Elmira, New York

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Elmira, New York
Flag of Elmira, New York
Official seal of Elmira, New York
Location in Chemung County in the state of New York
Location in Chemung County in the state of New York
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State New York
County Chemung
Incorporated 1864
 • Mayor Susan J. Skidmore (D)
 • City Manager Kimberlee Balok Middaugh
 • City Council
 • City 7.58 sq mi (12.2 km2)
 • Land 7.28 sq mi (11.72 km2)
 • Water 0.3 sq mi (0.48 km2)
Elevation 873 ft (266 m)
Population (2010)
 • City 29,200
 • Density 4,229.5/sq mi (1,632/km2)
 • Metro 90,070 (Chemung County)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 607
FIPS code 36-24229
Website CityOfElmira.net

Elmira /ˌɛlˈmrə/ is a city in Chemung County, New York, US. It is the principal city of the Elmira, New York Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses Chemung County, New York. The population was 29,200 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Chemung County.

The City of Elmira is located in the south-central part of the county, surrounded on three sides by the Town of Elmira. It is in the Southern Tier of New York a short distance north of the Pennsylvania state line.


Early history

This was long an area inhabited by indigenous people. In historic times, it was occupied by the Cayuga nation of the Iroquois Confederacy, also called the Kanawaholla.[1] They had some relations with Europeans and English over fur trading, but were relatively isolated from the encroaching settlements.

During the American Revolutionary War, the Sullivan Expedition of 1779 was mounted against the four Iroquois nations who had allied with the British and Loyalist forces. It fought a combined British-Iroquois force at the Battle of Newtown, south of the current city, in which Sullivan and his forces were victorious.[2] After the conclusion of the war, the Iroquois and the new United States made a treaty at Elmira in 1791 to settle territorial disputes in the region.[3] Most of the Seneca emigrated under pressure with the other Iroquois to Canada, where they resettled on land provided by the British Crown.

The first European-American settler in Elmira was captain the Continental Army. He built a cabin after resigning just before the Revolutionary War. Miller's Pond and Miller Street are named after him and are near the location of his house.[citation needed]

Elmira's formation

The New York legislature established the Township of Chemung, now Chemung County, in 1788. The settlement of Newtown was soon established at the intersection of Newtown Creek and the Chemung River. In 1792, the settlement at Newtown joined with the Wisnerburg and DeWittsburg settlements to form the village of Newtown. In 1808, the village officially changed its name to the Town of Elmira, at a town meeting held at Teal's Tavern. It is said the town was named after tavern owner Nathan Teal's young daughter, but that story has never been confirmed. In any case, the City of Elmira, also called "The Queen City", was incorporated in 1864 from part of the town of Elmira and the village of Elmira. The remaining part of the town of Elmira exists still, surrounding the city on the west, north and east. The city and town share an intricately entwined history. According to Amos B. Carpenter's Family History book printed in 1898, Elmira is named after Major General Matthew Carpenter's daughter. This occurred according to the book in 1821 at the constitutional convention which Matthew was a delegate to.

Elmira served as a transportation hub for New York's Southern Tier in the 1800s, connecting commercial centers in Rochester and Buffalo with Albany and New York City, via the canal system and railroads. The city was the southern terminus of the Chemung Canal (completed in 1833); later, the Junction Canal was constructed to connect Elmira with Corning, facilitating transport of coal from the Pennsylvania mines via the Northern branch of the Susquehanna Canal system. In 1849, the New York and Erie Railroad was built through Elmira, giving the area a New York City to Buffalo route. In 1850, the Elmira and Jefferson Railroad gave the area a route north and the Elmira and Williamsport Railroad a route south in 1854. This made the city a prime location for an Army training and muster point early in the Civil War. In 1872 the Utica Ithaca and Elmira Railroad was begun, eventually creating a route to Cortland and Syracuse via Horseheads, Breesport and VanEtten. The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad was completed in 1884, which competed with the Erie's New York City to Buffalo line.

