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Major Milestones Make 2017 a Great Year to Explore New York State

June 3, 2017 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

Come and celebrate once-in-a-lifetime milestones across New York State in 2017, an exciting year for locals and visitors alike. Meeting costumed interpreters, testing your skills at hands-on exhibits and taking part in historic re-enactments are just a few of the special activities that will help bring the Empire State’s storied history to life. Among the most notable anniversaries are the bicentennial of the Erie Canal, the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in New York, the centennial of U.S. involvement in World War I and the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth. For the latest information on events, stay tuned to www.iloveny.com/milestones. Here’s a sampling of the special celebrations this year:

Buffalo New york

Meet a mule named Sal on the Erie Canal: This summer marks the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal. An engineering marvel for its time, the canal project created a super highway from New York City to the developing American West and stimulated trade, exploration and invention. The canal system forms an inland waterway spanning upstate New York, flowing past nearly 200 villages, hamlets and towns. Today, the canals mostly serve recreational ships, from fishing skiffs and kayaks to historic canal boats, and the barge-towing mules that once trod the canal-side trails have been replaced by walkers, bicyclists and, in winter, cross-country skiers.

The Erie Canal Bicentennial Celebration will be held at Bellamy Harbor Park in Rome on July 22, the starting point for construction of the original 363-mile canal system. The all-day event will feature a first-dig re-enactment, an arts and crafts fair, concerts and fireworks.

Other towns established along the canals continue to blossom with annual festivals, living history re-enactments and hands-on museums that celebrate the canal’s bicentennial and the region’s rich past:

  • The Albany Symphony Orchestra will bring “WaterMusicNY,” a series of unique musical celebrations of the historic waterway, to communities beginning in Albany on July 2.
  • The Seneca Falls Museum of Waterways and Industry in the Finger Lakes shows how the opening of this vital trade route helped foster social reform movements, including women’s rights. Nearby, you can catch the fireworks during Canal Fest on July 7-9. Kids can pose with Sal the Mule at this year’s LocktoberFest on September 30.
  • The Corning Museum of Glass will sponsor a special GlassBarge, a watercraft that will bring the story of glassmaking as well as demonstrations to waterfront communities in the state beginning in the summer of 2017
  • The Erie Canal path plays host year-round to several museums and historical sites which bring the rich history of the canal to life.
  • The Canastota Canal Town Museum highlights the canal history and engineering achievements, while others like the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum let visitors step back in time to experience life on the canal as it used to be.
  • Syracuse will host the annual World Canals Conference from September 24 – 28, an international event which attracts canal professionals, tourism experts, academics and canal enthusiasts and boaters from around the world. Syracuse also is home to the Erie Canal Museum, located in the only remaining weighlock building in America, where year-round interactive displays and artifacts tell the story of the canal’s development and the creativity and new inventions that made it possible.
  • A new Erie Canal exhibit, “New York’s Erie Canal: Gateway to a Nation,” will open this fall at the New York State Museum in Albany.
  • In the Greater Niagara region, Canalside Buffalo offers a calendar full of fun festivals featuring live music, artisans, food and kid-friendly activities.
  • In Lockport, the Erie Canal Discovery Center and Flight of Five Locks invites visitors to witness canal-lock physics in action. In addition, the Kenan Center, celebrating its 50th anniversary, will have a special exhibition of Erie Canal photographs.
  • A new Erie Canal exhibit, “New York’s Erie Canal: Gateway to a Nation,” will open this fall at the New York State Museum in Albany.

To learn more about New York’s canal heritage and bicentennial events, visit: I LOVE NEW YORK (https://www.iloveny.com/articles/view/discovering-a-ditch-that-changed-a-nation/764/#.WH2NBlwjYno); New York State Canal Corporation (http://www.canals.ny.gov); and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor (http://eriecanalway.org).

Women Get the Vote. Poised at the crossroads of commerce and ideas, New York was home to Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Matilda Joslyn Gage and other leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. In fact, the nation’s first women’s rights convention took place in Seneca Falls in 1848. The gathering drew up a “Declaration of Sentiments” stating that “all men and women are created equal” and demanded, among other things, that women have the right to vote. However, it wasn’t until 69 years later, on November 6, 1917, that women won the right to vote in New York State; it would be another three years before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting suffrage to women across the U.S.

Many of these women’s rights pioneers’ homes and meeting places have been converted into museums and working centers for the on-going effort supporting women’s equality and civil rights. The Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls still reverberates with the thrill of that first women’s rights convention in the home of leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the McClintock home, where the convention was planned and the Wesleyan Chapel, where the convention met. The historic connection is especially strong during Convention Days in Seneca Falls, an annual three-day event, this year held July 14-16, 2017 that continues to build on the ideas of the 1848 convention. In Rochester, the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House focuses on the life of this legendary civil rights leader, arrested in 1872 for daring to vote. Her spirit lives on in its programs, which aim to help people to make positive differences in their lives and communities.

