Utica is a city in and the county seat of Oneida County, New York, United States. The population was 62,235 at the 2010 census, an increase of 2.6% from the 2000 census.
The city of Utica is situated within the region referred to as the Mohawk Valley in Central New York. Utica has an extensive park system, with winter and summer sports facilities. Utica and the neighboring city of Rome are principal cities of the Utica–Rome, New York Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Oneida and Herkimer counties.
Utica is located where it is because it was next to the shallowest spot along the Mohawk River that made it the best place for fording across. Also due to an Iroquois Indian crossroads and fording location it made trade exceedingly easy for local merchants. With a shallow spot on the river and that as already inhabited by trading partners, the location was ideal for a settlement.
Utica was first settled by Europeans in 1773, on the site of Fort Schuyler which was built in 1758. The fort was named Fort Schuyler after Col. Philip Schuyler, a hero of the French and Indian War. After the French and Indian War the fort was abandoned and then during the American Revolution the original settlement was destroyed by Tories and Native Americans. The settlement eventually became known as Old Fort Schuyler when a military fort in nearby Fort Stanwix in Rome, New York, was renamed Fort Schuyler during the American Revolution and evolved into a village.
In 1794, a road was built to Albany, New York known as State Road. By 1797 the road was extended and completed to the Genesee River and the full road was known as it is now, Genesee Road. The creation of the Seneca Turnpike was the first significant factor in the growth and development of Utica, as this small settlement became the resting and relocating area on the Mohawk River for goods and people moving into Western New York and past the Great Lakes.
Moses Bagg, a blacksmith, built a small tavern near Old Fort Schuyler to accommodate weary travelers waiting for their horse’s shoes to be repaired. After just a few years this small shanty tavern became a two story inn and pub known as Bagg’s Hotel. The first bridge over the Mohawk River was erected in the summer of 1792 by a Long Island carpenter who had settled in Utica, Apollos Cooper, although local and regional architects that had seen the bridge were very skeptical to use it, and the bridge was soon destroyed in the spring floods.
The perhaps apocryphal account of Utica’s naming suggests that around a dozen citizens of the Old Fort Schuyler settlement met at the Bagg’s Tavern to discuss the name of the emerging village. Unable to settle on one particular name, Erastus Clark’s entrant of “Utica” was drawn from several suggestions, and the village thereafter became associated with Utica, Tunisia, the ancient Carthaginian city.
Utica was incorporated as a village in 1798. Utica expanded its borders in subsequent charters in 1805 and 1817. Expansion and growth continued to occur in Utica; by 1817 the population had reached 2,860 people. Genesee Street was packed with shops and storefronts, a prosperous stagecoach line had expanded its business, a fully established bank was founded by Alexander Johnson, a newspaper company The Utica Observer established by William McLean, five churches as well as two hotels were all located within this center square of Utica.
Origins of street names
Utica’s history can be evidenced in various street names. For example, Moses Bagg built a tavern in 1794 that became the center of village activity. From this square came four streets: Southward, a trail that once connected the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Seneca lands, became a road that led to Genesee country. To the east of Baggs Square, there was the Main Street of Utica, which sprouted First, Second, and Third streets as the settlement grew. To the west there was the road to Whitesboro. A shortcut was built in 1795 to facilitate the movement of stagecoaches coming from the west to Utica’s Hotel, which the Holland Land Company funded. To the north, there was a street running along a river which during the spring would flood, earning the name Water Street. Heading northward from the Square, one would find himself at Deerfield Corners; from there he could go west along Riverside, northbound to Trenton (through land once owned by the Weaver family, or along Dr. Alexander Coventry’s, the village’s first physician, property). East of Deerfield Corners one would travel along the road that Herkimer led his troops to the Battle of Oriskany.
Once the land known as Cosby Manor, situated along the Mohawk River, was surveyed by John Bleeker, son of Rutger Bleeker – an original owner of the lands – the southern side was further divided into separate plots. To distinguish this set of plots from the land belonging to General Bradstreet’s progeny, Division Street came into being. In the initial developments of the Bleeker property, the land was surveyed to its southernmost point at South Street and as far west as West Street. The streets within the property became named after Rutger Bleeker’s family: Catherine Bleeker, his wife; Elizabeth Brinckerhoff, Mary Miller, Blandina Dudley, and Sarah Bleeker, his daughters; John Bleeker, his son; Morris Miller, his son-in-law, and Horatio Seymour, his grandson-in-law. John Lansing was an executor of Rutger Bleeker’s will. Charlotte and Neilson are believed to be related to the family somehow but by undetermined links.
