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Interpreting the Evidence

Map of New York Apple Districts, 1917

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Map of New York Apple Districts, 1917 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Map of New York State showing major apple-growing regions, 1917.

Historical ContextNew York is a major apple-producing state.  Apple trees can be grown farther north than most other fruits because they blossom late in the spring, minimizing frost damage.  Consequently, many of our favorite varieties of apples got their start in New York State.  The Jonathan was first grown in Woodstock, while the McIntosh was first planted in the Champlain Valley.

Apples were introduced to New York before it was a state or even an English colony.  Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant planted an apple tree from Holland in New York City in 1647. French missionaries planted orchards near the Niagara River in 1700.  Soon Native Americans were planting orchards, while colonists continued to bring seeds from Europe.

Throughout the 18th century, orchards were established in the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys.  Hudson Valley orchards shipped fruit down the Hudson River to New York City.  In the late 1700s, the Esopus Spitzenburg, a favorite apple of Thomas Jefferson, was grown for the first time in the Hudson Valley. At about the same time, land companies required settlers to plant apple orchards as part of their land claims.  

The 1800s saw continued growth of apple cultivation in New York State.  Orchards along Lake Ontario sprang up with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 because the canal provided an easier way for apple growers to transport their crops to the market.  In the 1880s, growers started using insecticides and fungicides to control diseases and insects that threatened to wipe out the New York apple crop.  The year 1886 saw a record apple crop of fifty-four million bushels.

Today, apples are grown on more than 50,000 acres in the eastern and western Hudson Valley, the Champlain Valley, central New York, the Lake Country, and the Niagara Frontier.  New York State currently ranks second in the nation in apple production, producing an average of twenty-five million bushels of apples a year.

Compelling Question
How does geography impact local economies?

Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this map and explain why apples grow in the areas indicated and not the other areas of the state.

Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: How many years ago did the Romans bring apples to England? How long ago did Governor Stuyvesant plant an apple tree in New York City?

Math: If it takes two pounds of apples to make a pie, how many pounds of apples would you need to make a dozen pies?

Science: What do apples need to grow? (Consider climate, soil, pollination, etc.)

Family & Consumer Sciences: Taste pies made from different varieties of apples grown in New York State. Vote for the apple variety that makes the tastiest pie.