Tourism in New York
Document Showcase is a regular feature that highlights a topic from State history using records from the New York State Archives. Each Showcase includes sample documents, an historical sketch, and links to educational activities for classroom use. Check out previous topics we have covered in our Document Showcase Archive.
The slide show below is interactive. Click on an image to examine the document more closely. The slide show controls allow you to select, zoom, drag, and pan across each slide show image.
Check out our videos from "I Love New York" tourism campaign of the 1970s and 1980s.
Throughout New York State's past, individual visitors and the state government have promoted the natural beauty, history, cultural attractions, and recreational activities that the state has to offer. From Samuel Latham Mitchill's 1807 guide to New York City (Picture of New York), to Gideon Minor Davison's 1821 state guidebook (The Fashionable Tour), to William H. H. Murray's 1869 Adirondack stories (Adventures in the Wilderness), 19th century visitors shared their experiences and attracted thousands of tourists. As the century passed, improvements in transportation such as the Erie Canal and the rapidly growing network of railroads made enticing destinations like Niagara Falls and the Adirondacks more easily reachable.
The dawn of the automobile and air travel only increased the number of people that could experience New York's attractions. During the 1939 World's Fair, the State Bureau of Publicity nationally promoted tourist attractions from every region of the state. The State Division of Commerce was created in 1941 and among its tasks was to attract visitors to New York. Successor agencies have supervised the multi-media I Love New York campaign, which has promoted New York's attractions since 1977. Toward the end of the 20th century, New York State established the Scenic Byways and Heritage Trails programs to promote New York's natural beauty and historic past. In the first decade of the 21st century, the state's Empire State Development organization transformed idle waterfront property in Western New York into a contemporary tourism and recreational destination.
See our Document-Based Questions and extension activities related to naturalization and citizenship, and designed to meet New York State Education Standards.
Document 1: Children play in the sand at Coney Island, 1880-1910? Series A3045, Instructional glass lantern slides, New York State Education Department.
Document 2: A vacation party at breakfast before the Fire Warden's cabin, near the top of Whiteface Mountain, 1916. Series A3045, Instructional glass lantern slides, New York State Education Department.
Document 3: Advertisement from the World's Fair encouraging tourism in the Catskills, 1939. Series A3324, Advertising portfolio of state tourism promotions during 1939 World's Fair, New York State Bureau of State Publicity.
Document 4: Governor Carey and Group Exclaiming "I Love New York!" 05-18-1978. Series 13703-82, Public information photographs, New York State Governor's Office.
For More Information
Series 19125, New York State Department of Economic Development, Tourism Photographs, 1965-1989.
Visit the Adirondacks
New York Welcomes You
New York State Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation
New York State Department of Transportation, Scenic Byways
Empire State Development
I Love New York
Send questions or comments about the Document Showcase to the Public Programs Office of the State Archives by email at: ARCHEDU@mail.nysed.gov or phone (518) 474-6926.