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Governor Hochul Celebrates New York State Parks and Historic Sites Centennial

Apr 18, 2024

Sites Statewide to be Illuminated “Parks Green and Centennial Gold” Evening of April 18

Special Centennial Flag Will be Raised at Parks and Historic Sites Across the State

Throughout 2024, New York State Parks Has Marked the 100th Anniversary With a Range of Programs and Events – More Information Available Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today celebrated the centennial of the State Council of Parks establishment on April 18, 1924. Landmarks across the state will be illuminated in Parks green and centennial gold and a special centennial flag will be raised at parks and historic sites across the state to commemorate the day. 

“Our State Parks and Historic Sites system is a treasure for New Yorkers and visitors alike, and today we celebrate 100 years of memories,” Governor Hochul said. “The system we have today started with visionary leadership, and it has grown over the decades to encompass more than 250 properties covering 360,000 acres of land. As Governor, I will continue this legacy as we honor the history of our parks today and throughout the year.”

New York’s modern State Parks and Historic Sites system was created when Governor Alfred E. Smith and the State Legislature established the New York State Council of Parks on April 18, 1924. Creation of the Council built on state actions begun in the late 19th Century to protect places of natural significance, establish the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves, create the Palisades Interstate Park Commission by the New York and New Jersey legislatures in 1900, and form the Reservation on the St. Lawrence, which today includes many state parks in the Thousand Islands Region. 

In 1970, state legislation that created the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation also upgraded the former Division of Parks into an independent agency, known as the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation. Further legislation in 1972 gave the agency direct control of New York's park lands, with the State Council of Parks and regional commissions retaining an advisory management role. The agency's name was updated in 1981 to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to reflect the agency’s mission to protect New York’s historic heritage. 

State Park Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons said, “New Yorkers united 100 years ago to create one of New York State’s greatest environmental legacies – our State Park and Historic Site system. Our agency is looks forward to working with Governor Hochul, the State Legislature, our many partners across the state, and our visitors to build and sustain this legacy over the next century.” 

Today, Commissioner Pro Tempore Simons is marking the occasion by raising a State Parks centennial flag at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh and attending a lighting ceremony at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs. 

 Other lighting events will be held today at:

  • One World Trade Center in Manhattan  
  • Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in South Nyack 
  • Kosciuszko Bridge in Brooklyn 
  • H. Carl McCall SUNY Building in Albany 
  • State Education Building in Albany 
  • Alfred E. Smith State Office Building in Albany 
  • Empire State Plaza in Albany 
  • State Fairgrounds Main Gate and Exposition Center in Syracuse 
  • Niagara Falls State Park  
  • Albany International Airport Gateway  
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Long Island Railroad East End Gateway at Penn Station in Manhattan 
  • Fairport Lift Bridge over the Erie Canal  
  • Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station  
  • Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Poughkeepsie 
  • Olana State Historic Site in Hudson 
  • Staatsburgh State Historic Site 
  • Lorenzo State Historic Site in Cazenovia 
  • Letchworth State Park in Castile 
  • Robert Moses State Park in Babylon 
  • Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh 
  • Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego

State Council of Parks Chair Bryan Erwin said, “I join Governor Hochul in celebrating the 100th anniversary of NY State Parks. For 100 years, New Yorkers have enjoyed their very own version of the National Park System. Through war, peace, recessions, and boom times; through pandemics, heat waves, cold snaps, balmy springs and crisp autumns. Through generations of Irish, Italian, Jewish, African American, Puerto-Ricans, Dominicans, Chinese Americans and all the rest of our neighbors: we all of us, no matter what the current backdrop of our lives, are able to enjoy what was bestowed on us a century ago. I’m so grateful that our leadership in Albany, led by this Governor, has invested in our parks so they will remain the critical part of our lives, and our childrens’ lives, forevermore.” 

Parks and Trails New York Executive Director Paul Steely White said, “Thank you, Governor Hochul, for putting parks in the spotlight. It’s a powerful representation of the actual investments being made to ensure that everyone has access to awe, adventure, wellness and discovery. As my teenager says, ‘Parks are lit!’” 

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “We join Governor Hochul and all New Yorkers in celebrating this incredible milestone. For the last century, New York has led the nation in creating an unparalleled state park system that continues to play a vital role in providing New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds with affordable and inspiring outdoor opportunities. Scenic Hudson’s partnership with the state and others has allowed us to help create or enhance one-of-a-kind destinations, including Sojourner Truth State Park, Walkway Over the Hudson, Franny Reese State Park and Olana State Historic Site. We look forward to building on this legacy with Governor Hochul and the State Parks team to create innovative ways to connect people with nature and each other.”

Open Space Institute’s Chief Conservation and Policy Officer Kathy Moser said, “The Open Space Institute is honored to join our partners in New York State to protect, enhance, and expand our incomparable State Parks. Over the last 50 years, OSI has added nearly 40,000 acres to our State Park system – more than ten percent of the total acreage – as well as numerous other initiatives to make our parks more welcoming and accessible for all. Protection of our state’s abundant natural beauty and cultural heritage is a gift for people today and countless future generations. We could not be more proud to join with Governor Hochul and New York State Parks to celebrate the Centennial Celebration, and we look forward to the next 100 years.”

State Senator Jose M. Serrano said, “I am delighted to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the beloved New York State Parks and Historic Sites system with the illumination of our state landmarks. New Yorkers and tourists alike have taken notice of the care and dedication that the state and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation has shown to the parks system, with visitation this past year surpassing a record of 84 million visitors. As chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation, I recognize that it is critically important to connect people to nature and to keep our green spaces accessible and welcoming. My sincere thanks to the dedication of the Governor, the Legislature, and parks staff, as we have seen a continued reimagining of our parks system that reinforces the many benefits of parks and historic sites.”

Assemblymember Daniel J. O’Donnell said, “Today, we stand on the shoulders of the visionaries who, a century ago, recognized the importance of preserving our natural landscapes and historic sites in the state of New York. So, as we illuminate our landmarks and raise the centennial flag, we not only celebrate the past 100 years but also reaffirm ourselves to carrying on the legacy that our forefathers established, and ensure these spaces are preserved and enriched for generations to come.”

 Throughout 2024, New York State Parks will mark the 100th anniversary with a range of programs and events. Celebratory initiatives include ‘Blazing A Trail,’ an interactive timeline chronicling the agency’s history and influential figures; an exhibit in the New York State Capitol’s State Street Tunnel currently on view; the Share Your Story project, which invites people to tell their own stories relating to Parks and Sites; the Centennial Challenge, which encourages people to win prizes by participating in various activities at parks and sites; and the release of the Centennial Collection merchandise, which includes t-shirts, hoodies, mugs and more. Additional initiatives will be announced throughout 2024 

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which saw a record 84 million visits in 2023. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit, download the free NY State Parks Explorer app  or call 518.474.0456. Connect with us on Facebook,  Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and the OPRHP Blog.