advocacy motto: No “asks” means “No gets.” Now the history community is asking.

How much of Tappan history do you think the Governor knew before making this change? Do you think when the Governor was contemplating changing the name of Tappan Zee Bridge he ever inquired into the meaning of that name? Do you think he inquired of the New York State historian how it came to be that the bridge had the name that it did? Do you think he inquired of the scholars who have written about the building of the bridge or the development of Rockland County after its completion? Has he documented any connection between his father and the Tappan Zee Bridge sufficient to warrant the name change? Did he do his homework?

By now it is not surprising to realize that our Governor has a sincere but superficial interest in New York State history. Over the years, I have had the unfortunate honor to write numerous blogs about the failure of the once-promising Path through History project. I also had the unfortunate honor to write about the still ongoing violation of federal regulations with the highway signs that included the Path through History. I will not repeat that information here.

But as I tracked the shortcomings in the Path through History project, I wondered if the Path project was unique in this development. Was it a one-of-kind failure or was it symptomatic of multiple programs? Historians know that unique is not a pattern that one should not pass judgment on the whole based on the example of the one.

As I result I began to notice other new programs which had been created recently. I wondered how they were working out. I am not referring to the 80% of life which is showing up, of maintaining the current programs which exist on their own momentum. Instead, I looked to the new and unprecedented to compare their execution with that of the Path through History.

The first new program I noticed was called Start-Up NY. Cuomo launched he program in 2013 effective in 2014. It allows businesses to move into tax-free zones on or near college campuses and pay no taxes for 10 years. Shortly thereafter, I began to notice articles that suggested the Start-Up initiative was an even bigger failure than the Path was. Here are a sample of some headlines from my local papers that I accumulated over the years.

2/6/15 Report: Agency Generates Few Jobs by Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau Chief
4/22/15 Facing Criticism, Cuomo Defends Start-Up by Joseph Spector
5/15/15 Jobs Effort That Cuomo Vowed Would Fire Up Economy Is Slow to Take Hold by Susanne Craig and Jesse McKinley (NYT)
5/27/15 Corporate Welfare Fails to Deliver the Jobs: The Sad Case of Start-Up NY
by Lawrence S. Wittner, Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany on Start-Up NY and SUNY. Because the author had been a history professor, the article received some traction in the history community (History News Network).
1/20/17 Cuomo Changes Name and Focus of Jobs Effort by Vivian Yee (NYT)
The article reported that the program that cost nearly $50 million in 2014 to produce 76 jobs and $53 million in 2015 to produce another 332 jobs would henceforth be called Excelsior Business Program. These numbers appeared in other articles as well.
2/2/17 Lawmakers, NY Economic Czar on Job Growth by Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau
Without meaning to, Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development President and CEO, implied that changing the name is a good thing given the previous failure associated with the name by the media.
4/3/17 Start-Up NY created 757 Positions in ’16 by Jon Campbell
5/28/17 How Business “Partnerships” Flopped at America’s Largest University by Lawrence Wittner, writing two years after his earlier foray (History News Network).
8/26/18 Cuomo’s Jobs Record: The Good, Bad, and Ugly by Jon Campbell
Under “The Bad,” the first item is Start-Up NY. No one seems to call it Excelsior Business Program. Changing names is not so easy. The English actually had to conquer New Amsterdam to make that change work!

I do not claim to have made an exhaustive story of the Start-Up NY program. I can say simply as someone trying to be an informed voter, the optics for the Start-Up NY program are pitiful. From an historian perspective, what is interesting is that as with the Path through History, Start-Up NY was a government initiative that comes across as a failure to anyone not dependent on the state government.

With that thought in mind, let’s briefly turn to the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) funding better known as “hunger games” in political circles. In a scathing analysis of its shortcomings and failures by Riley Edwards, research associate at the Citizens Budget Commission, he concludes:

Rather than pursuing headline-grabbing projects in which taxpayers are the ones on the hook when a deal falls through, or providing excessive, narrowly targeted tax breaks, the state should consider approaches that provide more widespread benefit. Investments in infrastructure, workforce development, and higher education, as well as a more competitive tax system, can improve New York’s ability to attract and retain employers.

Along the same lines, Stephanie Miner, Democrat and former Syracuse mayor running for governor as an independent, has called for the state to cease operating a host of economic development efforts. She says, they waste taxpayers dollars and fail to live up to the hype (Former Syracuse Mayor Calls for End of State Economic Development Programs by Tom Precious, Buffalo News, 7/31/18). Miner said the billions of dollars directed to economic development projects for which both Democrats and Republicans take credit should be earmarked for a massive and well-defined infrastructure improvement effort for public transit systems, water and sewer projects, decaying bridges and pothole-strewn roads.  “Government should not be in a position of picking winners and losers,’’ she said of the programs. She highlighted such efforts as the Buffalo Billion, which she said has failed to live up to early job prediction estimates and was the subject of a recent bid-rigging corruption trial that ended up with the conviction of longtime Buffalo businessman Louis Ciminelli and others.

While some of these comments can be attributed to electioneering, the general thrust seems valid. Government should focus on infrastructure and not picking winners and losers. That’s for the market to do. On the other hand, when Cuomo responded by touting his development plans underway at LaGuardia Airport, he did not disclose the name change for the renovated facility.  Once again, as someone seeking to be an informed voter, the optics for “Hunger Games” seem pitiful.

How about those I LoveNY signs? They cost over $8 million much of which went to out-of-state vendors. This government initiative still faces a September 30 deadline for removal. The penalty is $14 million loss in federal highway funding for New York. Three headlines in my local paper tell the story of the Governor’s thinking:

NY’s Plan: Swap I Love NY Signs with Similar One by Jon Campbell (2/15/18)
I Love NY signs likely won’t come down by summer as promised by Jon Campbell (6/6/18)
Millions on Line in Spat over Signs by Chris Carola (8/7/18).

A Governor willing to risk $14 million in funding is not going to be swayed by 108,000 signatures on a petition to change the name of a bridge.

