Ithaca, New York: Wikis


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—  City  —
Location in New York
Coordinates: 42°26′36″N 76°30′0″W / 42.44333°N 76.5°W / 42.44333; -76.5Coordinates: 42°26′36″N 76°30′0″W / 42.44333°N 76.5°W / 42.44333; -76.5
Country United States
State New York
County Tompkins
Founded 1790
Incorporated 1888
 - Mayor Carolyn K. Peterson (D)
 - City 6.1 sq mi (15.7 km2)
 - Land 5.5 sq mi (14.1 km2)
 - Water 0.6 sq mi (1.6 km2)
Population (2000)
 - City 29,287 (city proper)
 - Density 5,363.9/sq mi (2,071.0/km2)
 - Metro 100,018
 - Demonym Ithacan
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 607

The city of Ithaca, (named for the Greek island of Ithaca)[1], sits on the southern shore of Cayuga Lake, in Central New York, USA. It is best known for being home to Cornell University, an Ivy League school with almost 20,000 students (most of them studying on Cornell’s Ithaca campus).[2][3] Ithaca College is located just south of the city in the town of Ithaca, adding to Ithaca’s “college town” focus and atmosphere.

The city of Ithaca is the center of the Ithaca-Tompkins County metropolitan area (which also contains the separate municipalities of Ithaca town, the village of Cayuga Heights, the village of Lansing and other towns and villages in Tompkins County). The city is the county seat of Tompkins County. In 2000, the city's population was 29,287, and the metropolitan area had a population of 100,135. 2004 estimates puts the city population at 29,952, an increase of 2.3%.

Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca is the North American seat of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.[4]



Early history

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 formed part of the Iroquois confederation. These tribes had been allowed to settle 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 just a 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. The Odyssey is routinely taught to elementary school students in the Ithaca area.

The growth of Ithaca, village and city

State Street in Ithaca, ca. 1901
A view of the shops and businesses on the Ithaca Commons.

In the 1820s and 1830, Ithaca held high hopes of becoming a major city when the primitive Ithaca and Owego Railway 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 all 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. Nevertheless, the village of Ithaca became a chartered city in 1887. 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. Ithaca became a city in 1888 and remained a small manufacturing and retail center until the recent education boom. In 1891, the Rev. John M. Scott and a local druggist, Chester Platt, invented the ice cream sundae in Ithaca,[5][6] though other cities, such as Two Rivers, Wisconsin, make the same claim.[7]

Local Industry

Ithaca was nationally known for the Ithaca Gun Company, makers of highly-valued shotguns, and Ithaca Calendar Clock Company[8]. The largest industry was the Morse Chain company, still active in Lansing, New York, as Borg Warner Automotive and on South Hill as Emerson Power Transmission. In the post-World War II decades, National Cash Register and the Langmuir Research Labs of General Electric were also major employers.

Higher education

Cornell University was founded by Ezra Cornell in 1865. It was opened as a coeducational institution, which was extremely unusual at the time; 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.

The film industry

During the early 20th century, Ithaca was an important center in the silent film industry. The most common type of film produced was the cliffhanger serial. 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. Eventually the film industry centralized in Hollywood, which offered the possibility of year-round filming, and film production in Ithaca effectively ceased. Few of the silent films made in Ithaca are preserved today..

Geography and climate

Hemlock Gorge along Fall Creek before emptying into Beebe Lake on Cornell's Campus.

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 gorges, usually with several waterfalls.

Ithaca experiences a moderate continental climate, with cold, snowy winters and sometimes hot and humid summers. 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.[7]

The natural vegetation of the Ithaca area, seen in areas unbuilt and unfarmed, is northern temperate broadleaf forest, dominated by deciduous trees.

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. As such the region is home to many wineries.

Weather data for Ithaca, New York
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 32
Average low °F (°C) 16
Source: Weatherbase[9] Oct 2008


Ithaca is a major educational center in Central New York. The city is home to Ithaca College, situated on South Hill, and Cornell University which overlooks the town from East Hill. The student population is very high, as almost 20,000 students are enrolled at Cornell, with an additional 6,300 students 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, which provides its students wide-ranging freedom to choose their own curriculum. There are also several private elementary and secondary schools in the Ithaca area, including Immaculate Conception School and the Cascadilla School.


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. Some in the community regret that downtown has lost vitality to two expanding commercial zones to the northeast and southwest of the old city. These areas contain an increasing number of large retail stores and restaurants run by national chains. Others say the chain stores boost local shopping options for residents considerably, many of whom would have previously shopped elsewhere, while increasing sales tax revenue for the city and county. Still others note that the stores, restaurants, and businesses that remain in downtown are not necessarily in direct competition with the larger chain stores. The tradeoff between sprawl and economic development continues to be debated throughout the city and the surrounding area. (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 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 twentieth century.

An aerial view of Stewart Park as 6,000 Ithaca residents set the unofficial world record for the largest human peace sign in June, 2008.


Ithacans support the Ithaca Farmers Market, professional theaters (Kitchen Theatre, Hangar Theatre, Icarus Theatre), a civic orchestra, much parkland, the Sciencenter, a hands-on science museum for people of all ages, 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, with music and food. 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.

Ithacans are widely considered to be oriented towards peace. In June 2008, local peace activist Trevor Dougherty led almost 6,000 members of the Ithaca community in forming a giant human peace sign. This event took part during the Ithaca Festival, making Ithaca the unofficial home of the world's largest human peace sign.[10]

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).

Music and Musicians

Ithaca is known for its resident musicians and their performances. Traditional music, modern influences and experimental qualities combine to create a unique musical experience that has become known as "The Ithaca Sound". It can be heard at the root of any of the dozens of performers or groups that have emerged from Ithaca and the surrounding communities. 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 retain their residence in Ithaca after graduating and take up work as performing musicians or in the sound engineering field. 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. 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 18 years. The Grassroots Festival has brought thousands 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. Other regionally, nationally and internationally known performers and musical groups that call Ithaca home include: Johnny Dowd, John Brown's Body, The Sim Redmond Band, Donna the Buffalo, Who You Are, The Burns Sisters, Willie B, and Kevin Kinsella.


The Clinton House, a 19th century building in downtown Ithaca

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, 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 is run by Cornell University students, but is an independent, commercial station in the rock format, playing a mix of modern and classic rock during the week and specialty shows on the weekend. WICB is a non-commercial student-run station, run by communications students at Ithaca College. The Cayuga Radio Group, a subsidiary of Saga Communications, Inc., owns Q-Country and Lite Rock 97.3, a country and soft rock station, as well as I-100, a classic rock station and located in Cortland, and The Wall, based in Auburn, has a transmitter in Ithaca.


Politically, the city's population has a significant tilt towards liberalism and the Democratic Party. A November, 2004 study by ePodunk lists it as New York's most liberal town.[11] 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,[12] and 11% county-wide.[13] 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.[14]

Local government

The name Ithaca designates two governmental entities in the area, the Town of Ithaca and the City of Ithaca.

The Town of Ithaca is one of the nine towns comprised by 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.

