Ithaca, New York
From top left: Ithaca during winter, Ithaca during autumn, Cornell University, Ithaca Commons (downtown), Hemlock Gorge in Ithaca, Ithaca Falls
|US state||New York|
|• Mayor||Svante Myrick (D)|
|• Common Council|
|• City||6.1 sq mi (15.7 km2)|
|• Land||5.5 sq mi (14.1 km2)|
|• Water||0.6 sq mi (1.6 km2)|
|Elevation||446 ft (136 m)|
|• City||30,014 (city proper)|
|• Density||5,364/sq mi (2,071.0/km2)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC−5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC−4)|
The city of Ithaca // is a city in central New York and the county seat of Tompkins County, as well as the largest community in the Ithaca-Tompkins County metropolitan area (which also contains the separate municipalities of the town of Ithaca, the village of Cayuga Heights, the village of Lansing and other towns and villages in Tompkins County). The city of Ithaca sits on the southern shore of Cayuga Lake, in Central New York. It is named for the Greek island of Ithaca.
Ithaca is home to Cornell University, an Ivy League school of over 20,000 students, most of whom study on Cornell’s Ithaca campus. Ithaca College is located just south of the city in the town of Ithaca, adding to Ithaca’s "college town" focus and atmosphere. Nearby is Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3). These three colleges influence Ithaca's seasonal population. In 2010, the city's population was 30,014, and the metropolitan area had a population of 101,564.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography and climate
- 3 Education
- 4 Economy
- 5 Culture
- 6 Local government
- 7 Demographics
- 8 Transportation
- 9 Reputation
- 10 Points of interest
- 11 In popular culture
- 12 Notable people
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
The inhabitants of the Ithaca area at the time Europeans began arriving were the Saponi and Tutelo Indians, dependent tribes of the Cayuga Indians who were part of the Iroquois confederation. These tribes settled on Cayuga-controlled hunting lands at the south end of Cayuga Lake as well as in Pony (originally Sapony) Hollow of Newfield, New York, after being forced from North Carolina by European invasion. They were driven from the area by the Sullivan Expedition which destroyed the Tutelo village of Coregonal, located near the junction of state routes 13 and 13A just south of the Ithaca city limits. Indian presence in the current City of Ithaca was limited to a temporary hunting camp at the base of Cascadilla Gorge. The destruction of Iroquois confederation power opened the region to settlement by people of European origin, a process which began in 1789. In 1790, an official program began for distributing land in the area as a reward for service to the American soldiers of the Revolutionary War; most local land titles trace back to the Revolutionary war grants. Lots were drawn in 1791; informal settlement had already started.
Partition of the Military Tract
As part of this process, the Central New York Military Tract, which included northern Tompkins County, was surveyed by Simeon DeWitt. His clerk Robert Harpur had a fondness for ancient Greek and Roman history as well as English authors and philosophers (as evidenced by the nearby townships of Dryden and Locke). The Commissioners of Lands of New York State (chairman Gov. George Clinton) followed Harpur's recommendations at a meeting in 1790. The Military Tract township in which proto-Ithaca was located he named the Town of Ulysses, the Latin form of the Greek Odysseus from Homer's Odyssey. A few years later DeWitt moved to Ithaca, then called variously "The Flats," "The City," or "Sodom," and named it for the Greek island home of Ulysses (still the surrounding township at the time — nowadays Ulysses is a separate town in Tompkins County). Contrary to popular myth, DeWitt did not name many of the classical references found in Upstate New York such as Syracuse and Troy; these were from the general classical fervor of the times.
In the 1820s and 1830, Ithaca held high hopes of becoming a major city when the Ithaca and Owego Railroad was completed in 1832 to connect the Erie Canal navigation with the Susquehanna River to the south. In 1821, the village set itself off by incorporation at the same time the Town of Ithaca parted with the parent town of Ulysses. These hopes survived the depression of 1837 when the railroad was re-organized as the Cayuga & Susquehanna and re-engineered with switchbacks in the late 1840s; much of this route is now used by the South Hill Recreation Way. However, easier routes soon became available, such as the Syracuse, Binghamton & New York (1854). In the decade following the Civil War railroads were built from Ithaca to surrounding points (Geneva, New York; Cayuga, New York; Cortland, New York; Elmira, New York; Athens, Pennsylvania) mainly with financing from Ezra Cornell. However, the geography of the city has always prevented it from lying on a major transportation artery. When the Lehigh Valley Railroad built its main line from Pennsylvania to Buffalo in 1890 it bypassed Ithaca (running via eastern Schuyler County on easier grades), as the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad had done in the 1850s.
