New York Historical Society

Fellow York Staters, I have a confession to make: I visit New York City. Frequently.

The majority of my friends live in NYC these days, and like tendrils of its influence, the Metro North rail lines (operated by the MTA) are within easy driving distance of many upstate residents, including myself. From Poughkeepsie, the Hudson line follows the river down to Manhattan, making for a train ride even my European friend called the most beautiful she's taken.* My visiting the city, however, often makes me feel as though I'm betraying upstate. For in a city as important and self-important as New York City, what's a York Stater to do?

The New York Historical Society

It was a quiet, rainy afternoon at New York's first museum when I visited with York Stater Heather (who now resides in NYC.) The museum has lately had a higher profile due to its successful exhibition Slavery in New York, an exhibition so popular and a topic so important that the museum is currently adapting it for permanent display. The exhibition on view now in the museum's first floor galleries is Group Dynamics, exploring the social and family issues presented by group portraiture within a greater cultural context. Recognizable family names from New York's prominent families abound, and offers an excellent interpretation of artwork too often considered droll.

If a favorite part of a museum can be judged by time spent looking at a particular thing, Heather and my favorite was the 1847 map of the Hudson River from Manhattan to Waterford, with each side illustrated with homes and landmarks as seen from the river, with notes about the places and occupants jotted around them. The affable museum guard allowed me to take this picture of Heather in front of the map:

This map was located in the hall just outside the New York Historical Society's galleries displaying a three-year rotating series of exhibitions on the Hudson River School. Most of the painting in this rotation were of Hudson River School artists depicting scenes outside the valley, be it South America or scenes of the imagination, such as Thomas Cole's The Course of Empire. Though there was one very striking, very upstate painting by George Henry Boughton of a winter scene, which I could not find an image of, though I did find the following painting also by Boughton of a similar scene:

These are just some of the interesting and entertaining things on view at the New York Historical Society, so the next time you're on the Upper West Side and need a dose of York State, it's an excellent place to go to learn about the history of the city, of the rest of the state, and their common ground.

Posted by Natalie

*There's a lot of impressive rail transportation in Europe, so I assume she knows what she's talking about.

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