History was here

path to history signs

Andrew Cuomo presented the state's new "Path Through History" program today. It's intended to draw attention to historical sites around the state, and you know, get more people to visit them. (AC is apparently a rather large history nerd.)

The most recognizable part of this program will be a series of new historical markers:

The new signage system consists of two types of signage. Over 200 new signs will highlight key moments in New York and American History and be placed between exits of major state roads. The Historic highlights were selected with the help of leading historians. These signs are branded with a unique "Path Through History" logo. ... Each sign is also keyed to a historic theme to allow for customized tours.

So it's like an updated version of the blue and yellow metal markers that are all over the state. That program ended decades ago. New signs -- like the one recently installed for Washington Park in Troy -- have been commissioned by private groups.

The lineup of proposed historical markers is embedded after the jump, grouped by region.

Among the events commemorated by the Capital Region's markers: the birth of Martin Van Buren in Kinderhook, the Revolutionary War victory at Saratoga, the opening of GE in Schenectady, and the founding of RPI.

Path to History Signage


Hope they hire an editor for these before they're made: They're in desperate need of proofreading, not even counting the major lack of necessary colons.

Oh, there are SO MANY errors on these things...I hope they haven't gone to print yet.

"GRUMMAN" Aircraft, not "Grunman"

Unnecessary commas EVERYWHERE:

"Considered the world’s longest bridge at the time, the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, is completed"

"Schuyler Mansion, becomes the residence of Revolutionary War heroand Albany native Philip Schuyler"

"1853 Granville becomes known as the, “Colored SlateCapital of the World"


Who wrote these? Third graders? And they're just ugly.

While thrilled to see any attention to history whatsoever, I think the design is weak, and the language definitely needs work (and please figure out how commas work before these are made!). The old crop of signs (which could use some loving restoration, as most of them have survived 80+ years) focus on the thing that happened at the location, not the date. These don't tell much of a story, something the old markers manage to do very economically.

Oh, and Fort Orange wasn't the colony. It was the fort. I will have to stop there.

By the way, for fans of this sort of thing, there is a Flickr group for New York State Historical Markers:

Will we still be able to purchase and erect signs on our own? I'm looking to commemorate the birthplace of my son, as well as this place I ate a really good hot dog this one time.

Gaaaa! This is obviously well-intended, but I sure hope the governor brings in a good proofreader/editor before these signs are produced. Just hire me.

I'm disappointed there's no "Washington Slept Here" signage.

Thanks Andy, good to see my tax dollars at work while you f**k over the state workforce. Plus, these new signs are tacky and horribly punctuated compared to the elegant unstated nature of the "classic" historical markers.

For some reason, I'm also reminded of how the state used to change the Leaving/Welcome to NY signs on major highways every time a new governor was elected. Ironically, I think it was Pataki who finally decided it would be OK to omit the governor's name thus sparing the state taxpayers approximately $250,000 every time a new governor was elected just to change the name on the signs. These new markers strike me as yet another misguided expenditure of taxpayer dollars, and I would greatly prefer that the old markers were properly restored.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it..

@Bob -- that's because those signs are already in place:


@Carl: That's great how it's so specific -- "N.E. bedroom, second floor, on first visit to Schenectady." I wonder if someone kept the chamber pot....

"1807 Robert Fulton’s steamboat, The Clermont, makes it maiden voyage"

The definitely need to spruce up the accuracy. It was named the "North River Steamboat." The Clermont was the name of the 1909 replica.

NYS use some of your fabulous librarians and archivists to fact check for you!

I want to be excited about these...I really, really do. But while I love the concept, the execution just doesn't quite do it.

How about a "Path to the Dictionary, Encyclopedia, and English Class"? These signs are an embarrassment to NYS history.

This is a great idea but the execution is a total FAIL thus far. Who decided upon the design and content and who wrote this stuff? The gross misinformation, poor grammar and spelling is embarrassing. Why on earth didn't they include museum professionals and historians (not to mention the audience for these signs) in development of this project? We have a wonderful community of interpretation professionals and historians in NY who could have made this project a huge success. As it appears to have been executed, I doubt this will enhance tourism revenues to any degree. Too bad because the potential for that certainly exists.

Everyone, history never gets this attention. It is a GOOD thing, from that perspective. I was at the conference where the signs were unveiled. I am HOPEFUL that history continues to get it's place in economic development and tourism. We need to put our energies towards thinking it CAN happen. We're working on a large project at Historic Albany (along with 11 other sites) to do just that. This will help. Also, can we all be careful about commenting on who wrote them ? It may be people we all know (no, it wasn't me!). I think we should HELP not hinder the process. Trying to take action and figure out how to do that right now so that the signs are correct. Thanks, All Over Albany for posting the news! (and no one, please correct my grammar!)

Sorry, Susan, but I can't understand being an apologist for doing a poor job, no matter how well intentioned. The professionals involved with this should take the criticism on the chin and fix it. The criticism is a form of helping! Supposedly Gov. Cuomo is a stickler for details, but imagine how the business community or scientists would react if such a poorly executed economic or scientific program was rolled out. History deserves the same high standards. Otherwise we deserve what we get -- laughably amateur historic markers replete with errors that are embarrassing to the Empire State.

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