One last headline:

Cuomo Had the MTA Waste $30M on Tunnel Vanity Project by Danielle Furfaro, Lois Weiss and Nolan Hicks (New York Post, 7/22/18).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the cash-strapped MTA to waste as much as $30 million on his latest vanity project — retiling two city tunnels in the state’s blue-and-gold color scheme — instead of using the dough for desperately needed subway repairs, The Post has learned.

The boondoggle began soon after the taxpayer-funded agency ordered white tiles to reline the Brooklyn-Battery and Queens Midtown tunnels after Superstorm Sandy, documents show.

The governor got wind of the plan — and insisted that the cash-strapped transit agency add stripes of blue and gold, thinking nothing of the additional $20 million to $30 million cost, according to sources and project documentation.

Is there a commonality to these government actions?

Instead of considering the Path through History in isolation from the other initiatives…

Instead of considering the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in isolation from the other initiatives…

look at all these other projects together. Maybe it should be no surprise that the Path through History project failed or that vanity trumped history with the renaming of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

REDC Funding Cycle Begins: Start Your Cultural Heritage Tourism Proposals

U.S. Civil Rights Trail (

It’s that time of the year again. It is time to start preparing your proposals for the 2018 version of Hunger Games (see REDC: Funding “Hunger Games” Where History Is the Loser). However this time, I suggest the history community try something different.

To begin with, as a resident of the Hudson Valley, I received a notice of an upcoming public meeting on April 26 by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC). The meeting was to be held at Resorts World Catskills in Monticello. That was a bit far to drive for a one-hour meeting so I passed. The location is significant. As we all know casinos are the saviors of the upstate New York economy. Each and every one which has opened has done blockbuster business in excess of expectations and transformed the surrounding region. Putting aside the alternate reality facts that are so in vogue these days, and back in the real world, there is an important lesson to be learned from casinos. They reflect the mindset of the people in power who make decisions about the allocation of funds in the current cycle. The importance to the REDC of history and civics for the benefit of the social fabric and for creating healthy communities where people would want to live and establish business is nil.

So let’s talk dollars and cents. To begin with there will be $750 million in state economic development resources available to fund regional economic development projects through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process. Using my region as an example, there will workshops and information sessions scattered throughout the region from the opening of the application process on May 1 (now passed) to the close on July 27 at 4:00 PM.

Again, using my region as an example, resources are available on the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council’s website ( and similar urls exist for the other regions. The resources of importance are:

Typically the history community applies for funding for their own organization and to state entitles like NYSCA and NYSOPRHP. By all means, continue to do so. In this post, I would like to suggest something bigger involving collaboration and cooperation.

Earlier this year I wrote about the Civil Rights Trail which opened on January 1, 2018 (The Confederacy Trumps New York on Civil Rights Tourism). The Trail now includes 114 locations in 14 states in the South. The project was initiated by the southern equivalents of the New York REDC. Those REDC’s decided developing and promoting cultural heritage tourism was beneficial AND PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTHS WERE. They didn’t simply talk the talk of cooperation and collaboration, they walked the walk. Teams were created combining the history community, scholars, and the state tourist departments to develop paths through civil rights history for tourists to actually use. Alabama took a leadership roles. I realize what I just wrote may sound like science fiction or a glimpse into an alternate reality based on the New York experience, but I assure you it all happened in the real world…and I am still delusional enough to think it can happen here.

Since I wrote about the Civil Rights Trail there have been some new developments. The Trail was featured in the Sunday Travel section of the New York Times (4/29/18). According to Lee Sentell, the director of the Alabama tourism department and who oversees the Trail, they expect visitation of 5 million people this calendar year. Just to make sure you read the number correctly that is 5,000,000. That’s a lot of people. The estimated tourist spending from the Trail is $725 million, that’s $725,000,000. That’s a lot of money. Puts the path through History to shame. Do you think New York will ever catch up to Alabama?

One of the overarching goals was to link together a whole host of historic sites instead of having each one fend for itself. As Sentell said:

The whole purpose is to elevate this group of mostly modest locations, churches and schools where significant events in American history happened, that for the most part have not had a great deal of local support.

Remember when cooperation and collaboration were the buzz words of the Path through History project except there was no funding to actually cooperate and collaborate?

South Carolina added a twist to the Trail by creating in 2017 a site for the Negro Green Book. This compilation was discussed in some political posts I wrote which I don’t send to the history community (see Negroes and the American Dream: Hidden Figures, Open Dreams).  In effect it served as the AAA from 1936 to 1966 listing where it was safe for Negroes to lodge throughout the country. It ceased around the same time as Negro was replaced by African-American.  The South Carolina website created by the African-American Heritage Commission contains over 300 locations. It also has suggested tours by various topics so you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. Here in New York we have the Amistad Commission (see The New York State Amistad Commission: Do Black Lives Matter?) and the Path through History. Do you think New York will ever catch up to South Carolina and Alabama?

The article also mentioned two tour groups. I presume as part of the unrolling of the Civil Rights Trail there were some familiarization tours. One of the two tour companies mentioned specializes in custom itineraries. Do we have such tour operators who create custom itineraries based on the themes in the Path through History?

The other tour operator was Road Scholar. When the Path project began, the Hudson Valley region first met on January 25, 2013 (see A Fork In The Path Through History). The attendees, myself included, were asked to benchmark what they would like to see as a model for how the Path project should operate. The answer was Elderhostel. Since I “borrowed” the terms “Teacherhostel” and “Historyhostel” from that organization, I was quite pleased to hear that the history community supported programs like the ones I was doing mainly for teachers: multiday programs to multiple historic sites that combined talks, walks, and tours.

Years later, Elderhostel changed its name but not its programs. Here are some of the New York programs which could be considered Paths through History:

Historic Mansions on the Hudson River (The Warwick Conference Center)

Go back in the past to explore the tasteful but opulent grandeur of the Hudson River mansions that belonged to America’s wealthiest families of the Gilded Age. With historians and local experts, explore the grounds, houses and gardens of six mansions, including prominent wealthy names such as Rockefeller, Livingston, Vanderbilt, Roosevelt, Gould and Mills. Journey up and down the beautiful Hudson River Valley, and learn the story of these families and relive the culture of the Gilded Age with artful instruction by local experts.