An 1852 national women’s rights convention, held in Syracuse, brought another passionate leader into the movement, as visitors learn at the home-turned-museum of Matilda Joslyn Gage in Fayetteville, about 15 minutes from downtown Syracuse. Gage, along with Anthony and Stanton, was a founding member of the National Woman Suffrage Association. The museum looks at Gage’s work and strives to focus attention on current social justice issues. Shakers were also early proponents of women’s rights and suffrage and the Shaker Museum/Mount Lebanon, in partnership with Bard College at Simon’s Rock, will be presenting a special exhibition, walking tour and public and academic programs this year in honor of the centennial.

One of the biggest and most exciting celebrations of the women’s suffrage centennial is VoteTilla, July 16 – 22, 2017. Participants will travel in canal boats from Seneca Falls to Rochester, where VoteTilla Week will conclude with a final celebration at the Susan B. Anthony Museum, which is spearheading the celebration. Along the way, boats will dock at towns and villages for historic re-enactments, theatrical performances, speeches, music, crafts, food and good fun, co-hosted by local groups and partner organizations such as the Canal Society of New York State, Seward House and the University of Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership. While in Rochester, visitors can stop by the Central Library of Rochester, which will be honoring the centennial with an exhibit titled “Because of Women Like Her,” a collaboration between a number of partners including local museums and colleges that aims to draw visitors into the history and its contemporary implications.

Of course, the struggle for women’s and civil rights wasn’t limited to the suffrage movement. The Eleanor Roosevelt National Park in Hyde Park, National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls and Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum in Jamestown are just of few of the important women’s rights sites across the state. Information on these, as well as other important historical sites connected to New York’s leading role in the fight for racial and LGBT equality and justice are available at paththroughhistory.com.

New York State has also established a 14-member Women’s Suffrage Commission, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who will execute a series of programs between 2017 and 2020, which marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment. The new Women’s Suffrage Commission website (www.ny.gov/suffrage) provides information about upcoming events across the state, profiles of New York suffragists and takes visitors on a tour of New York’s historic destinations relevant to the suffrage movement and women’s rights.

Happy Birthday from Buffalo, Frank Lloyd Wright! This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of acclaimed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. With its strong architectural history, including significant Wright designs, Buffalo has reason to celebrate. Buffalo is home to Wright’s first significant projects outside the Midwest, both commissioned by Darwin D. Martin. These include the Larkin Building that has since been demolished, and the Darwin D. Martin House, one of the finest examples of Wright’s signature Prairie-style architecture.  Following a $50 million restoration, this complex of six connected buildings is now a museum where Wright’s genius comes into focus on docent-led tours that articulate the angular lines, decorative glass and other details that define Wright’s nature-inspired vision. Wright also designed a later commission for Darwin Martin’s wife known as Graycliff, the family’s summer home overlooking Lake Erie.

Launching on June 5th, Martin House and Graycliff will present a week-long series of events leading up to the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth on June 8. Entitled “150 Hours of Frank Lloyd Wright in Buffalo,” the celebration of Wright’s legacy will include lectures, musical performances and outdoor events. The programming is designed for guests of all ages and levels of interest. It ranges from a 1920s-inspired road trip from the Martin House to the Graycliff estate to a day of family-oriented festivities on the Martin House grounds, where young minds can interpret Wright’s influence through activities centered on design, architecture, and landscape.

In addition to these two significant Wright sites, several unbuilt projects from Wright have been realized in Buffalo in recent years, including the Blue Sky Mausoleum, located in the historic Forest Lawn Cemetery. While designed by Wright, it was actually constructed in 2004 in conjunction with one of Wright’s apprentices. Two other posthumous projects can also be visited: the Fontana Boathouse, built in 2007 based on Wright’s original 1905 plan, and the Buffalo Filling Station, built in 2002 to realize a 1927 Wright design. Two other Wright-designed Buffalo residences are still in use as private homes. Those who want to see all his publicly accessible works can take the All Wright, All Day Trolley Tour. (www.darwinmartinhouse.org and www.graycliffestate.org)

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City will also be honoring the Wright anniversary with a special exhibition, “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archives,” from June 12 to October 1, 2017.  More than 450 architectural drawings, models, films and other works, many rarely or never exhibited, will be organized with an eye towards inspiring thoughtful discussion about Wright’s groundbreaking use of materials, technology and construction systems and his theories on nature, urban planning and social politics. www.moma.org

Braving the Great War. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I and New Yorkers played many pivotal roles. One in ten American military personnel in WWI hailed from New York, more than any other state, and more than 13,000 New Yorkers died in service to their country during the conflict. In fact, New York sent some of the bravest and most recognized regiments, including the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” the first African-American regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces, and the “Fighting 69th” Infantry Regiment. Famous New Yorkers in active service during WWI included Irving Berlin, who served in the Army by writing patriotic music; Humphrey Bogart, who joined the Navy; and Father Duffy, one of the most beloved and decorated Army chaplains. From war diaries and weapons to actual “dogfight” flying demonstrations, exhibits are being mounted across the state to shine a light on the state’s many roles in WWI.