The Town government consists of an executive, the Town Supervisor, elected to a four-year term, and a Town Council of three 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.

City-Town consolidation

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 the Village of Cayuga Heights (a wealthy Ithaca suburb located in the Town) called consolidation discussion a "waste of time."[15]


Greater Ithaca

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:

The East Hill area of the city: Cornell University campus and Collegetown as seen from South Hill


Location of the Ithaca-Cortland CSA and its components:      Ithaca Metropolitan Statistical Area      Cortland Micropolitan Statistical Area

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),[16][17][18] which had a combined population of 145,100 at the 2000 census.[19]

As of the census[19] 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/sq mi (759.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.97% White, 6.71% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 13.65% Asian, 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 250 miles to the northwest of New York City; the nearest larger cities, Binghamton and Syracuse, are an hour's drive away by car, while Rochester is about two hours away.

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 New York LaGuardia and its hub at Philadelphia using a mixture of small jets and propeller craft. Delta Airlines provides twice-daily jet service to its hub at Detroit Metro airport and Continental Connection offers three daily turboprop flights to Newark Liberty International Airport. Many 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.

Ithaca lies at over a half hour's drive from any interstate highway, and all car trips to Ithaca involve at least 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. 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[20] is the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railway station on Meadow St. between W State and W Seneca streets, about a kilometer west of downtown Ithaca.

Ithaca is the center of an extensive bus public transportation system — Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) — which carried 3.1 million passengers in 2005.[21] 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 operates 39 routes, many running seven days a week. It has frequent service to downtown, Cornell, Ithaca College, and the Pyramid Mall in the neighboring Town of Lansing, but less frequent service to many residential and rural areas, including Trumansburg and Newfield. Chemung County Transit runs weekday commuter routes into Schuyler and Chemung counties, and Tioga County Public Transit runs weekday routes into neighboring Tioga, primarily to serve Cornell employees who prefer to live in these rural counties, or are forced to because of the high house prices near Ithaca.

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 of 2008, a non-profit called Ithaca Carshare began a car-sharing service in Ithaca. Ithaca Carshare has a fleet of 13 vehicles shared by over 800 members as of December 2009 and has become a popular service among both city residents and the college communities. Vehicles are located throughout Ithaca both downtown and at Cornell University and Ithaca College. With Ithaca Carshare as the first locally run carsharing organization in New York State, others have since launched in Buffalo and Syracuse.

Norfolk Southern freight trains reach Ithaca from Sayre, Pennsylvania, mainly to deliver coal to the Milliken Power Station and haul out salt from the Cargill salt mine, both on the east shore of Cayuga Lake. There is no passenger rail service anymore, although from the 1870s through the 1930s 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 one of railroad history's classic expresses, and was often referred to as 'The Handsomest Train in the World'. It was named after the railroad's largest commodity, anthracite coal.

Ithaca also was one of the first communities in the nation to build a trolley system.

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, Ithaca is a walkable and bikeable community for others. 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.

Unlike most urbanized areas in the United States, Ithaca does not have direct access to the Interstate highway system. In 1968, it was proposed to convert Route 13 from Horseheads to Cortland through Ithaca into a limited access highway (it is currently such for three miles heading north from Ithaca), but the plan lost local and State support.

Other recent changes and trends

Cascadilla Creek gorge, just south of the Cornell campus.

For decades, the Ithaca Gun Company tested their shotguns behind the plant on Lake St.; 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.[22]

The former Morse Chain company factory on South Hill, now owned by Emerson Power Transmission, was the site of extensive groundwater and soil contamination.[23] 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. Last Accessed on December 6, 2008.


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.[24] According to ePodunk's Gay Index, Ithaca has a score of 231, versus a national average score of 100.[25]

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.[26] 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."[27]

These designations have at times polarized some local residents: some note the recognition with pride, some see it as an indication of decadence, and others feel that it is a narrow view of the community. Some, particularly conservatives, note that the positive press often appears in left-leaning publications, or have more general questions about the methodologies used in determining the designations.

In its earliest years during frontier days, what is now Ithaca was briefly known by the names "The Flats" and "Sodom,"[3][28] the name of the Biblical city of sin, due to its reputation as a town of "notorious immorality",[29] 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 1800s, though nearby Robert H. Treman State Park still contains Lucifer Falls.

That early reputation for immorality, together with its more recent reputation as having a left-leaning population, has once again made Ithaca mildly infamous in some circles as the "City of Evil," due to a satirical campaign by members of a politically conservative online discussion board. Some Ithacans have embraced the label.[30] This idea is further buoyed by Cornell University's early nickname, "the godless university" which came about due to their lack of affiliation with any organized religion.[31]

Points of interest

The falls of Buttermilk Falls State Park

For additional information about recreational trails see: Trails in Ithaca, New York.

Books set (at least partially) in Ithaca

Movies set or filmed (at least partially) in Ithaca

See also The Whartons Studio for films shot in Ithaca prior to 1920.

Notable residents and natives

This list is abridged from

See also


  1. ^ "History of Ithaca and Tompkins County". City of Ithaca. Retrieved 2008-05-25.  
  2. ^ "2007-08 facts" (PDF). Cornell University. Retrieved 2007-08-16.  
  3. ^ a b Carol Kammen. "History of Ithaca and Tompkins County". City of Ithaca.{480C93FC-88B9-4C3D-811D-BD7EE0E3F926}&DE={0F21E16C-E234-456D-8841-FF5C2F491300}. Retrieved 2007-08-16.  
  4. ^ ""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.  
  5. ^ The Ithaca Journal "New intel in the sundae wars: IHS grads scoop up ice cream facts" June 26, 2007, accessed June 26, 2007
  6. ^ The Official Website of the Ice Cream Sundae
  7. ^ "Two Rivers - The REAL Birthplace of the Ice Cream Sundae". Two Rivers Economic Development. Retrieved 2007-06-26.  
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Ithaca, New York, United States of America". Weatherbase. 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-05.  
  10. ^ In Ithaca, 6,000 give peace a chance, The Post-Standard
  11. ^ ePodunk
  12. ^ Harlin, Kevin (2000-11-09). "Tompkins Greens express no regrets". Ithaca Journal: p. 1A.  
  13. ^ 2000 presidential general election results, New York State Board of Elections
  14. ^ 2008 presidential primary election results, New York State Board of Elections
  15. ^ Ithaca Times - A Greater Ithaca?
  16. ^ METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENTS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-08-01.
  17. ^ MICROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENTS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-08-01.
  18. ^ COMBINED STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENT CORE BASED STATISTICAL AREAS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-08-01.
  19. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  20. ^ Ithaca Greyhound Station
  21. ^ "3 Million Bus Passengers and Counting as TCAT Sets Record in 2005", Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT), December 19, 2005. Last Accessed on March 24, 2006.
  22. ^ "EPA Finishes $4.8 Million Cleanup at Ithaca Gun", United States Environmental Protection Agency, October 29, 2004. Last Accessed on March 25, 2006.
  23. ^ "Public Meeting - Emerson Power Transmission Environmental Investigation", New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. June 22, 2005.
  24. ^ 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
  25. ^ "Ithaca Community Profile" Gays & Lesbians local index
  26. ^, "'s 2006 list of America's TOP 100 Places to Live." Available online [2]. Last accessed 4 April 2006.
  27. ^ Katherine Graham "Ithaca gets high marks from two earthy publications", July 28, 2006, The Ithaca Journal
  28. ^ Dr. James Sullivan, "The History of New York State", Book VII: "The Finger Lakes Region", Chapter VII: Tompkins County. Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc. (1927) Last Accessed on March 25, 2006.
  29. ^ See, e.g., 1811 article in local paper, at [3] or Town of Ithaca History project, available [4] (click on "History Project", then "Historical maps..." and finally "famous for its notorious immorality").
  30. ^ "Evil City Trio," and the label is sometimes referenced in the local press, including the Ithaca Journal [5] and Cornell Daily Sun [6]. Last Accessed 2 April 2006.
  31. ^ The Godless University by Kramnick, Isaac; Moore, R. Lawrence ERIC Department of Education accessed 01.10.2008