The Roosevelts: The Life and Legacy of Franklin and Eleanor (Mount Saint Mary College)

Dive deep into the world of the Roosevelts as you visit their Hudson Valley home, attend lectures at the FDR Presidential Library and discover their haunts along the Hudson River.

The Hudson River Valley: A Landscape That Defined America (Mount Saint Mary College)

The Hudson River Valley has been called the landscape that defined America. Join us to explore its nationally significant cultural and historic heritage with expert background presentations and field trips to iconic sites such as New Paltz’s historic Huguenot Street, one of the nation’s oldest, featuring seven unique stone houses dating to the early 1700s, a burial ground and a reconstructed 1717 stone church.

Iroquois Culture: Yesterday and Today (Watson Homestead Conference & Retreat Center)

The Iroquois Confederacy, established in the 1400s, united warring Indian nations and established peace in fertile glaciated valleys and mountains of upstate New York. Learn about the legacy of this remarkable culture as you meet members of the Iroquois community and embark on field trips to important sites in Iroquois history. Journey to Ganondagan State Historic Site for presentations by Iroquois educators on their history and culture, and gain a new perspective on Iroquois influences in American representational governance and environmental stewardship.

These examples show it is possible to create Path through History tourism at least for one college and some conference centers.

So here are my recommendations for funding requests by you for this year.

Apply for funding to I LoveNY through its $15 million Marketing NY bucket in the REDC.

Apply for funding to replicate what the South did for its Civil Rights Trail. For example, in the Mid-Hudson Region, the application could be for the American Revolution in the Hudson Valley or Hudson River Art. There is no provision for statewide grants so it is not possible to apply for funding for the American Revolution in New York; each region would have to apply on its own. Pick a theme that works for you.

Apply for funding in partnership with TPA/County Tourism Department or with the TPAs of your region as appropriate.

Apply for funding in partnership with a college in your county and/or region which can assist in the research but leave open the option to draw on scholars from outside your geographical area.

Apply for funding to conduct familiarization tours with tour operators once the sites are identified and possible itineraries are created.

Apply for funding to develop the website, apps, and promotional materials needed to make the path/trail/route work.

Apply for real money. This means someone and/or organization needs to take the lead and needs to make the case to the regional committee that after five and half years of the Path through History project it’s time for New York to get serious and catch up to Alabama.

The Confederacy Trumps New York on Civil Rights Tourism

U.S. Civil Rights Trail

The South shall rise again. What can dysfunctional New York learn from the South on Civil Rights tourism?

By coincidence just prior to the awarding of the grants for 2017, a problem with the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) funding process was exposed in an article in the Travel Section of the Sunday New York Times (12/3/17). The problem directly relates to the shortcomings of the Empire State Development on precisely those two areas near and dear to the history community: funding and history tourism. The article is entitled “New Civil Rights Trails in Both South and North.” It describes the process whereby representatives from southern state tourism departments met two years ago at Georgia State University to begin the creation of what is called the nation’s first civil rights trail.

As part of that process, Lee Sentell, the Alabama state tourism director, noted that while many civil rights sites were thriving they were not connected to each other.

“No one had even done an inventory of civil rights landmarks. They saw themselves as one-offs and didn’t realize they were part of a network.”

If this sounds like exactly what the Underground Railroad sites in New York are going through today, it is because it is. Of course, the same could be said for American Revolution sites in the state, or War of 1812 sites, the Dutch sites, or the immigration sites, or the sites related to any of the themes in the I LoveNY Path through History project.

Faced with this problem of the lack of connectivity, these southern tourist directors then decided to do something about the situation. They collaboratively and cooperatively acted together to promote cultural heritage tourism in the area of civil rights [did we do that?].

1. They drew on research experts at the university [did we do that?].

2. They created a map linking the sites they researched including directions of how to get from one site to another [did we do that?].

3. They planned to officially launch the US Civil Rights Trail on January 1, the anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln [and this in in the Confederacy! Did we publicly launch any individual paths through history?].

Four weeks later the launch date arrived and the trail is now up and running. The southern states chose the motto:

 What happened here changed the world.

4. The website will contain explanations of the importance of each site and feature interviews with relevant people to those sites [did we do that?].

5. The website will explain the connections as one site affects another [imagine knowing how one War of 1812 site relates to another!].

This website allows you to explore the destinations important to the Civil Rights Movement, as well as plan your journey to cities along the trail. On this site, you’ll find places to see and things to do at each destination. Plus, you’ll find in-depth explorations crafted to allow you to experience the destination or event in a more comprehensive way. Discover the trail. Discover the fight for civil rights. And make sure the true stories that changed history are never lost.

Some of these details resemble what the Path through History site does. But see how much more was accomplished in the grouping of sites such as those relating to Martin Luther King, Jr. or Emmett Till. See how the more detailed text provides a more enriching experience. The website is still new and naturally is experiencing growing pains but it is a conceptually more advanced model than New York chose to implement. One might wonder how is it that tourist people were able to develop a more meaningful website than one would expect from tourist experts.

The answer is quite simple. Contributing to this process was the cultural heritage consultant for the state department of economic development [we have marketing consultants but have you ever heard of a cultural heritage consultant or staff person in I LoveNY or the REDC? For a recent article on state spending of ads and to ad firms see $354 Million: How Much NY Spent on Tourism, Business Ads].

In other words, the tourist departments in the south realized that to develop a history-based website, they should consult with experts in history and not just spend money on marketing and advertising companies or erecting signs.

The NYT article did mention Black Heritage Tours in New York. It began operations in 2016. I met founder its Jennifer Tosch once at a presentation through a Dutch consulate program. Her Hudson Valley trip focuses on the Dutch-African experience. There was an I LoveNY familiarization tour for it. According to the website for 2018 there is a two-day tour Feb. 10-11. A full itinerary is not provided and the description of this February program is somewhat questionable:

Experience New York’s Fall Foliage starting in Harlem we’ll travel upstate through the Hudson River Valley to witness the brilliant transformation of the autumn leaves.

