Salamanca (city), New York

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Salamanca, New York
Salamanca is located in New York
Location in the state of New York
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Country United States
State New York
County Cattaraugus
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Mayor Ronald S. Ball (D)
 • City Council
 • Total 6.24 sq mi (16.15 km2)
 • Land 5.99 sq mi (15.52 km2)
 • Water 0.24 sq mi (0.63 km2)
Elevation 1,381 ft (421 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 5,815
 • Density 970/sq mi (374.6/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 14779
Area code(s) 716
FIPS code 36-64749
GNIS feature ID 0964291

Salamanca is a city in Cattaraugus County, New York, United States, located inside the Allegany Indian Reservation, one of two governed by the Seneca Nation of New York. The population was 5,815 at the 2010 census.[1] It was named after José de Salamanca, a Spanish nobleman and cabinet minister of the mid-19th century.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.24 square miles (16.15 km2), of which 5.99 square miles (15.52 km2) is land and 0.24 square miles (0.63 km2), or 3.88%, is water.[1]

Salamanca is located within the Allegany Indian Reservation of the Seneca Nation of New York (one of the six tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy). The city population of about 5,800 is about 17% Native American; this does not include Seneca people living in the adjacent hamlets of Jimerson Town (one of the two capitals of the nation) and Kill Buck. The city lies along the Allegany River and is adjacent to Allegany State Park.

The Southern Tier Expressway (Interstate 86 and New York State Route 17) pass south of the city, as do U.S. Route 219 and New York State Route 417.

Salamanca serves as a hub for public bus service in the area. Coach USA, Fullington Trailways, the Seneca Transit System, and the Olean Area Transit System all converge on the city.


Climate data for Salamanca, New York
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 72
Average high °F (°C) 30
Average low °F (°C) 14
Record low °F (°C) −25
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.08
Source: The Weather Channel [2]


What is now known as the city of Salamanca was originally two separate communities, one on Little Valley Creek and the other on Great Valley Creek; the westernmost one of the two was called "Hemlock", a name derived from the numerous hemlock trees throughout the surrounding mountains. Hemlock was later renamed "West Salamanca" and (although it was marked on road signs as late as the 1990s) was eventually incorporated into the single city of Salamanca. The city was incorporated in 1913.

File:Salamanca BRP station.jpg
Salamanca station for the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh, now the Rail Museum

At one time the city was a thriving railroad hub, with the Erie Railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio (later Conrail), and the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway all having facilities there. Generations of Salamanca residents worked for the railroads, and much of the housing was originally built for them by the railroads. The Salamanca Rail Museum was opened in the former BR&P depot in 1984 to house the archives.[3]

The majority of the city, with the exception of a northeastern spur along Great Valley Creek, was constructed on the Allegany Indian Reservation held by the Seneca Nation of New York, as established in various treaties. Under the nation's policy, non-Seneca residents are barred from owning real property on the reservation, and non-Senecas can only lease the property from the Seneca Nation.[4] As arranged by the railroads, the previous leases had nominal payments and covered only the land; improvements (i.e., buildings and houses) were considered to be owned by the non-native citizens.

When the leases expired in the early 1990s, the nation tried to gain more from its leases, raising their costs and asserting that not only the land, but the improvements were also subject to the native leases. Numerous people living in the city did not agree on the amount of lease payments or the legitimacy of the Senecas' absolute ownership claim. The controversy aroused bitterness, lawsuits, and appeals to government officials. Congress passed a law explicitly placing the improvements under Seneca jurisdiction, the new leases were put into effect, and fifteen houses were seized and their owners evicted for refusing to sign the leases.[5] The current leases are in effect until 2030, with an option to extend until 2070.

Despite the lack of ownership, leased land held by non-Senecas is subject to property tax, which the lessee must pay to the city, Cattaraugus County, and the Salamanca City Central School District. Seneca-owned land is exempt under the Treaty of Buffalo Creek. Once a Seneca acquires the land, it is taken off the tax rolls; for this reason, the city of Salamanca does not auction off abandoned properties on the reservation in a property tax auction, for fear that Seneca individuals will buy the land, removing it from the tax rolls.


The city has a council-mayor system, with the mayor elected at-large.

"Between 2004-05 and 2009-10, State aid for the City, including casino revenues, increased by an average annual rate of nearly 50 percent (starting at $0.8 million in 2004-05 and peaking at $7.3 million in 2008-09). Salamanca’s average annual expenditure increases on debt service, general government, transportation, utilities and public safety between 2004-05 and 2009-10 were all in the double digits."[6] This was attributable to revenues from the Seneca Allegany Casino.

Casino revenues

The Seneca Nation opened a gambling casino in Salamanca in May 2004. About 1,000 new jobs were created by the casino operation, resulting in a housing shortage in the small town as new workers entered the city. Under the arrangement with the state, a 25% share of the casino's revenue goes to the city and county, which they can use for needed projects. Revenues for the city increased dramatically (see above).

