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Utica, New York

Utica, New York
Clockwise from top: Panorama of downtown from I-790, Looking south on Utica's Genesee Street, Utica Harbor lock, Union Station, Utica Memorial Auditorium, Liberty Bell Corner, Stanley Theater
Flag of Utica, New York
Official seal of Utica, New York
Official logo of Utica, New York
City logo
Nickname(s): The Handshake City, Sin City, The City that God Forgot, Elm Tree City[1][2]
Location in Oneida County and New York
Location in Oneida County and New York
Utica, New York is located in USA
Utica, New York
Location in the United States
Country  United States

 New York

Metro Utica–Rome
County Oneida
Land grant (village) January 2, 1734[3]
Incorporated (village) April 3, 1798[4]
Incorporated (city) February 13, 1832[5]
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Mayor Robert M. Palmieri (D)
 • City 17.02 sq mi (44.1 km2)
 • Land 16.76 sq mi (43.4 km2)
 • Water 0.26 sq mi (0.7 km2)
Elevation 456 ft (139 m)
Population (2010)[6]
 • City 62,235
 • Estimate (2014[7]) 61,332
 • Density 3,818.1/sq mi (1,471.3/km2)
 • Urban 117,328 (U.S.: 268th)[8]
 • Metro 296,615 (U.S.: 163rd)[9][1]
Demonym(s) Utican
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 13501-13505, 13599
Area code(s) 315
FIPS code 36-76540
GNIS feature ID 0968324[10]

Utica (pronounced ) is a city in the Mohawk Valley and the county seat of Oneida County, New York, United States. The tenth-most-populous city in New York, its population was 62,235 in the 2010 U.S. census. On the Mohawk River at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains, Utica is approximately 90 miles (145 km) northwest of Albany and 45 miles (72 km) east of Syracuse. Although Utica and the neighboring city of Rome have their own metropolitan area, both cities are also represented and influenced by the commercial, educational and cultural characteristics of the Capital District and Syracuse metropolitan areas.

Formerly a river settlement inhabited by the [12]

Like other Rust Belt cities, Utica had an economic downturn beginning in the mid-20th century. The downturn consisted of industrial decline due to globalization and the closure of textile mills, population loss caused by the relocation of jobs and businesses to suburbs and to Syracuse, and poverty associated with socioeconomic stress and a decreased tax base. With its low cost of living, the city has become a melting pot for refugees from war-torn countries around the world (encouraging growth for its colleges and universities, cultural institutions and economy).

According to the 2010 census, the Utica–Rome Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had 299,397 people in Oneida and Herkimer counties; the counties in the Mohawk Valley have a combined population of 622,133. In 2014, Utica's population was estimated at 61,332.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Iroquois natives and European settlement 2.1
    • Industry, trade, and slavery 2.2
    • 20th and 21st centuries 2.3
  • Geography 3
    • Topography 3.1
    • Cityscape 3.2
    • Neighborhoods 3.3
    • Climate 3.4
  • Demographics 4
  • Economy 5
  • Law, government, and politics 6
    • Crime and public safety 6.1
  • Culture 7
  • Sports 8
    • Area collegiate teams 8.1
  • Parks and recreation 9
  • Infrastructure 10
    • Transportation 10.1
    • Utilities 10.2
    • Health care 10.3
  • Education 11
  • Media 12
  • Notable people 13
  • See also 14
  • Notes and references 15
    • Notes 15.1
    • References 15.2
    • Bibliography 15.3
  • Further reading 16
  • External links 17


Several theories exist about the history of the name "Utica".[13] Although surveyor Robert Harpur stated that he named the village,[13] the most accepted theory involves a 1798 meeting at Bagg's Tavern (a resting place for travelers passing through the village) where the name was picked from a hat with 13 suggestions.[13][14]


Iroquois natives and European settlement

A black-and-white map, depicting buildings and roads in simple, small black outlines. The text
An 1802 engraved map of Utica. The Mohawk River is at the top, and Bagg's Tavern is at the center right.

