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Niagara Falls file photo
Niagara Falls file photo

Hochul celebrates New York state parks and historic sites centennial


Thu, Apr 18th 2024 12:05 pm

Sites statewide to be illuminated ‘parks green and centennial gold’; special centennial flag will be raised at parks and historic sites across state

√ Throughout 2024, New York State Parks has marked 100th anniversary with range of programs & events – more information available here

Gov. Kathy Hochul today celebrated the centennial of the State Council of Parks establishment on April 18, 1924. Landmarks across the state will be illuminated in “parks green” and “centennial gold,” while a special centennial flag will be raised at parks and historic sites across the state to commemorate the day.

“Our state parks and historic sites system is a treasure for New Yorkers and visitors alike, and today we celebrate 100 years of memories,” Hochul said. “The system we have today started with visionary leadership, and it has grown over the decades to encompass more than 250 properties covering 360,000 acres of land. As governor, I will continue this legacy as we honor the history of our parks today and throughout the year.”

A press release stated, “New York’s modern state parks and historic sites system was created when Gov. Alfred E. Smith and the State Legislature established the New York State Council of Parks on April 18, 1924. Creation of the council built on state actions begun in the late 19th century to protect places of natural significance, establish the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves, create the Palisades Interstate Park Commission by the New York and New Jersey legislatures in 1900, and form the Reservation on the St. Lawrence, which today includes many state parks in the Thousand Islands Region.

“In 1970, state legislation that created the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation also upgraded the former Division of Parks into an independent agency, known as the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation. Further legislation in 1972 gave the agency direct control of New York's park lands, with the State Council of Parks and regional commissions retaining an advisory management role. The agency's name was updated in 1981 to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to reflect the agency’s mission to protect New York’s historic heritage.”

State Park Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons said, “New Yorkers united 100 years ago to create one of New York state’s greatest environmental legacies – our state park and historic site system. Our agency is looks forward to working with Gov. Hochul, the State Legislature, our many partners across the state, and our visitors to build and sustain this legacy over the next century.”

Today, Simons is marking the occasion by raising a state parks centennial flag at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh and attending a lighting ceremony at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs.

Other lighting events will be held today at:

  • One World Trade Center in Manhattan
  • Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in South Nyack
  • Kosciuszko Bridge in Brooklyn
  • H. Carl McCall SUNY Building in Albany
  • State Education Building in Albany
  • Alfred E. Smith State Office Building in Albany
  • Empire State Plaza in Albany
  • State Fairgrounds Main Gate and Exposition Center in Syracuse
  • Niagara Falls State Park
  • Albany International Airport Gateway
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Long Island Railroad East End Gateway at Penn Station in Manhattan
  • Fairport Lift Bridge over the Erie Canal
  • Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station
  • Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Poughkeepsie
  • Olana State Historic Site in Hudson
  • Staatsburgh State Historic Site
  • Lorenzo State Historic Site in Cazenovia
  • Letchworth State Park in Castile
  • Robert Moses State Park in Babylon
  • Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh
  • Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego

State Council of Parks Chair Bryan Erwin said, “I join Gov. Hochul in celebrating the 100th anniversary of NY State Parks. For 100 years, New Yorkers have enjoyed their very own version of the National Park System. Through war, peace, recessions and boom times; through pandemics, heat waves, cold snaps, balmy springs and crisp autumns; through generations of Irish, Italian, Jewish, African American, Puerto-Ricans, Dominicans, Chinese Americans and all the rest of our neighbors: We, all of us, no matter what the current backdrop of our lives, are able to enjoy what was bestowed on us a century ago. I’m so grateful that our leadership in Albany, led by this governor, has invested in our parks so they will remain the critical part of our lives, and our children’s’ lives, forevermore.” 

Parks and Trails New York Executive Director Paul Steely White said, “Thank you, Gov. Hochul, for putting parks in the spotlight. It’s a powerful representation of the actual investments being made to ensure that everyone has access to awe, adventure, wellness and discovery. As my teenager says, ‘Parks are lit!’ ”

Throughout 2024, New York State Parks will mark the 100th anniversary with a range of programs and events. Celebratory initiatives include “Blazing A Trail,” an interactive timeline chronicling the agency’s history and influential figures; an exhibit in the New York State Capitol’s State Street Tunnel currently on view; the ”Share Your Story” project, which invites people to tell their own stories relating to parks and sites; the ”Centennial Challenge,” which encourages people to win prizes by participating in various activities at parks and sites; and the release of the ”Centennial Collection” merchandise, which includes T-shirts, hoodies, mugs and more. Additional initiatives will be announced throughout 2024.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which saw a record 84 million visits in 2023. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer app, or call 518-474-0456. Connect on  Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and the OPRHP blog.

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