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Ithaca (New York) article)

From Wikitravel

Ithaca [1] is a small city in the Finger Lakes region of central New York, at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake. In addition to being the home of Cornell University and Ithaca College, Ithaca is known for its several gorges and waterfalls, small eclectic shops and restaurants, and deep interest in politics.


In some ways, Ithaca is a town of many contrasts that can attract different types of visitors. Ithaca is very much a college town, but it is also home to very solid and vibrant permanent community. The town is small and surrounded by outdoor amenities. Cornell University has the feel of the Ivy League school that it is, yet it excels in state-wide agricultural and veterinary research, and is the state's land-grant university.

  • Ithaca/Tompkins Convention and Visitor's Bureau [2] (607) 272 1313

Call, go online, or come into the Visitor's Center at 904 East Shore Drive (Rte. 34) for maps, and help finding lodging, dining, events and attractions in Ithaca and Tompkins County. Visit the website for information on planning group accommodations including weddings, conferences, reunions, etc.

  • Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce [3] (607) 273 7080

Relocation packets, and information on local businesses.

  • The Ithaca Tompkins County Regional Airport [4], located northeast of the city has flights on US Airways to and from Philadelphia and New York (Laguardia), on Northwest Airlines to and from Detroit, and on Continental Airlines to and from Newark. Weekday bus service from the airport to the city center is available every half-hour via TCAT bus route 31 (from about 7:30AM to 11:00PM), which also offers stops at the Cornell University campus. The one-way fare is $1.50, click [5] for more information. Bus service is not available on weekends or holidays. Taxi service is available but you may have to call and wait for a taxi to arrive.
  • Ithacans often use the airports in Syracuse, Rochester or Elmira, because fares from there can be significantly cheaper.

By car

By car, Ithaca is about 1 hour south of Syracuse, 1 hour north of Binghamton, 2 hours southeast of Rochester, 4 hours north of Philadelphia, and 4 hours northwest of New York City. The main routes into the city are New York highways 13, 79, 89, and 96. Interstate 86 (formerly NY State Route 17) intersects NY State Rt 13 in Elmira, about 45 minutes southwest of Ithaca. Interstate 81 connects with NY State Rt 79 half an hour from Ithaca at Whitney Point, and with NY State Rt 13 about 20 minutes from Ithaca in Cortland. You can reach Interstate 81 by taking NY State Route 17 (currently being transitioned to Interstate 86) West from New York City, or Interstate 476 North from Philadelphia. Interstate 90 connects to NY State Rt 96 near Geneva, NY, about 45 minutes from Ithaca.

By bus

Greyhound [6] and Shortline buses [7] offer service from New York City and Boston.

Trailways [8] is a regional carrier that offers service from Buffalo, Rochester, and others, including connections from Toronto, Ontario. Their complete schedule is not online; call (800) 776 7548.

By train

Although Ithaca once had rail connections to New York City, Scranton, Philadelphia, Buffalo and several cities in New England, the last passenger train left Ithaca in 1961, with the majority of service ending in the 1930's. Today, the nearest Amtrak [9] stations are on the Empire Corridor in Syracuse and Rochester. There are no direct bus connections to either station, however the two colleges sometimes run shuttles to the rail stations around semester breaks.

Get around

As Ithaca is a college town, bus service by TCAT (Tompkins County Area Transit) [10] is frequent and runs late. Taxi service is an inexpensive way to get around the small city, and it is available by phone, but expect to wait an hour or more on busy or cold nights. Avis & Hertz Rental cars are available at Ithaca Tompkins County Regional Airport, and Enterprise-Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental, in Ithaca. Ithaca also features a Car Share program that offers instant access to a network of cars throughout the city, 24 hours-a-day.


Parking is easy in most parts of Ithaca. However, there are some parts of Ithaca where parking can be tricky. If you park illegally the chance you will get a ticket is higher than average.

Downtown and the Commons

Street parking is metered and more difficult to come by (in some areas a 15 minute maximum on the meters), although there are always spots available if you're willing to walk. There are three municipal parking structures, one on Green Street just east of Cayuga Street, one at the corner of Tioga and Seneca Streets and the other on Cayuga Street to the south of the Commons. All three garages are free on evenings and weekends, and parking for one hour or less is also free at all three garages. Some local retailers will provide a token for an extra free hour. Parking at metered spaces and for more than one hour at the garages is $1 per hour, up to a maximum of $7

Cornell University

It is difficult to find parking on the Cornell University campus. It is generally best to avoid driving to campus at all. Bus service onto campus from downtown and other areas of Ithaca runs frequently during the day. One hassle-free and relatively fast parking option for visiting campus during the day is to park at the Seneca and Tioga streets parking garage in downtown Ithaca and then ride the Route 10 bus to campus. Route 10 departs from a heated bus stop located inside the parking garage every 10 minutes (7:30AM-5:00PM on weekdays, less frequently later in the evening) and the ride to Cornell takes only a few minutes. Check TCATbus [11] for schedules and more information.

If you have to park on campus during the day, you will need to buy a visitor parking permit from one of the parking booths around campus, and then you can park in a spot labeled for visitor parking, which are few and far between. The parking booth attendant can give you a map showing visitor parking spots, but during a school day expect not to find anything. There are several small metered lots, including one behind Willard Straight Hall and one in the lower level of the parking garage by the football stadium, that are convenient to central campus but are often full. Larger (and rarely full) metered lots are located across from the Dairy Bar and next to Bartels Hall, but both are at least a 15 minute brisk walk to most places on central campus. After 5 PM, some of the various "tiered" parking lots are available for general parking, but be sure to read the signs, as many lots have restricted parking until 8PM or 10PM and others are restricted at all times. If you are arriving on campus by car during normal business hours, expect to spend at least 10 to 15 minutes looking for parking, and 10 to 15 minutes more walking from your parking spot to your destination, so plan to arrive on campus at least 30 minutes before you need to be somewhere. You can park for free or for cheaper off campus in Collegetown or in Cayuga Heights, but expect your walk to be 20-30 minutes to your destination if it is on central campus.