Utica was established on the site of Old Fort Schuyler, built in 1758 during the French and Indian War.[4][15][16][17] Prior the construction of the fort, the Mohawk, Onondaga and Oneida tribes had occupied the Great Lakes region as early as 4000 BC.[18] The Mohawk presence was beneficial to colonial settlers—colonists traded rum and firearms to the tribe in exchange for furs. The tribe's dominating presence in the region hampered the Province of New York from expanding into the city's present-day location.[18]

The land housing Old Fort Schuyler was part of a 20,000-acre (80.94 km²) portion of William Cosby on January 2, 1734.[19] Since the fort was located near several trails (including the Great Indian Warpath), its position—on a bend at a shallow portion of the Mohawk River—made it an important fording point. The Mohawks called the bend Unundadages ("around the hill"), and the Mohawk word appears on the city's seal.[14][20][21]

During the American Revolution, border raids from British-allied Iroquois tribes were used as an excuse to allow Rangers to enter Central New York and displace the Iroquois from their settlements.[14] The destruction of these villages and settlements allowed white settlers to come from New England,[22] especially Connecticut.[14]

In 1794 a state road, Genesee Road, was built from Utica west to the Genesee River. That year a contract was awarded to the Mohawk Turnpike and Bridge Company to extend the road northeast to Albany, and in 1798 it was extended.[4][23] The Seneca Turnpike was key to Utica's development, replacing a worn footpath with a paved road.[24] The village became a rest area on the Mohawk for goods and people moving through Western New York and the Great Lakes.[25][26]

The boundaries of the village of Utica were defined in an act passed by the New York State Legislature on April 3, 1798.[27] Utica expanded its borders in subsequent 1805 and 1817 charters. On April 5, 1805, the village's eastern and western boundaries were expanded,[28] and on April 7, 1817, Utica separated from Whitestown on its west.[4][29] The city's municipal charter was passed by the state legislature on February 13, 1832.[4][5] The city's growth during the 19th century is indicated by the increase in its population; the United States Census ranked Utica as the 29th-largest in the country (with 20,000 residents) in 1845, more than the populations of Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland, respectively.[30][31]

Industry, trade, and slavery

A black-and-white pencil drawing of a bustling, smoky, industrial city.
Bird's-eye view of Utica in 1855

Utica's location on the Erie and Chenango canals encouraged industrial development, allowing the transport of anthracite from northeastern Pennsylvania for local manufacturing and distribution.[32] Utica's economy centered around the manufacture of furniture, heavy machinery, textiles and lumber.[33] The combined effects of the Embargo Act of 1807 and local investment enabled further expansion of the textile industry.[34]

In addition to the canals, transport in Utica was bolstered by railroads running through the city. The first was the Mohawk and Hudson River Railroad, which became the Utica and Schenectady Railroad in 1833. Its 78-mile (126 km) connection between Schenectady and Utica was developed in 1836 from the right-of-way previously used by the Mohawk and Hudson River.[35][36] Later lines, such as the Syracuse and Utica Railroad, would merge with the Utica and Schenectady to form the New York Central Railroad, a 20th-century forest railway in the Adirondacks.[37]

A tinted, colorized photo of wide city street
Genesee Street, 1911

With over 650 fugitive slaves during the 1850s, Utica played a major role in the Underground Railroad; the city was on a slave escape route from the Southern Tier to Canada by way of Albany, Syracuse and Rochester.[38][39] The route, used by Harriet Tubman to travel to Buffalo,[40] allowed slaves to pass through Utica on the New York Central Railroad right-of-way en route to Canada.[40] Utica was the locus for Methodist preacher Orange Scott's antislavery sermons during the 1830s and 1840s, and Scott formed an abolitionist group there in 1843.[39] Despite efforts by local abolitionists, pro-slavery riots and mobs forced many abolitionist meetings to other cities.[41]

20th and 21st centuries

The early 20th century brought rail advances to Utica, with the New York Central electrifying 49 miles (79 km) of track from the city to Syracuse in 1907 for its West Shore interurban line.[42] In 1902, the Utica and Mohawk Valley Railway connected Rome to Little Falls with a 37.5-mile (60.4 km) electrified line through Utica.[43]

Two young newsboys smiling and standing in the snow. One boy is holding a bag.
Newsboys for the Utica Saturday Globe, 1910

