When it comes to sacrifice, we can remember the ultimate sacrifice made 100 years ago this year, when the United States entered World War I. One in ten of every U.S. Serviceman in WWI called New York home, more than any other state. And we paid a correspondingly high price with over 10,000 killed. One such group of brave men comprised the 7th Regiment in New York City, whose Armory on Park Avenue has been brilliantly restored, and is filled with the reminders of their service.
Also 100 years ago this year, and decades after the first women's rights convention took place in Seneca Falls, New York State women won their right to vote. This was a number of years before the U.S. Constitution was amended to grant suffrage nationally, and once again New York was in the lead in recognizing the rights of its citizens. Some of that story will be told in the new National Woman's Hall of Fame being created in Seneca Falls. This national museum will use historic rehabilitation tax credits to refurbish the Seneca Knitting Mill building as their new home, a building located alongside the Cayuga-Seneca Canal and dating to 1844.
And speaking of canals, 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the construction of the Erie Canal. This was an enterprise that transformed New York State and the nation, and led to the establishment of New York City as a major port. Through engineering that was ahead of its time, political leadership, and the hard work of its builders, many of them immigrants, the Erie Canal became a vital corridor for goods and ideas, and remains a defining feature of many of New York's most vibrant communities.
New York State is filled with authentic historic sites that tell the story of the events we celebrate this year far better than any history book ever can. To experience the history of all three of these events, visit the New York State Museum in Albany which this year is staging excellent exhibitions on all three:
- Phase I of Enterprising Waters: New York’s Erie Canal opened on September 16 and tells the story of the creation of the canal. Phase II which opens in 2018 will look at its growth and current use.
- Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial opens at the museum on November 4.
- Open now is A Spirit of Sacrifice which examines how New York State and its citizens played a critical role in the United States’ efforts during World War I.
And one more anniversary of note, this is the 200th birthday of the Preservation League's headquarters building in Albany!