Cortland, New York is located at 42.6° North, 76.2° West. It is nearly the geographic center of New York State.

Amos Todd, Joseph Beebe and his wife Rhoda Todd Beebe were the first white settlers in the area, stopping just north or Homer, New York in 1789. To encourage settlement, the State built a road from Albany, through Cortland to Ithaca in 1794. Settlers soon flooded the area, and transformed the forested hills into decent farmland. Cortland County was created from the southern half of Onondaga County on April 8, 1808. It was named in honor of the Pierre Van Cortlandt, the first Lieutenant Governor of New York State. The City of Cortland, which was settled in 1791, was chosen as the county seat because of it's central location in the county.

Farming turned out to be the major business in the region, with boats loaded with produce loaded and sent down the Tioughnioga River to Harrisburg and Baltimore. When the Erie Canal opened well to the north of the city, the shipping industry began to suffer. This was made worse by the arrival of two railroads, bringing in foodstuffs cheaper than the locals could grow them. The region began converting to dairy farming, and by 1845, much of the region was covered with cow and sheep pastures. The locals also started to put down apple orchards, eventually giving rise to the Cortland Apple variety.

Industry also started to take hold at this time, as the railroads made it easier to get product out to the rest of the nation. Notable among these were the Cortland Wagon Company, which made horse carts and accessories, and Wickwire Brothers, which produced wire and nails.

Cortland was the home of the 76th New York State Volunteers, which fought at Civil War battles from Second Bull Run through Petersburg. The regiment was one of the first to arrive for the battle of Gettysburg, where they were responsible for holding the right of the Union Line. There is a monument to the regiment at Gettysburg, which lost a third of their men in the battle.

Between 1830 and 1860, Cortland saw its population peak. Beginning about 1870, there was a population shift towards either larger metropolitan areas, or to the west of the United States. The Cortland Wagon Company fell apart with the advent of the automobile, and Wickwire Brothers, though the largest employer in Cortland for most of the 20th century, closed in 1971.

In 1868, the Cortland Normal School was founded. It started to gain a reputation in its teachers instruction program, and expanded its regimen from two to three years, becoming a State Teachers College in 1941. It was incorporated into the new SUNY system in 1948. In 1961, the college changed its name to SUNY College at Cortland, and introduced its program. Today, it has about 7500 undergraduate students, and 400 faculty members.

The city was incorporated in 1900, the 41st "city" in the State of New York. It is called the "Crown City" because of its location on a plain formed by seven valleys. Cortland's economy is now centered on its light industry, it's agriculture, and the college.

As a side note for those of you willing to rock out, Cortland is the town that brought you Ronnie James Dio. Also, most of the small bars of hotel soap in the United States were made here in Cortland.


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