At the time, Utica was known as "

External links

  • Bartholomew, Harland (1921). A preliminary report on major streets, Utica, New York. Willard Press.  
  • Ferris, T. Harvey (1913). Utica, the heart of the Empire state. Library of Congress.  
  • Kobryn, Nancy (1995). Guts and glory, tragedy and triumph: the Rufus P. Elefante story. Steffen Pub.  
  • Pula, James S. (1994). Ethnic Utica. Ethnic Heritage Studies Center, Utica College of Syracuse University.  
  • Utica Public Library (1932). A bibliography of the history and life of Utica; a centennial contribution. Goodenow Print. Co.  

Further reading

  • Bagg, M. M. (1892). Memorial history of Utica, N.Y.: from its settlement to the present time. Cornell University Library: D. Mason & Co. Publishers.  
  • Bottini, Joseph P.; Davis, James L. (2007). Utica.  
  • Childs, L. C. (1900). Outline History of Utica and Vicinity. New Century Club, Utica, New York.  
  • Switala, William J. (2006). Underground Railroad in New Jersey and New York.  
  • Thomas, Alexander R. (2003). In Gotham's Shadow.  
  • Thomas, Alexander R.; Smith, Polly J. (2009). Upstate Down: Thinking about New York and Its Discontents.  


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  232. ^ "About MYLS". Mid York Library System. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 


  1. ^ Estimated MSA rank as of July 1, 2,014.
  2. ^ Humidity data calculated from the averages of morning and evening relative humidities.
  3. ^ Calculated from the total populations of Oneida, Herkimer, Schenectady, Otsego, Fulton, and Montgomery counties as of the 2010 census.
  4. ^ Population estimate from a 15-percent sample
  5. ^ Locally known as "pusties"[138][139]


Notes and references

See also

Notable people

The Mid York Library System serves Utica and is chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York. The library system operates 43 libraries[231] (including the Utica Public Library) in Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties.[232]

Utica's main daily newspaper is the Observer-Dispatch; the Utica Phoenix, established in 2002, is an alternative.[224] The city has 26 FM radio stations and nine AM stations. Major station owners in the area include Townsquare Media and Galaxy Communications. In addition to minor popular-culture references,[225][226][227][228] Slap Shot (1977) was partially filmed in Utica, and the city has been featured on the TV series The Office.[227][229][230]

Utica is served by four stations affiliated with major television networks: WKTV (NBC), WUTR (ABC), WFXV (Fox), and WKTV-DT2 (CW). WTVH, Syracuse's CBS affiliate, is the city's de facto CBS station,[65] however that status will end November 22, 2015 when WKTV-DT2 affiliates with the network.[220] PBS member station WCNY-TV in Syracuse operates translator W22DO-D on analog channel 22 and digital channel 24. Several low-power television stations, such as WPNY-LP (MyNetworkTV), also broadcast in the area. Cable television viewers are served by the Syracuse office of Time Warner Cable, which offers a local news service, a local sports channel, and public-access channels.[221] Dish Network and DirecTV provide satellite television customers with local broadcast channels.[222][223]

A two-story brick building with pillars, arched windows, and a flagpole in front. A tree is located on the left, and a lawn is in the foreground.
The Utica Public Library, a historic neoclassical-style building, opened in 1903.


The Utica City School District had an enrollment of nearly 10,000 in 2012[216] and is the most racially diverse school district in Upstate New York.[217] District schools include Thomas R. Proctor High School, James H. Donovan Middle School, and 12 elementary schools. Utica's original public high school, the Utica Free Academy, closed in 1987.[218] The city is also home to Notre Dame Junior Senior High School, a small Catholic high school founded in 1959 by the Xaverian Brothers.[219]

Formerly a satellite campus of Syracuse University, Utica College is a four-year private liberal arts college with over 3,000 students.[212] Established in 1904, St. Elizabeth College of Nursing partners with regional institutions to grant nursing degrees.[213] Pratt Institute offers a local two-year fine-arts course,[214] and the Utica School of Commerce has business-related programs at its Central New York locations.[215]