The late 19th century gave birth to the two major postsecondary educational institutions Ithaca has today. In 1865, Ezra Cornell founded Cornell University. It was opened as a coeducational institution. Women first enrolled in 1870. Ezra Cornell also established a public library for the city. Ithaca College was founded as the Ithaca Conservatory of Music in 1892. Ithaca College was originally located in the downtown area, but relocated to South Hill in the 1960s.
Ithaca became a city in 1888 and became a small manufacturing and retail center. The Ithaca Gun Factory opened in 1880. The largest industrial company (and associated building) in the area was Morse Chain, elements of which were absorbed into Emerson Power Transmission on South Hill and Borg Warner Automotive in Lansing, New York. After World War II, National Cash Register and the Langmuir Research Labs of General Electric were also major employers.
During the early 20th century, Ithaca was an important center in the silent film industry. These films often featured the local natural scenery. Many of these films were the work of Leopold Wharton and his brother Theodore Wharton in their studio on the site of what is now Stewart Park. After the film industry centralized in Hollywood, production in Ithaca effectively ceased. Few of the silent films made in Ithaca are preserved today.
For decades, the Ithaca Gun Company tested their shotguns behind the plant on Lake Street; the shot fell into Fall Creek (a tributary of Cayuga Lake) right at the base of Ithaca Falls. A major clean-up effort sponsored by the United States Superfund took place from 2002 to 2004. After many years of debate and environmental concerns, the old Ithaca Gun building has been dismantled and is scheduled to be replaced by an apartment complex.
The former Morse Chain company factory on South Hill, now owned by Emerson Power Transmission, was the site of extensive groundwater and soil contamination. Emerson Power Transmission has been working with the state and South Hill residents to determine the extent and danger of the contamination and aid in cleanup.
Geography and climate
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The valley in which Cayuga Lake is located is long and narrow with a north-south orientation. Ithaca is at the southern end (the "head") of the lake, but the valley continues to the southwest behind the city. Originally a river valley, it was deepened and widened by the action of Pleistocene ice sheets over the last several hundred thousand years. The lake, which drains to the north, formed behind a dam of glacial moraine. The rock is predominantly Devonian and, north of Ithaca, is relatively fossil rich. Glacial erratics can be found in the area. The world-renowned fossils found in this area can be examined at the Museum of the Earth.
Ithaca was founded on flat land just south of the lake — land that formed in fairly recent geological times when silt filled the southern end of the lake. The city ultimately spread to the adjacent hillsides, which rise several hundred feet above the central flats: East Hill, West Hill, and South Hill. Its sides are fairly steep, and a number of the streams that flow into the valley from east or west have cut deep canyons, usually with several waterfalls.
Ithaca experiences a moderate continental climate. Winters are long, cold, and snowy, with temperatures reaching 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower on an average 9.9 nights annually and an average of 67 in (170 cm) of snow per season. The largest snowfall in one day was 26.0 in (66 cm) on February 14, 1914. Summers are warm and humid, with usually comfortable temperatures. Readings of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher occur on an average of just 5.2 days per year, and 100 °F (38 °C)+ temperatures have only occurred ten times since record-keeping began in 1893. The average date of the first freeze is October 5, and the average date of the last freeze is May 15, giving Ithaca a growing season of 141 days. The average date of the first and last snowfalls are November 12 and April 7, respectively. Extreme temperatures range from −25 °F (−32 °C) as recently as February 2, 1961 up to 103 °F (39 °C) on July 9, 1936.
The valley flatland has slightly milder weather in winter, and occasionally Ithacans experience simultaneous snow on the hills and rain in the valley. The phenomenon of mixed precipitation (rain, wind, and snow), common in the late fall and early spring, is known tongue-in-cheek as ithacation to many of the local residents.
