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County History

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125 East Court Street
Ithaca, NY  14850
(607) 274-5551
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County History

Tompkins County History

Ithaca Conservatory of Music on East Seneca Street
courtesy of The History Center


Railroad development linked Tompkins County with the markets and destinations beginning in 1832 with the horse-drawn Ithaca-Owego Railroad. By the 1870s, there were four major railway lines running through Ithaca. Lake travel began in 1823 and continued into the twentieth century.
Ithaca College opened in downtown Ithaca buildings in 1892, at first a music academy, then expanding into a number of fields. The college moved to South Hill in 1969. Significant industries in the county include the Ithaca Gun Company, the Thomas-Morse airplane company, and the Groton Iron Bridge Company–all of which are now gone. For a decade, beginning in 1914, movies were made in Ithaca.