Like Ithaca and Syracuse, Utica has a mix of public and private colleges and universities; three state colleges and four private colleges are in the Utica–Rome metropolitan area. SUNY Polytechnic Institute, on an 850-acre campus in North Utica and Marcy, has over 2,000 students[207] and is one of eight technology colleges and 14 doctorate-granting universities of the State University of New York (SUNY).[208][209] Mohawk Valley Community College is the largest college between Syracuse and Albany with nearly 7,000 students,[210] and an Empire State College location serves Utica and Rome.[211]

An aerial view of a school campus in a wooded area. The trees around the campus have red leaves. Roads cut through the middle of the wood toward the school.
Aerial view of SUNY Polytechnic Institute from south to north

A long, three-story brick school building on top of a hill.
Thomas R. Proctor High School


[206] The Mohawk Valley Health System prefers to construct a new hospital in Downtown Utica by 2021, consolidating operations at the existing hospitals.[204] St. Luke's and Faxton are surgical centers, and St. Elizabeth is a trauma and surgical center.[205], and St. Elizabeth Medical Center has 201 acute-care beds.beds The St. Luke's and Faxton hospitals have a total of 370 acute and 202 long-term [204]

Health care

Municipal solid waste is collected and disposed of weekly by the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority,[199] a public-benefit corporation that coordinates single-stream recycling, waste reduction, composting, and the disposal of hazardous materials and demolition debris.[200] Utica's wastewater is treated by the Mohawk Valley Water Authority, with a capacity of 32 million gallons per day.[201][202] Treated water is tested for impurities including pathogens, nitrates, and nitrites.[201] Utica's drinking water comes from the stream-fed Hinckley Reservoir in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains,[202] with 700 miles (1,100 km) of piping throughout the city.[203]

Electricity in Utica is provided by National Grid plc, a British energy corporation that acquired the city's former electricity provider, Niagara Mohawk, in 2002.[189] Utica is near the crossroads of major electrical-transmission lines,[190] with substations in the town of Marcy. An expansion project by the New York Power Authority, National Grid, Consolidated Edison, and New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) is planned.[191][192] In 2009 city businesses (including Utica College and St. Luke's Medical Center) developed a microgrid, and in 2012 the Utica City Council explored the possibility of a public, city-owned power company.[193][194][195] Utica's natural gas is provided by National Grid[196] and NYSEG.[197][198]


During the 1960s and 1970s, New York state planners envisioned a system of arterial roads in Utica that would include connections to Binghamton and Interstate 81.[185] Due to community opposition,[186] only parts of the highway project were completed, including the North–South Arterial Highway running west of the city.[185][187] Six New York State highways, one three-digit interstate highway, and one two-digit interstate highway pass through Utica. New York State Route 49 and State Route 840 are east–west expressways running along Utica's northern and southern borders, respectively, and the eastern terminus of each is in the city. New York State Route 5 and its alternate routesState Route 5S and State Route 5A—are east–west roads and expressways that pass through Utica. The western terminus of Route 5S and the eastern terminus of Route 5A are both in the city. With Route 5 and Interstate 790 (an auxiliary highway of Interstate 90), New York State Route 12 and State Route 8 form the North–South Arterial Highway.[188]

Griffiss International Airport in Rome primarily serves military and general aviation, and Syracuse Hancock International Airport and Albany International Airport provide regional, domestic, and international passenger air travel in the Utica–Rome Metropolitan Area.[180] Amtrak's Empire, Maple Leaf, and Lake Shore Limited trains stop at Utica's Union Station. Bus service is provided by the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority (CENTRO), a Syracuse public transport operator which runs 12 lines in Utica and has a downtown hub.[181] Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound Lines and the Birnie Bus Company, with weekday and Saturday service to Syracuse;[182] both stop at Union Station.[183][184]

Open rail yard
Despite the decrease in rail traffic through Utica, its rail yard remains active.


Electrical wires through a wooded area
Power transmission lines through the Utica Marsh; many lines pass through Utica, transporting power to New York City.

Map of Utica area, with highways
Early Federal Highway Administration map of the Interstate Highway System in Utica; Interstates 90 and 790 are in the shaded portion.