I suspect the description from a fall tour in 2017 was carried forward.

Imagine if New York was serious about wanting to promote its story in the Underground Railroad, what would it do? There is a grassroots effort with people like Judy Wellman, an annual conference in the Capital Region led by Paul and Mary Liz Stewart, and cultural heritage tour initiated by Lori Solomon of Akiba Travel. The next Underground Railroad conference will be March 8-10 in Albany but I don’t think tourism is part of the program.

This April will be the two-year anniversary of my post

The Underground Railroad in New York State: Black Lives Still Don’t Matter

The post examined the Freedom Trail established 1997, its defunct commission, and the various weird website links which have cropped up over the years. I ended in my usual delicate and tactful way that has endeared me to government officials:

There is more that could be written about the New York State Freedom Trail/Underground Railroad Heritage trail with its defunct commission, no staff, inadequate websites, and the lack of support for conferences, public forums, and teacher programs [as required by its formation] but the point should be clear. Unfunded, dysfunctional, silo organized history projects are standard operating procedure in New York State. Although black lives don’t matter in New York State history it’s not because the State is racist, it is because the State’s ineptitude occurs on an equal opportunity basis [i.e., all the themes identified in the Path through History].

So what has changed in the nearly two years since then? How come the South can get its act together on civil rights tourism and New York State can’t on any history theme? Perhaps our Governor who wants to be President should travel to the South to learn how state governments can promote cultural heritage tourism and apply that model not just in civil rights but in all the themes of the Path through History and in sites both upstate and downstate. After all, what happened here changed the world.

Is I LoveNY Familiar with Your Site?

Historic Fort Herkimer Church (Trekking Along the Erie Canal)

Sunday, August 27 – Tuesday, August 29, 2017

In an earlier post Irene to Irma: Six Years a Blogger, I referred to a Familiarization Tour in the Mohawk Valley in August six years after the Teacherhostel/Historyhostel that began my blogging career.  Back in March I wrote about some familiarization tours offered by I LoveNY immediately prior to the annual tourism convention held in Manhattan. In this post, I would to explain in more detail how a familiarization tour works and see what it means for the history community and your site.

The Central New York Familiarization tour is consistent with the I LoveNY terminology which ignores the cachet of the Mohawk Valley by making the name disappear. I wonder how many tour operators tout the splendor of the Central New York as a destination compared to the Mohawk Valley. But then again I am not an expert and I LoveNY is so there must be value in the term Central NY.

The familiarization tour consisted of 9 tour operators and 12 people. The customer base of the tour operators consists of adults, seniors, students /school/youth, international, corporate and convention. Some include shopping trips, casino trips, and reunions with some variation among individual organizations. A summary of the participants is provided below.

BK Charter Inc.   MD

We specialize in educational tours, convention shuttle service, federal and commercial contracts, corporate travel, airport transfers, vanpools, daily excursions, and any occasion.

Custom Tours & More VT

Our main business is receptive work into Vermont & the Northeast. Due to quality and uniqueness of service, outbound tours are now increasing. Our small firm is “HANDS-ON!” Customizations with no pre-packaging differentiate us from others.

Horizon Club Tours Buffalo

Horizon Club Tours is a full-service group travel and transportation management company offering customized and expanded services. We offer a diverse range of travel options designed to connect our guests with unique destinations and cultures, delivering experiences that are absolutely extraordinary. With our shared enjoyment for travel and sense of adventure, individuals, families and small to large groups rely on us to deliver a seamless travel experience that exceeds their expectations. Based in Buffalo, New York, we service all of Western and Central New York State, including inbound and outbound tours for Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Niagara Falls, and Southern Ontario.

Joe’s Personalized Travel Service Brooklyn

Creates and customizes Single-day and multi-day motorcoach trips for adults and seniors.

Landmark Tour and Cruises MA

Looking for hotels outside of NYC for an 80% senior customer clientele. Travels to Niagara Falls, Ontario (not NY), New York City, Finger Lakes, Saratoga, Long Island (winery tour), Catskills, Hudson Valley, and Cooperstown.  Packages include cultural (including history?), ecotours, events (festivals, parades), fall foliage, family, gaming, garden/floral, mystery, national parks.

Niagara Bound Tours Canada

Founded by a fifth-generation Canadian descendant of a fugitive slave from Kentucky with a personal interest in the history of fugitive slaves who came to Canada, in particular the Niagara area. The goal is to provide clients with a unique insight into the migration of Afro-Americans as they escaped slavery in the mid-19th century and settled in Southern Ontario, Canada. We create experiences that capture the essence of what was faced by those forced to flee the slave states, while also giving the historical perspective where local stories are told. The success of this Niagara Bound Tour is based upon our exemplary knowledge of the time period as it relates to the region, as well as tour content and customer service.

Northeast Unlimited Tours Inc. MA (Cancelled)

Solid Gold Travelers PA

Types of Tours: Cultural, History, General Sightseeing, Culinary, Special Events/Fairs/Festivals, Maritime, Cruises/Whale Watches, Religious Heritage/History, Soft Adventure, Amusement Parks, Casinos, Rail, Fall Foliage


Her customer base is seniors and the only New York destination at present is the city. She prefers mystery tours, performing arts, and out of the ordinary.

I can’t speak for how typical this grouping is for familiarization tours. There also can be more thematically-oriented tours rather than geographical ones. As one examines the itinerary for this tour, keep in mind that the tour is not a history-based one but may include history-related sites within the geographic area covered. In this case, the area is the counties of Chenango, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, and Oneida. In presenting the details of the tour, I omitted contact information, websites, and names that were provided in the package as well as social media references. The information combines material from two handouts for the tour.

Sunday Aug. 27th: Herkimer, Oneida, & Madison Counties

10:30-11:15am: Meet our FAM Tour team in the DoubleTree Hotel Utica lobby to register

11:30am SHARP: Depart DoubleTree Hotel Utica – Utica, NY (Oneida County):
Located in the foothills of the Adirondacks and the heart of Utica, NY, indulge in the elegance of the early 20th century while relishing the modern comforts of today.