Significant change did not quickly take place in the city, with new construction in only a few select areas. Main Street and US Route 219 (which runs through the city) remain largely untouched. Redevelopment was delayed when the Nation stopped casino payments in late 2010 in a dispute with the state over its opening racinos elsewhere in the state; payments were resumed in 2013. The state provided the city with emergency funds to help support it until the dispute was settled.[6]

Retail shops include several Seneca-owned cigarette, tobacco, coffee shops, and gas stations; there are several empty storefronts. The Seneca Nation has made efforts to diversify, establishing an economic development corporation in 2011.

Because of the contentious relations between Seneca and non-Seneca residents, columnist Selena Zito described Salamanca as a "failed American city" in 2011.[4]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 2,531
1890 3,692 45.9%
1900 4,251 15.1%
1910 5,792 36.3%
1920 9,276 60.2%
1930 9,577 3.2%
1940 9,011 −5.9%
1950 8,861 −1.7%
1960 8,480 −4.3%
1970 7,877 −7.1%
1980 6,890 −12.5%
1990 6,566 −4.7%
2000 6,097 −7.1%
2010 5,815 −4.6%
Est. 2014 5,652 [7] −2.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]

As of the 2010 United States census, Salamanca had a population of 5,815. The ethnic and racial makeup of the population was 75.5% non-Hispanic white, 0.9% African-American, 16.9% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.8% reporting two or more races, and 3.3% Hispanic or Latino of any race.[9]

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 6,097 people, 2,469 households, and 1,575 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,015.6 people per square mile (392.3/km²). There were 2,749 housing units at an average density of 457.9 per square mile (176.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.26% White, 0.66% Black or African American, 20.74% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 1.75% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.82% of the population.

There were 2,469 households out of which 31.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.2% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.0% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,579, and the median income for a family was $30,996. Males had a median income of $25,549 versus $19,180 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,812. About 18.0% of families and 22.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.7% of those under age 18 and 15.9% of those age 65 or over.

Notable residents

  • George Abbott, theater producer
  • Ray Caldwell, former MLB spitball pitcher
  • Gordon Canfield, member of the House of Representatives for New Jersey's 8th congressional district
  • Chuck Crist, former National Football League safety; he returned to his hometown to serve as a principal in the city schools
  • Ray Evans (1915–2007), musician/songwriter; composed the Christmas song "Silver Bells". The Ray Evans Seneca Theater is named in his honor; it was closed in 2011 due to disrepair and would not reopen until 2013.[11]
  • Albert T. "Ab" Fancher, New York state senator in the late 19th/early 20th century; co-owner (with E.B. Vreeland of the Seneca Oil Company, a subsidiary of Standard Oil Company); donated much of the land to New York that now comprises Allegany State Park, the largest state park in New York; developed the Fancher farm, on the western side of Salamanca, which boasts one of the largest barns in New York.
  • Ira Joe Fisher, daytime television personality and weather reporter; born and worked in Salamanca, he spent most of his childhood in neighboring Little Valley.
  • Marvin Hubbard, former pro football player; born in Salamanca, he spent most of his childhood in nearby Red House
  • Paul Owens, player, scout, coach and general manager with the Philadelphia Phillies in the late 20th century. Raised in Salamanca's East End; graduated from local schools and St. Bonaventure University.
  • Edward B. Vreeland, banker, congressman, co-author of the "Aldrich-Vreeland Bill" that transformed the United States Banking system in the early 20th century. Senator Aldrich represented Rhode Island and was the maternal grandfather of Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, governor of New York in the 1960s.
  • Carson Waterman, Seneca Indian artist known for public art and illustrations in the Allegany Seneca Storybook and Seneca Coloring Book.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Salamanca city, New York". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved October 23, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Climate Statistics for Salamanca, NY". Retrieved May 6, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Burleson, Kevin and Fordham, Gerald. Life on the Rails: A Photographic Tour Through the Archives of the Salamanca Rail Museum (1999, Feruguson Press).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Zito, Selena (June 5, 2011). Smokes cheap, tensions high. (Also titled "Portrait of a Failed American City.") Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  5. Herbeck, Dan and Kathleen Ronayne (July 28, 2012). Senecas plan to evict Snyder Beach residents. The Buffalo News. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "2012 FISCAL PROFILE: CITY OF SALAMANCA", Office of the State Comptroller, New York, 2012
  7. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 2010 census quickfacts on Salamanca, New York
  10. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. [1], Salamanca Press
  12. Carson Waterman, Seneca Nation


  • Hogan, Thomas E, "City in a Quandary: Salamanca and the Allegany Leases", New York History 55 [January 1974]

External links