The city's municipal golf course, Valley View (designed by golf-course architect Robert Trent Jones), is south of the city near the village of New Hartford.[172] The Utica Zoo and the Val Bialas Ski Chalet, an urban ski slope featuring skiing, snowboarding, outdoor skating, and tubing, are also south of the city in Roscoe Conkling Park.[178] Smaller neighborhood parks in the district include Addison Miller Park, Chancellor Park, Seymour Park, and Wankel Park.[179]

Utica's parks system consists of 677 acres (274 ha) of parks and recreation centers; most of the city's parks have community centers and swimming pools.[172] Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., who designed New York City's Central Park and Delaware Park in Buffalo, designed the Utica Parks and Parkway Historic District.[173] Olmsted also designed Memorial Parkway, a 4-mile (6.4 km) tree-lined boulevard connecting the district's parks and encircling the city's southern neighborhoods.[174][175] The district includes Roscoe Conkling Park, the 62-acre F.T. Proctor Park, the Parkway, and T.R. Proctor Park.[176][177]

Parks and recreation

School Location Nickname Colors Association Conference References
SUNY Polytechnic Institute Marcy Wildcats Blue and gold NCAA Division III NEAC [167]
Hamilton College Clinton Continentals Buff and blue NCAA Division III NESCAC [168]
Utica College Utica Pioneers Navy and orange NCAA Division III Empire 8 [169]
Mohawk Valley Community College Utica, Rome Hawks Forest green and white NJCAA Region III [170]
Herkimer County Community College Herkimer Generals Hunter green and gold NJCAA Region III [171]

Area collegiate teams

The city was home to the Utica Blue Sox (1939–2001), a New York–Penn League baseball team also affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays and, later, the Miami Marlins. Other former baseball teams included the Utica Asylums (1900) and the Boston Braves-affiliated Utica Braves (1939–42).[166]

Utica is home to the Utica Comets, a team affiliated with the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks. Formerly the Peoria Rivermen, the team moved to Utica and began playing in the American Hockey League during the 2013–14 season.[163][164] The 3,815-seat Utica Memorial Auditorium, which opened in 1960, is home to the Comets and the Utica College Pioneers. The Utica Devils played in the AHL from 1987 to 1993, and the Utica Bulldogs (1993–94), Utica Blizzard (1994–97), and Mohawk Valley Prowlers (1998–2001) were members of the United Hockey League (UHL).[165]


The Utica Psychiatric Center, formerly a Greek Revival insane asylum, was the birthplace of the Utica crib—a restraining device frequently used at the asylum from the mid-19th century to 1887.[13][156][157][158] The Stanley Center for the Arts, a mid-sized concert and performance venue, was designed by Thomas W. Lamb in 1928 and features theatrical and musical performances by local and touring groups.[159] The Hotel Utica, designed by Esenwein & Johnson in 1912, became a nursing and residential-care facility during the mid-1970s as a result of a decline in guests.[160][161] Restored as a hotel in 2001, notable guests included Franklin D. Roosevelt, Judy Garland and Bobby Darin.[161][162]

The annual 15-kilometre (9.3 mi) National Distance Running Hall of Fame, attracts runners from the region and around the world, including Kenya and Romania.[151][152] The Children's Museum of Natural History, Science and Technology, next to Union Station, opened in 1963. In 2002 the museum partnered with NASA, featuring exhibits and events from the agency.[153][154] The Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, founded in 1919, features a PrattMWP program in cooperation with the Pratt Institute, and permanent collections and rotating exhibits.[155]

Vegetables in a skillet
A skillet of Utica greens

Utica shares a cuisine with the mid-Atlantic states, with local and regional influences. The city's melting pot of immigrant and refugee cuisines,[137] including Dutch, Italian, German, Irish and Bosnian,[62] has introduced dishes such as ćevapi and pasticciotti[5] to the community.[140][141] Utica staple foods include chicken riggies,[142] Utica greens,[143] half-moons,[144][145] and tomato pie.[146] Other popular dishes are pierogi, penne alla vodka, and sausage and peppers.[147][148] Utica is rooted in the brewing industry, and the family-owned Matt Brewing Company was ranked the 15th-largest brewery by sales in the United States in 2012.[149][150]

