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In the Footsteps of Roger Tory Peterson

‘In the Footsteps of Roger Tory Peterson’ – a self-guided tour through the childhood hometown of the great 20th century naturalist, artist and educator 

Within the bustling streets, city parks and school yards of Jamestown, New York, the natural world teems with life and is there to be discovered by those who regard it. It was this same perception of Jamestown’s urban habitats and species that imprinted upon a young Swedish-American boy by the name of Roger Tory Peterson, who grew up here in the early 1900s. Insects, birds and plants throughout the city inspired Roger to observe and record their likenesses and differences, learn their identities and sketch out what made each so unique. Through the encouragement of his seventh grade teacher, Ms. Blanche Hornbeck, and his drive to explore the natural world with his Junior Audubon Club, Roger Tory Peterson’s development into the great naturalist of the 20th century began right here in Jamestown.


Throughout his early career moves within some of the city’s leading furniture industry, Roger’s potential as an artist was recognized by his superiors who encouraged him to pursue art school. Inspired by the natural world in his immediate surroundings, starting within the city limits of Jamestown,  Roger Tory Peterson continued onto a long, productive and fascinating life committed to art, education and conservation that led him to all corners of the world.

Discover the natural world in Roger Tory Peterson’s childhood home town and be inspired by the same places that touched Roger nearly a century ago through RTPI’s “In the Footsteps of Roger Tory Peterson” cell phone tour. Visit the 15 walkable or drivable tour stops, learn more about Roger’s family and Swedish heritage, his life-changing experience with a Northern Flicker, adventures into the wilds of town with friends and more!

RTP Sign

Each stop is marked with a tour specific sign that features a phone number, QR code and associated stop number. For those with a regular phone, simply dial the phone number and enter the stop number when prompted to hear fascinating information about Roger Tory Peterson at each location. Those with smart phones can scan the QR* code on each sign to access audio files, historical photos and a mobile map of the tour stop locations. This tour is free** to use, can be started or stopped from any sign and can be accessed in any order – you can visit one site or experience them all.

Take a walk in Roger Tory Peterson’s footsteps and allow the history and (sometimes hidden) natural beauty of Jamestown’s streets, parks and other green spaces inspire you. 

*Smartphone users intending to scan the QR code must have a QR code reader app. If your phone is not already equipped with one there are free scanners available to download on nearly any applicable device

**Standard cell phone and data charges may apply.