Prisoner-of-war camp

A great deal of the 30-acre (120,000 m2) Union installation, known as Camp Rathbun, fell into disuse as the Civil War progressed, and the camp's "Barracks #3" were converted into a Civil War prisoner of war camp in the summer of 1864. The camp, in use from June 6, 1864 until autumn 1865, was dubbed "Hellmira" by its inmates. Towner's history of 1892 and maps from the period indicate the camp occupied a somewhat irregular parallelogram, running about 1,000 feet (300 m) west and approximately the same distance south of a location a couple of hundred feet west of Hoffman Street (Foster Avenue?) and Winsor Avenue, bordered on the south by Foster's Pond more or less, on the north bank of the Chemung River.

In the months the site was used as a camp, 12,123 Confederate soldiers were incarcerated; of these, 2,963 died during their stay from a combination of malnutrition, prolonged exposure to brutal winter weather and disease directly attributable to the dismal sanitary conditions on Foster's Pond and lack of medical care. The camp's dead were prepared for burial and laid to rest by the sexton at Woodlawn National Cemetery, ex-slave John W. Jones. At the end of the war, each prisoner was given a loyalty oath and given a train ticket back home; the last prisoner left the camp on September 27, 1865. The camp was closed, demolished and converted to farmland. Woodlawn Cemetery, about 2 miles (3 km) north of the original prison camp site (bounded by West Hill, Bancroft, Davis and Mary Streets), was designated a "National Cemetery" in 1877. The prison camp site is today a residential area.

As Elmira grew, so did the citizens' concern about increased crime after the end of the war; the idea of constructing a reformatory within the city had been discussed for some years. Finally, lands on which the present-day Elmira Correctional Facility resides, approximately 280 acres (1.1 km2) in all (north of Bancroft across the street from Woodlawn Cemetery), were purchased in 1869 and 1870 by the state legislature, specifically for construction of the reformatory and an armory. These lay within the boundaries of the town of Elmira, rather than the city. Around the same time, Dr. Eldwin Eldridge purchased a large tract of wilderness (~ 100 acres (0.4 km2)) with a small pond, also within the township and developed it into a fabulous garden spot. His sudden death in 1876 put paid to his plans to develop the land further. After his death, Dr. Eldridge's estate granted access to the parkland to Elmira residents and tourists. In 1889, the city purchased the land, calling it Eldridge Park in the doctor's honor. The park this time held a nearly 15-acre (61,000 m2) lake in its center, along with marble statuary, flower gardens, fountains, driving and walking paths and a labyrinth. In 1890, along with Eldridge Park, the reformatory and armory, the city added a well-populated area known as "Carr's Corners", an area bounded by Hoffman, West Hill and Hillcrest (old Carr Road) - and appears to include the residential area around and to the south of Woodlawn National Cemetery.[citation needed].

Elmira economy

In 1950, the population of the City of Elmira peaked at about 50,000, which represented 57 percent of Chemung County’s total population at that time. Today, the City has approximately 30,000 residents, which represents 34 percent of Chemung County’s total population. This population decline is due to the national decline in railroads and manufacturing as well as a population shift to the outer suburbs around Elmira. The Elmira Metro area has nearly 100,000 in population.

The population decline began during the recession of the early 1970s during which several large employers (Ann Page, American Bridge, General Electric, American LaFrance, Westinghouse and Remington Rand) either closed their factories or moved to more labor-friendly states. The decline was exacerbated by the flood of 1972, during which many of the downtown businesses and single-family homes were destroyed or replaced by subsequent Urban Renewal projects in the Chemung River flood plain.

Today, the primary manufacturing employers are:

Anchor Glass Container Corporation,[4] headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is located in the old Thatcher Glass facility in Elmira Heights. Anchor Glass produces a diverse line of flint, amber, green and other colored glass containers of various types and designs for the beer, food, beverage and liquor markets in North America. Anchor Glass is now wholly owned by the Ardagh Group S.A..[5]

CAF-USA Inc[6] has its main U.S. plant in Elmira Heights on the site of the former American Bridge Company. CAF USA is a subsidiary company of Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles, a Spanish manufacturer of passenger rail products (including trains, high-speed trains, locomotives, light rail vehicles and other rail equipment). CAF-USA Inc trains are typically designed for North America's market, based on Spanish design and technologies.