Utica's position in the northeastern United States has allowed the blending of cultures and traditions. The city shares characteristics with other cities in Central New York, including its dialect (Inland Northern American English, also present in other Rust Belt cities such as Buffalo, Elmira and Erie, Pennsylvania).[136]

Many people running a marathon on a street. There are trees in the background.
Participants in Utica's annual Boilermaker Road Race


According to the city's police department, there were six murders, 125 robberies, 22 rapes, and 237 assaults in 2014 (an increase from the previous year, representing a violent-crime rate of 0.6 percent). There were 432 burglaries, 1,845 larcenies and 107 motor-vehicle thefts (a decrease from 2013, representing a property-crime rate of 3.8 percent). Compared to other cities in New York, Utica's crime rate is generally low.[132][133] The Utica Police Department patrols the city, and law enforcement is also under the jurisdiction of the Oneida County Sheriff's Office and the New York State Police.[134] The Utica Fire Department coordinates four engines, two truck companies, and rescue, HAZMAT and medical operations with a 123-person crew.[135]

Crime and public safety

According to the comptroller's office, Utica's governmental expenses totaled $79.3 million in 2014 (a net increase of $940,000 from the previous year).[130] The 2015–16 budget proposes general-fund spending of $66.3 million.[131] City taxes collected in 2014 were $25,972,930, with a tax rate per thousand of $25.24.[131]

Utica is in New York's 22nd congressional district, which has been represented by Republican Richard L. Hanna since 2013. The city is served by the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, with offices in the Alexander Pirnie Federal Building.[129]

Democrat Robert M. Palmieri, elected in 2011, is Utica's current mayor.[123][124] The common council consists of 10 members, six of whom are elected from single-member districts. The other four, including its president, are elected at-large.[125] The council has eight standing committees for issues including transportation, education, finance and public safety.[126] There is a relative balance between the Democratic and Republican parties, a change from the predominantly single-party politics of the 20th century;[127] throughout the 1950s, Democrats ran the city council and mayoralty.[128]

Utica, New York
Crime rates (2014[122])
Crime type Rate*
Homicide: 6
Forcible rape: 22
Robbery: 125
Aggravated assault: 237
Total violent crime: 390
Burglary: 432
Larceny-theft: 1,845
Motor vehicle theft: 107
Total property crime: 2,384
* Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.
Arson data not provided; 2014 est. population: 61,332
Source: Utica City Police Department

Law, government, and politics

Utica's larger employers include the ConMed Corporation (a surgical-device and orthotics manufacturer)[118] and Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare, the city's primary health care system.[119] Construction, such as the North-South Arterial Highway project, supports the public-sector job market.[120] Although passenger and commercial traffic on the Erie Canal has declined since the 19th century, the barge canal has allowed heavy cargo to travel through Utica, bypassing the New York State Thruway and providing intermodal freight transport with the railroads.[121]

The Mohawk Valley economy is based on logistics, industrial processes, machinery, and industrial services.[116] In Rome, the former Griffiss Air Force Base has remained a regional employer as a technology center. The Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona is a tourist destination, with a number of expansions during the 1990s and 2000s.[117]

Large, ovoid tanks in a brewery
Fermentation tanks at the Matt Brewing Company in West Utica, producer of Saranac beer

In the early 20th century, the local textile industry began to decline, which had a significant impact on the local economy. When air-conditioned mills opened in the southern United States during the late 1940s, they replaced much of Utica’s factory-based economy.[112] New industries to rise in the city were electronics manufacturing (led by companies such as General Electric, which produced transistor radios),[113] machinery and equipment, and food processing.[114] During the second half of the century, the city's recessions were longer than the national average.[115] The exodus of defense companies (such as Lockheed Martin, formed from the merger of the Lockheed Corporation and Martin Marietta in 1995) and the electrical-manufacturing industry played a major role in Utica's economic stress.[115] From 1975 to 2001, the city's economic growth rate was similar to that of Buffalo, while other upstate New York cities such as Rochester and Binghamton outperformed both.[115]

During the mid-19th century, Utica employed its canals and railroads for industries producing furniture, locomotive headlights, steam gauges, firearms, textiles and lumber.[33][81] World War I sparked the growth of Savage Arms, which produced the Lewis gun for the British Army,[110] and the city was one of the wealthiest per capita in the United States.[111]

A highway, under construction, runs across the photo from top left to bottom right. Next to the highway is a church and some buildings on the right.
Infrastructure projects, such as the North-South Arterial Highway and New York State Route 840, create local jobs.


