Mets and Yankees Get New Homes

It’s hard to imagine, but it’s true. The scent of beer, hot dogs, and Cracker Jacks wafts no more through New York City’s two historic baseball stadiums. On November 8, 2008, “The House That Ruth Built” officially closed. Since 1923, it’s come to be associated with not only the Yankees but the legacy of baseball itself. The 2009 season opened in New Yankee Stadium, adjacent to the old Yankee Stadium. Not to be outdone by its crosstown rival, Shea Stadium also saw its last baseball game in the 2008 season. The longtime home of the New York Mets has been demolished to make way for Citi Field, which opened at the beginning of the 2009 season.

Politics, For Better or For Worse

New York politics took some hard knocks in 2008. After a stunning victory in 2006, Eliot Spitzer swept into the governor’s office, putting the state leadership back in Democratic hands. But in 2008 Spitzer was forced to resign due to his involvement in a prostitution ring. David Patterson, the lieutenant governor, took over the reigns. One of his first directives was to recognize same-sex marriages in New York. Later in the year, former first lady Hilary Rodham Clinton resigned her seat in the Senate to take the position of secretary of state under President Barack Obama. Caroline Kennedy had a brief flirtation with the vacant Senate post, but personal reasons prompted her to withdraw her name from consideration, and Lieutenant Governor Patterson appointed a pro-gun Democrat from upstate, Kirsten Gillibrand.

A New Cork in Wine Country

The Finger Lakes region is second only to Napa in its wine production, with some 100 wineries producing some of the finest wines in the country. One of the region’s highlights is its ice wine, a sweet dessert wine made from frozen grapes. New York ice wines have received international acclaim, rivaling Germany and Canada, who have produced some of the best ice wines in the world. Thus, in February 2009, the 1st annual New York Ice Wine festival kicked off with great success, filled with tastings, seminars, live entertainment, and meals prepared by chefs from around the world. Oenophiles should mark their 2010 calendars for this monthlong event.

Woodstock Revisited

If you thought Woodstock was a memory, think again. The historic festival lives on at the Catskill area’s Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. A new museum and performance space at the center opened in 2008. It is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Woodstock Festival and its era. Interactive exhibits, displays, and artifacts are showcased throughout the museum and galleries.

The Intrepid Sets Sail Once Again

After being closed two years for renovations, New York’s City’s beloved Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum opened its doors on November 2008. Alongside its many permanent exhibits, such as the USS Growler submarine, lunar modules, and A-12 Blackbird spy plane, the museum also showcases a British Airways Concorde.

History on the Hudson

Currently closed for extensive renovations, one of the most beautiful historic estates on the Hudson, the 23-room Montgomery Place, plans to reopen in late 2009. The house, in Annandale-on-Hudson, is an exceptional example of early 19th-century architecture, complete with an inspired interior. The grounds are equally inspiring, with 434 lush acres of orchards, flower gardens, and ancient trees. Sweeping views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains highlight this dramatic country home. Though you can’t go inside the house, you can still visit the grounds on a self-guided or audio tour.

It’s All about Buffalo

Buffalo always seems to fall under the glitzy radar of New York City. Not so in 2008. Suddenly, it seemed as if New Yorkers were discovering a long-lost historic city. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Buffalo one of its 2009 Dozen Distinctive Destinations, and the New York Times listed it as one of its “44 Places to Go in 2009.” And why not? Its historic downtown is rich with mansions and some of the world’s first skyscrapers, including the art-deco styling of Buffalo City Hall, the Liberty Building, with its two small replicas of the Statue of Liberty, and the terra-cotta tiled Guaranty Building, the tallest building constructed in the 1890s. Frank Lloyd Wright also put his stamp on the city with such structures as the Prairie-style Darwin D. Martin house. The innovative cultural scene rocks with cutting-edge art, music festivals, and theater. Add to that stylish hotels and restaurants, and it’s no wonder Buffalo has become a must-see destination.