Three Flags of
Old Fort Niagara
Safe Haven - Oswego
4. Women's Rights National Historic Park
5. Harriet Tubman Home
9. Trophy Point
(US Military Academy)
6. Freedom Bound Exhibit - Onondaga Historical Society
7. "President Lincoln" greets friends at Civil War Days in Peterboro (Smithfield).
Point State Historic Park on Lake Champlain
12. Whale Weather Vane: Cold Harbor Whaling
The Best Historic Sites
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.
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.
to go to see New York Geography
up close and personal.
on the links below!