Ithaca College

The parking situation at Ithaca College is also equally as poor, as over the past few years, there hasn't been enough parking for on-campus students, despite fee increases and discounted public transit passes. The only sanctioned visitor parking is a frequently full, remotely located visitor lot, and a dozen or so designated spaces near Admissions for prospective students on campus tours. Elsewhere parking is reserved based on a color coded permit system, which is strictly enforced during the week - park without a permit and your car will definitely be ticketed, and very possibly towed. On weekends, red (student) lots are usually not patrolled.

If you are visiting a specific person on campus (such as staying overnight with an on-campus student) you may be able to obtain a temporary permit from Public Safety, although this process is time consuming and based on general availability of parking. If granted, you will be restricted to a specific lot, usually one for commuters.

The following are exceptions often made for special events:

  • During School of Music concerts, attendee parking is permitted in lot nearest the Towers and the Whalen parking bridge (J Lot West)
  • Patrons attending IC Theatre events may park in the lot directly behind Dillingham (Lot F)
  • For Bombers home games, fans may park in the large lot near the football stadium (Lot L)
  • Participants at conferences or events held in the Emerson Suites may park in the Campus Center Lot (Lot U)

Many off campus students either walk or take the bus to school. TCAT service to the IC campus from downtown is plentiful, Routes 11, 12, and 65 provide service every half hour or so during the day and every hour at night.

Other areas in and around Ithaca

  • Parking in Cayuga Heights is easy. Note however that it is illegal to park overnight on streets in Cayuga Heights.
  • Some parts of the City of Ithaca have dense housing and parking at night can be tricky, especially between November 1 and April 1, when alternate side of the street parking is in effect. There is no parking (from 2AM to 6AM) on the even side (house numbers) of the street on even days of the month, and no parking on the odd side on odd days of the month.
  • Avis [12] (607) 257 0456
  • Dollar/MaGuire Ford Car Renal [13] (607) 272 8000
  • Enterprise Rent-a-Car [14] (607) 275 9000
  • Hertz [15] (607) 257 8677
  • National Car Rental [16] (607) 272 2575
  • Rent-a-Wreck [17] (607) 272 5533
  • Euro Sedans & Limousines[18] (607) 387-EURO (3876)
  • IthaCar Service[19] (607) 229 3500
  • Green Hornet Cab[20](607) 280 3779
  • Ithaca Dispatch (607) 277 TAXI
  • Right Limousine [21] (800) 647 5466
  • Ithaca College [22] - keep an eye out for the free concerts in particular
  • Ithaca Commons
  • Cayuga Lake
  • Waterfalls - many of the local waterfalls are located in state parks with hiking trails that were built (or rebuilt) by public works projects in the 1930s, often featuring stone staircases and bridges. The waterfalls are found along creeks that flow into Cayuga Lake. At parks with trails, you will typically find a "gorge trail" that follows the course of the creek, and a "rim trail" along the edge of the gorge, with overlooks to the falls underneath.
    • Taughannock Falls State Park - See Trumansburg.
    • Buttermilk Falls State Park - Route 13 S., King Road, and off Rt.96B in Danby. Swimming, hiking, picnicking, and camping. Even if you can stay for only a minute, you should still come and drive in to see the lovely falls at the lower entrance on Route 13. From the lower entrance you can take a hike up along the falls and gorge; from the upper entrance there is a less strenuous hike around the lake.
    • Robert H. Treman State Park - Route 327 (off Rt.13 S.). Swimming, hiking, picnicking, and camping. Hike along the gorge, a relatively vigorous walk if you do the whole loop. Or, you can dip in from the upper entrance and in a short walk see the main falls, called Lucifer Falls. The lower entrance area includes one of the more popular swimming spots in the area. It includes a diving board and the ability to swim underneath a waterfall.
    • Cascadilla Creek Gorge - easy to get to, free & beautiful. A stone staircase climbs spectacularly along the edge of the falls. The walk up from the entrance at Cascadilla Park up to the exit at College Ave. is an essential part of the Ithaca experience (after all, Ithaca is Gorges!) Closed from early winter until mid-spring due to icy, dangerous conditions.
    • Ithaca Falls - Located near the mouth of Fall Creek, Ithaca Falls is 150 feet high and 175 feet wide. Though there is no trail, the base of the falls is accessible from the small park on Lake Street at the base of Gun Hill.

Cornell University

Cornell University [23] is part of the Ivy League and is one of the most selective universities in America, as well as the apex of the State University of New York. It has world class Veterinary, Hotel, Agriculture, and Engineering schools. Located far above Cayuga Lake, on a hill overlooking Ithaca, it is separated from the city, yet an integral part of it.

  • Clock tower [24]
  • Johnson Art Museum [25]. Several of the floors have steady exhibits, but they bring in new art and other, sometimes interactive exhibits several times a year. The 5th floor houses an impressive collection of Asian art but also happens to have one of the nicest views of Ithaca, the Cornell campus, and Cayuga Lake.
  • Cornell Plantations [26]
  • Beebe Lake
  • Ithaca Falls
  • Wildflower Preserve
  • Cornell Concert Series [27]
  • Cayuga Nature Center [28] - Visitors to Cayuga Nature Center can explore the wonders of the natural world first hand. Cayuga Nature Center has over five miles of trails and a lodge filled with indoor exhibits including a kids' activity room. Cayuga Nature Center prides itself with our collection of indoor and outdoor live animal exhibits and our seasonal butterfly house. TreeTops, our six-story tree house, and five miles of trails are open from dawn to dusk. Cayuga Nature Center offers a wide range of educational activities including environmental and animal programs, an active outreach program, our TEAM Challenge ropes course, and much more.
  • Farmers' Market [29]
  • Sciencenter [30] - The Sciencenter, located at 601 First Street in Ithaca, is a hands-on science museum for people of all ages with over 250 fun exhibits, educational programs, an outdoor science park, a seasonal 18-hole miniature golf course, an animal room, and a gift shop. The Sciencenter is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10AM to 5PM and Sundays from noon to 5PM Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for children ages 3-17. Admission is free to members and children under the age of three. The museum's traveling exhibitions change seasonally and there is always something new to explore. The Sciencenter, named the “2006 Not-for-Profit Organization of the Year” by the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, welcomes more than 91,000 visitors per year. The Sciencenter is a proud member of Ithaca's Discovery Trail.
  • Light in Winter Festival [31] - Favorite Ithaca resident Carl Sagan once said "Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known." The annual Light in Winter Festival celebrates that possibility by looking at the world through a different lens in the hopes of enlightening, educating and entertaining visitors. LIW takes place the last weekend in January and is one of the few festivals in the world which celebrates the intersections of art and science. In 2007, the Festival theme is "Connections", and will host Pilobolus, the Bang-on-a-Can All Stars with Iva Bittova, Oscar-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom of Pixar, Christopher Rothko and NPR's "Piano Puzzler" Bruce Adolphe in 'The Tiger's Ear', the NY Times' Andrew Revkin and "The North Pole Was Here", Harvard string theorist Lisa Randall, Wine and the Mind, and more. January 26 - 28, 2007.
  • Lab of Ornithology [32]
  • Cass Park - North off Route 89, just outside town. Skating in winter, swimming pool in summer. This is adjacent to Alan Treman State Park, which contains a marina and a large fenced off-leash dog park.
  • Kitchen Theatre Company [33] - Bold, intimate, engaging... Kitchen Teatre Company is Downtown Ithaca's year round professional theare. Critically acclaimed, this theatre is nationally renowned and offers four performance series (Main Stage, Family Fare, Kitchen Counter Culture, Kitchen Sink). The Kitchen presents an engaging mix of contemporary, regional, and world premiere plays and musicals in an intimate 73-seat theatre that encourages a bold relationship between audience and actor. "Important conversations happen in the Kitchen."
  • Hangar Theatre [34]
  • Ithaca College Theatre [35] Performs two musicals, an opera, and several plays each year.
  • The Ithaca College Whalen Center for Music has numerous free concerts and recitals almost every day of the week during the school year. [36]


