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Tourism in New York

Historical Context
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.

Essential Question
How does geography impact the culture and economy of a region?
Check for Understanding
Describe how tourism in New York has changed since the 19th century and explain why those changes occurred.

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     A Vacation Party at Breakfast before the Fire Warden's Cabin. Near top of Whiteface Mountain
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_A4790
Document Description
New York. The Adirondacks. A Vacation Party at Breakfast before Fire Warden's Cabin. Near top of Whiteface Mountain.

     Children playing in sand at Coney Island
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_D47_BrY7
Document Description
Vacationers enjoy a day on a Coney Island beach.

     Governor Carey and Group Exclaiming "I Love New York!"
New York State Archives, NYSA_13703-82_B5_3050_019
Document Description
Governor Carey and group exclaiming "I Love New York!"

     On Your World's Fair Trip...See the Catskill Mountains
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3324-78_B1_V1_Catskills
Document Description
Advertisement from the World's Fair encouraging tourism in the Catskills, 1939.