Rome is a city in New York State. It is located within Oneida County, which is in north-central or “Upstate” New York. The population was 33,725 at the 2010 census. Rome is one of two principal cities in the Utica-Rome Metropolitan Statistical Area, which lies in the “Leatherstocking Country” made famous by James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. Rome is presently in New York’s 24th congressional district.
The city occupies a site that was important to the main 18th and 19th century waterway connecting the Atlantic seaboard of North America to the Great Lakes. The original settlements were associated with fortifications erected in the 1750s to defend the waterway, and in particular the British Fort Stanwix (1763). The development into a city began with the construction of the Rome Canal along the waterway in 1796, and in the same year the Town of Rome was formally created as a section of Oneida County. For a time, the small community immediately next to the canal was informally known as Lynchville, after the original owner of the property. The Town of Rome was converted formally into a City by the New York State Legislature on February 23, 1870. The residents have called Rome the City of American History.
Early History: The Oneida Carrying Place
For hundreds of years, the area occupied by the modern City of Rome, NY has enjoyed great strategic and commercial importance, sitting along an ancient east/west and northern trade route from the Great Lakes and Canada to the Hudson River and the sea. The city is built astride the Oneida Carrying Place, known to the Six Nations or Haudenosaunee people, as Deo-Wain-Sta, or The Great Carrying Place. These names refer to a portage road or path between the Mohawk River to east and Wood Creek to the west, leading to Lake Ontario. Located within the modern city limits, this short portage path was the only overland section of a trade route stretching over a thousand miles between Lake Ontario and the lower Hudson. Boats coming up the Mohawk River from the Hudson had to transfer their cargo and boats overland between 1.7 and six miles (depending on the season) to continue west to Lake Ontario.
The region was the scene of bloody fighting during the French and Indian War. The British had erected several small forts to guard the Oneida Carrying Place and the lucrative fur trade against French incursions from Canada. However, a combined French, Canadian and Native American force overwhelmed and massacred a British force in the Battle of Fort Bull. Later in 1758, after several abortive attempts to fortify the area, the British sent a very large force to secure the Oneida Carry and build a stronger rampart complex named Fort Stanwix. The fort was abandoned at the conclusion of the war.
Revolutionary War and Fort Stanwix
View of the stockade around Fort Stanwix (1758 & 1776. Reconstruction 1976).
At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, American Continental forces reoccupied, rebuilt and improved Fort Stanwix. The installation played a pivotal role in the Saratoga Campaign of 1777, becoming renowned as “the fort that never surrendered”. Patriot militia, regulars, and their Oneida Nation allies under the command of Col. Peter Gansevoort, successfully repelled a prolonged siege in August 1777 by British, German, Loyalist, Canadian and Native American troops and warriors commanded by British Gen. Barry St. Leger. The failed siege combined with the battle at nearby Oriskany as well as the battles of Bennington, and Saratoga thwarted a coordinated British effort to take the northern colonies, and led to American alliances with France and the Netherlands.
After the British repulse at Fort Stanwix, bloody fighting erupted along the American northern frontier, resulting in terrible losses to American settlers but especially the people of the Six Nations. Fort Stanwix became the primary staging point for American attacks against British loyalist units and their Haudenosaunee allies, including the Sullivan Expedition of 1779, a ruthless scorched earth campaign against Iroqouis villages allied with the British. This campaign was ordered by George Washington in response to fierce frontier attacks and atrocities such as the Cherry Valley Massacre by loyalist irregulars led by Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant and John Butler. The fort continued to shield America’s northwest frontier from British campaigns until finally abandoned in 1781.
Commercial Growth: The Erie Canal
The Oneida Carry and the critical east/west American trade route through the frontier was formalized by construction of the Erie Canal. On July 4, 1817 construction on the Erie Canal began in Rome;
Manufacturing Legacy: The Copper City
Revere Copper Products, Inc. is one of the oldest manufacturing companies in the United States. Revere Copper Products Incorporated was formed in Rome, NY between 1928 and 1929 as a series of mergers between several companies of which one of them being Revere Copper Company located in Canton, Massachusetts. The first president of Revere Copper Products, Inc George H. Allen was formerly the president of Michigan Copper and Brass Company also included in the merger. The early history of Revere Copper Products, Inc is detailed in the book Copper Heritage: The Story of Revere Copper and Brass, Inc. by Isaac F. Marcosson. At one time, 10 percent of all copper products used in the United States were manufactured in Rome.
Jesse Williams founded America’s first cheese factory at Rome in 1851.
The City of Rome was incorporated in 1870.
Cold War and Technology Role
Between 1951 and 1991, the Rome Air Development Center (RADC) was located at Griffiss AFB. In 1991, the RADC was redesignated Rome Laboratory. It remained active as the Griffiss AFB was closed as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process in 1993. In 1997, Rome Laboratory was made part of the Air Force Research Laboratory and renamed the Rome Research Site. The RADC has been responsible for some of the United States Air Force’s major technological accomplishments, especially in the area of radio communications.
The Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) is also located in Rome, on the site of the former Griffiss Air Force Base.
The nationally recognized rock festival, Woodstock 1999 was held in Rome, with the city once again making use of the former Griffiss Air Force Base site. The 3-day festival was held the weekend of July 23–25, and drew a crowd of about 200,000 people. Cable network MTV covered the concert extensively, and live coverage of the entire weekend was available on pay-per-view. The festival featured a diverse assortment of acts including Metallica, Kid Rock, DMX, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Wyclef Jean; early reviews for many of the acts were positive; critics particularly praised performances by George Clinton, Jamiroquai, James Brown, Sheryl Crow, and Rage Against the Machine. A full list of appearances can be found at Woodstock 1999.