Shopping in Ithaca is in four major areas: Downtown/Commons, Meadow Street/Route 13, Collegetown, and Lansing/Mall area.

  • Downtown/Commons - The most typical Ithaca items can be bought downtown in the commons area. Local crafts are of exceptional quality. Ubiquitous green "Ithaca is Gorges" t-shirts can be bought here as well.
  • Meadow Street/Route 13 - Also known as The Strip. The "big-box" stores have been moving in in a major way in recent years along Meadow St. Drugstores, cellphone stores, supermarkets, and major discount retailers are often present in multiple incarnations. There is not much exciting here for the out-of-towner although it is certainly practical. An exception is Northside Liquors (see the Drink section).
  • Collegetown, just across Cascadilla Gorge from the Cornell campus, is mostly home to restaurants and businesses catering to the college crowd, and there are several shops specializing in Cornell- and Ithaca-related merchandise.
  • Lansing/Mall - Finally, just north of Ithaca in Lansing is the Pyramid Mall, recently expanded to hold Borders, Best Buy, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Target, offering a fairly broad and ubiquitous selection of shops. Nearby are the Triphammer and Cayuga malls, which are less elaborate.


A number of independent book sellers continue to thrive in the city and its immediate vicinity. Downtown Ithaca bookstores on or very near the Commons include the following:

  • Autumn Leaves, 115 The Commons. (607) 273-8239. Open 7 days a week. 60,000 books, 10,000 records and a Cafe, all under one roof.
  • The Bookery I, in DeWitt Mall, corner of Buffalo and Cayuga Streets. Bookery I sells used and collectible books. Companion Buffalo Street Books, also in the DeWitt Mall, sells new books.
  • Colophon Books, 205 N Aurora.
  • Home Green Home, 215 the Commons, has small book section with titles related to sustainable living.
  • Mayer's News Stand, 318 E. State - A huge selection of periodicals with some mass-market books.
  • Snow Lion Publications, 605 W. State (but enter via parking lot off 600 block of W. Green) - A Tibetan Buddhist book publisher, also has a browsable area in their warehouse for books and Buddhist tchotchkes.
  • Cornell University Bookstore, 135 Ho Plaza on the Cornell Campus - has a selection of general books in addition to textbooks.
  • Comics for Collectors, 207 N. Aurora - graphic novels and comics.

Within a 20-minute drive of Ithaca you can also find two barn-sized used-book sellers:

  • The Phoenix Books, 1608 Dryden Rd. [Rt. 13], going north toward Dryden
  • Book Barn of the Finger Lakes, 198 North Rd. just off Rt. 13 in Dryden, across from the Tompkins-Cortland Community College entrance.

Also, two "big-box" bookstores can now be found in Ithaca:

  • Borders, Pyramid Mall (Triphammer Rd exit off Rt. 13 N)
  • Barnes & Noble, Route 13 S (next to Tops supermarket)

If you'll be in Ithaca in May or October, look into the dates of the huge Friends of the Library[37] book sale, which lasts a week or two for each sale period and offers over 250,000 items for sale, with proceeds supporting the fancy, new (but cash-strapped) county library on the corner of Green and Cayuga Streets.

With local currency

Ithaca is home to one of the world's most successful local currency experiments. The Ithaca Hour[38] is Ithaca's local currency and is accepted by more than 600 local merchants and service providers. Using Ithaca Hours contributes to Ithaca's economy and small businesses. The Autumn Leaves bookstore at Ithaca Commons serves as the unofficial home of Ithaca's local currency and is the best place to go to acquire Hours. Of course, US dollars are also used in Ithaca.


Ithaca has some of the best and most diverse dining options in all of upstate New York. The areas with the highest concentration of restaurants are in Downtown and Collegetown. Downtown and The Commons has the most variety, ranging from Pizza, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Indian to fine-dining establishments. If you are uncertain about what you want to eat, a stroll along downtown's "Restaurant Row" on North Aurora Street should provide almost anything one is looking for. Collegetown also has a wide selection of dining, but has fewer fine dining options. Also notable is the area to the west of Downtown known as the West End, or The Inlet. Elmira Road, south of the downtown and Pyramid Mall, north of Ithaca in the Town of Lansing, have a selection of fast food and chain restaurants.

