Watkins Glen, New York

Coordinates: 42°22′52″N 76°52′16″W / 42.38111°N 76.87111°W / 42.38111; -76.87111
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Watkins Glen, New York
Franklin Street in Watkins Glen
Franklin Street in Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen is located in New York
Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen
Location within the state of New York
Watkins Glen is located in the United States
Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen (the United States)
Coordinates: 42°22′52″N 76°52′16″W / 42.38111°N 76.87111°W / 42.38111; -76.87111
CountryUnited States
StateNew York
Settled1791; 233 years ago (1791)
Named1842; 182 years ago (1842)
as Jefferson
Named1852; 172 years ago (1852)
as Watkins Glen
 • MayorLaurie DeNardo
 • Total1.94 sq mi (5.03 km2)
 • Land1.56 sq mi (4.04 km2)
 • Water0.38 sq mi (0.99 km2)
463 ft (141 m)
 • Total1,863
 • Density1,194.23/sq mi (461.05/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code607
FIPS code36-78696[2]
GNIS feature ID0974082[3]

Watkins Glen is a village and census-designated place in and the county seat of Schuyler County,[4] New York, United States. As of the 2020 census, the population was 1,829. Watkins Glen lies within the towns of Dix and Reading. To the southwest of the village is the Watkins Glen International race track, which hosts annual NASCAR Cup Series and WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races, and formerly hosted the Formula One United States Grand Prix and various IndyCar races.

The village was the recipient of the ten-million-dollar Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant in July 2017 to revitalize the Mixed Use Village Center (VC). Former governor of New York Andrew M. Cuomo awarded fourteen projects in hopes that they would be catalysts for increased private investment in the village. This grant was largely secured by the work of local government officials and the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED). As of December 2023, the majority of the awarded projects have been completed.


The settlement of the village began in 1791. First named "Jefferson" in 1842, the village was later renamed in 1852 to honor Dr. Samuel Watkins.[5] Watkins' older brother John purchased property around the gorge in 1794 and constructed mills. After his brother's death, Samuel Watkins inherited the property and spent four decades building up the area with roads, shops, and a hotel.[6] The newspaper Watkins Glen Review & Express has served the area since 1854.


Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen is located at 42°22′52″N 76°52′16″W / 42.38111°N 76.87111°W / 42.38111; -76.87111 (42.380984, -76.871079).[7]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2), of which 1.9 square miles (4.9 km2) of the village is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) (17.41%) is water.

New York State Route 14 joins New York State Route 79 and New York State Route 414 by Watkins Glen. NY-14 is one of the principal streets in Watkins Glen. New York State Route 329 and New York State Route 409 lead into Watkins Glen from the west.


Historical population
2022 (est.)2,228[8]21.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 1,859 people, 873 households, and 442 families residing in the village. The population density was 845 inhabitants per square mile (326/km2). There were 977 housing units at an average density of 444 per square mile (171/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 96.2% White, 0.50% African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.50% Asian, 0.70% from other races, and 1.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.40% of the population.

There were 873 households, out of which 22.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.70% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 49.40% were non-families. 42.40% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.09 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the village, the age distribution of the population was spread out, with 22.70% under the age of 20, 5.40% from 20 to 24, 31.80% from 25 to 50, and 17.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.20 years old. The Village of Watkins Glen had 866 male and 993 female residents.

The median income for a household in the village was $34,969 and the median income for a family was $55,357. Males had a median income of $37,885 versus $29,000 for females. The per capita income for the village was $24,116. 5.0% of the population and 1.70% of families lived below the poverty line. 3.6% of those under 18 and 6.80% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Notable events and attractions[edit]

Seneca Lake from Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen State Park[edit]

Watkins Glen State Park is a 778-acre park with a 400-foot-deep (120 m)[10] narrow gorge featuring 19 waterfalls throughout less than two miles. It is considered a "flagship" park by the State of New York.[11]

Auto racing at Watkins Glen[edit]

The Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International

Watkins Glen is noted for its role in auto racing, being the home of a street course used in road racing, a famous racetrack, Watkins Glen International, one of the premier automobile road racing tracks in the United States, which has hosted the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling at The Glen, IndyCar Series Grand Prix at The Glen, and the IMSA SportsCar Championship 6 Hours of Watkins Glen. The first Watkins Glen Sports Car Grand Prix was held in 1948 on public streets in and near the village. Organized by resident Cameron Argetsinger, it was the first post-WWII road race held in the United States and it marked the revival of American road racing.

