Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Mary Jemison statue, Letchworth State Park
Women: Science & Nature
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The primary ingredient of any scientific endeavor or deep study of the natural world is simple: curiosity. Women have always been involved in unraveling the mysteries of our planet, following their curiosity even when formal education in the sciences were closed to them. Here is just a sample of New York women with a keen desire to explore the world outside their door!

Jay Heritage Center: The National Historic Landmark childhood home of founder Father John Jay and his family is located in Rye, New York. The land remained in the family for generations and was vital in inspiring one of America's first women landscape architects, Mary Rutherford Jay, John's great-great granddaughter. Jay Heritage CenterLeaving New York State Parks

Letchworth State Park: Letchworth State Park owes the preservation of much of the park's scenic beauty and historic assets to the work of William Pryor Letchworth. But many of Letchworth's battles to preserve "The Grand Canyon of the East" relied on the assistance of his indispensable secretary, Caroline Bishop. She worked with Letchworth for 27 years, living at the Glen Iris estate with him and the rest of his staff and, fter his passing, became the park's first superintendent and Librarian/Curator of the park's museum. Letchworth State Park

Mary Jemison was Scotch-Irish colonial woman adopted by the Seneca during the French and Indian War. She later gained notoriety after writing a memoir of her life. After her death, her body was reinterred near the historic site of a Seneca council house, now within Letchworth State Park. You can plan your visit to the Glen Iris Inn, Mary Jemison's gravesite, and the restored Seneca Council House at Letchworth here: Letchworth State ParkLeaving New York State Parks

Lorenzo State Historic Site: The Federal-style mansion at Lorenzo looks out onto a garden designed in 1914 by Ellen Biddle Shipman, a woman pioneer of landscape design, to enhance her father's garden layout with more formal perennial beds. In 1983, restoration was begun following that 1914 plan and today the garden and grounds are available to the public and are often used for wedding ceremonies and receptions. The Lorenzo grounds are open year-round. Lorenzo State Historic SiteLeaving New York State Parks

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Saratoga Spa State Park: Grace Maguire Swanner graduated from Albany Medical College in 1933 and devoted much of her life outside of private practice to helping to preserve the Lincoln and Washington baths at Saratoga Spa State Park. She was named acting medical director of the spa in 1953, began a school of massage as a training facility for the spa, and would eventually write a book detailing the geologic and sociologic history of the park called "Saratoga Queen of Spas". You can view more information on visiting the park's mineral springs, twelve miles of trails, Creekside Classroom education center, or famous Performing Arts Center. Saratoga Spa State Park

Bear Mountain State Park: Jane Colden (1724-1760) grew up on her family's farm west of Newburgh where, after showing an interest in plants, her father taught her how to describe them using the new Linnaen taxonomy. Jane would go on to write her own Botanical Manuscript describing over 300 native flora and is considered the first colonial female botanist. Bear Mountain State Park will be unveiling at the end of March, a hand-painted sign detailing Colden's contributions to botany in the Hudson Valley. It will reside at her namesake garden at the Trailside Museums and Zoo from which you can also see a spectacular view of the Hudson River.

Learn more about Jane Colden: Article: Hudson Valley Remembers its First Female Botanist

Grafton Lakes State Park: Helen Ellett was only the second woman fire tower observer in New York State, where she worked for 18 years at the Dickinson Fire Tower. Grafton Lakes State Park

State & National Registers of Historic Places Listed Sites:

Barbara McClintock, Cold Spring Harbor Research Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor
Barbara McClintock was an American scientist and a cytogeneticist who was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the first woman to win the award unshared. She studied at Cornell University and is widely known for her work at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where she mentored many young scientists, leaving behind an inspiring legacy for women and others facing barriers and adversity in the field. The Cold Spring Laboratory where McClintock worked is only open to students and staff. You can find out more about McClintock's career at the Cold Spring Harbor Research Laboratory.Leaving New York State Parks

Annie Edson Taylor Resting Place, Oakwood Cemetery, Niagara Falls
In 1901, Annie Edison Taylor became the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Though the feat was undertaken in the hope of making money for her later years, Taylor never achieved any lasting financial stability. She is buried in the National Register listed Oakwood Cemetery

Lillian Wald, Henry Street Settlement, Manhattan
Lillian Wald was a nurse, humanitarian, and founder of American community nursing, starting a visiting nurse service in 1893 on the Lower East Side which would later move into 265 Henry Street. From there, her service would treat 20,000 people by 1913 and expand their offerings to include children's clubs, mothers' clubs, study spaces, arts programming, and both indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, including one of the very first playgrounds in the nation. Learn more about the work of Lillian Wald and history of activism at Henry Street at The House on Henry Street ExhibitionLeaving New York State Parks as well as her commitment to serving people in need of healthcare of New York City and her humanitarian efforts in this news article: Lillian Wald's Lower East Side: From the Visiting Nurse Service to the Henry Street SettlementLeaving New York State Parks