Due to the microclimates created by the impact of the lakes, the region surrounding Ithaca (Finger Lakes American Viticultural Area) experiences a short but adequate growing season for winemaking similar to the Rhine Valley wine district of Germany. As such the region is home to many wineries.
|Climate data for Ithaca, New York (Cornell University), 1893–2012|
|Record high °F (°C)||70
|Average high °F (°C)||31.6
|Average low °F (°C)||15.7
|Record low °F (°C)||−25
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||2.01
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||15.5
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ .01 inch)||15||13||14||14||14||12||12||11||11||12||13||15||156|
|Source: Western Regional Climate Center |
Ithaca is a major educational center in Central New York. The city is home to Cornell University which overlooks the town from East Hill, and Ithaca College, situated on South Hill. The two schools bring a substantial student population, with about 21,000 students enrolled at Cornell and about 6,400 at Ithaca College. Tompkins Cortland Community College is located in the neighboring town of Dryden, New York, and has an extension center in downtown Ithaca. Empire State College offers non-traditional college courses to adults in downtown Ithaca.
The Ithaca City School District, which encompasses Ithaca and the surrounding area, enrolls about 5,500 K-12 students in eight elementary schools, two middle schools, Ithaca High School, and the Lehman Alternative Community School. There are also several private elementary and secondary schools in the Ithaca area, including Immaculate Conception School, the Cascadilla School, the New Roots Charter School, the Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School, and the Ithaca Waldorf School. Ithaca has two networks for supporting its home-schooling families: Loving Education At Home (LEAH) and the Northern Light Learning Center (NLLC).
Ithaca draws students from around the United States and the rest of the world with its various vocational schools and specialty institutes, such as the 1000-hour program at the Finger Lakes School of Massage. Ithaca's Suzuki school, Ithaca Talent Education, provides musical training for children of all ages and also teacher training for undergraduate and graduate-level students. The Community School of Music and Art uses an extensive scholarship system to offer classes and lessons to any student, regardless of age, background, economic status or artistic ability.
The economy of Ithaca is based on education and manufacturing with high tech and tourism in strong supporting roles. As of 2006, Ithaca remains one of the few expanding economies in economically troubled New York State outside of New York City, and draws commuters from the neighboring rural counties of Cortland, Tioga, and Schuyler, as well as from the more urbanized Chemung County.
With some level of success, Ithaca has tried to maintain a traditional downtown shopping area that includes the Ithaca Commons pedestrian mall and Center Ithaca, a small mixed-use complex built at the end of the urban renewal era. Another commercial center, Collegetown, is located next to the Cornell campus. It features a number of restaurants, shops, and bars, and an increasing number of high rise apartments and is primarily frequented by Cornell University students.
Ithaca has many of the businesses characteristic of small American university towns: used bookstores, art house cinemas, craft stores, and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. The collective Moosewood Restaurant, founded in 1973, was the wellspring for a number of vegetarian cookbooks; Bon Appetit magazine ranked it among the thirteen most influential restaurants of the 20th century. Ithaca has many local restaurants and chains both in the city and town with a range of ethnic foods. The innovative and popular Ithaca Bakery chain, and the Ithaca Farmers Market also provide a range of foods.
Ithacans support the Ithaca Farmers Market, professional theaters (Kitchen Theatre Company, Hangar Theatre, Icarus Theatre), a civic orchestra, much parkland, the Sciencenter, a hands-on science museum for people of all ages, an independent movie theater (Cinemapolis), and the Museum of the Earth. Ithaca is noted for its annual artistic celebration of community: The Ithaca Festival (and its parade), the Circus Eccentrithaca. The Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts provides grants and Summer Fellowships at the Saltonstall Arts Colony for New York State artists and writers. Ithaca also hosts what is described as the third-largest used-book sale in the United States.
Other festivals occur annually, usually centered around food, music, and/or spirits. These include The Apple Festival in the fall, with many different varieties of apples and apple products; Chili Fest in February, a local contest involving many local restaurants who compete to make the best chili in several different categories; the Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival in July; Porchfest in late September, which includes an eclectic mix of local musicians performing throughout the day on an array of porches in Fall Creek homes; and Ithaca Brew Fest in Stewart Park in September, usually featuring tastings of over 100 varieties of beer from regional, national, and international Craft brewers, food from local vendors, and music from local bands.
