Economic History

Since the founding of colonial New Netherlands in the 17th century, New York has led the economic development of the United States. The Erie Canal and New York City played the central role in that development and helped make New York the Empire State. The various modes of transportation gave New Yorkers great access to markets for their products and the natural resources of the State. Combining those assets with the wealth generated and invested into industrial pursuits, New York State lead the nation in manufacturing from 1840-1960.  New York’s economic story starts on a local level with the individual and goes to the multi-national corporations who thrive in our State. From the local farmer who raises cows to produce milk, to the scientist who invents a new computer, the New York State Museum’s collections encompass the vast aspects of economic and technological experiences our State.