There is an impressive roster of special exhibitions commemorating the centennial throughout the state:

  • A tank and staff car, communications equipment and the artillery piece that fired the first U.S. shot in the war are among the items on display at the West Point Museum at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The museum, which has the oldest and largest public collection of military artifacts in the western hemisphere, also has exhibits on American Wars, History of the U.S. Army and History of Warfare.
  • Those interested in the Harlem Hellfighters and New York’s 27th Division can also check out New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs. Located in an historic armory, the museum has over 10,000 artifacts relating WWI, WWII and New York military force and veterans throughout the state’s history.
  • The Navy’s role is the focus at the Brooklyn Naval Yard and Commandant’s House. It was a hub of activity during the run-up to World War I, building submarine chasers and repurposing German commercial ships seized during the War. Guided tours of the yard include a dry dock in use since before the Civil War, the former Navy hospital campus and an interactive museum.
  • Long Island, which has played an important role in the aerospace industry, was a major training ground for aviators during World War I, and the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City features a WWI gallery featuring early biplanes, along with other air and spacecraft.
  • The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome is a living museum of antique aviation with one of the largest collections in the world as well as automobiles, motorcycles, early engines and memorabilia spanning the period from 1900 to 1939. During weekend air shows, Saturdays feature pioneer, World War I and Lindbergh era aircraft, and Sundays demonstrate a World War I dogfight and barnstorming aircraft.
  • An extraordinary collection of WWI posters is part of the draw at a special exhibit is being mounted in honor of the WWI centennial at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. Slated to run from November, 2017 through spring, 2019, “Buffalo Never Fails: The Queen City and WWI” is a major collection-based exhibition exploring the region’s contributions to the war effort. Among the items on display will be a war diary by a local soldier, war pamphlets and materials about the sinking of the Lusitania.
  • The New York State Museum in Albany is also producing a special exhibition for the centennial. Running from April, 2017 through June, 2018, “A Spirit of Sacrifice: New York State in the First World War” will use iconic artifacts from museums, libraries and historical societies across the state to tell the story of how New York State outpaced other states in supplying men, money and material to the American war effort in WWI.
  • In Schenectady, the County Historical Society is offering “Together Until the End: Schenectady in World War I,” an exhibition commemorating the Great War’s effect on Schenectady and its people, complemented by programs and films throughout the year.
  • Stories of heroism inspire visitors at the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor. Here, exhibits chronicle the changing nature of warfare and combatants through images, artifacts and personal narratives of individual Purple Heart recipients. There’s also a visual timeline of America’s 20th and 21st century conflicts from World War I through today, complemented by an interactive display.
  • At Staatsburgh State Historic Site, formerly the grand estate of the Mills family, a new tour examines the war’s effect on Gilded Age millionaires. The “World War I and the End of the Gilded Age” tour will be offered periodically throughout the year. Led by a costumed interpreter, it chronicles how the Mills family’s extravagant way of life withered away in the cataclysm of the Great War.

More major milestones: Among the other organizations and attractions celebrating major birthdays this year is the 50th anniversary of the renowned Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, located in the Thousands Islands Seaway region of New York.

In honor of the New York State Police’s 100-year anniversary, they will be adding exciting features to their exhibit at the 2017 New York State Fair, which runs from August 24 to September 4). These include an interactive crime scene, a cockpit-style driving simulator illustrating the dangers of distracted driving, a new rappelling tower and a larger tank for State Police Dive Team demonstrations. Other events will take place at various troop headquarters and other sites around the state. For more information, visit:  www.centennial.troopers.ny.gov.

The Lake George Steamboat Company is celebrating their 200th year in service all year with events that can be enjoyed from the docks or the ships. Visitors can experience one of the last steam paddle wheelers in America, the oldest continually operated tour boat in America and the largest cruise ship on the inland waters of New York State. Four major events will mark bicentennial celebrations for America’s first commercially successful steamboat service including: Easter weekend (April 15 and April 16); Bicentennial weekend (June 16 through June 18); Rock The Dock Festival (Friday August 25) and Balloon Fest weekend (September 22 through September 24). For more information, visit: http://lakegeorgesteamboat.com/200yearcelebration/

 

For more on these and other events in New York State, visit www.iloveny.com. Media can find press releases and more at www.iloveny.com/thebeat.

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