In July 2005, New York City developers, Park Drive Estates, purchased the former Woodhaven Housing- formerly the base housing for Griffiss Air Force officers and enlisted military members, and are in the process of re-developing that land into a resort-style active adult community.
Rome is the second largest city by area in New York State, and the 140th largest city in the United States. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 75.7 square miles (196 km2), of which, 74.9 square miles (194 km2) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) of it (0.99%) is water.
The Rome Sand Plains
Located within the city is a rare environmental area: the Rome Sand Plains. The Rome Sand Plains is a 15,000-acre (61 km2) inland pine barrens that consists of a diverse mosaic of high sand dunes and low peat bogs, mixed northern hardwood forests, meadows and wetlands. The Rome Sand Plains harbor rare and unusual species, including carnivorous plants like the pitcher plant and sundew, and animals like the red-shouldered hawk and fisher. It is one of only a handful of inland pine barrens remaining in the United States. Several civic groups including the Nature Conservancy in conjunction with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have successfully preserved portions of the Sand Plains and visitors are able to walk and bike this unique environment. Poor farming and overgrazing had reduced much of the area to desert patches by the 1930s when it first began to revert to forest cover, grazing cattle had eaten the hardwood saplings allowing pines to temporarily overtake them but as the forest stand ages it will return to hardwoods such as oak, cherry and maple.
As of the census of 2000, there were 34,950 people, 13,653 households, and 8,328 families residing in the city. The population density was 466.4 people per square mile (180.1/km²). There were 16,272 housing units at an average density of 217.2 per square mile (83.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.85% White, 7.58% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.88% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.35% from other races, and 2.05% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.72% of the population. Like other cities in the region, Rome has a large Italian-American presence, which is especially prevalent in the Little Italy in the vicinity of East Dominick Street.
There were 13,653 households out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.0% were non-families. 33.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.1% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 105.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,643, and the median income for a family was $42,928. Males had a median income of $31,635 versus $23,899 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,604. About 12.0% of families and 15.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.4% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.
Rome averages over 120 inches (3,000 mm) of snowfall each winter, mostly due to its proximity to Lake Ontario and the lake-effect snow that it produces. The West Rome Riders, Inc. snowmobile club calls Rome its home base, maintaining 41 miles (66 km) of trails in and around Rome.
The city of Rome became home to a professional sports franchise, when the Rome Frenzy of the Federal Hockey League began play in November 2010. The team played its home games in the recently renovated John F. Kennedy Civic Arena. As of 23 June 2011, citing poor attendance, the Frenzy suspended operations. They cancelled their 2011-12 season in Rome, vowing to relocate the team to a more sustainable location.
Between 1964 and 1988 the Rome Knights and later the Copper City Chiefs played their home games on Saturday evenings at the “Kennedy Arena.” The Chiefs were a Semi-Professional Hockey Club who competed against Senior and Intermediate Level teams from Province of Ontario, Canada, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Newark, New Jersey, New England, and other cities from the State of New York. The Chiefs were known for their physical and aggressive style of hockey, their roster was built around team toughness. In their 25 years of existence the Chiefs never had a losing season.
The city government consists of a mayor and a common council. The mayor is elected at large. The common council consists of 8 members who are elected from one of 8 wards. Each ward elects one member.
- Francis Bellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance
- Joseph H. Boardman, CEO of Amtrak 2008–Present
- Walter R. Brooks, author of the Freddy the Pig children’s book series
- Archi Cianfrocco, Major League Baseball player
- Jerry Cook, NASCAR driver, six-time NASCAR Modified Champion, one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, currently NASCAR Competition Administrator
- Richie Evans, NASCAR driver, nine-time NASCAR Modified Champion, one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, 2012 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Inductee
- Henry A. Foster, U.S. Representative and Senator from New York, Judge of the New York Supreme Court
- Alex Haley, author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family
- John B. Jervis, leading U.S. civil engineer of the early 19th century, designer of the Croton Aqueduct, the High Bridge of New York City and the 4-2-0 railroad locomotive
- Charles H. Larrabee, U.S. Representative from Wisconsin
- Sheila McInerney, WTA tennis tour player; Head Coach, Women’s Tennis, Arizona State University
- Tom Myslinski, NFL player
- Frank Page, cartoonist, Bob the Squirrel comic strip 
- Pat Riley, former NBA head coach; President, Miami Heat
- Tim Russ, actor, Star Trek: Voyager
- Tim Sestito, minor league hockey player
- Tom Sestito, minor league hockey player
- Richard D. Simons, Associate Justice, New York State Court of Appeals, 1983–1997
- Bonnie Thunders, roller derby skater
- Anthony Washington, Discus World Champion (1999), four-time Discus National Champion, three-time Olympian: 1992, 1996, 2000
- Benjamin Wright, Chief Engineer of the Erie Canal
Rome Railroad Station
Rome’s primary road connection is the Utica-Rome Expressway, a freeway section of New York State Route 49. The expressway runs 14 miles from Rome to Utica, where it meets I-90, I-790, NY 5, NY 12, and NY 8 in a massive cloverleaf interchange.
Rome’s Amtrak station is served by Amtrak’s Empire Service, with two daily trains in each direction between Niagara Falls and New York City as well as the daily Maple Leaf between Toronto and New York.
Griffiss Air Force Base closed in 1995 and was converted into Griffiss International Airport, which sees general aviation as well as military use. However, no scheduled commercial service uses the airport.
CENTRO buses run six routes in Rome, two of which serve the Amtrak station.