Ithaca has also pioneered the Ithaca Health Fund, a popular cooperative health insurance. Ithaca is also home to one of the United States' first local currency systems, Ithaca Hours, developed by Paul Glover (building on the pioneering work of Ralph Borsodi and Robert Swann).
It is claimed locally that in 1891, Rev. John M. Scott and a local druggist, Chester Platt, invented the ice cream sundae in Ithaca, though other cities make the same claim. The local Unitarian church, where Rev. Scott preached, has an annual "Sundae Sunday" every September in commemoration.
Music and musicians
Ithaca is known for its resident musicians, who contribute to a music scene which is unusually talented and diverse for such a small town. These musicians have come from many backgrounds to pursue their careers in Ithaca; the School of Music at Ithaca College attracts talented musicians, some of whom remain in Ithaca after graduating and take up work as performing musicians or in the sound engineering field. Ithaca is the seat of the Official Orchestra of the City of Ithaca, commonly known under the name Cayuga Chamber Orchestra.
Several notable musicians have relocated from other countries to Ithaca in order to begin their careers, most notably Samite of Uganda, Mamadou Diabaté of Mali and Malang Jobateh of Senegal. Other regionally, nationally and internationally known performers and musical groups that call Ithaca home include: Donna the Buffalo, The Burns Sisters, jazz cellist Hank Roberts, Johnny Dowd, Jimkata, John Brown's Body, Ayurveda, The Gunpoets, The Blind Spots, The Sim Redmond Band, Nate & Kate, The Horse Flies, Technicolor Trailer Park, Who You Are, Willie B, Kevin Kinsella, and X Ambassadors. The Spin Doctors began their career in Ithaca. Traditional folk music is a staple and is featured weekly on North America's longest running live folk concert broadcast WVBR 93.5 FM's Bound for Glory.
In the nearby village of Trumansburg, the Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance is held every third week in July. Initiated as a benefit for Aids research at the State Theater in Ithaca by the band Donna the Buffalo, it has successfully occurred every year for the past 20 years. The Grassroots Festival has brought hundreds and hundreds of bands through the region, further enriching the local musical palate with every new introduction of musical style and culture. Several local bands call it home as either a figurative birthplace or a nurturing environment within which to develop new forms of music. Other notable local music festivals include the Ithaca Festival, Musefest, the Summertime Block Party, the Juneteenth Celebration and Rock the Arts.
The dominant local newspaper in Ithaca is a morning daily, The Ithaca Journal, founded 1815. The paper is owned by Gannett, Inc., publishers of USA Today. The alternative weekly newspaper Ithaca Times is distributed free of charge. Other area publications include Tompkins Weekly, the Ithaca Community News, 14850 Magazine, the Cornell Daily Sun, the Ithacan, and the Tattler. (The latter three are run by student staffs at Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Ithaca High School, respectively.)
Ithaca is also home to several radio stations. WVBR 93.5 FM is associated with Cornell University in the sense that it is owned and predominantly staffed by an association composed of enrolled Cornell students; but it is an independent, financially self-supporting commercial station in the rock format playing a mix of modern and classic rock during the week and specialty shows on the weekend. WICB 91.7 FM is an award-winning, non-commercial, student-run station owned by Ithaca College. WPIE 1160 AM/107.1 FM "ESPN Ithaca" is a sports talk station locally owned by Taughannock Media with a transmitter in Trumansburg and translator in Ithaca. The Cayuga Radio Group, a subsidiary of Saga Communications, Inc., owns country WQNY "Q-Country" 103.7 FM, WYXL "Lite Rock" 97.3 FM, news/talk WHCU 870 AM, progressive talk WNYY 1470 AM, as well as classic rock "I-100" WIII 99.9 FM, with its main transmitter in Cortland and a repeating station at 100.3 FM in Ithaca. Saga also has lower-powered "translator" stations "Hits 103.3" and "98.7 The Vine" on the FM dial. WFIZ "Z95.5" is also in the area, broadcasting a top-40, CHR format. Classic rock "The Wall" WLLW 99.3 and 96.3, based in Seneca Falls, has a transmitter in Ithaca. There is also NPR and classical programming available on WSQG 90.9 FM, NPR/college programming on WEOS repeater 88.1 FM, and Christian music and talk Family Life Network on 88.9 FM.