Racial composition 2010[72] 1990[109] 1970[109] 1950[109]
White 69.0% 86.7% 94.1% 98.4%
 —Non-Hispanic 64.5% 84.8% 91.2% n/a
African American 15.3% 10.5% 5.6% 1.6%
American Indians and Alaska Natives 0.3% 0.3% 0.2% n/a
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 10.5% 3.4% 0.9%[4] n/a
Asian 7.2% 1.1% 0.1% n/a
Other race 3.9% 1.5% 0.1% n/a
Two or more races 4.0% n/a n/a n/a

Median income for a Utica household was $30,818. Per capita income was $17,653, and 29.6 percent of the population were below the poverty threshold.[72]

In the 2010 United States Census, Utica's population was 62,235. Sixty-nine percent of the population was Caucasian (of which 64.5 percent was non-Hispanic white), 15.3 percent was African American, and 0.3 percent was American Indian or Alaska Native. Asians were 7.2 percent of the city's population (3.5 percent Burmese, 1.5 percent Vietnamese, 0.7 percent Cambodian, 0.4 percent Indian, 0.2 percent Chinese, and 0.7 percent other Asian; numbers do not add up to 7.2 percent due to rounding),[107] Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders were 0.1 percent, and Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 10.5 percent (6.8 percent Puerto Rican, 1.5 percent Dominican, 0.4 percent Mexican, 0.3 percent Salvadoran, 0.2 percent Ecuadoran, 0.1 percent Cuban and 1.2 percent other Hispanic or Latino). Other races were 3.9 percent, and multiracial individuals made up four percent of the population.[108]

The city is the tenth most populous in New York,[105] the seat of Oneida County,[106] and (with Schenectady) a focal point of the six-county Mohawk Valley region. According to a U.S. Census estimate, the Utica–Rome Metropolitan Statistical Area decreased in population from 299,397 in 2010 to 296,615 on July 1, 2014[105] and its population density was about 3,818 people per square mile (1,474/km²). Counties in the Mohawk Valley have a combined population of 622,133.[3]

Although Utica's population is predominantly Caucasian, it has diversified since the 1990s with the addition of immigrants and refugees (particularly Bosnian Americans, displaced by the Bosnian War);[102] over 15 languages are spoken in the city.[103] Utica has a low cost of living due to its quality of life and industrial and economic decline.[104]

A bar graph of Utica's population.
Utica's population halted a forty-year decline in 2010, influenced by an influx of refugees and immigrants.


Winters are cold and snowy; Utica receives lake-effect snow from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.[93][94][95] Utica is colder on average than other Great Lakes cities because of its location in a valley and susceptibility to north winds;[96] temperatures in the single digits or below zero Fahrenheit are not uncommon on winter nights. Annual precipitation (based on a 30-year average from 1981–2010) is 42.1 inches (107 cm), falling on an average of 171 days.[89]

Utica has a continental climate with four distinct seasons and is in the humid continental climate (or warm-summer climate: Köppen Dfb)[90][91] zone, characterized by cold winters and temperate summers. Summer daytime temperatures range from 70–82 °F (21-28 °C), with an average winter daytime temperature below -3 °C (27 °F).[91] The city is in USDA plant hardiness zone 5a, and native vegetation can tolerate temperatures from -10 °F to -20 °F (-28.9 °C to -26.1 °C).[92]

A marshland, with a tall mullein plant on the left
The Utica Marsh is a series of wetlands north of the city.