  • Collegetown Bagels/Ithaca Bakery [39] Six locations: Ithaca Bakery (Downtown): 400 N. Meadow St., 607-273-7110; Ithaca Bakery (Triphammer): Triphammer Mall, Rte. 13 @ Triphammer Rd., 607-257-2255; Collegetown Bagels (Collegetown): 415 College Ave. 607-273-0982; Collegetown Bagels (Commons): 203 N. Aurora St. 607-273-2848; Collegetown Bagels (East Hill Plaza): 329 Pine Tree Rd. 273-1036. The Brous & Mehaffey family operates five locations around Ithaca, so Collegetown Bagels is something of an Ithaca institution. They offer bagels, sandwiches, and coffee with a whimsical, new-agey feel at reasonable prices. Some of the best authentic bagels and fairly traded coffee, and definitely the most Ithacan. Great for breakfast or lunch. $5-$10.
  • The Nines. A former fire station in Collegetown turned restaurant/bar, The Nines features live music several times a week, as well as some of the best pizza in the region and a patio that's pleasant on warm summer evenings. This, along with the large selection of beers on tap, makes this a favorite of the student crowd. Their service is slow; orders of pizza often take more than an hour to receive.
  • Viva! Taqueria at the corner of State and Aurora Streets. Maximum calories for your money. Very vegetarian and vegan friendly. Be sure to check out the Viva! Cantina next door for an expanded menu, table service, and a bar featuring a large tequila selection.
  • Ned's Pizza inside Center Ithaca. Bargain prices on basic and loaded slices. Probably the cheapest fill-up in Ithaca.
  • Lincoln Street Diner on Lincoln St. between N Tioga and N Aurora, next to the Fall Creek laundromat. Cheap, good quality breakfasts and lunches. Favored by Fall Creek locals, construction and utility workers.
  • Rogan's Corner (formerly King Subs) [40] Located right off the Ithaca College campus on Route 96B serves the "best pizza on South Hill" by the slice with its signature homemade sauce. Rogan's also has hot and cold subs, calzones, wings, Italian dinners, and breakfast for carryout, delivery, or dine-in. Beer on tap coming in September 2008.
  • Shortstop Deli on W. Seneca St. between Albany and Geneva. Open 24 hours. Specializes in large, delicious subs. Also has breakfast sandwiches, big cookies, soups, and many varieties of coffee. Veg friendly, with veggie burger and seitan subs and vegan chili. Counter service only, but you can sit on on the window ledge outside.
  • State Diner on State St, a few blocks west of the commons. This railroad car diner is one of Ithaca's few 24-hour restaurants.
  • Napoli Pizza, 335 E State (Gateway Building a block E of Commons), 607-272-3232. Pizza, wings, and Italian standards.
  • Ling Ling Restaurant, East Hill Plaza on Judd Falls Road and Ithaca Plaza on Rt 13 S at Elmira Rd. Frequently voted best Chinese food in Ithaca. East Hill Plaza location has large dining room and Elmira Rd location is mostly take-out.
  • Ragmann's, 108 N. Aurora Street, 607-273-5236, [41]. Known for homemade soups, specialty sandwiches, including vegetarian options, Ragmann's is on the Ithaca Commons. Sodas, beer, wine and specialty drinks available. Lunch and dinner $5-$10.
  • Just a Taste, 116 North Aurora Street, 607-277-9463, [42]. Dinner every day, brunch 11-3 on weekends. Great tapas bar with a large selection of wines available by the glass. You can also select from a number of "flights" of wine, with a small taste of 4 or 5 different wines. The menu changes frequently and usually features local produce. Probably the best "walk in" eatery in town, and has less students than many other places. Tapas range from $4-$7. Expect to order 2-4 per person, and expect to share.
  • Maxie's Supper Club and Oyster bar 635 W. State St., 607-272-4136, [43]. Maxie's offers dinner daily until 11PM and midnight on Friday and Saturday, and brunch on Sunday until 3PM. Maxie's Supper Club offers a good selection of Cajun seafood food including an oyster bar, as well as authentic southern barbeque. The Cajun fries are delicious, but don't miss the shrimp and grits in tasso sauce, and definitely have lots of the honey butter they serve with the free cornbread. The Supper Club is an excellent place to grab some food and drinks after a late evening event. The restaurant feature locally-produced food and the wine list is award-winningly extensive and also features upstate wines, which often pair well with spicy food. Brunch $10-$15. Dinner $10-$20.
  • Moosewood Restaurant Dewitt Building, 215 N. Cayuga St., 607-273-9610, [44]. Famous world-wide for their vegetarian cookbooks, this downtown institution offers reasonably-priced (for a famous brand) vegetarian fare and fish with a different menu every night and a good selection of local wines, beers, and cafe beverages. Save room for dessert. Ask for a table in the furthest room. In the summer, the street level patio is quite pleasant. Lunch $10-$15. Dinner $15-$25.
  • Taste of Thai 216 E. State St (The Commons), 607-256-5487, [45]. Taste of Thai has a lovely atmosphere . Voted best Asian and best Ethnic in Ithaca (Ithaca Times, 2003 and 2005, respectively). Heat scale 0-5, where 3 is hot and 5 is "on fire". Try the papaya salad, a curry, or one of the delicious fish or seafood dishes. Lunch $7-8, dinner $10-20.
  • Thai Cuisine 501 S. Meadow St., 607-273-2031. Across from Wegmans. This restaurant serves Thai food that has been called the best in the state, although perhaps their reputation is overstated. They specialize in spicy food, but if you order your food hot, be sure to explain to the server that you do in fact want it really hot, because they have been known to smile and nod to an order of "jumping hot" and serve only "medium." The menu is extensive, and the wine list has excellent choices, including local wines, that pair well with spicy Thai food. Try a Finger Lakes Riesling--it matches perfectly. Dinner $10-$20.
  • Blue Stone Bar & Grill 110 North Aurora St., 607-272-2371, [46]. On the Commons. This restaurant serves a variety of American dishes with unique and exciting recipes. The menu contains a modest list of well refined dishes. The wine list is constantly improving. The drink list heavily emphasizes mojitos and martinis, but a continuing rotation of fruit infused vodkas keeps it fresh and exciting. Dinner $12-20.
  • New Delhi Diamond's 106 West Green St., 607-272-4508. Near the Commons. This restaurant serves a large variety of Indian dishes at dinner, and an $8 buffet at lunchtime. Dinner $15-20.
  • Garcia's, 344 Elmira Rd (Rt 13 S), 607-277-3600. Good chain Mexican food.
  • Glenwood Pines, Rt 89 (5 mi N of Ithaca), 607-273-3709. Burgers and other American fare, family friendly, dining room with lake view. Known locally for the "Pinesburger" (large burger served on french bread). Convenient stop for folks returning from wineries farther up the lake.
  • Fine Line Bistro, 404 West State St. (near Plain St.), 607-277-1077. One of the newer eating spots in town. Eclectic American bistro fare, complemented by a well thought out beer and wine list. Serving from 5 to 11, closed on Tuesdays. Dinner $10-$25.
  • The Heights Cafe 903 Hanshaw Rd. 607-257-4144, [47]. Lunch and dinner. This upscale American-style restaurant is hidden in the ritzy Cayuga Heights area of Ithaca. The menu is definitely among the pricier in Ithaca, but the food is well worth it. This is a great place for a special occasion. Lunch $10-$15. Dinner entrees $20-$30.
  • John Thomas Steakhouse 1150 Danby Road, 607-273-2734 or 800-765-1492, [48]. What is probably one of Ithaca's most expensive restaurants is also one of of the best. This traditional steakhouse is in an old farmhouse adjacent to La Tourelle Country Inn on the way to Danby, just past Ithaca College on route 96B. Big steaks prepared traditionally are rated among the best in the state, including NYC. Great for a fancy date or to have your parents take you for parents' weekend. Entrees $20-$30.
  • Dijon 311 Third ST 607-256-0503, [49]. Dinner only; book reservations in advance. This restaurant is a culinary gem in the heart of Ithaca. Traditional French cuisine with an eye for seasonal specials. Dinner $20+.
  • ZaZa's Cucina, 622 Cascadilla St., 607-273-9292, [50]. Located on the west end of town, this restaurant offers appealing if a bit pricey (for Ithaca) authentic Italian cuisine in a sumptuous, elegant setting that belies its former incarnation as a video store. The food gets rave reviews. Good wine list with extensive selections from Italy. Entrees $11-$25.
  • Boatyard Grill, 525 Taughannock Blvd., 607-256-2628, [51]. Great lively atmosphere right along Cayuga Inlet. Located on a peninsula directly across from Cornell University's boathouse, Boatyard Grill serves greasy food (in good portion sizes). Does not accept reservations but with "call-ahead" you can cut your wait time down significantly. Even with call-ahead, expect to wait awhile on parents' weekends as this is a student's favorite when mom and pop are in paying. Entrees $15-$25.
  • Watercress, 2 Hickory Hollow Ln (off Taughannock Rd just past Pyramid Mall), 607-257-0859, [52]. Lunch and dinner, Mediterranean-inspired fine food.