20 minutes travel (15 miles)

12:00pm (approx.): Waterfront Grille – Herkimer, NY (LUNCH) (Herkimer County): Lunch will take place in the 1921 restored Historic Freight Terminal & museum featuring artifacts from the original Erie Canal. [Note – In the Teacherhostel, we ate here as well.]

30 minutes: Buffet lunch will take place in the 1921 restored Historic Freight Terminal
20 minutes: walk around museum featuring artifacts from the original Erie Canal.
10 minutes: bathroom and walk to Cruise. LEAVE TIME FOR BATHROOM

1:00-2:00 Erie Canal Cruises – Herkimer, NY (Herkimer County): Narrated cruise on the Lil Diamond to the Historic Fort Herkimer Church. Located in the Mohawk Valley, Erie Canal Cruises tour boats Lil’ Diamond II and Lil’ Diamond III are docked at Gems Along the Mohawk, the Official Mohawk Valley Visitor Center. See one of the Lil’ Diamond vessels for a fun and historically fascinating cruise, back to a time when the canal was just a vision; relax and enjoy.
Group is walking from Waterfront Grille to Erie Canal Cruises
Narrated cruise to the Historic Fort Herkimer Church and back– about 35 minutes

Indian Castle Church (

[Note – This is a little shorter than the standard tourist cruise. In the Teacherhostel we took the 90 minute cruise and stopped at the Church during the land portion. Before the next stop we also stopped at Indian Castle Church in Little Falls, part of the story of William Johnson and the Mohawks. Neither site is listed in the Path through History.]

Group will walk to where they were dropped off.

15 minutes travel (11 miles)

2:30-3:30 Herkimer Home State Historic Site – Herkimer, NY (Herkimer County): Historic narrated tour of General Herkimer’s 1762 mansion. Herkimer Home State Historic Site is a historic house museum in Herkimer County, NY. The site offers a picnic area, scenic views, a visitor center, tours, re-enactments, gardens, and hiking.

[Note – We missed this site in the Teacherhostel since the focus in the one week program was in Schenectady, Fulton, and Montgomery. We went to the other sites in Herkimer because I like to end the program with a cruise if possible. I scouted this site along with others for a follow-up program in Herkimer and Oneida but never was able to do it.]

Upon arrival at Herkimer Home, costumed docents will split the group:
Historic narrated tour of General Herkimer’s 1762 mansion (15-20 minutes)
There should be time for them to visit the museum and maybe even the cemetery–great historical site presenting what General Nicholas Herkimer did to help win the American Revolution in 1777 and how people lived in the 1700’s. This is a state Historic park and beautiful property located high above the Mohawk River. (15-20 minutes) Bathroom before departure – will be on the road for 1 hour. HAVE TO LEAVE HERE ON TIME!

1 hour travel (60 miles)

4:45-5:30 Wild Animal Park – Chittenango, NY (Madison County): A Keeper-talk through the park and feed the giraffe. The Wild Animal Park is a zoo that provides a unique opportunity for visitors to learn about a variety of animals. With a wide range of domestic and exotics animals from all over the world, it’s a great place for adventure, learning, and hours of family fun.
 Pull in to the main parking lot in front of the building, drop group and park.
Keeper talk, small feed cup and carrot stick to feed giraffe HAVE TO LEAVE HERE ON TIME!

30 minutes travel (16 miles)

6:00-6:45 The Critz Farms Brewing and Cider Company – Cazenovia, NY (Madison County): Hard cider and beer tasting with cheese & crackers followed by a sunset tour of the farm. Critz Farms specializes in the production of handcrafted hard ciders and farm brewed beers made in small batches from ingredients grown on the farm. A developing beer portfolio includes four to six styles that is consistently offered as well as unique small batches of experimental brews.

Pull in the main driveway (near the red barn) and unload in the first parking area at the side
of the blue building. Park in the back lot.
Hard cider and beer tasting with cheese & crackers followed by a sunset tour, if time allows.

35 minutes travel (23 miles)

7:30pm (approx.): Good Nature Farm Brewery & Tap Room – Hamilton, NY (DINNER) (Madison County): Tour one of New York State’s first farm breweries and enjoy dinner and a brew at the on-site restaurant. Good Nature, which is Madison County’s first brewery in 200 years, collaborates with local farmers, artists, & small businesses to celebrate all the region has to offer.

Drop off in front of building, park in rear (follow signs)

Tour one of New York State’s first farm breweries and enjoy dinner and a brew at their on-site restaurant.
Welcome, enjoy buffet dinner, tour the facility

40 minutes travel (30 miles)

9:30pm (approx.): Arrive to the DoubleTree Hotel Utica

This stop concluded Day 1 of the Central NY Familiarization Tour. While there was some history related stops, it is difficult to tell how much Mohawk Valley history might have been discussed during the course of the day. Themes which could have been highlighted included

1. The Palatines – General Herkimer was a Palatine and the settlement of these Germans in the Mohawk Valley is one storyline which could be told just as the Dutch in the Hudson Valley were in another familiarization tour. Let’s see what other Palatine sites were included in the remaining two days of the tour.

2. The American Revolution – General Herkimer participated in and was shot in the Battle of Oriskany. The fighting there and at Fort Stanwix in Rome stemmed the Burgoyne’s master plan to divide New York and the colonies with a western flank maneuver. Benedict Arnold was involved. The Oneida chose to support the Americans and fought against other Haudenosaunee who supported the British. In short there was a lot to present to tour operators interesting in promoting the Mohawk Valley experience. How much was presented at the stop at his house in Little Falls cannot be determined from this schedule. Let’s see if any of these topics were pursed in the remaining two days of the tour.

3. The Erie Canal – We have now begun the bicentennial of the building of the Erie Canal. As part of that effort, the bi-annual world canal conference was held in Syracuse in September. I LoveNY promoted that conference. Did it promote the Erie Canal as part of the familiarization tour? Let’s see what other canal sites were included in the remaining two days of the tour.