Italians in Utica
The largest nationality group of the great migration to America between 1880 and 1920, Italians trace their presence in Utica to the arrival of Dr. John B. Marchisi in 1817. A prosperous pharmacist, he was the first of thousands of Italians to arrive in Oneida County over the next century.
Centered around the parishes of St. Mary of Mount Carmel and St. Anthony of Padua, Italian life and culture flourished, spreading throughout the county to cities, towns and small villages alike. While the immigrants arriving in the great migration usually found jobs in the local textile mills, brickyards, construction companies and unskilled manufacturing occupations, numerous entrepreneurs soon began small businesses running the spectrum of economic activity from push-cart peddlers and olive oil merchants to haberdashers, bankers and insurance agents. Italian language newspapers such as Il Pensiero Italiano, La Luce, and Il Messagero dell’Ordine, along with the humorous Il Pagliaccio and various organizational and cultural publications reflected the richness of Italian life in Oneida County. The Italian population was also served for more than ten years by the “Italiannaires Program”, hosted by Rena Bonapart, on WIBX radio.
From a small group of early immigrants, the Italian community rapidly grew to political prominence, forming an important voting block in elections as early as 1888. By 1910 Italians were being regularly elected to office in Utica, while some historians credit the East Utica Italian community as the spark that ignited Franklin D. Roosevelt’s campaign for governor of New York in 1928. From the early 1940s the Italian community has played a dominant role in Utica and area politics.
Welsh in Utica
Suffering from poor harvests in 1789 and 1802 and dreaming of land ownership, the initial settlement of five Welsh families soon attracted other agricultural migrants, settling Steuben, Utica and Remsen townships. Adapting their traditional agricultural methods, the Welsh became the first to introduce dairying into the region and Welsh butter became a valued commodity on the New York market. Drawing on the size of the local ethnic community and the printing industry of Utica became the cultural center of Welsh-American life by 1830. The Welsh-American publishing industry included 19 different publishers who published 240 Welsh language imprints, 4 denominational periodicals and the influential newspaper Y Drych. However, the Welsh community in Utica was never very large and was often dwarfed by other ethnicities, most notably the Italians and the Polish.
Erie Canal & Textile era
Utica’s location on the Erie Canal stimulated its industrial development. The middle section of the Canal, from Rome to Salina, was the first portion to open in 1820. The Chenango Canal, connecting Utica and Binghamton, opened in 1836, and provided a further stimulus for economic development by providing water transportation of coal from Northeast Pennsylvania.
Utica was well positioned to benefit from the Erie Canal, the civil engineering marvel of its time. Utica’s population with the creation of the canals began to skyrocket. The population began to increase threefold over a span of ten years since the first section of the canal opened in 1819. Utica was the virtual half-way point for canal travelers, thus making the town the perfect stop-over point. During the planning stage of the canal the cotton looms that would make Utica famous were in their infancy, and a vigorous real estate market in the town had ballooned lot prices tenfold since 1800. An anonymous traveler noted that by 1829, about five years after the canal’s completion, Utica had become “a really beautiful place . . . [and Utica’s State Street] in no respect inferior to [Broadway] in New York.” Utica, along with other burgeoning towns such as Syracuse, would benefit from the fact that the Erie Canal ran directly through town.
By the late 19th century, Utica had become a transportation hub and a commercial center of considerable note, but was not like the heavy industrial towns in New England. Utica, in particular, was limited in its capability to produce industrial goods because the Mohawk River did not run fast enough to turn the industrial machines. Upon investigating the New England style of steam production, they found how to use coal in their manufacturing. Now with the recently completed Chenango Canal that connected Utica to the coal field in Pennsylvania, there was a vast supply readily available. Because of the Embargo Act of 1807 that cut off the English textile production, the Northeast had a firm grasp on the textile industry. With investments from local entrepreneurs Utica’s textile industry was starting to really take off.
