6 Places To Go In New York To Get Immersed In History

Whether you're looking at artifacts in a museum or walking through buildings that have been standing for decades, exploring the past can be an educational and entertaining experience. The New York organizations listed here cover topics that range from art movements to jazz to maritime history. If you live in the Empire State or are planning a trip there soon, consider visiting some of them. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

New York Destinations Full Of History

Organization Location Mission
Thomas Cole National Historic Site Catskill, NY Preserve and interpret the home and studios of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School of painting, the nation's first art movement
Lyndhurst Tarrytown, NY Preserve and restore the grounds of one of America's finest Gothic Revival mansions
Olana State Historic Site Hudson, NY Inspire the public by preserving and interpreting Frederic Church's Olana, a National Historic Landmark within the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area
Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village Amherst, NY Preserve and interpret the story of Buffalo Niagara for the people of today and the community of tomorrow
Louis Armstrong House Museum Queens, NY Sustain and promote the cultural, historical, and humanitarian legacy of Louis Armstrong by preserving and interpreting Armstrong's house and grounds, collecting and sharing archival materials that document Armstrong's life and legacy, and presenting public programs such as exhibits, concerts, lectures, and film screenings
East End Seaport Museum Greenport, NY Celebrate and conserve the diverse maritime heritage of the East End of Long Island

Timeline Of Early New York History

1524 Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano becomes the first European to arrive in New York
1614 Dutch colonists settle on Manhattan Island
1625 The Dutch West India Company officially founds New Amsterdam
1626 Manhattan Island is purchased from the Lenape tribe
1664 The colony is ceded to England and renamed New York
1703 NYC's first city hall is built
1777 The American revolutionaries win an important victory at the Battle of Saratoga

Ways To Engage In Lifelong Learning

  • Visit a museum or historic site
  • Read both fiction and non-fiction as often as you can
  • Teach others what you know
  • Explore new places
  • Start a creative project, like a vlog or podcast
  • Get a good desk for your home
  • Join a study group
  • Take a hike through nature
  • Listen to different types of music
  • Look up words you don't know in the dictionary

The Importance Of Historic Preservation

In Depth

From the western reaches of Buffalo to Saratoga Springs in the east, up to the Thousand Islands at the Canadian border and down through the southernmost edges of Richmond County, New York is packed with locations rich in American history. Whether you wish to see landmarks in national artistic achievement, monuments of industrial development, or re-creations of vanished ways of life, this list, presented in no particular order, offers six places in the Empire State where you can immerse yourself in the country's past.

#1 is The Thomas Cole National Historic Site, which preserves and interprets the home and studios of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School of painting, the United States' first major art movement. It is a nationally recognized landmark in American cultural history located in the heart of the Catskills. At its core, the organization's purpose is to regenerate Cole's revolutionary creativity so that it touches people's lives today.

Exhibitions and events showcase aesthetic achievements of all kinds, directly connected to Cole's legacy or not. An immersive experience titled The Parlors brings the painter's historic home to life through technology-driven storytelling. The Hudson River School Art Trail allows visitors to see first-hand the places in nature depicted by the major figures of the nation's first self-conscious art movement. Help keep this monument alive by visiting or making a donation.

Exhibitions and events showcase aesthetic achievements of all kinds, directly connected to Cole's legacy or not.

At #2 stands Lyndhurst, one of America's finest Gothic Revival mansions. Designed in 1838 by Alexander Jackson Davis, its architectural distinction is complemented by the park-like landscape of the estate and a comprehensive collection of original decorative arts. Its noteworthy occupants included former New York City mayor William Paulding, merchant George Merritt, and railroad tycoon Jay Gould.

Visitors to the site, which overlooks the Hudson River in Tarrytown, can take a tour of the grounds or attend one of its special events, including lectures, music, and theater. The house is also available for weddings and other rentals. Lyndhurst frequently welcomes film and photography professionals with productions of all sizes. Learn more by taking a virtual tour online.

#3 brings us to Olana State Historic Site, a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire the public by preserving and interpreting the eponymous home and studio of artist Frederic Church. Church is well-known as a painter, but he was also a self-taught architect, farmer, and landscape designer. He and his wife Isabel raised four children at Olana, their estate overlooking the Hudson River.

Church is well-known as a painter, but he was also a self-taught architect, farmer, and landscape designer.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the main house or simply explore on their own. Olana's landscape and carriage roads are always free to visit and open to the public. The partnership that manages the site also maintains a series of programs and events; everything from art exhibitions to seminars on nature and health. Sustain the estate through membership, donation, volunteering, or rentals.

For #4, we've got Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, which promises to take visitors back to a time when life moved at a gentler pace, when families shared work and played together, and when the region had only recently been colonized by U.S. settlers. Originally established in 1972 as Amherst Museum, the site's 35-acre grounds include historic buildings, and is populated with costumed interpreters play-acting the lifestyles of the 19th century.

Additionally, the village's Community Art Gallery strives to encourage artistic expression and foster aesthetic appreciation. It also houses a collection that numbers over 20,000 items, reflecting the domestic, agricultural, and industrial past of Western New York with a specific emphasis on the Town of Amherst. The Niederlander Research Library and Archives allows guests to research family history and explore local topics through a vast array of volumes. Help this effort to bring history to life by subscribing to a membership or shopping at the museum store.

The Niederlander Research Library and Archives allows guests to research family history and explore local topics through a vast array of volumes.

The #5 spot is occupied by The Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archives, a National Historic Landmark dedicated to sustaining and promoting the cultural, historical, and humanitarian legacy of the groundbreaking jazz musician and composer. Administered by Queens College, the site preserves and interprets Satchmo's house and grounds, collecting and sharing archival materials that document his achievements, and presenting public programs such as exhibits, concerts, lectures, and film screenings.

Armstrong and his wife, Lucille, settled in this modest house in Corona, Queens in 1943. No one has lived in the building since the Armstrongs, and the space and its furnishings remain very much as they were during the trumpeter's occupancy. Guided tours present guests with audio clips from homemade recordings, allowing them to hear the jazzbo practicing, enjoying meals, and talking with friends. Museum collections are open to both researchers and the general public. Contribute to the continuation of this legacy by attending an annual gala.

Wrapping up the list at #6, East End Seaport Museum on the historic Greenport waterfront explores the rich maritime heritage of this Hamptons-adjacent portion of Long Island. It includes dynamic exhibits, a 750-gallon saltwater aquarium, a quirky gift shop, a collection of antique Fresnel lenses, and Captain Bob's Quarterdeck; a room created to provide children a hands-on nautical experience. Many of the permanent artifacts at the Seaport Museum show the tools of the trade, the life of workers, and the unfolding of the area's history.

Many of the permanent artifacts at the Seaport Museum show the tools of the trade, the life of workers, and the unfolding of the area's history.

Aside from the considerable naval aspects of the seaport's location during early American military episodes, Greenport was a principal site of the whaling trade, a center of ship-building, host to a large fishing industry, and later became a hub of East Coast transportation. Guests can explore exhibitions that unpack this history and also take a cruise to the famed Bug Lighthouse, long rumored to be haunted. Get involved by going to the museum's yearly Maritime Festival.