In Day 1 one the tour one glimpses the whirlwind experience of keeping to schedule at multiple sites linked only by geographical proximity. The remaining days will shed light on how if at all I LoveNY pulls all the sites together.

Show Me the Money: I LoveNY Funding

History Community to Albany

As part of the REDC funding, I LoveNY has the opportunity to award $13.5 million to applicants.  The description in the REDC awards booklet is:

Market New York is a grant program established to strengthen tourism and attract visitors to New York State by promoting destinations, attractions and special events. Funding is available for tourism marketing initiatives, capital/construction projects and the recruitment and/or execution of meetings, conferences, conventions, festivals, athletic competitions and consumer and industry trade shows.

 The awards enable the history community to see exactly where I LoveNY puts its money. We can “follow the money” and to determine what it actually does.  What the awards booklet does not show are the failed applications. It also does not list the applications never made because no one in the history community ever made them.

In this post and in subsequent posts, I will review the awards granted. I will start with I LoveNY since it should be the most important one for cultural heritage tourism. Future posts will examine other areas within the New York State bureaucracy to get a better state-wide view of what is being done. Because of the number of awards, even within I Love NY it will be necessary to complete multiple posts to see the full picture.

The awards are granted by region. For REDC purposes there are 10. Within each region, the awards are listed by county. Since regional identity is an important component in cultural heritage tourism, especially Paths through History, the regional structure will be followed in alphabetical order divided by county also in alphabetical order. Each listing will include the applicant, the project title, the description, and the amount awarded. For certain items, I may add some personal observations and comments in italics.


The Capital Region was awarded $83.1 million for 116 projects.


Albany Symphony Orchestra, Inc.
Water Music 2017
The Albany Symphony will use the funds to assist in development and promotion of the celebration of the July 4, 2017 Erie Canal Bicentennial with Water Music NY, a one-of-a-kind journey from Buffalo to Albany. Symphony musicians will travel the Canal by barge for 8 days, partnering with canal communities to create and perform new works by gifted NY composers.
Amount: $296,055

Erie Canalway Heritage Fund, Inc.
Erie Canal Water Trail
Funds will be used to support a project that will extend current water trail planning to the remainder of the Erie Canal system and to develop and produce a printed Water Trail Guide and Navigational Map Set, along with a mobile responsive website that will allow users to build travel itineraries that facilitate short day trips or more involved multi-day trips.
Amount: $182,936

Although this award is for a water-based trail, there are Path through History opportunities here. The Erie Canal itself is a heritage object about to start a bicentennial period from the beginning of its construction to its completion in 2025. The grant uses the terms “itineraries” and “multi-day trips.” As people well know on their own or from reading my posts there are no itineraries or multi-day paths on the path weekend over Father’s Day in June. This project has the potential to address the great failure of the Path project if it includes a history component. Where are the Erie Canal Paths through History?

Greenway Heritage Conservancy HRV, Inc.
Hudson River Sojourn
Grant funds will be used to develop and promote a new event, the Hudson River Sojourn, a multi-day kayaking trip between Albany and Manhattan for kayakers of varied abilities.
Amount: $100,000

Technically the Greenway serves the Hudson Valley region. Since its headquarters is in Albany County, it is listed here. Here again the term “multi-day” is used. The likelihood is that these water-projects will be more recreational oriented than cultural heritage tourism and the land component will be minimal. Of course, these two projects highlight the potential for cruise ships eventually operating multi-day trips with land stops on the Hudson just as is done in rivers throughout the country, islands in the Caribbean, and on the Hudson River itself two centuries ago.

The name most frequently associated the Greenway Heritage is Mark Castiglione, the one-time face of the Path through History project to the history community. He has moved on to become Executive Director of the Capital District Regional Planning Commission in Albany as of December. Mark was (and presumably still is) a good guy who knew the truth of the situation and faced severe staff cutbacks. Unfortunately his successor has chosen not to receive my posts so I now have lost contact with the Greenway.

Columbia – no awards in this category


Greene County
Greene County Mountain Bike Ride Center
Funds will be used to support the promotion of a Ride Center campaign, a first step to shift marketing efforts to a target segment of mountain biking day-trippers and overnight guests from the NYC metro and surrounding areas, as well as outside New York State.

The sequence of the presentation was not rigged by me but follows the alphabetical order for the region. Here again there is mention of overnight trips and here again it is recreational based. Perhaps as the review continues there actually be funding for a history-based multi-day trip with an itinerary.

Thomas Cole Historic House
Marketing New Cole Site Permanent Interpretive Exhibition
Grant funds will be used to assist in the development of interactive technology to infuse the historic rooms of Thomas Cole’s home tourism destination with spectacular audiovisual effects, and will tell one of American history’s greatest stories using methods designed for the next generation of visitors.
Amount: $165,000

At last we have an actual historic site. As such, it suffers from many of the problems common to historic sites. It was built as a house and not as a museum for tourists. At the Teaching Hudson Valley conference last July, we were informed of the plans for building a visitor center. The construction of one would be a great leap forward. I have been to the site on my own and with teachers including from out-of-state on a Teaching America program meaning people who stay in motels and generate revenue. Where is the funding for a Hudson River Art Path through History?


Brown’s Brewing Company
Brown’s Brewery Sustainable Development
Funds will be used to support a portion of the costs of constructing a new addition on the west side of the building to house an elevator shaft and elevator in order to create universal access to the basement, ground floor, and upper two floors.
Amount: $107,450

Greenway Heritage Conservancy HRV, Inc.
Hudson River Train Mobile Tour App
Grant funds will be used to create a hybrid app that will provide passengers on Amtrak and Metro-North’s Hudson River line trains a guided tour of the region’s history, scenery and natural resources right outside their window.
Amount: $100,000

From the description of the app, it sounds as if people will have the opportunity to use their cell phones but not to actually stop at the various Amtrak and Metro-North train stations the way cruise ships dock and provide land tours. For example, when I take the train from Croton-Harmon to Albany, now I would have an app to describe Bannerman’s Castle in the Hudson River without stopping in Beacon. The National Park Service offers a tour of the Roosevelt sites tied into the Amtrak stop at Poughkeepsie but there is no indication here that people are expected to stop at Hudson, for example, and visit the Thomas Cole Historic House, Olana State Historic Site, or Hudson, the new Brooklyn, as part of a more extended. One wonders why funding for an app is so easy while funding for actual tours where people would spend money is non-existent.

