Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 07, 2007

For Release: Immediate
Press Contact:
Eileen Larrabee
Catherine Jimenez

New York State Heritage Areas Celebrating 25 Years

(Albany, NY, Monday, May 7, 2007 . . . ) New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash today announced the 25th Anniversary of the New York State Heritage Areas program. New York has 19 designated heritage areas and corridors that are recognized for distinctive contributions to the history and culture of the state.

"For 25 years, the Heritage Areas program has been a unique state and local partnership, allowing regions to highlight the special characteristics of their individual communities through preservation, education and recreation while fostering economic development initiatives," said Ash. "New York Heritage Areas accentuate the rich cultural and environmental resources that extend across the state, providing heritage tourism opportunities and bringing attention to the importance of protecting and preserving our natural treasures."

Originally named the Urban Cultural Park System, the Heritage Areas Program was created by state legislation in 1982 with a goal toward preservation, recreation, interpretation and economic development. In 1994, the Legislature recognized the merit of the program by amending legislation to add regional heritage areas and renaming it the New York State Heritage Areas System. The system now includes 19 heritage areas and corridors encompassing more than 400 communities in 27 counties.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey, as a member of the state Assembly in 1982, sponsored the legislation establishing the New York State heritage area system, said, "Heritage areas have grown to become a national phenomenon as a new type of park, managing special landscapes and urban settings for conservation, education, recreation and sustainable development purposes. They have helped forge partnerships between government and the private sector, highlighted many significant chapters of New York's and America's history and fostered park-like features throughout communities making up heritage areas. I congratulate the New York State heritage areas on this 25th anniversary of the creation of the state heritage area system. I look forward to continuing to support and improve our heritage areas, particularly our beloved Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, which I had the honor of establishing through legislation in the House more than a decade ago."

The New York State Heritage Areas System is a partnership consisting of state and local government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector established to preserve and develop areas that have cultural and natural significance to New York State. Each of the sites is managed locally, either directly by a municipality or public benefit corporation or through a cooperative agreement with a non-profit organization or institution. The New York Heritage Area Association (NYHAA), a non-profit organization, represents the collective interests of the local Heritage Areas.

"When established 25 years ago, the New York State Heritage Area program provided a model for revitalizing our urban areas by recognizing the critical significance of our cultural and heritage resources," said David Altieri, Director of the Sackets Harbor Heritage Area and President of NYHAA. "Throughout innovative strategies and partnerships, the Heritage Area communities have successfully used this model program to spur economic growth and enhance the quality of life by preserving New York State's heritage. We are confident that this state-local alliance will continue to provide a model to grow New York while preserving our natural and cultural resources."

The following are a list of New York State Heritage Areas: Albany; Buffalo; Harbor Park (NYC); Heights (NYC); Kingston; Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt; Mohawk Valley (Oneida, Herkimer, Montgomery, Fulton, Schenectady, Schoharie, Saratoga and Albany Counties); North Shore (Long Island; participating communities in Nassau and Suffolk Counties north of Route 25/I-495); Ossining; RiverSpark (Hudson-Mohawk: Cohoes, Colonie, Green Island, Troy, Waterford town/village, Watervliet); Rochester; Sackets Harbor; Saratoga Springs; Schenectady; Seneca Falls; Susquehanna (Binghamton, Endicott, Johnson City); Syracuse; Western Erie Canal Heritage Corridor (Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Monroe and Wayne Counties); and Whitehall.