13 fascinating historical institutions that you must visit!
Most American cities aren't as old as even the smallest villages in parts of Europe, but that doesn't mean that they don't have long complex histories to explore. Fortunately, historical societies all across the country are there to preserve and share the histories of their communities. What each one has to offer to visitors is as different as the cities and regions that they represent. This is a list of some of the most unique and interesting historical societies in the country; all of them have something to offer both seasoned history buffs and young enthusiasts.
Perhaps the most accessible society around, The Preservation Society of Newport County is responsible for maintaining one of Rhode Island's most famous historical assets: the Newport Mansions. Built at the height of the gilded age, famous homes like The Breakers offer a glance to see the glamour of that bygone age. Touring the mansions will also reveal a lot about the many movies set in the roaring 20's filmed in the area.
Boston, Massachusetts is a historic city that has several societies dedicated to studying and preserving the past, but the Freedom Trail Foundation is one of the most accessible for families. The Foundation runs tours along the 2.5 mile trail along public sidewalks led by costumed guides who will explain the revolutionary past of 16 historic sites along the trail.
HistoryMiami is one of Florida's premier historical societies, and is dedicated to sharing the city and region's multicultural past and present. Visitors to its museums are treated to exhibits on native peoples, Spanish settlement, Cuban refugees, and more. However, if you want to enjoy a little fun in the sun while you immerse yourself in the complex history of the centuries old city, HistoryMiami also offers walking tours along the city's beautiful beaches.
The Arizona Historical Society covers a lot of ground; it's responsible for the preservation and exploration of historical sites all across the state. With several museums that feature in depth exhibits and publications full of research that reveals important details of life in the Wild West, The Arizona Historical is an important resource for understanding the state as well as an important chapter of American history.
The Los Angeles Historical Society explores every aspect of what makes the City of Angels what it is today. From when the first humans took up residence California 6,000 years ago to the pioneers of movie magic who defined the city's sense of glitz and glamour to the tumultuous days of the 70's and 80's, there's a story for everybody told in the society's publications and at the museums it supports.
New Orleans is an incredible melting pot of cultures that has come to define the state of Louisiana for many people. Those curious about the past of this charmed city should visit the museums of The Historic New Orleans Collection, an active historical research center that also provides perspectives on a city with a flavor all its own through displays of centuries old folk art, jewelry, and fashion.
Not every historical society hosts black-tie galas or owns huge museums, some of them are housed in modest buildings and preserve the history of their communities largely through the efforts of enthusiastic volunteers. It's fitting that the Levittown Historical Society fits into the latter category. Levittown was one of the first planned suburban communities that define our image of the 1950's, an era much of the society's public collection comes from. You can't understand American without understanding Levittown.
Aspen, Colorado is widely known as a destination for skiers and snowboarders, but the Aspen Historical Society has enough on offer to lure history buffs off the slopes. Not only do they highlight the story of the town proper and its resorts with a museum and extensive archives, the AHS also preserves a nearby ghost town and contributes to upkeep on numerous historical properties in the area.
The New-York Historical Society is one of the largest and best-funded historical societies in the country, which it needs to be given its task of curating and exploring the millions of lifetimes that have passed in New York City. With numerous physical locations to learn about the city's expansive history and a wide array of materials and walking tours, the New-York Historical Society is the best way to discover the city's secrets.
The Hilton Head Historical Society preserves the history of one of the South's premier destinations. Plantations, forts from the Civil War, resorts visited by the rich and famous, and historic churches are all under the Hilton Head Historical Society's purview. Classes, lectures, and publications are all available from the society that can bring the story of the island to life.
Historic Seattle just celebrated its 40th anniversary as the main historical authority in Washington's largest city. The organization offers tours of the city's churches and cathedrals, museums, historic locations in each neighborhood, and coordinates the various heritage groups in Seattle. Many of their events run rain or shine, which is a plus in the North East.
Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation preserves many of the historic structures that were built by the philanthropy of the titans of industry who made the Pennsylvania city synonymous with steel and manufacturing. From the shimmering glass of PPG Place to the elegant town homes of Squirrel Hill, fans of history and architecture will appreciate the History and Landmark Foundation's many resources.
From its origins as a rough and tumble pioneer town to its current place as an international destination, the story of Las Vegas is truly fascinating. The Las Vegas Historical Society notes that the majority of people who have ever lived in the city are still alive, but some of the most important stories of how Las Vegas came to be are not widely known. Not everything that happens in Vegas needs to stay there.
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