Wegmans [53], the largest grocery store in Ithaca, has a very large selection of specialty and ethnic foods, and has a large food court-like "marketplace" where ready-made food ranging from pizza to sushi can be purchased and eaten in the pleasant on-premises eating areas. A tourist experience of its own, like the Wegmans around New York State.

The two other major grocery chains in Ithaca are Tops [54] and P&C [55] [56] [57]. They are both a step down in quality and selection from Wegmans but are favored by some residents for being less hoity-toity. Tops arguably has a better selection of foreign food than Wegmans. Most grocery stores in Ithaca are open 24 hours to serve the college market, although the P&Cs tend to close at 10 or so. There is also an Aldi that sells deeply discounted store-brand foods with limited hours and no free grocery bags.

Greenstar [58] is a food co-op on the west end of town and is open to everyone. They offer a good selection of organic produce and bulk dry foods. Also check out their smaller location, Greenstar Oasis, in Dewitt Mall (near Moosewood) just off the Commons. If you're vegetarian and/or looking for organic selection, this is a great place to shop. It also has its version of the "marketplace" in its deli section where prepared foods are offered to either eat-in (there is a dining area) or take out. It is the only grocery store to offer fresh baked vegan desserts (which are VERY good). Here you will pay for the higher quality since it can get a bit pricey.

If you are in town on a weekend during the warm months (Saturday and Sunday April-October, Thursday afternoons June-August), you should consider getting your groceries and some bites to eat at the Ithaca Farmer's Market [59]. There is a large selection of not only fresh herbs and vegetables, but also free-range and pasture-fed meat. The breakfast burrito is a local favorite. Many local artisans (soapmakers, woodworkers, etc.) also have kiosks, and there are about a dozen different food vendors. Local vineyards also have kiosks.

There are three main Asian grocery stores in town. The most popular are Win Li, south of downtown on Route 13 (near the McDonald's), and Ithaca Tofu, located in the "Small Mall" on Cinema Drive behind Triphammer Mall. The third is a small shop in Collegetown on Eddy Street called Tong Fang. Win Li is the largest and has a very big selection of fresh Asian vegetables and has seasonally fresh fish. They also have some Chinese housewares (pots, bowls, rice cookers, etc.) and a big selection of rice. Ithaca Tofu has a slightly more varied selection of fruit and vegetables (including fresh shiso/ohba), but has much more in the way of Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Korean sauces. In keeping with their name, they do have a large selection of all kinds of tofu, but they also have a lot of Japanese snacks, sushi-related items, and they get fresh shipments of pre-cooked Chinese deli staples (chicken feet, tripe, scallion rolls) from NYC every week. Tong Fang caters much more to the college crowd and stocks a large array of teas and instant noodles. It is located right across from the intersection of Buffalo and Eddy streets, so parking is a bit scarce.

  • The Chapter House An ancient institution located on Stewart Avenue, near the Cornell campus, the Chapter House has a large selection of regional/microbrew/import beers on tap. Located on Stewart Avenue, its situation between Collegetown and Downtown Ithaca draws on a diverse spectrum of local crowds.
  • Rulloffs "Upscale" Collegetown bar on the main strip since the late Seventies; serves lunch and dinner with sandwiches averaging $7.50 and dinner entrees averaging $11. Accepts CityBucks.
  • Dunbars Old hole-in-the-wall bar on Eddy Street providing cheap booze and weeknight specials.
  • Stella's Restaurant, bar, and coffee shop with downstairs lounge in a hip, Jetson's meets Flinstones space. Large selection of martinis, bourbons, single-malts, and local organic foods.
  • The Royal Palm Classic old dive bar on Dryden Road just off of the Collegetown drag.
  • The Nines Restaurant/Bar in an old firehouse on College Ave. Outdoor seating, serves some of the best pizza in town. Nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded, but it's a great place to sit outdoors on a summer evening. Music almost every night. Expect long waits for the food, though.
  • Pixel New, hip, upscale club atmosphere with live DJs often. Extensive selection of video games, beer and top shelf liquor - although drinks are expensive ($5-$8, more for beers). On an alley off Dryden Road, between College Ave. and Eddy St.
  • Level-B New to Collegetown: often with live DJs. Top shelf liquor - although drinks are expensive. It is the only decently cluby place in Ithaca.
  • Micawber's Irish Pub located on North Aurora Street
  • Chanticleer Local hangout on corner of Cayuga and State Street marked by a neon rooster. Downmarket, excellent jukebox.
  • Korova Relatively new bar on The Commons. Has a good variety of beer selection on tap. Hipster atmosphere.
  • Pete's Cayuga Bar Popular with both locals and students who enjoy sports and a quiet atmosphere.
  • Simeon's Restaurant with great food also has a large selection of microbrew and imported beer on tap and bottle, as well as wine. Aurora St. at the Commons.
  • Moonshadow Funky bar on The Commons with drink specials.
  • Viva! Taqueria & Cantina Mexican restaurant that serves Margaritas and has a large selection of Tequila. Aurora St.
  • Benchwarmer's Sports Bar on The Commons with many TVs, serves American/Pub style food.
  • Uncle Joe's Sports Bar Roomy sports bar on Green Street separated into a bar area with flat-screen TVs, main dining area for watching sports, and a gaming room with pool table and darts. Also serves American style food.
  • 2nd Floor Bar Located above Trader K's, new bar in former clothing shop. It has a window bar that allows you to look out over The Commons. Large, perhaps even cavernous, space, includes two pool tables.
  • Felicia's Atomic Lounge Hip lounge, with excellent live music on Fridays and Sundays. Cool metallic atmosphere and unique drinks that you probably wouldn't think of yourself.


The Finger Lakes are a well-known wine growing region, and dozens of wineries with tasting rooms can be found along the shores of both Cayuga and Seneca Lakes within an easy drive of Ithaca. The region grows white varietals best and produces many good Rieslings and Chardonnays.

  • Cayuga Lake Wine Trail [60] - Nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes is the Cayuga Wine Trail, a 16 winery member organization surrounding Cayuga Lake and offering a unique blend of fine wines.
  • Seneca Lake Wine Trail [61] - Association of 32 wineries surrounding Seneca Lake (next Finger Lake to the west from Cayuga).
  • Northside Liquors (identified by giant "Discount Beverage Center" letters) in the shopping center at the intersection of Elmira Rd. and Rte. 13., across from KMart. Northside Liquors has a very large selection of wines and liquors, with a rare wines room and probably the largest selection anywhere of upstate New York wines. If you go on a wine tour but in retrospect failed to buy your favorite wines, just go to Northside Liquors to pick them up instead of driving all the way back to the winery. Smaller, but also with a nice selection of wines, is Sparrow's Wines at Fulton and Green Streets and Triphammer Wines & Spirits located in the Triphammer Mall off Rte. 13.