Utica, New York
Climate chart ()
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: Weatherbase[89]


West Utica (or the West Side) was historically home to German, Irish and Polish immigrants. The Corn Hill neighborhood in the city center had a significant Jewish population.[86] East Utica (or the East Side) is a cultural and political center dominated by Italian immigrants.[87][88] North of downtown is the Triangle neighborhood, home to the city's African American and Jewish populations. Neighborhoods formerly dominated by one or more groups saw other groups arrive, such as Bosnians and Latin Americans in former Italian neighborhoods and the Welsh in Corn Hill.[31] Bagg Commemorative Park and Bagg's Square West (Utica's historic centers) are in the northeastern portion of downtown, with Genesee Street on the west and Oriskany Street on the south.[81]

Utica's neighborhoods have historically been defined by their residents, allowing them to develop their own individuality. Racial and ethnic groups, social and economic separation and the development of infrastructure and new means of transportation have shaped neighborhoods, with groups shifting between them as a result.[31]


With no master plan for the city, early settlers and property owners contributed to its layout, and many families and individuals are remembered in street names.[83] Streets laid out when Utica was a village had more irregularities than those built later in the 19th and 20th centuries. As a result of the city's location (adjacent to the Mohawk), it is offset; not all streets run north–south or east–west. Remnants of Utica's early electric-rail systems can be seen in the West and South neighborhoods, where they ran on the streets.[20][84][85]

Utica's architecture features many qualities also defining Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse,[80] including Greek Revival, Italianate, French Renaissance,[81] Gothic Revival and Neoclassical styles. The modernist 1972 Utica State Office Building, at 17 floors and 227 feet (69 m), is the city's tallest.[82]

Three street signs on a pole
Eighteenth- and 19th-century families, individuals and landowners are evoked by many Utica street names.


The city's Mohawk name, Unundadages, refers to its elevated position as seen from the Deerfield Hills in the north.[20] The Erie Canal and Mohawk River pass through northern Utica; northwest of downtown is the Utica Marsh, a group of cattail wetlands between the Erie Canal and Mohawk River (partially in the town of Marcy) with a variety of animals, plants and birds.[77][78] During the 1850s, plank roads were built through the marshland surrounding the city.[79] Utica's suburbs have more hills and cliffs than the city, and its position (where the Mohawk Valley forms a wide plain) gives much of the city a sloping, flat topography.[73]


According to the United States Census Bureau, Utica has a total area of 17.02 square miles (44.1 km2)—16.76 square miles (43.4 km2) of land and 0.26 square miles (0.67 km2) (1.52 percent) of water.[72] The city is located at New York's geographic center, adjacent to the western border of Herkimer County, New York, and at the southwestern base of the Adirondack Mountains.[73] Utica and its suburbs are bound by the Allegheny Plateau in the south and the Adirondack Mountains in the north,[74] and the city is 456 feet (139 m) above sea level. The city is 90 miles (145 km) northwest of Albany[75] and 45 miles (72 km) east of Syracuse.[76]

Photo of the region from space. Mountains can be seen throughout most of this picture.
November 1985 photo of the Mohawk Valley from Space Shuttle Challenger, with Utica center-left and Albany center-right


Despite the city's economic decline, it has benefited from a low cost of living,[60][61] attracting immigrants and refugees from around the world.[62][63][64] Further bolstering the city are its commercial, educational and cultural ties to the Capital District and Syracuse metropolitan areas.[65][66] In 2010, Utica, the focus of local, regional and statewide economic-revitalization efforts,[67][68][69] developed its first comprehensive master plan in more than a half-century.[70][71]

With city jobs moving to the towns and villages around Utica, suburbanization allowed the expansion of the nearby town of New Hartford and the village of Whitesboro. Utica's lack of quality academic and educational choices when compared to Syracuse under an hour away contributed to its decline in jobs and local businesses to the city during the 1990s.[56] Utica's population fell, reflecting a statewide trend of decreasing urban populations outside New York City.[57] Residents who remain in the city struggle to handle poverty issues stemming from social and economic conditions caused partially by a smaller tax base, impacting schools and public services.[58][59]

Utica, heavily affected by the deindustrialization also affecting other Rust Belt cities, experienced a major reduction in manufacturing activity during the second half of the 20th century. The 1954 opening of the New York State Thruway (which bypassed the city) and declines in activity on the Erie Canal and railroads throughout the United States also contributed to a poor local economy.[53] During the 1980s and 1990s, major employers such as General Electric and Lockheed Martin began to close plants in Utica and Syracuse.[54][55]


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