Tri-City ValleyCats
Capital Region All-Star Event
The Tri-City Valley Cats will use the grant funds to host the NY-Penn League All-Star Baseball Game, a 2-day premier sporting event that will attract visitors both statewide and nationally.
Amount: $135,000

Saratoga – no awards in this category

Schenectady – no awards in this category

Warren – no awards in this category


Hubbard Hall Projects, Inc.
Marketing Washington County Arts
Grant funds will be used to create Phase II of the Washington County Arts Marketing Campaign and Festival in 2017, in order to raise the profile of the Washington County region and attract new visitors and residents alike, aimed at drawing those interested in the higher quality of life available in Washington County.
Amount: $15,000


Central New York was awarded $62.2 million for 77 projects. We kid a lot about Upstate and Downstate, but does anyone outside a state bureaucracy even know where central New York is? Has anyone ever developed a marketing strategy based on the name “Central New York”? Someone worked very hard to separate the counties in central New York from the Finger Lakes or Mohawk Valley regions.

Cayuga – no awards in this category


Cortland Downtown Partnership SKI 2 Cortland
SKI 2 Cortland will continue to enhance and promote the advancement of the snowsport industry of the Central New York region by expanding its current program to bolster regional economic impact by encouraging the frequency and duration of destination stays and will also support a new special multi-day event to further increase visitation.
Amount: $60,000

Madison – no awards in this category


County of Onondaga
Oncenter Convention Center Enhancements
Funds will be used to assist with upgrades and enhancements to the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center. This is one of the larger individual awards.
Amount: $975,000

New York State Rhythm and Blues Festival, Inc.
25th New York State Blues Festival
Funds will be used to expand the current marketing plan and building the temporary infrastructure for the NYS Blues Festival, attracting visitors from across the United States and from around the globe.
Amount: $30,000

Oswego – no awards in this category

The review will continue with the Finger Lakes Region in a subsequent post. My initial impressions are recreation comes first, technology is a magic buzzword, and standalone projects for an individual site or community are what is favored. Let’s see if these observations hold up in the remaining I LoveNY awards.

Signs of the Times: Follow the Money and Not the Cuomo versus Federal Government Showdown

Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau , Gannett

On November 2, Jon Campbell , the Albany correspondent for Gannet, reported in the Poughkeepsie Journal under the byline Politics on the Hudson on an exciting new tourist development in our dysfunctional state.  According to his report, Cuomo had the Department of Transportation (DOT) install “514 highway signs touting its tourism programs despite a federal ruling explicitly prohibiting the state from doing so.”

The investigation, through parent company USA Today, documented that the “Federal Highway Administration has repeatedly notified Cuomo’s administration over the past three years that the signs violate federal and state law, which contain strict rules for what can and cannot be displayed on major roadways.”

New York had submitted a formal request to the Federal Highway Administration on May 31, 2013, asking to experiment with the new type of highway signs to boost the state’s tourism programs. The response was remarkably quick, brief, and succinct. Mark Kehrli, director of the federal Office of Transportation Operations, issued an official ruling to the state two weeks later: “Your request is hereby denied.”

Despite the Fed rejection, in his State of the State address in 2014, the Governor said:

We are going to launch a whole new signage campaign on our roads, promoting the assets of New York, organized into three campaigns. The path through history campaign, the I love New York attraction campaign and the taste of New York Food and Beverages. You will see these signs on the roads literally in the next few days. These campaigns link online to all those attractions in that particular area, all along the thruway and all along major routes. The goal is to get people who are on the roads off the roads and into communities and fostering and promoting the economy of the state of New York.

And that is exactly what New York did.  The signs are generally in packs of 5, separated by 400 feet: a “motherboard” touts the “New York Experience” followed by four signs touting individual state tourism programs like Taste NY and Path through History. The Federal Highway Administration repeatedly said “No” and New York determinedly said “Yes” and installed them. Done deal.

According to the article, in a statement that week, state DOT spokesman Gary Holmes contended the signs fully comply with the law. He also reported that the cost of the signs and posts — not including the labor to install them — was $1.76 million between the DOT and the Thruway Authority.

“We view them as a critical element in a coordinated strategic program to promote the state’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry. We continue to work with FHWA to ensure any questions are answered.”

Cuomo himself then joined the fray. He pointed out the state has an app that allows visitors to track what attractions are near them.

Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau, Gannett
Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau, Gannett

“We’re trying to capture those people who travel through New York and say, ‘See something while you’re here. Spend some of your money while you’re in upstate New York,’” he told reporters in Rochester.

Campbell’s article reports a successful effort in Suffolk to reduce the number of these signs. They were too big and out-of-place for the local flavor the Montauk community was trying to promote for its tourism.

The saga continues.

On November 8, Campbell, the same reporter, quoted Acting Executive Director Bill Finch of the Thruway Authority asserting that the signs follow “the spirit of the law.” Finch contrasted the “letter of the law” with the “spirit of the law” and challenged the Federal Highway Administration to update its standards.

The Federal Highway Administration is questioning whether a series of new highway rest stops in New York -- including this one on Long Island -- comply with federal law. (Photo: (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)
(Photo: (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

On November 14, Campbell reported that the Federal Highway Administration had questioned 10 newly-opened or proposed rest areas as not being in compliance with the virtually total ban on commercial activity on rest stops on the Interstate Highways. As if that would matter to New York State…. Do you really think the Federal Government will withhold any of the $1.7 billion federal funding for New York’s transportation infrastructure. Calling the Federal Highway Administration’s bluff is a no-brainer.

On November 30, the New York Times entered the battle. It reported a meeting would be held in December to attempt to resolve the dispute which had been festering for years. It also noted an issue had been raised over the increased driving fatalities due to distracted drivers. Trying to read the information on the motherboard sign touting multiple state attractions at 65+ mph certainly would qualify as a distraction.