The city still served as a Northeast crossroads, hosting the day’s most celebrated personalities. Samuel Clemens lectured to a sold-out Utica crowd in 1870, where Clemens noted in personal correspondence that he brought down the house “like an avalanche.” It was during this time that Utica hosted the 1884 New York State Republican Convention, an event covered in great detail in Edmund Morris’ Pulitzer Prize winning biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, in which Morris describes Utica at this time as “a shabby canal-town in the middle of the Mohawk Valley.”. Senator Roscoe Conkling, a leading GOP lawmaker of the Stalwart political faction, resided in the city at this time, and figured as the region’s most historically significant politician until local native James Schoolcraft Sherman was elected the 27th Vice President of the United States, serving under President William Howard Taft.
Loom to boom era
In the wake of the demise of the textile industry, Utica became a major player in the tool and die industry, which thrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, eventually declining in the late 20th century. Like the textile industry before it, the machine tool industry largely forsook Utica for the American South, with one notable example being The Chicago Pneumatic Company, which shuttered its extensive manufacturing facility in Utica in 1997 and relocated to Rock Hill, South Carolina.
By the mid-20th century, virtually all of the textile mills closed and migrated to the American South. In the 1930s through the 1950s Utica became nationally if not internationally known as “Sin City” for the extent of its corruption and control by the political machine of Rufus P. Elefante.
In the early and mid-20th century, Utica had become a major manufacturing center for radios, manufactured by the General Electric company, which, at one time, employed some 8,000 workers there, and was once known as: “The radio capital of the world.” However, by the mid-1960s, General Electric had moved its radio manufacturing to the Far East. In the early 1990s, GE’s Light Military Electronics operation in Utica was sold to Lockheed Martin and soon closed altogether.
Organized Crime in Utica
Utica, from the turn of the 20th century, and probably to a lesser extent even today, is and was a center for organized crime. It was a city where rackets were and are reputedly controlled by the Buffalo Cosa Nostra family and at least three other families, including the Scranton, Colombo, and Genovese family which had and likely still have a local presence.
At least three Uticans attended the infamous Apalachin Meeting mafia summit.
Utica was a battleground in the late 1970s and early 80s when the Buffalo Family was weakened after the death of Boss Stefano Magaddino and other families and influences jockeyed for power and influence, and multiple gangland style homicides took place between 1979 and 1986.
More recently in the 1990s, the infamous “Falange Crew” (A group who seemed to have highly unusual multiple and somewhat ambiguous ties to the Buffalo, Scranton, and Colombo families) ran the rackets, until they were decimated by federal indictments and convictions.
Rust Belt era
Like many industrial towns and cities in the northeastern Rust Belt, Utica has experienced a major reduction in manufacturing activity in the past several decades, and is in serious financial trouble; many public services have been curtailed to save money. Suburban Utica, particularly the towns of New Hartford and Whitesboro, have begun to experience suburban sprawl; this is common in many Upstate New York cities, which are suffering from what the Sierra Club termed “sprawl without growth,” although recently notable efforts have been made to revitalize the Downtown and Oneida Square areas of Utica by planning the construction of quality apartment housing. The city’s economy is heavily dependent on commercial growth in its suburbs, a trend that is characterized by development of green sites in neighboring villages and does little to revitalize the city itself. Because of the decline of industry and employment in the post-World War II era, Utica became known as “The City that God Forgot.” In the 1980s and early 1990s, some of Utica’s residents could be seen driving cars with bumper stickers that read “Last One Out of Utica, Please Turn Out The Lights,” clearly taking a more humorous stand on their city’s rapid population loss and continued economic struggles.
Boehlert Center at Union Station
City leaders and local entrepreneurs tried to build on the city’s losses. In 1997 the former GE-Lockheed facility was purchased by ConMed Corporation (founded by Utica local Eugene Corasanti) for use as a manufacturing facility and the company’s worldwide headquarters, bringing 500 new jobs to the area. The Boehlert Center at the newly restored, historic Union Station in downtown Utica is a regional transportation hub for Amtrak and the Adirondack Scenic Railway. Next door to Union Station is The Children’s Museum of History, Science & Technology, a 5 story building built in the 1890s.
Despite the obvious economic growth in its suburbs, downtown Utica continues to be the focus of regional economic revitalization efforts, most notably in the area of arts and entertainment. Anchored by the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, the construction of a new home for the Players of Utica, and the recent expansion of the historic Stanley Theatre, the Oneida Square Arts District is becoming a vibrant neighborhood once again. The popularity of Utica College Pioneer Men’s Division III Hockey continue to attract people to a downtown that was quite desolate in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. Night life in Utica has been significantly affected with Utica Monday Nite and the recent Saranac Thursday Night party with proceeds being donated to the United Way. Since its inception in 1998, the festivities, which include beer, soft drinks, food, and live music, has continued to draw thousands to Utica’s westside brewery district, invigorating nearby taverns and eateries.
