Ellis Island GREAT
Historic Places

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Geography is not an indoor sport! Get out and explore New York State!


Physical Geography

Human Geography

Economic Geography

Regions of NYS

Old Fort Niagara
1. Three Flags of
Old Fort Niagara

Safe Haven
2. Safe Haven - Oswego

Women's Right NHP
4. Women's Rights National Historic Park


Tubman Home
5. Harriet Tubman Home

Trophy Point
9. Trophy Point
(US Military Academy)

Onondaga HS Museum
6. Freedom Bound Exhibit - Onondaga Historical Society

Civil War Days
7. "President Lincoln" greets friends at Civil War Days in Peterboro (Smithfield).

Crown Point
8. Crown Point State Historic Park on Lake Champlain

Whaling Museum

12. Whale Weather Vane: Cold Harbor Whaling Museum

The Best Historic Sites in

New York State:

You can't make a mistake in the Empire State!

Few states in the Union can boast the wealth of historic sites as New York. Our biggest problem was coming up with our top twelve. We tried to include sites from never eras of American history, from pre-colonial to the 20th century. These places are appropriate for all age levels, since we encourage family geographic vacations.
The map below will help with your travel plans.

Historic Map

1. Old Fort Niagara: This French/British/American garrison is located at the mouth of the Niagara River overlooking Lake Ontario and the Canadian village of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The long  history of this fortress extends through four centuries, and three different nations controlled Niagara at different times.

2. Safe Haven Museum: In 1944, a boatload of nearly 1000 refugees from the Holocaust arrived in New York Harbor and were quickly transported to Oswego. Unfortunately, they were housed in barracks near Fort Ontario as if they were in another concentration camp. But the refugees adapted quickly to American life, and interacted frequently with native Oswegans. This new museum documents their special experiences during the last days of World War II. (See their website: http://www.oswegohaven.org/

3. Sacketts Harbor Historic Park: Today the historic village of Sacketts Harbor sits quietly on Black River Bay near Watertown. But during the War of 1812 it saw some desperate fighting between American and British troops that resulted in a much-needed victory for the US side. Many of the buildings that survived the war are standing today, including the Madison Barracks, on the other side of town. (This is part of the Thousand Island Loop road trip).

4. Seneca Falls National Historic Park: This is the home of the Women’s Rights Movement in the United States. It was here that Elizabeth Cady Stanton first proposed women’s suffrage (1848), and it led to the eventual passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The framework of the Wesleyan Church where they met is the centerpiece of the park. (Include this stop as you do the Finger Lakes Loop!)

5. Harriet Tubman Home: The courageous Underground Railroad conductor lived much of her adult life as a free woman in Auburn. She many daring raids into Maryland’s Eastern Shore to free several hundred enslaved people. After the Civil War this was a rest home for destitute African-Americans. March 15th has been designated Harriet Tubman Day in New York. (See the section on the Central NY Loop).

6. Onondaga Historical Society: Located on Montgomery Street in downtown Syracuse. This little museum has some great displays about early life in Syracuse, as well as the history of the Franklin automobile, built in Syracuse. The best feature is on the Underground Railroad in Central New York, including the “Faces,” little statues (photo on the right) that might have been sculpted by Freedom Seekers hiding in a Methodist Church. (Their website is http://www.cnyhistory.org/)

7. Smithfield Community Center/ Abolition Hall of Fame: Peterboro (Madison County) was the home to abolitionist and philantropist Gerrit Smith. This is one of the most important anti-slavery hotbeds of the mid-1800s. A newly created Abolition Hall of Fame will be opening in near future. (More discussion on Peterboro's role in the abolition movement can be found in the Human Geography section).

8. Fort Stanwix National Historic Park: Located in downtown Rome, this fort guarded the headwaters of the Mohawk River. The failure of the British to capture this fort led to disaster at Saratoga. Costumed interpreters take you back to 1777 when Stanwix was under siege. (This site is part of the Mohawk Valley Trail).

9. Crown Point State Historic Site: Located around a dozen miles north of Ticonderoga is the lesser known Crown Point. Unlike its more famous neighbor, the ruins have not been restored, which evokes a different feeling. (This can be visited as part of the Lake Champlain-Lake George Loop road trip).

10. Saratoga National Historic Park: Two very critical battles were fought there in 1777, resulting in the surrender of the British Army. It turned the tide of the war. The strategic location of this battlefield is definitely a product of geography, since it overlooks the Hudson River around 20 miles north of Albany. (See the Lake Champlain-Lake George Loop page for more information).

11. Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty: New York is one of the most ethnically diverse states in the Union. Many of these New Americans came through New York Harbor. The Lady of Liberty was there to welcome them, and they most likely were processed on Ellis Island. Visitors will learn what it was like to get admittance to the U.S. in the early 1900s, which makes the DMV look like a day at the beach! (photo at the top of this page).

12. Cold Harbor Whaling Museum: In many ways, Long Island is an outpost of New England. Whaling was an important enterprise in the 19th century in many coastal towns, which you know if you've read Moby Dick. This museum describes the life of this very dangerous occupation of bygone days.  

Great places to go to see New York Geography up close and personal. 

Click on the links below!

Best of NY
Road Trips
Scenic Views
Cultural Gems
Short Walks
Living Museums
Best of NY
Road Trips
Scenic Views
Cultural Gems
Short Walks
Living Museums

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