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Olean City

Olean City Hall is located at 101 East State Street, Olean NY 14760; phone: 716-376-5600.

Beginnings [1]

The area surrounding much of the present City of Olean, at the head of navigation on the Allegheny River, was originally part of about 20,000 acres of land purchased from the Holland Land Company in ca.1803 by Major Adam Hoops, a veteran of the Revolutionary War. In ca.1804, Olean Point, located at the confluence of the Allegheny River and Olean Creek, the first permanent settlement in Cattaraugus County, was established by Robert Hoops, acting for his brother Adam Hoops. The primary reason for settlement was easy access to the Allegheny River, upon which Adam Hoops, who had been connected to early surveys of western New York for Robert Morris, expected the development of a thriving community, because of his theory that the river was navigable at all seasons, except when closed by ice. Olean would become a major transportation center and principal transfer point of embarkation for pioneers and goods traveling west on the Allegheny River to the Ohio River and eventually connecting with the Mississippi River. Adam Hoops also believed that passage through Olean would be more convenient and less expensive than the most frequently used route at the time, which was overland through New Jersey and Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh. The hope for magnitude of the area's development was not fully realized early on, as the river was only seasonally navigable. However, hundreds of families came to Olean each spring to build flat bottom rafts and await the full flood stage of the Allegheny River to move west on the waterway. As a result, the small community flourished initially as a commercial and agricultural center. Several taverns and inns were built, forming the nucleus of a business district at Olean, to meet the demand for food and shelter for the westward travelers. As time passed, Olean eventually evolved into a strong regional center offering an array of high quality of goods and services. However, Olean's long term prosperity was secured by its variety of abundant natural resources.

  1. Ross, Claire L., New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Oak Hill Park Historic District, nomination document, 1997, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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