Roefaro also worked to “green” the city and develop a sustainability plan by partnering with a Cornell University program called, “Rust To Green.” http://www.rust2green.org/ R2G is an action-research and service-learning project to get faculty and students working together with local community partners in Upstate NY cities to encourage sustainable urban development. The program builds on the findings of the Brookings Institution’s 2007 report entitled “Restoring Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing America’s Older Industrial Cities”. Among its findings, the report concludes, “Given their assets, the moment is ripe for the revival of older industrial urban economies… Older industrial cities possess a unique set of characteristics and resources that, if fully leveraged, could be converted into vital competitive assets.” The authors analyzed New York State’s older industrial cities, and determined that seven of them – Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, Schenectady, Syracuse and Utica – had “a range of existing assets that, if fully leveraged, would serve as a platform for their renewal.” Two of these cities, Utica and Binghamton, were selected by Cornell University as the pilot sites, and in February 2010 the City of Utica convened its first meeting of the Rust to Green Utica core team. Rust To Green Utica launched New york State’s first local Food Policy Council in 2010.
21st Century immigrant influx
The arrival of a large number of Bosnian immigrants over the past several years has staunched a population loss that had been steady for more than three decades. Bosnian immigrants now constitute about 10% of the total population of Utica. Other recent immigrant groups have arrived from Somalia, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), and Iraq.
This influx of refugees from many war-torn nations and politically oppressive regimes has drawn mainstream national media attention, from The New York Times (see citation above) to Reader’s Digest. Reader’s Digest dubbed Utica the “Second Chance City” in an article chronicling the crucial role that immigrants have traditionally played in invigorating Utica’s political, economic, and social life; the article argues that Utica now hosts thousands of immigrants that have taken advantage of the city’s social services benefits, welfare, public and private sector affordable housing, and entry-level skilled manufacturing jobs to start a new life, a trend that began nearly thirty years ago.
In a cover story in their 2005 REFUGEES Magazine, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) wrote an extensive article on refugees in Utica, titling the publication, “The Town That Loves Refugees”.
Winters suck in Utica:
Winters in Utica are very cold and snowy, as the area is susceptible to Lake effect snow from the Great Lakes to the west. An example of typical wintertime snowfall amounts is presented below. Daytime highs during the wintertime are typically observed at or just above freezing (32 °F to 35 °F/0 °C to 2 °C), with some days not reaching 25 °F (-4 °C). Winter nights will see temperatures drop to settle between 10 °F (-12 °C) and 20 °F (-7 °C). Temperatures in the single digits or below zero are not uncommon for winter nights in Utica. The all time lowest recorded temperature in the city was -28 °F (-33 °C), which occurred once on February 18, 1979 and again on January 12, 1981.
As of the 2010 census, there were 62,235 people residing in the city. The population gain since 2000 represented a reversal of over 40 years of population decline. As of the 2000 census, the population density was 3,710.0 people per square mile (1,432.3/km²). There were 29,186 housing units at an average density of 1,785.3 per square mile (689.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.0% White, 15.3% African American, 0.3% Native American, 7.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.9% from other races, and 4.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.5% of the population.
There were 25,100 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.5% were married couples living together, 16.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.3% were non-families. 37.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $24,916, and the median income for a family was $33,818. Males had a median income of $27,126 versus $21,676 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,248. About 19.8% of families and 24.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 38.0% of those under age 18 and 12.1% of those age 65 or over.
The city government consists of a mayor who is elected at large. The Common Council consists of nine members. Six are elected from single member wards. The other three are elected at large.
Arts, history, and culture
Adirondack Scenic Railroad and Union Station —
The Children’s Museum — Open throughout the year, The Children’s Museum of History, Natural History, Science and Technology is a hands-on learning center with emphasis on local history, environmental science, the arts, and space science that attracts local visitors and global tourists. Located in the historic Baggs Square East section of downtown Utica, the five story brick building, constructed in 1890, was originally a dry goods company. Four of its floors, each 6,000 square feet (560 m2), contain hundreds of interactive exhibits. It is a NYS and Federally designated historic building. Among the most popular of its hundred of interactive exhibits are a life-size wooden train, an LED dance floor, live radio and weather rooms, a real airplane which children can explore, and a large HO and Lionel train exhibit visitors can operate via foot pedals.
