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.
– 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.
– After Prohibition was repealed, the very first brewery in the nation to receive a license to sell beer was in Upstate New York!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 Great New York State Fair began in Syracuse In 1841 and is the oldest state fair in the country. [source]
– In 1992, Jean Armour Polly, a librarian from Syracuse, wanted words that included both the experience of a fun activity and one that required skill to describe the experience of using the internet to others. She looked down at her Apple mouse pad featuring a surfer on a wave and became inspired to use the analogy–which caught on quick. “Surfing the web” has been used ever since. [source]
– 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]
– Sherrill is the smallest city in New York State and has a population of only 3,100.
– 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]
– On March 30, 1992 the Syracuse City Council voted unanimously to outlaw snow in the city until Christmas Eve of that same year. They declared, “Be it resolved, on behalf of the snow-weary citizens of the city of Syracuse, any further snowfall is expressly outlawed in the city of Syracuse until December 24, 1992.” It snowed two days later. No arrests were made. [source]
– 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 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]
– 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”.
– 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]
– 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]
– The victory celebrated by the North after the Civil War is often credited to the salt industry that boomed in Syracuse during the 1800’s. As the Union controlled the salt mines in Virginia and Pennsylvania, the Confederate Army had little access to salt. While the Union could preserve food rations with easy access to salt, the Confederate soldiers found it nearly impossible.
– 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.
– 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]