Elmira Heat Treating,[7] established in 1962 and located in Elmira, offers a wide variety of heat treatment technologies to both domestic and international customers such as Hilliard Corp., Ford Motors, General Signal and others.

Hardinge, Inc. (formerly Hardinge Brothers),[8] established in 1890 and now headquartered in Elmira, manufactures precise turning machines for the domestic and international market. Starting in 1995, Hardinge began expanding their product line and over the years has acquired L. Kellenberger & Co. AG,[9] Hauser-Tripet-Tschudin AG,[10] Jones & Shipman,[11] and Usach Technologies, Inc.[12] In 2004 they also acquired Bridgeport,[13] world famous for its milling machines and machining centers.

Hilliard Corporation,[14] established in 1905, has two locations in Elmira and serves the international market in filters, brakes, clutches and starters for a variety of industrial and commercial uses as well as consumer equipment from Polaris and MTD.[15]

Kennedy Valve,[16] located in Elmira since 1905, is one of the world's largest manufacturers of products for waterworks distribution, potable and wastewater treatment, and fire protection system projects. They are most famous for their fire hydrants which can be found around the world. Kennedy Valve was acquired by McWane in 1925.[17]

Trayer Products,[18] established in 1929, is located in Elmira and manufactures parts mostly for the heavy truck industry; primarily truck chassis parts such as king pins and shackles.

2012 Tornado

On July 26, 2012, an EF1 tornado touched down near Cottage Drive off of Route 352 and traveled through Golden Glow and the rest of the city. Moderate damage was seen after the storm passed and hundreds of trees and power lines were blown down. No one was injured. The tornado was 0.5 miles (0.80 km) wide and took the city by surprise as this area has not been prone to tornadic activity.

Notable people

Geography and climate

Elmira is located at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. (42.089874, −76.809559).[53]

The Chemung River at Elmira

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.6 sq mi (19.6 km2), of which, 7.3 sq mi (19.0 km2) of it is land and 0.27 sq mi (0.7 km2) of it (3.56%) is water.

The Chemung River flows eastward through the city. Elmira is built almost entirely in the flood plain of the Chemung River and has suffered many floods over its history, the worst from Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Newtown Creek, flowing from the north, joins the Chemung River at the southeast corner of the city.

New York State Route 17, The Southern Tier Expressway, connects with the city at Exit 56. New York State Route 14 passes through Elmira between Watkins Glen and Pennsylvania. New York State Route 13 begins near Lake Ontario and travels through Cortland and Ithaca before ending in Elmira. New York State Route 352 begins in Elmira at Exit 56 of the Southern Tier Expressway and continues West into Corning.

Climate data for Elmira, New York (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 72
Average high °F (°C) 32.9
Average low °F (°C) 15.1
Record low °F (°C) −24
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.95
Average snowfall inches (cm) 10.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 11.6 9.6 10.9 12.5 13.0 12.8 11.7 11.0 10.7 11.4 11.5 11.2 137.9
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 6.3 5.2 3.6 .7 0 0 0 0 0 .1 1.4 4.1 21.4
Source: NOAA (extremes 1894–present)[54]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 15,863
1880 20,541 29.5%
1890 30,893 50.4%
1900 35,672 15.5%
1910 37,176 4.2%
1920 45,993 23.7%
1930 47,397 3.1%
1940 45,106 −4.8%
1950 49,716 10.2%
1960 46,517 −6.4%
1970 39,945 −14.1%
1980 35,327 −11.6%
1990 33,724 −4.5%
2000 30,940 −8.3%
2010 29,200 −5.6%
Est. 2014 28,647 [55] −1.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[56]

As of the census[57] of 2000, there were 30,940 people, 11,475 households, and 6,701 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,229.5 people per square mile (1,632.0/km²). There were 12,895 housing units at an average density of 1,762.7 per square mile (680.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.03% White, 13.05% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.37% from other races, and 2.64% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.14% of the population.

There were 11,475 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.3% were married couples living together, 18.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.6% were non-families. 34.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 13.0% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 18.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 101.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,292, and the median income for a family was $33,592. Males had a median income of $31,775 versus $22,350 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,495. About 17.9% of families and 23.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.6% of those under age 18 and 12.1% of those age 65 or over.