The Landmarks Society of Greater Utica —
National Distance Running Hall of Fame — On July 11, 1998, a hall of fame was established to honor the athletes who have lent their names and achievements to defining the sport of distance running.
Mohawk Valley Ballet — This ballet company was formed in 1974 by Delia Foley. It is a strict and rigorous company in which students ages 5–18 are taught under the Royal Academy of Dance curriculum where they are examined once a year to assess their level of achievement. The company is pre-professional and the students can perform in both the fall production of The Nutcracker and the spring production. Both are performed at the historic Stanley Theater of Performing Arts in Utica. The Mohawk Valley Ballet reaches out to the community in more ways than one. The company most recently made a partnership with Upstate Cerebral Palsy in which students from the dance company teach children with special needs, ages 3–6 the basics in dance. The program has been overwhelmingly successful, winning a Pepsi refresh grant to fund each child’s uniform for dance as well as allowing them to attend the performances the Mohawk Valley Ballet produces. The program has allowed children from Upstate Cerebral Palsy to even participate in the performances of the Ballet Company. The Mohawk Valley Ballet truly reaches out to the Mohawk Valley in a variety of ways and impacts the art in the community greatly each year.
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute — Founded in 1919 as “an artistic, musical and social center”, The Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art features a renowned permanent collection, rotating exhibitions and community art education for adults, teens and children. The Institute is named for three generations of one Utica family, whose philanthropy and civic pride is still enjoyed today. The campus, located on 10 acres (40,000 m2) in downtown Utica, features a variety of restored historic homes surrounding an International-style gallery building (circa 1960) designed by world famous architect Philip Johnson (who considered it to be his finest work), and Fountain Elms a superb Victorian-era Italianate mansion, once the home of the Williams family. These landmark buildings were connected by the construction of the Education Wing in 1995 and both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2000, PrattMWP was opened to offer a nationally accredited college program in association with Pratt Institute of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Artist and writer Hal Hefner, creator of Gates the Comic that was presented by Heavy Metal Magazine is an alumni of Munson Williams. http://www.gatesthecomic.com
Oneida County Historical Society — Founded in 1876, The Oneida County Historical Society collects and commemorates the history of Central New York in general and County of Oneida in particular.
Players of Utica —
Sculpture Space — Sculpture Space is unique in North America as the only international, artist-in-residency program dedicated exclusively to professional sculptors. Founded in 1975 in the former Utica Steam Engine and Boiler Works building, the organization selects 20 artists each year for two-month, funded residencies which have helped to advance the careers of more than 400 national and international artists. Annual events include the CHAIRity Auction and a Mardi Gras Party.
The Stanley Center for the Arts — The Stanley Center for the Arts is located in a fully restored 2,945 seat Mexican-baroque movie palace (circa 1928), which was designed by prolific theater architect Thomas Lamb for the Mastbaum chain of theaters. The theatre, originally named for Stanley Mastbaum, is currently a vital piece of the regional arts scene as the home of The Great Artist Series, Broadway Theater League, Utica Symphony, and touring shows. The Stanley is owned and operated by The Central New York Community Arts Council (CNYCAC). That same organization was responsible both for its rescue from the wrecking ball in 1974 as well as the professional, historically sensitive restoration to its former grandeur. CNYCAC recently completed a major stage house and facility expansion project. The theatre reopened in the spring of 2008, immediately hosting live music acts and performances by the Broadway Theatre League.
Utica Memorial Auditorium — The Utica Memorial Auditorium, or AUD is a 4,000 seat multi-purpose arena (circa 1959) that was fully renovated in the 1990s. The Utica Devils, one-time farm affiliate of the NHL New Jersey Devils, featured several future NHL stars. The “Utica Aud” now hosts the Utica College Pioneers Division III Hockey Program. The men’s hockey program set a NCAA Division III Men’s Hockey attendance record for the 2007-2008, averaging 2,791 fans per game.