Politically, the city's population has a significant tilt toward liberalism and the Democratic Party. A November 2004 study by ePodunk lists it as New York's most liberal town. This contrasts with the more conservative leanings of the surrounding Upstate New York region, and is also somewhat more liberal than the rest of Tompkins County. In 1988, Jesse Jackson received the most votes in Ithaca in the Democratic Presidential primary. In 2000, Ralph Nader received more votes for President than George W. Bush in the City of Ithaca, and 11% county-wide. In 2008, Barack Obama, running against New York State's Senator Hillary Clinton, won Tompkins County in the Democratic Presidential Primary, the only county that he won in New York State. Obama went on to win Tompkins County (including Ithaca) by a wide margin of 41% over his opponent John McCain in the November 2008 election.
The Town of Ithaca is one of the nine towns comprising Tompkins County. (Towns in New York are something like townships in other states; every county outside New York City is subdivided into towns.) The City of Ithaca is surrounded by, but legally independent of, the Town. The Town of Ithaca contains the village of Cayuga Heights, a small incorporated upper-middle class suburb located to the northeast of the City of Ithaca.
The City of Ithaca has a mayor-council government. The charter of the City of Ithaca provides for a full-time mayor and city judge, each independent and elected at large. Since 1995, the mayor has been elected to a four-year term, and since 1989, the city judge has been elected to a six-year term. Since 1983, the city has been divided into five wards, each electing two members to the city council, known as the Common Council, for staggered four-year terms. In March 2015, the Common Council unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing freedom from domestic violence as a fundamental human right.
The Town government consists of an executive, the Town Supervisor, elected to a four-year term, and a Town Council of five members also elected for terms of four years.
The majority of local property taxes are actually assessed by an entirely independent agency with entirely different borders, the Ithaca City School District.
In December 2005, the City and Town governments began discussing opportunities for increased government consolidation, including the possibility of joining the two into a single entity. This topic had been previously discussed in 1963 and 1969.
The possibility of consolidation is controversial for Town residents who could be forced to pay higher taxes as they help shoulder the higher debt burden that the City has taken on. Some Town residents also worry that consolidation could lead to increased sprawl and traffic congestion. However, most of the Town's population is already concentrated in hamlets in proximity to the City's borders and Town residents take advantage of City amenities. Mayor Walter Lynn of Cayuga Heights called consolidation discussion a "waste of time."
The term "Greater Ithaca" encompasses both the City and Town of Ithaca, as well as several smaller settled places within or adjacent to the Town:
Ithaca is the larger principal city of the Ithaca-Cortland CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Ithaca metropolitan area (Tompkins County) and the Cortland micropolitan area (Cortland County), which had a combined population of 145,100 at the 2000 census.
As of the census of 2000, there were 29,287 people, 10,287 households, and 2,962 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,360.9 people per square mile (2,071.0/km²). There were 10,736 housing units at an average density of 1,965.2 per square mile (759.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.97% White, 13.65% Asian, 6.71% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.86% from other races, and 3.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.31% of the population.
There were 10,287 households out of which 14.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 19.0% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 71.2% were non-families. 43.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.81.
In the city the population was spread out with 9.2% under the age of 18, 53.8% from 18 to 24, 20.1% from 25 to 44, 10.6% from 45 to 64, and 6.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females there were 102.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $21,441, and the median income for a family was $42,304. Males had a median income of $29,562 versus $27,828 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,408. About 13.2% of individuals and 4.2% of families were below the poverty line.
Ithaca is in the rural Finger Lakes region about 225 miles (362 km) northwest of New York City; the nearest larger cities, Binghamton and Syracuse, are an hour's drive away by car, Rochester and Scranton are two hours, Buffalo and Albany are three. New York City and Philadelphia are about four hours away. Cleveland, Boston, Washington DC, and Montreal are about five hours away.
Ithaca lies at over a half hour's drive from any interstate highway, and all car trips to Ithaca involve some driving on two-lane state rural highways. The city is at the convergence of many regional two-lane state highways: Routes 13, 13A, 34, 79, 89, 96, 96B, and 366. These are usually not congested except in Ithaca proper. However, Route 79 between the I-81 access at Whitney Point and Ithaca receives a significant amount of Ithaca-bound congestion right before Ithaca's colleges reopen after breaks.