Ithaca is not a large city, but between Cornell and Ithaca College, about 25,000 students attend school here, with thousands more people visiting daily for conferences, sporting events, and other university functions. On normal days, Hotel and motel rooms can be surprisingly hard to find and shockingly expensive when compared to the surrounding area. Finding lodging during major school events, like freshman move-in, parents' weekend, and graduation, is difficult bordering on impossible at the last minute. If you find yourself in Ithaca during those times, you may have to go as far as Cortland (20 miles away) or Elmira (30 miles away). In a real pinch, it is not inconceivable to stay as far away as Syracuse, NY. It is only about 60 minutes away, depending on weather conditions. Elmira and Watkins Glen are decent options, and lodging will likely be quite a bit cheaper there.

As a general rule, lodging that is located downtown or close to campus will start at $150/night, while the downscale motel chains located out of town start upwards of $100/night. Rooms for less than $75/night can be had at some of the locally owned (and decidedly not 5-star) establishments that are located outside of town. Rates during major school events can more than triple.

  • Statler Hotel, 130 Statler Drive, Cornell campus (circle driveway straight ahead from campus entrance on Hoy Road), 800-541-2501 ( [62]. The Statler is run by Cornell's School of Hotel Administration students (as well as the full-time staff), and is the most elegant and luxurious hotel in Ithaca. However, don't expect to get a reservation for graduation at The Statler! The hotel is reserved for dignitaries, trustees and guest speakers during graduation. During other times of year, rooms are largely available. It is a popular place for executive education students to stay during the summer.
  • La Tourelle Resort and August Moon Spa, Near Ithaca College, only a 10 minute drive to Cornell University, [63]. Great hotel with a B&B feel. Full service spa on site. Walking trails connect to Buttermilk Falls State Park.
  • The Hilton Garden Inn - Downtown Ithaca's newest hotel, immediately across from the commons. Garage parking available nearby.
  • The Courtyard by Marriott, 29 Thornwood Dr., Phone: 1-607-330-1000, [64]. Located near the Ithaca/Tompkins regional airport. It has a free shuttle (by appointment) to Cornell, The Commons, the airport, and to a variety of locations along Triphammer Road, including the malls and restaurants. Many restaurants deliver to the hotel, and it is within walking distance to Ciabatta's, a restaurant that's open for lunch and breakfast. It also has its own restaurant for breakfast and offers onsite catering for meetings and receptions.
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton, 36 Cinema Dr., Phone: 1-607-266-0000. New Hotel, opened in May 2007. Located close to the Triphammer and Pyramid Malls, restaurants, and is fairly close to the Ithaca airport. Cornell is a 10-15 minute drive away.
  • The Holiday Inn - Although not the classiest hotels in the area, it gets the job done. Convenient location to both colleges. A short drive up the "hill" to Ithaca College. Minutes walking distance to the commons. So if you're just looking for a convenient place to lay your head, this is the hotel for you. This hotel books solid for all college events, so make reservations way ahead of time.
  • Ramada Ithaca Executive Conference Center, Ramada Ithaca Executive Conference Center 2310 N Triphammer Rd Hwy 13 & Triphammer Rd, Ithaca, NY - 14850, +1 607-257-3100, [65].  edit
  • Log Country Inn, [66].
  • The Inn at City Lights, Bed and Breakfast, 1319 Mecklenburg Rd., Rt.79 west, [67]. Great accommodations, great views, just outside of town.
  • Hampton Inn Ithaca, 337 Elmira Road, 607-277-5500, [68].  edit
  • Stewart Park, Buttermilk Falls, Treman State Park and Six-mile Park all offer nice walking/hiking trails. Some have parking fees on weekends and during high season. Cross country skiing is permitted on the golf course in winter. Treman State Park offers a large marina, and there is a large fenced off-leash dog park nearby.
  • There are two outdoor stores in the downtown Ithaca area. The Outdoor Store (206 E State St, Ithaca, NY 14850 (607) 273-3891) on the Commons and Eastern Mountain Sports (722 South Meadow Street Ithaca, NY 14850 (607) 272-1935) on Route 13 South (about 500 yards south of Wegmans.) Mountain Edge Outfitters on the Commons recently went out of business.
  • Also check out Cornell Outdoor Education [69] which has rental equipment and an indoor climbing wall.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ITHACA, a city and the county-seat of Tompkins county, New York, U.S.A., at the southern end of Cayuga Lake, 60 m. S.W. of Syracuse. Pop. (1890) 11,079, (1900) 13,136, of whom 1310 were foreign-born, (1910 census) 14,802. It is served by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western and the Lehigh Valley railways and by interurban electric line; and steamboats ply on the lake. Most of the city is in the level valley, from which it spreads up the heights on the south, east and west. The finest residential district is East Hill, particularly Cornell and Cayuga Heights (across Fall Creek from the Cornell campus). Renwick Beach, at the head of the lake, is a pleasure resort. The neighbouring region is one of much beauty, and is frequented by summer tourists. Near the city are many waterfalls, the most notable being Taughannock Falls (9 m. N.), with a fall of 215 ft. Through the city from the east run Fall, Cascadilla and Six Mile Creeks, the first two of which have cut deep gorges and have a number of cascades and waterfalls, the largest, Ithaca Fall in Fall Creek, being 120 ft. high. Six Mile Creek crosses the south side of the city and empties into Cayuga Inlet, which crosses the western and lower districts, often inundated in the spring. The Inlet receives the waters of a number of small streams descending from the south-western hills. Among the attractions in this direction are Buttermilk Falls and ravine, on the outskirts of the city, Lick Brook Falls and glen and Enfield Falls and glen, the last 7 m. distant. Fall Creek furnishes good water-power. The city has various manufactures, including fire-arms, calendar clocks, traction engines, electrical appliances, patent chains, incubators, autophones, artesian well drills, salt, cement, window glass and wallpaper. The value of the factory product increased from $1,500,604 in 1900 to $2,080,002 in 1905, or 38.6%. Ithaca is also a farming centre and coal market, and much fruit is grown in the vicinity. The city is best known as the seat of Cornell University. It has also the Ezra Cornell Free Library of about 28,000 volumes, the Ithaca Conservatory of Music, the Cascadilla School and the Ithaca High School. Ithaca was settled about 1789, the name being given to it by Simeon De Witt in 1806. It was incorporated as a village in 1821, and was chartered as a city in 1888. At Buttermilk Falls stood the principal village of the Tutelo Indians, Coreorgonel, settled in 1753 and destroyed in 1779 by a detachment of Sullivan's force.

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Simple English

This article is about the city in America, for the Greek island see Ithaca

Ithaca is a city in US State of New York, America. It was named after the Greek island of Ithaca. Cornell University and Ithaca College is located in the city.

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