The Utica Public Library — The origins of the Utica Public Library date back to 1825, when it was a private lending collection. By 1899 it was decided to build a permanent facility, and Thomas R. and Frederick T. Proctor donated the land on Genesee Street, W.P. White started the building fund, and the citizens of Utica voted to help finance the project. Utica native Arthur Jackson of the New York City firm Carrère and Hastings won the architectural competition to design the building. Important features include its red brick and Indiana limestone façade, barrel vaulted main hall, grand staircases, large pediment over the entranceway, two-story columns and the impressive front grounds. The Utica Public Library building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. By the 1980s, major improvements to the building itself were required, along with the installation of an on-line computer system to electronically access the holdings of the local library, all the libraries in the Mid-York Library System, and some area colleges. These projects were all completed by the early 2000s. On December 12, 2004 the Utica Public Library celebrated its Centennial Anniversary of the building, and today boasts over 192,000 items in the collection. In 2008, it was the site of the first annualMayor’s Charity Ball.
The Utica Symphony Orchestra — On March 25, 1932, a group of interested citizens met at the Utica Public Library and founded the Utica Civic Musical Society, now known as the Utica Symphony Orchestra. The Society had a large chorus and symphony orchestra, both under the direction of Berrian R. Shute. George M. Weaver, Jr. served as the first president of the Society. In 1933, Nicholas Gualillo and 60 musicians reorganized into the Utica Symphonic Orchestra. In 1935 the Utica Civic and the Utica Symphonic merged, and from 1935 to 1940, Shute and Gualillo acted as joint conductors of the new Utica Orchestra. This orchestra remained under the auspices of the Civic Musical Society which announced that its chief aim was to broaden the circle of concert goers in Utica and vicinity. In 1983 the name of the organization was changed to Utica Symphony, Inc. In 2011, debt, staff cuts and the resignation of longtime conductor Chuck Schneider have silenced the Utica Symphony Orchestra in its 100th year.
The Utica Zoo — The Utica Zoo has served the region for over 88 years. Located in Roscoe-Conkling Park, the zoo is part of the Parkway Recreational Complex made possible by the donation of land from Thomas R. Proctor in 1909. The zoo has grown from its small beginnings with three fallow deer to its present collection of over 200 animals. Of the 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land set aside for the zoo’s use, 35 are presently developed. The Zoo is home to the world’s largest watering can. The 2,000 pound can is 15 feet 6 inches (4.72 m) in height and 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter.
Utica Monday Nite — Utica Monday Nite was initiated in 1997, with the mission to promote a regional arts economy by making the arts and humanities available and accessible to all Utica residents and visitors from the wider region. Utica Monday Nite presents a summer arts and humanities festival in downtown parks and public spaces on thirteen Monday nights from June through August. Events and activities are offered free to the public.
The Hotel Utica — The Hotel Utica (circa 1912) was originally built as a 10-story building of fireproof construction with 200 rooms, four dining rooms, a ballroom, an assembly hall, a restaurant for ladies and a grill and cafe for gentlemen. The top four floors were added in 1926, which increased the total number of rooms to 250. Famous guests included: Judy Garland, Mickey Mantle, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, Hopalong Cassidy, Mae West, Bobby Darin, and then current U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. As business declined, the hotel ceased operating in 1972. It then became two adult care residences, the Hunter House and then Loretto Adult Residence. After a period of vacancy, it was purchased by local investors Joseph R. Carucci and Charles N. Gaetano. They undertook a $13 million dollar rehabilitation from 1999-2001 that was patterned on the restoration of The Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. In 2001, The Hotel Utica became a member of The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Hotels of America. After years of Carucci and Gaetano failing to pay property and school taxes, and falling behind on the remaining $6.3 million on what originally was a $5 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development loan, the hotel remains for sale, and sits currently on the City of Utica’s foreclosure list. The Hotel Utica is a member of the reservation company Choice Hotels International.
Parks System — Utica’s Park system began to expand during the late 19th Century. A committee was formed at this time to create more parks within the city. Thomas R. Proctor a local wealthy resident of Utica purchased over 316 acres (1.28 km2) of land. Proctor then hired well renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to develop his newly acquired land into parks. In 1905, Proctor in turn donated the land to Utica increasing the city park system to 515 acres (2.08 km2). The Utica Parks and Parkway Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
Annual signature events
Boilermaker Road Race, the largest 15K road race in the United States.
Falling Leaves Road Race.
Snowfari winter festival. This event draws thousands of winter recreational enthusiasts while raising funds for the Utica Zoo. Snowfari offers regional qualifiers for Winter Empire State Games events, SBX (snowboarder cross), mountain bike races, a cardboard sled race, and other events.
