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Central New York Region Facts

The Central New York Region is characterized differently depending on who you’re talking to. There’s a bit of a fuzzy border between the western edge of the Central region and the eastern edge of the Finger Lakes. Its proximity to wine country and the formerly-known-as Leatherstocking Region have helped shape a unique culture for the small towns in this area.

Even with an educational institution like Syracuse University making the city of Syracuse a busy city, much of the Central New York region is rolling farmland dotted with small, vibrant communities.

History here spans all the topics you’re used to hearing about New York. As the Erie Canal once sliced through downtown Syracuse, this region has a fascinating past with the Underground Railroad, religious history, and salt production. Plus, it gave us one of the largest hoaxes to first be uncovered in the country!

Central New York Region Defined

For the purposes of this page and the rest of Exploring Upstate, the Central New York region is defined by seven different counties. Included in this list, you’ll find facts from Oneida, Madison, Chittenango, Broome, Otsego, Montgomery, and Schoharie counties.

Broome County Facts

– Founded in 1858, the New York State Inebriate Asylum (later, Binghamton State Hospital) was the first facility in the United State to treat alcoholism as a disease.

– Cigars were one of the first industries to help build the city of Binghamton. In the year 1890, over fifty cigar factories filled the city, but the largest was the Hull-Grummond factory, employing 300 that year. In 1906, the Hull-Grummond factory doubled its workforce to meet increased demand. All the cigar factories in Binghamton combined would produce 100 million cigars annually during the city’s peak production.

Chenango County Facts

– A surgeon from Norwich, New York named Tony Cicoria was standing near a telephone booth in 1994 when he was struck by a bolt of lightning. Though his heart stopped, a bystander resuscitated him. Right away, the non-musician found himself with obsessive thoughts of wanting to play the piano.  Within weeks he became a self-taught pianist and composer who has gone on to celebrate a level of success that many pianists never achieve. [source]

– The two-sided wooden pallet popular with DIY craft projects was patented in 1937 by George Raymond of Lyon Iron Corp. in Greene, New York. Today, Raymond Corporation is owned by Toyota Heavy Industries, and is a $2 Billion/yr business. [patent]

Madison County Facts

– Stanford University’s co-founder and namesake, Amasa Leland Stanford, received his own education in Upstate New York. He received his own law degree at Cazenovia Seminary (now, Cazenovia College) after studying there from 1841-45.

Montgomery County Facts

– The City of Amsterdam, New York was originally settled by Scotch-Irish and German Palatine families in the 1700’s. The original name of the settlement was Veddersburg, for two original settlers, Anna Q. and Albert H. Vedder, whose family line would later give us Eddie Vedder, front man rocker for the band Pearl Jam. [source]

Oneida County Facts

Lansing Street in Utica was named for John Lansing. He was born in Albany, and later was mayor to the city. As his popularity increased, so did his prominence, and he would then serve as Chancellor to New York from 1801-1814. Later, the town of Lansing, New York would be named for him, and New Yorkers who moved west would found the city of Lansing, Michigan in his honor, which is now the Michigan state capital.

– After Prohibition was repealed, the very first brewery in the nation to receive a license to sell beer was in Upstate New York! Utica Club became the first legal brewery in the nation on April 7, 1933.

– The City of Utica has resettled nearly 400 refugees per year since the late 1970’s. Foreign-born citizens speaking English as a second language now make up over 20% of the city’s total population of about 63,000. [source]

The concept of “long underwear” began with the Union Suit, which was originally designed for women. The one-piece fashion innovation first came from Utica, and allowed women to wear fewer layers. Traditionally, it was made with red flannel and featured a “flap” in the buttocks region. It didn’t take long for the functionality to become popular with men, too. [source]

– Sherrill is the smallest city in New York State and has a population of only 3,100.

– The Oneida silverware that you use today was first created by what many believe to be the best example of a Utopian society to ever exist. The Oneida Community was a religious communal society founded in 1848 near Syracuse that operated until their dissolution in 1881. They practiced complex marriage, male sexual continence, mutual criticism, and communalism. They had many businesses to support their lifestyle, but the Oneida Limited silverware company is the only one still in operation. [source]

Otsego County Facts

– In 2008, MLB announced that the final ever Hall of Fame Game played in Cooperstown would be played that year on July 16, forever ending the annual tradition that began in 1940, because of ‘the inherent challenges’ of scheduling two teams to play. The game ended up being cancelled because of rain.

– The very first ‘Ransomware’ computer virus was distributed via floppy disk to attendees of the 1989 World Health Organization’s AIDS conference. The creator was a biologist named Joseph Popp who was arrested, but never convicted on account of insanity. He later opened a butterfly conservatory in Oneonta, New York which he operated with his daughter until his death. [source]

– Cooperstown was founded by William Cooper, who the town is named for. His son, James Fenimore Cooper was born and raised there, and later wrote a series of novels. One of those novels was “Last of the Mohicans”.

Schoharie County Facts

– While blasting for a quarry in Gilboa, New York in the year 1870, workers uncovered nine fossilized tree stumps. Later in 2004, the fossilized tops of those same trees were discovered. Today, they are believed to have first grown during the Devonian Period approximately 380 million years ago–making it the oldest known forest on the entire planet. [source]