The Elmira Metropolitan Statistical Area (or Elmira MSA) is frequently used for statistical information such as labor rates and includes all of Chemung County with a population in 2000 of 90,070.

The Elmira MSA was ranked as the 59th safest place to live out of 344 Metro Areas in 2005 by Morgan Quitno Press [1].

The three largest ethnic groups in Elmira are Irish, German and Italian. [2]

City government

Mayors of Elmira
Mayor Party Term
Susan J. Skidmore D 2012–present
John S. Tonello D 2006–2011
J. William O'Brien D 3/2005-2006
Stephen M. Hughes D 1998-2/2005
Howard F. Townsend R 1994–1997
James E. Hare D 1988–1993
Stephen J. Fesh Jr. R 1984–1987
Mary P. Ciccariello D 1982–1983
Robert G. Densberger R 1980–1981
John M. Kennedy D 1976–1979
Richard C. Loll R 1972–1975
Edward T. Lagonegro D 1968–1971
Howard H. Kimball R 1966–1967
Edward T. Lagonegro D 1962–1965
Edward A. Mooers R 1956–1961
Emory Strachen R 1940–1955
J. Maxwell Beers R 1936–1939
Henry W. Honan D 1934–1935
W. Glenn Sweet R 1932–1933
Frank P. Robinson D 1930–1931
David N. Heller D 1926–1929
J. Norton Wood R 1922–1925
George W. Peck D 1920–1921
Harry N. Hoffman - 1914–1919
Daniel Sheehan D 1908–1913
Z. Reed Brockway - 1906–1907
William T. Coleman R 1904–1905
Daniel Sheehan - 1902–1903
Frank H. Flood - 1900–1901
Edgar Denton De 1898–1899
Frederick Collin - 1894–1897
David C. Robinson D 1892–1894
Charles S. Davison D 1888–1892
John B. Stanchfield D 1886–1888
Henry Flood - 1884–1886
Stephen T. Arnot D 1883–1884
David B. Hill D 1882–1883
Alexander Diven R 1880–1882
Granville D. Parsons - 1878–1880
Robert T. Turner - 1876–1878
Howard M. Smith - 1875–1876
Luther Caldwell - 1873–1874
Patrick H. Flood - 1872–1873
John Arnot, Jr. D 1870–1871
Stephen McDonald - 1868–1870
Eaton N. Frisbie - 1867–1868
John I. Nicks R 1865–1867
John Arnot, Jr. D 1864–1865
* Source: City Clerk of the City of Elmira [3]

The city government is a Council-Manager form of government in which the City Manager is the primary administrator of the City. There is one mayor elected at large and six council members elected from each of six council districts. The term of office of the mayor and councilmembers was 2 years until a referendum passed in 2003 extended the terms to 4 years (4 year terms began after the 2007 election). The mayor and councilmembers are all part-time employees. The City Manager, City Clerk, City Chamberlain, City Assessor, and Corporation Counsel are all appointed by the City Council. All remaining department heads serve at the request of the City Manager.

The city has 125 miles (201 km) of road, 210 miles (340 km) of water lines, and 175 miles (282 km) of sewer lines. There are four ZIP codes in the City of Elmira: 14901 (northside), 14902 (downtown), 14904 (southside), and 14905 (West Elmira).

Facts about city government

  • The city police department employs approximately 81 full-time officers.
  • The city fire department employs approximately 60 full-time firefighters and officers.
  • The city animal shelter has a goal to become by 2007 a no-kill animal shelter based on a model by Tompkins County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
  • The city received $1.4 million in Community Development Block Grant funds and $368,000 in HOME funds in FY2006-2007 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These funds are used for programs and projects for low-moderate income families and neighborhood blocks.
  • The City of Elmira has more than 20 parks including Eldridge Park with a walking trail, restored carousel, skateboard park, and fishing lake and Wisner Park with memorials to veterans from World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War and the Fallen Officers Memorial.
  • The City Manager of the City of Elmira is currently [4] Kimberlee Balok Middaugh.
  • Naming rights to the Millers Pond Park were obtained by J. Howard "Buzz" Miller, an early-20th century benevolent industrialist, when his horse "Mumbo Jumbo" won a 1912 race at the Tioga Downs horse track.
  • The Chief of Police is currently [5] Michael "Robby" Robertson.