Utica Monday Nite, a summer festival visual and performing arts.
Saranac Thursday, A gathering of hundreds of people at the F.X. Matt’s Brewery every Thursday night from May – September, with various music acts throughout the season.
Utica Music Fest.
Food and drink in Utica
Utica has an array of ethnic cuisines. The Utica area features a number of Italian-American restaurants, some that date back generations. More recent immigrant groups to the city have contributed distinct culinary options including Bosnian, German, Chinese, Lebanese, Burmese, Dominican, Jamaican, Greek, Korean, Spanish, and Thai.
Some culinary items associated with Utica:
Halfmoons — Halfmoons are a black and white pastry made with a large dark chocolate cake style cookie iced on one half with white cream frosting and the other half with dark chocolate frosting.
Tomato Pie — Tomato Pie is a rectangular thick-crust bread covered with a sweet Italian tomato sauce, served cold.
Chicken Rigatoni — or Chicken riggies as locals call them, are chicken, rigatoni, peppers, and onions in a spicy, cream and tomato sauce. Riggie Fest occurs every April.
Greens — A generally spicy dish made of escarole with various ingredients (depending on recipe) such as potatoes, sausage, hot peppers.
Sausage and Peppers — Italian sausage with fried onions and peppers on a crusty bread.
Mushroom Stew: Crushed tomatoes, ground hot Italian sausage, bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Served alone with bread or over pasta.
Pusties — They are “officially” called pasticciotti, a single-serving Italian custard-filled tart. The usual fillings for the rich tart crust are chocolate, vanilla, lemon, and Italian cheesecake.
Pierogi— A Slavic pasta dish commonly filled with fruit, potatoes, sauerkraut, or Polish mushrooms.
The Utica Devils were a member of the American Hockey League (AHL) from 1987-1993. The Utica Bulldogs 1993-1994 and The Utica Blizzards 1994–1997 were members of the United Hockey league (UHL) and another stint from 1998-2001 (January) in which the team was called the Mohawk Valley Prowlers.
Present and future
Utica has two women’s roller derby leagues, Central New York Roller Derby and Utica Rollergirls. Central New York Roller Derby is a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association League; they have three teams, all affiliated with CNYRD. The teams are the Utica Clubbers, and the Blue Collar Betties and the Rome Wreckers. The Utica Rollergirls are also a single team league which is affiliated with USA Roller Sports. Both leagues compete against teams from other leagues in the upstate NY area and surrounding states. In addition, Utica also has a men’s roller derby team, as-yet unaffiliated Quadfathers.
The Division III Utica College Pioneers football team averages around 3000 fans a game, which is highest in the United States for that level of play.
Most recently the city’s newly created master plan has suggested building a new stadium along the old Harbor Point area in the city to attract a Class A or AA minor league baseball franchise. Funding for this stadium has not been obtained.
Utica’s sole remaining public high school is Thomas R. Proctor High School, as its original public high school (Utica Free Academy, founded in 1814) shut down in 1990. Utica is also home to Notre Dame High School, a small parochial high school, founded in 1959 by the Xaverian Brothers.
Higher Education choices in Utica include: Utica College, State University of New York Institute of Technology, Mohawk Valley Community College, and Utica School of Commerce. Nearby colleges include Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, Herkimer County Community College in Herkimer, New York, and Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.
Utica is the home of Utica College, founded in 1946, as a four-year college affiliated with Syracuse University. While Utica College became fully independent from Syracuse University in 1995, its undergraduates still receive Syracuse degrees. Utica College was originally an urban campus in the Oneida Square area of the city. In 1961, it relocated to a modern 128-acre (0.52 km2) campus on the west side of Utica. Currently a new science wing and additional buildings are being added to the campus.
Utica is also the home of Mohawk Valley Community College, which was founded in 1946 as the New York State Center of Applied Arts and Sciences at Utica, and was the first community college established in New York State. MVCC found its true raison d’etre during the 1950s as a training facility for unemployed textile workers looking to operate technical equipment at a new General Electric plant.The college became a fully accredited institution in 1960, and has gradually expanded its campus along Utica’s Culver Avenue.
State University of New York Institute of Technology is located along the Utica and Marcy New York border, though it was first established in 1969 on Utica’s westside. A four-year institution, SUNY-IT offers a variety of technology based majors and master’s degree programs.