There is frequent intercity bus service by Greyhound Lines, New York Trailways, and Shortline (Coach USA), particularly to Binghamton and New York City, with limited service to Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse, and (via connections in Binghamton) to Utica and Albany. The bus station serving all these companies is the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railway station on Meadow St. between W State and W Seneca streets, a little over half a mile west of downtown Ithaca. Cornell University runs a premium Campus to Campus bus between its Ithaca campus and its medical school in New York City which is open to the public.
Ithaca is the center of an extensive bus public transportation network. TCAT, Inc (Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, Inc.) is a not-for-profit corporation that provides public transportation for Tompkins County New York. TCAT was reorganized as a non-profit corporation in 2004 and is primarily supported locally by Cornell University, the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County. TCAT's ridership increased from 2.7 million in 2004 to 4.4 million in 2013. http://www.tcatbus.com/files/all/tcat_2013_yearbook_-_final.pdf TCAT operates 33 routes, many running seven days a week. It has frequent service to downtown, Cornell, Ithaca College, and the Shops at Ithaca Mall in the neighboring Town of Lansing, but less frequent service to many residential and rural areas, including Trumansburg and Newfield. Chemung County Transit (C-TRAN) runs weekday commuter service from Chemung County to Ithaca. Cortland Transit runs commuter service to Cornell University. Tioga County Public Transit operates three routes to Ithaca and Cornell, but will cease operating on November 30, 2014.
GADABOUT Transportation Services, Inc. provides demand-response paratransit service for seniors over 60 and people with disabilities. Ithaca Dispatch provides local and regional taxi service. In addition, Ithaca Airline Limousine and IthaCar Service connect to the local airports.
In July 2008, a non-profit called Ithaca Carshare began a carsharing service in Ithaca. Ithaca Carshare has a fleet of 23 vehicles shared by over 1300 members as of March 2013 and has become a popular service among both city residents and the college communities. Vehicles are located throughout Ithaca downtown and the two major institutions. With Ithaca Carshare as the first locally run carsharing organization in New York State, others have since launched in Buffalo and Syracuse. Independent studies have shown that for each Ithaca Carshare vehicle in the fleet, 15 fewer personally owner cars are owned.
Rideshare services to promote carpooling and vanpooling are operated by ZIMRIDE and VRIDE. A community mobility education program, Way2Go is operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. Way2Go's website provides consumer information and videos. Way2Go works collaboratively to help people save money, stress less, go green and improve mobility options. The 2-1-1 Tompkins/Cortland Help line connects people with services, including transportation, in the community, by telephone and web on a 24/7 basis. The information and referral service is operated by the Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County, Inc. Together, 2-1-1 Information and Referral and Way2Go are a one-call, one-click resource designed to mobility services information for Ithaca and throughout Tompkins County.
As a growing urban area, Ithaca is facing steady increases in levels of vehicular traffic on the city grid and on the state highways. Outlying areas have limited bus service, and many people consider a car essential. However, many consider Ithaca a walkable and bikeable community. One positive trend for the health of downtown Ithaca is the new wave of increasing urban density in and around the Ithaca Commons. Because the downtown area is the region's central business district, dense mixed-use development that includes housing may increase the proportion of people who can walk to work and recreation, and mitigate the likely increased pressure on already busy roads as Ithaca grows. The downtown area is also the area best served by frequent public transportation. Still, traffic congestion around the Commons is likely to progressively increase.
Ithaca is served by Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, located about three miles to the northeast of the city center. US Airways Express offers flights to its hub at Philadelphia, operated by Piedmont Airlines using de Havilland Canada Dash 8 turboprop airliners. Delta Connection provides service to its hub at Detroit Metro airport, operated by Endeavor Air using Bombardier CRJ-200 airliners. United Express offers three daily flights to Newark Liberty International Airport, operated by CommutAir using Bombardier Dash 8 turboprops. Some residents choose to travel to Syracuse Hancock International Airport, Greater Binghamton Airport, Elmira-Corning Regional Airport or Greater Rochester International Airport for more airline service options.