The article went on quote a State Legislator from Suffolk on the situation there previously mentioned.

“They were really so out of character with the small communities and two-lane highways that they actually worked against the reason why people come to the East End to begin with,” said Fred W. Thiele Jr., a New York assemblyman who represents the area and who fought to have the signs removed. “We’ve spent literally a billion dollars protecting small villages and scenic vistas and all of that, and putting up eight giant billboards wasn’t really promoting those very scenic features.”

So not long after the signs were erected, cherry pickers showed up and took down seven of them. Mr. Thiele, a member of the Independence Party, hopes the remaining blue sign, at the intersection of West Lake Drive and Flamingo Avenue, is next.

“Quite frankly, we kind of felt that not only were they inappropriate,” he said, “but it was really kind of a boondoggle.”

The next day, the New York Post editorial board expressed it’s concern. It did so in response to an article the previous day by one of its reporters. That article ridiculed the hiring an Arkansas company to promote New York products as Campbell had reported on November 18.

“I find it ironic that a company from Arkansas was paid to work on a project helping to promote New York State products,” said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica). “It’s simply a bad sign when New York picks Arkansas for a project promoting our state.”

The Post provided a reason for this outreach to Arkansas:

The state hired an Arkansas company to make hundreds of highway signs promoting New York because Gov. Cuomo wanted them up by the July 4th holiday and the Department of Transportation couldn’t meet his deadline, sources told The Post.

Members of Cuomo’s executive staff were so hot to get the signs ready for holiday travelers, they told state transportation employees to do “whatever it took to erect the signs,” sources said.

DOT denies the charge.

Federal Highway Administration spokesman Neil Gaffney said,

“We have been clear with NYSDOT that its tourism-related signs are out of compliance with federal law and create a safety concern. A particular area of concern for us is that fact that we are committed to reducing scenarios involving distracted driving, and these signs can distract drivers. We will specifically discuss how these signs violate national standards and a plan to bring the State into compliance [at the upcoming meeting],”

The Post editorial following this article mocked these developments.

Call it a Gov. Cuomo classic: Order 500 signs to plug New York on state highways — never mind if they’re made outside New York. Or if posting them is even legal.

[Instead of “ironic” as Assemblyman Brindisi said, the Post had] We’d call it bizarre — and telling.
Let’s face it: With Cuomo, it’s damn the details, full speed ahead.…
Sure, sometimes speed counts. But in Cuomo’s case, his haste is mostly meant to promote him. And, alas, there’s no, uh, sign that’ll change any time soon.

On December 2, in this ongoing story, Campbell reported based again on FOIL documents that Federal Highway Administration had offered New York State a deal two years to resolve the issue. The proposal was ignored. Apparently the State’s position is “My way or the highway!” The headlines present an interesting insight into newspaper reporting. The printed edition in my local paper says “State turned down deal on NY signs.” When I looked online to obtain the url for the post the headline was

State rebuffed feds’ olive branch on ‘I Love NY’ signs

The original headline appears to better capture the position of the State then the nondescript printed edition.What do these signs mean of New York State history tourism?

1. Notice the July 4 deadline for the sign installation, the traditional beginning of the summer tourism season. Nobody rushed to install the signs before the Path through History weekend in June which is supposed to promote tourism as Cuomo has said in multiple State of the State addresses and at the Path kickoff in 2012. That’s because everyone knows the Path through History has nothing to do with tourism and is a joke and embarrassment.

2. Notice the reference to the app with New York State tourism that out-of-state tourists can use while driving through New York. Exactly how many people driving on the interstate thruways in New York at 65+ mph are going to make a sudden, impromptu, ad hoc decision to interrupt their journeys to stop and visit an historic site, especially one not right at the exit? Aren’t people supposed to use the Path through History website to plan their itinerary before they leave for New York? Do state spokespeople even think about what they are saying before they say it or are they so secure inside the Albany-Manhattan bubble that they can say millions of people voted illegally in the presidential election and get away with it?

3. Where did the money come from? Cuomo just decided he wanted to spend $1.8 million plus labor and the DOT found the money! He certainly didn’t go through the REDC funding process.

When the Triangle Fire Coalition needed $1.5 million to build a memorial, Cuomo found the money in 2015. I think we can all agree that it was for a worthy cause. When Cuomo described the reasons for his action, he did mention tourism. But he spoke more about the civic benefits, the educational benefits, and reviving faded memories that are part of the social fabric. Isn’t that the very case the history community makes for the benefits of local and state history in the classroom and in the communities throughout the state? Why isn’t Cuomo making this case for local and state history statewide instead of piecemeal? Why can’t he understand that?

And where did he get the money? From economic development funds…and without having to go through the REDC funding application process.

And when the Marydell Sisters in Upper Nyack, in Rockland County, chose to sell 30 acres to a trust rather than let developers purchase it, who stepped in to aid in the financial arrangements? The NYSOPRHP for $2.1 million and the Mid-Hudson REDC for $450,000.

At the Region 7 meeting of the Association of Public Historians in New York State held November 5 in Schoharie, a participant asked State Historian Devin Lander about funding for historical societies and museums. Once upon a time there had been member items but they have been eliminated by the State. Now where does a small non-profit turn? The requested amounts are often in the $10,000 or less range [less than one of the new road signs although we didn’t know it at the time].  The amounts are too small to be considered in the REDC process so the result is these local non-profit history organization located throughout the state are bereft of state support.

The title of this post says “follow the money.” The brouhaha between the Federal and State governments eventually will be resolved. What is more important for the history community is to recognize that funding is available when the Governor and/or the REDCs want it be. There is no funding for the history community as a separate bucket with the REDC funding application process that could replace the member items or provide for anniversary celebrations or build memorials. Instead we get foreign signs that provide no more benefit to the history community than the failed Path through History project. The Triangle Fire Memorial shows that Cuomo does understand the civic benefit of history but he has yet to realize it on a statewide basis and put our tax money where his mouth is.