Empire State College was founded in 1971 and is one of thirteen SUNY colleges of arts and sciences. Empire State College consists of eight centers with the Central New York Center being in Syracuse. Each center has different units providing educational services for those communities. The Utica Unit serves Oneida, Herkimer, Madison, and Otsego counties.
Colleges and universities
See also: Utica-Rome_Metropolitan_Statistical_Area#Colleges_and_universities
Empire State College
Mohawk Valley Community College
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute
St. Elizabeth’s College of Nursing
SUNY Institute of Technology
Utica School of Commerce
The “Union Suit”- a type of red-colored long underwear jumpsuit with a buttoned flap on the backside was invented in Utica.
The Utica Crib, a device for restraining persons, was named for the New York State Lunatic Asylum at Utica where it was heavily used in the 19th century to confine patients who refused to stay in their beds.
The rollback style tow truck was invented in Utica in the 1960s.
New York State Governor and Democratic presidential candidate Horatio Seymour was a native of Utica and is buried there.
US Senator and Republican Stalwart political leader Roscoe Conkling was Mayor of Utica and is buried there.
United States Vice-President James Schoolcraft Sherman was born in Utica and is buried there.
Revolutionary war hero Baron von Steuben is buried near Utica
Revolutionary war soldier Benjamin Walker died in Utica
Actress and singer Annette Funicello was born in Utica on October 22, 1942.
Actor Ron O’Neal was born in Utica.
Actress Tiffany Pollard is from Utica.
Musician Fran Cosmo is from Utica.
4 out of the 5 members of the band “moe.”, are from the greater Utica area.
Television personality Dick Clark got his start in a mailroom at Utica radio station WUTI and his first TV job was at WKTV.
New Orleans Saints Defensive End Will Smith is from Utica, graduating from Thomas R. Proctor.
Art Mills (son of Willie Mills), a National League pitcher; and coach of the 1945 World Series champions, the Detroit Tigers, was born in Utica.
Arthur Bowen Davies, American artist, was born in Utica on September 26, 1863.
Major League Baseball second baseman Dave Cash was born in Utica on June 11, 1948.
Television personality TJ Allard is from Utica.
Political pollster John Zogby is from Utica.
Real estate developer Steve Wynn is from Utica.
Chris Garrett – Running back in college football and the Canadian Football League for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Joe Bonamassa (born May 8, 1977), musician, and blues prodigy was born and raised in New Hartford, New York.
Tommy DeCarlo (born 1965), current lead singer for Boston, was born and raised in Utica.
Mark Lemke, (born 1965), former Major League Baseball player.
Andy Van Slyke (born December 21, 1960 in Utica, New York) is a retired Major League Baseball outfielder and former first base coach for the Detroit Tigers.
McDonald’s Chief Operating Officer, Tim Fenton
David F. D’Alessandro (born January 6, 1951, Utica, New York) is a former Fortune 200 Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the author of three best-selling business books
Hip Hop DJ/Turntablist/Producer Tone Spliff (Anthony Mucitelli) is from Utica.
Reform Rabbi Cassi Beth Kail.
Utica in popular culture and literature
Portions of the 1977 film Slap Shot starring Paul Newman were filmed at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
The American television program The Office makes occasional reference to Utica: The “Utica branch” is one of a handful of the fictional company Dunder-Mifflin’s satellite offices, and has been mentioned sporadically throughout the show.
The Branch Wars episode is set partly in Utica. It was not filmed there, so the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce and other local groups donated objects to dress the set to look like an actual Utica-style office.
The Lecture Circuit Pt. 1 episode is also partly set in Utica.
The American television program The Simpsons makes occasional reference to Utica.
Superintendent Chalmers is from Utica.
The Eeny Teeny Maya Moe episode (#LABF06) shows a hockey game between the Springfield Isotopes and the Utica Mohawks.
Another episode features an old newsreel that ends with the narrator exclaiming, “So watch out, Utica! Springfield is a city on the… grow!”
Bobbi Anderson, the protagonist of Stephen King’s novel The Tommyknockers, is from Utica.
The protagonist of the 1997-1998 NBC sitcom Jenny, starring Jenny McCarthy, is from Utica and the series begins there.
On The Honeymooners 1950s television show starring Jackie Gleason, Alice’s Uncle is from Utica.