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State’s ‘Path Through History’ Remains a Mystery

Here it is, the much-advertised Hamilton Fish House on Stuyvesant Street.

The Hamilton Fish House is a stately home located on lovely Stuyvesant Street in the East Village.  It is owned by Cooper Union and serves as the president’s official residence.  Should you go there, you can read one plaque designating it a National Historic Landmark, and another one denoting it as a New York City Landmark and explaining the building’s significance.  After that, the residents would probably like it if you moved on.

(You can read the landmark designation report here, and other designation reports on our website here.)

What you won’t find are a) public tours, or b) any mention of it on the state’s Path Through History website.

Here’s your chance to learn about the Hamilton Fish House (a.k.a. Stuyvesant-Fish House).

That seems odd, given that new signs in at least two different subway stations broadcast the Hamilton Fish House as a historic site in the area.

The newish subway signs have attracted a bit of attention – from history-minded folks like us at GVSHP, at least – but apparently the signs are meant to speak for themselves. Public affairs reps in the state’s tourism agency did not explain what exactly a tourist or resident is supposed to do when confronted with a list like this one:

A sign in the Union Square subway station (inside the canopied entrance in the southwest portion of the park).

Apparently these are recommended search terms for Google.

That’s because anyone who takes the trouble to enter iloveny.com/paththroughhistory on her phone or tablet will not be able to find these places listed on the actual website.

The “Path Through History” program was launched by Gov. Cuomo two years ago as an effort to further expand “heritage tourism,” which according to the press release has a $5 billion annual impact on the state’s economy. At this remove, however, we are not the only ones to wonder what exactly this program is about. Earlier this month, the New York History Blog asked whether any public servant is actually overseeing the program. The blog also offered ideas for improvement. We’ll add another idea: the state should build out the website, and add QR codes to the signs, so that both are actually useful rather than baffling.

For now, everyone try to enjoy the signs – you paid for them.


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