Hochul Announces NY State Parks Centennial Celebration

Governor Kathy Hochul recently previewed a year-long celebration of the centennial anniversary of the founding of New York’s statewide park and historic site system to take place in 2024. The celebration will both highlight and build upon one of New York State’s greatest environmental legacies. In 1924, Governor Alfred E. Smith and the State Legislature created the New York State Council of Parks while voters approved a $15 million bond act to build and enlarge a network of State parks, forging the New York State park and historic site system that New York State residents and visitors know and cherish today.
“New York State led the nation in creating a State park system for our citizens 100 years ago,” Governor Hochul said. “As we celebrate through next year, New York will continue to invest in our park system to support the State’s outdoor recreation economy, expand access to underserved communities, address the impacts of climate change, and position New York State as a top recreation destination.”
Across the state through 2024, New York will commemorate the state park centennial with hundreds of community celebrations, performances and special events led by the state park and historic site staff, the State Council of Parks and Park and Historic Site Friends Groups. There will be a new Centennial Challenge to encourage visitors to try a variety of new activities as they enjoy the parks and historic sites, special discounts on park admission fees and new opportunities to volunteer and promote park stewardship. A traveling exhibit on the history of New York State parks will go on display at parks and historic sites throughout the state. State parks will collect and share stories and photographs from the public to celebrate the memories made during the last century, as well as a new line of Centennial-themed New York State Parks merchandise from the parks store. New Yorkers can visit parks.ny.gov/100 to learn more about the Centennial.
While New York State had established a number of state parks and historic sites prior to 1924 to protect scenic and historic resources – such as Niagara Falls, George Washington’s Revolutionary War Headquarters, and Bear Mountain – the State Park Act was intended to directly connect citizens to outdoor recreation. When these limited preserves proved to be overwhelmingly popular, state leaders recognized the need to create more parks in proximity to urban centers. In 1923, Governor Alfred E. Smith endorsed an ambitious plan for a statewide system of parks connected by scenic parkways and boulevards. In 1924, New York State established the State Council of Parks and voters approved a $15 million bond to put the plan in action. Over the next decade, 55 new state parks were established.

In addition, New York State will prioritize investments and programs to preserve the park system as a model for the nation in the next century by restoring and expanding visitor capacity. State parks will continue the ongoing transformation of New York’s flagship parks and embark on critical infrastructure improvement projects. The state budget includes $200 million for capital improvement projects annually for five years, for a total of $1 billion through fiscal year 2028. The funding will help improve parks and restore facilities at such heavily visited parks as Bear Mountain, Heckscher, Jones Beach, and Riverbank State Park.
—Submitted by the office of Governor Kathy Hochul

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