The original course ran for 6.6 miles (10.6 km) and passed through the center of the village. The streets used for the original course remain intact today and a checkered flag marks the original start-finish line on the village's main street. During the 1952 race, driver Fred Wacker struck onlookers sitting on a curb, killing a 7-year-old boy and injuring 10 others. The tragedy caused the end of street racing at the Glen and elsewhere in the United States.[12]

A permanent racing facility, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course opened in 1956. It has hosted nearly every type of road racing, from the Sahlen's 6 Hours of Watkins Glen (1948-current), the Formula One United States Grand Prix (1961–1980), and the I Love New York 355 at The Glen (1957-current), which was one of the few races on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule not conducted on an oval speedway, the other being Sonoma Raceway until NASCAR added more road courses to the Cup Series schedule.

International Motor Racing Research Center[edit]

International Motor Racing Research Center

The International Motor Racing Research Center, a professional archive of motorsports history, opened in June 1999 in an annex of the Watkins Glen Public Library.[13] The mission of the center is to preserve and share the history of motorsports around the world.[14]

Personal Watercraft racing at Watkins Glen[edit]

Since 2014, Watkins Glen has hosted a weekend of IJSBA (International Jet Sports Boating Association) closed course racing, and has become one of the largest race venues in the sport today. Originally promoted in Region 8 by NEWA (North East Watercraft Alliance), until 2016 when East Coast Watercross purchased the series, racing has been at Clute Memorial Park and Campground and is typically the last weekend in August. The event has always been free to spectators and features both closed course racing and freestyle competition using standup, sit-down, and sport class machines.

1973 Summer Jam at Watkins Glen Rock Festival[edit]

The racetrack was also the scene of the July 28, 1973, Summer Jam at Watkins Glen rock festival attended by an estimated 600,000 people, one-and-a-half times the crowd at 1969's historic Woodstock Festival and a world record for the largest number of people at a pop music festival. The concert featured The Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead, and The Band. The music started at noon on Saturday and continued long into Sunday.

Phish festivals[edit]

On July 1–3 of 2011, the band Phish hosted Superball IX, a three-day music festival on the same grounds as the Summer Jam of '73. On August 21–23 2015, Phish hosted their 10th festival, Magnaball, on the grounds. Phish planned to return to Watkins Glen for their 11th festival, Curveball, on August 17–19, 2018 but was forced to cancel when their permit was revoked due to floods contaminating the local water supply.[15]

True Love schooner[edit]

Watkins Glen is the home port for True Love, a schooner built in 1926 that was featured in High Society (1956).[16]

Farm animal protection movement[edit]

Farm Sanctuary's headquarters in Watkins Glen
Schuyler County Courthouse in Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen is the home of Farm Sanctuary, a national farm animal protection organization co-founded by activist Gene Baur in 1986. In 1991, the organization opened a shelter in Watkins Glen that has since provided lifelong care for thousands of animals rescued from abuse; hosted numerous public events; and welcomed thousands of visitors from all over the world, sharing with them views of militant vegetarianism.


  1. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ "Watkins Glen". Britanica.
  6. ^ Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce. "Watkins Glen State Park – the untold story…". Wordpress. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  8. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  10. ^ "Section O: Environmental Conservation and Recreation, Table O-9". 2014 New York State Statistical Yearbook (PDF). The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. 2014. p. 674. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 28, 2016. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  11. ^ "Watkins Glen State Park History". Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  12. ^ Defechereux, Philippe (1998). Watkins Glen 1948-1952: The Definitive Illustrated History. Beeman Jorgensen. ISBN 0-929758-17-X.
  13. ^ "Our History". IMRRC. International Motor Racing Research Center. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  14. ^ "Collecting, Preserving and Sharing History". IMRRC. International Motor Racing Research Center. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  15. ^ "Curveball Forced to Cancel".
  16. ^ Johnson, Shane (May 8, 2014). "True Love Schooner". WSKG. Retrieved May 2, 2019.

External links[edit]