The City Slogan is "Honoring the Past, Building the Future". It is featured on an Entrance sign erected in 2003 into the City from Exit 56 of the Southern Tier Expressway along with other honored Elmirans including (L to R) Brian Williams, Hal Roach, Ernie Davis, Mark Twain, Eileen Collins, John Jones, and Tommy Hilfiger. The slogan was designated by Mayor Stephen Hughes following the conclusion of a slogan contest in which Marlin Stewart, Alan and Barbara Hutchinson, and James Lloyd were recognized for their contributions to the winning slogan.

On at least two hilltops near the city (mostly on Harris Hill to the northwest) pioneer pilots established the sport of gliding in America. Harris Hill is the site of the National Soaring Museum. These sites are now recognized as National Landmarks of Soaring.

  • Dunn Field is a baseball stadium located along the banks of the Chemung River on the south side. The Elmira Pioneers play at Dunn Field. Other famous players that have played or managed at Dunn Field include Babe Ruth, Earl Weaver, Don Zimmer, Wade Boggs, and Curt Schilling.
  • Elmira College is located in the city.
  • The Clemens Center is a concert and theater center named after Samuel Clemens, (Mark Twain).
  • The Arnot Art Museum is located in the downtown Civic-Historic District.
  • The recently restored Eldridge Park Carousel began operation in May 2006 and is the fastest carousel in the world, spinning at 18 miles per hour. [6]
  • Woodlawn Cemetery and Woodlawn National Cemetery are both located in the City of Elmira in the Northwest sector. Mark Twain and his family are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
File:Elm first arena.jpg
First Arena in Elmira, New York.
  • The First Arena was built in Elmira in 2000 (originally opened as the Coach USA Center). It serves as the home of the Elmira Jackals ECHL Franchise.

The John Brand Jr. House, John Brand Sr. House, Buildings at 104-116 West Water St., Chemung Canal Bank Building, Chemung County Courthouse Complex, Clinton–Columbia Historic District, Elmira Civic Historic District, Elmira Coca-Cola Bottling Company Works, Elmira College Old Campus, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Erste Deutsche Evangelische Kirche, Alexander Eustace House, Fire Station No. 4, William S. Gerity House, F. M. Howell and Company, John W. Jones House, Maple Avenue Historic District, Near Westside Historic District, Newtown Battlefield State Park, Park Church, Pentecostal Holy Temple Church of Jesus Christ, Pratt House, Quarry Farm, St. Patrick's Parochial Residence-Convent and School, Trinity Church, and Woodlawn Cemetery and Woodlawn National Cemetery are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[58][59][60][61]





  • WETM 18 (NBC)
  • WSKA 30 (PBS, simulcast of WSKG-TV) (licensed to Corning, with which Elmira shares TV market)
  • WENY 36 (ABC/CBS on DT2/CW on DT3 through The CW Plus) (studio in Horseheads, licensed to Elmira)
  • WJKP-LD 39 (MyNetworkTV) (studio and license in Corning, with which Elmira shares TV market)
  • WYDC 48 (FOX) (studio and license in Corning, with which Elmira shares TV market)

Transportation infrastructure

Public transportation

The Chemung County Transit System operates regularly scheduled fixed route service within the City of Elmira and Village of Horseheads. Another route links Elmira with Corning Community College, also linking passengers with the Steuben County Transit System (SCT) and Corning Erwin Area Transit System (CEATS).


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  4. Anchor Glass Container Corporation
  5. Ardagh Group S.A. buys Anchor Glass
  6. CAF USA Inc.
  7. Elmira Heat Treating, Inc.
  8. Hardinge Inc.
  9. Hardinge acquires Kellenberger
  10. Hardinge acquires Hauser Tripet Tschudin A.G.
  11. Hardinge acquires Jones & Shipman
  12. Hardinge acquires Usach Technologies
  13. Hardinge acquires Bridgeport
  14. Hilliard Corporation
  15. Hilliard profile
  16. Kennedy Valve
  17. McWane acquires Kennedy Valve
  18. Trayer Products
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External links