Norfolk Southern freight trains reach Ithaca from Sayre, Pennsylvania, mainly to deliver coal to AES Cayuga, a coal power plant (known as Milliken Station during NYSEG ownership) and haul out salt from the Cargill salt mine, both on the east shore of Cayuga Lake. There is no passenger rail service, although from the 1870s through the 1950s there were trains to Buffalo via Geneva, New York; to New York City via Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (Lehigh Valley Railroad) and Scranton, Pennsylvania (DL&W); to Auburn, New York; and to the US northeast via Cortland, New York; service to Buffalo and New York City lasted until 1961. The Lehigh Valley's top New York City-Ithaca-Buffalo passenger train, "The Black Diamond", was optimistically publicized as 'The Handsomest Train in the World', perhaps to compensate for its roundabout route to Buffalo. It was named after the railroad's largest commodity, anthracite coal.
In addition to its liberal politics, Ithaca is commonly listed among the most culturally liberal of American small cities. The Utne Reader named Ithaca "America's most enlightened town" in 1997. According to ePodunk's Gay Index, Ithaca has a score of 231, versus a national average score of 100.
Like many small college towns, Ithaca has also received accolades for having a high overall quality of life. In 2004, Cities Ranked and Rated named Ithaca the best "emerging city" to live in the United States. In 2006, the Internet realty website "Relocate America" named Ithaca the fourth best city in the country to relocate to. In July 2006, Ithaca was listed as one of the "12 Hippest Hometowns for Vegetarians" by VegNews Magazine and chosen by Mother Earth News as one of the "12 Great Places You've Never Heard Of."
In 2012, the city was listed among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S. by U.S. News.
Ithaca was also ranked 13th among America's Best College Towns by Travel + Leisure in 2013 and ranked as the #1 Best College Town in America in the American Institute for Economic Research's 2013-2014 College Destination Index.
In its earliest years during frontier days, what is now Ithaca was briefly known by the names "The Flats" and "Sodom," the name of the Biblical city of sin, due to its reputation as a town of "notorious immorality", a place of horse racing, gambling, profanity, Sabbath breaking, and readily available liquor. These names did not last long; Simeon DeWitt renamed the town Ithaca in the early 19th century, though nearby Robert H. Treman State Park still contains Lucifer Falls.
Points of interest
- Beebe Lake
- Buttermilk Falls State Park
- Carl Sagan's Grave
- Cayuga Nature Center
- Cornell University
- EcoVillage at Ithaca
- Finger Lakes Trail
- Ithaca College
- Ithaca Commons
- Ithaca Dog Park
- Ithaca Farmers Market
- Moosewood Restaurant
- Paleontological Research Institution's Museum of the Earth
- Robert H. Treman State Park
- Sagan Planet Walk
- Stewart Park
- Taughannock Falls State Park
In popular culture
- My Education by Susan Choi (Though the college town setting is never named, readers familiar with Ithaca will note its extensive and obvious similarities)
- This Beautiful Life by Helen Shulman (Main character and her family moved from Ithaca to NYC)
- New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (Carlisle and Esme Cullen studied at Cornell University during the period of time that the Cullens moved away from Forks, Washington and during Edward's and Bella's breakup)
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (schoolgirl dialog captured on Ithaca city buses)
- Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov ('Waindell University' a portrait of Cornell)
- The War Between the Tates by Alison Lurie ('Corinth University', a thinly-disguised portrait of Cornell)
- Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Fariña ('Mentor University', same as above)
- The Widening Stain by Morris Bishop
- The Names of the Dead by Stewart O'Nan
- Enchantment by Orson Scott Card (partially set in Ithaca and fictional nearby towns)
- Various Kurt Vonnegut books have Ithaca references, most notably Player Piano, Slaughterhouse-Five, Hocus Pocus, and Cat's Cradle
- Fool on the Hill by Matt Ruff
- The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald
- We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
- Mailman by J. Robert Lennon takes place in a fictionalized Ithaca known as Nestor
- Z For Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien
- Between Two Fires by Nicholas Nicastro describes scenes in and around the site of Ithaca during the Revolutionary War
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (the main character, Jacob, was a Cornell University veterinary student)
- "Spiral" by Paul McEuen
- "The Saskiad" by Brian Hall
- Being Human — Main character Josh Levinson is from Ithaca and returns in episode 107 "I See Your True Colors... And That's Why I Hate You"
- Green Lights (2002) — dir. Robert H. Lieberman
- The Manhattan Project — dir. Marshall Brickman
- Road Trip (2000) — dir. Todd Phillips
- The Sure Thing (1985) — dir. Rob Reiner
- Waiting on Alphie (2005) — dir. Kevin Hicks
- Love Story (1970) — dir. Arthur Hiller
- The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962) – dir. Edward Bernds
See also The Whartons Studio for films shot in Ithaca prior to 1920.
- Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 167.
- "2007–08 facts" (PDF). Cornell University. Retrieved 2007-08-16.[dead link]
- Carol Kammen. "History of Ithaca and Tompkins County". City of Ithaca. Retrieved 2007-08-16.
- "TC3 - Tompkins Cortland Community College". Tc3.edu. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- "Welcome to Namgyal! Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York, is the North American Seat of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Open to all, Namgyal offers authentic teachings of Tibetan Buddhism in a traditional monastic setting.". Namgyal Monastery. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-16.
- "EPA Finishes $4.8 Million Cleanup at Ithaca Gun", United States Environmental Protection Agency, October 29, 2004. Retrieved March 25, 2006.
- "Public Meeting – Emerson Power Transmission Environmental Investigation", New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. June 22, 2005. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
- "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". NOAA. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
- "Winter Weather". TompkinsREADY. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
- "ITHACA CORNELL UNIV, NEW YORK – Climate Summary". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved 2013-08-14.
- "Cornell University : Enriollments by College : Ithaca Campus - Fall 2011" (PDF). Dpb.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- "Ithaca Farmers Market". Ithacamarket.com. 2009-05-16. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
- "Home". ithacabrewfest.com. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
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- "The Official Website of the Ice Cream Sundae". Icecreamsundae.com. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- "Two Rivers – The REAL Birthplace of the Ice Cream Sundae". Two Rivers Economic Development. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
- "Most liberal places in America". ePodunk.com. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- Harlin, Kevin (2000-11-09). "Tompkins Greens express no regrets". Ithaca Journal. p. 1A.
- "2000 presidential general election results" (PDF). New York State Board of Elections. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- "2008 presidential general election results" (PDF). New York State Board of Elections. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- Hill, David. "City: Freedom from domestic violence is a human right". www.ithacajournal.com. Ithaca Journal. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
- [dead link]
- [dead link], Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
- [dead link], Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
- [dead link], Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Ithaca, NY". Greyhound.com. 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- "Cornell Cooperative Extension | Way2Go". Ccetompkins.org. 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- Lee, Hardy Campbell (2008) (2nd ed.; first ed. 1977) A History of Railroads in Tompkins County. Revised and enlarged by Winton Rossiter, maps by David Rossiter. Ithaca, NY: The History Center in Tompkins County
- "Ithaca had its own 19th century railway rush", D G Rossiter, The Ithaca Journal, Centennial edition, Friday, 08-April-1988. Last Accessed on 24-August-2014
- Kerr, Richard D. (1972) The Ithaca Street Railway, Forty Fort, PA: Howard D. Cox
- "Street cars preceded local bus lines", D G Rossiter, The Ithaca Journal, Centennial edition, Friday, 08-April-1988 . Last Accessed on 24-August-2014
- Jay Walljasper, Jon Spayde, Ithaca, New York: A Gritty upstate City Where the Grassroots are Green, "America's 10 Most Enlightened Towns (and we don't mean Santa Fe)", May/June 1997 Issue, UTNE Reader
- "Ithaca Community Profile" Gays & Lesbians local index
- Relocate-America.com, "Relocate-America.com's 2006 list of America's TOP 100 Places to Live." Available online [dead link]. Retrieved 4 April 2006.
- Katherine Graham "Ithaca gets high marks from two earthy publications"[dead link], July 28, 2006, The Ithaca Journal
- "The 10 Best Places to Retire in 2012 - US News". Money.usnews.com. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- Collins, Beth (2013-11-26). "America's Best College Towns 2013 | Travel + Leisure". Travelandleisure.com. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- American Institute for Economic Research - College Destination Index 2013-2014: Ithaca, NY at the Wayback Machine (archived May 20, 2014)
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- See, e.g., 1811 article in local paper, at  or Town of Ithaca History project, available online (click on "History Project", then "Historical maps..." and finally "famous for its notorious immorality").
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