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Rome City

Rome City Hall is located at 198 North Washington Street, Rome, NY 13440; phone: 315-336-6000.

Beginnings [1]

History [†]

The area occupied by the modern city of Rome was the site of an important pre-Columbian portage between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek, known to the indigenous Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee as Deo-Wain-Sta, or "The Great Carrying Place." During the early contact period and the colonial era, the site remained a place of great commercial importance as the only overland section on the important trade routes between the lower Hudson River and Lake Ontario. These same trade routes were also key for moving military men and materiel, giving the carry great strategic importance. A series of British fortifications were built to protect the area, including (among others) Forts Williams, Bull, Craven, Newport, Wood Creek, Stanwix and Rickey. Stanwix was the most substantial of these. It was abandoned after the Seven Years War only to be refortified by American forces during the Revolution. It played a valuable role during the 1777 campaign, when it thwarted British Colonel Barry St. Ledger's efforts to link up with other British forces at Albany. After the Revolution, the lands surrounding the great carrying place were sold to speculators who correctly surmised a valuable community would emerge around the portage. The first efforts to improve inland navigation at the Great Carrying Place took place in 1797, when the Western Island Lock Navigation Company completed a small canal to supplant the overland conveyance. This earlier, local canal building effort was later superseded by the creation of the statewide Erie Canal, construction of which began in Rome on July 4, 1817. The Township of Rome had been established from Steuben in 1797, and it was incorporated as a village in 1819. Rail service arrived in Rome in 1839 and, combined with the canal, gave Rome fast and economical means of moving goods. Rome's superb infrastructure was improved even further in 1851 with the addition of north-south routes along the Watertown & Rome Railroad and the Black River Canal, and the consolidation of the New York Central Railroad from Buffalo to Albany.

By the 1860s, Rome's industries were thriving. A decade earlier, Jessie Williams had worked out a factory system for the manufacturing of cheese, and by the end of the Civil War, Rome was recognized as one of the leading cheese centers in the entire world. The third quarter of the nineteenth century also saw prosperity for other industries — the Rome Ironworks, the Rome Merchant Iron Mill, the Kingsbury, Abbott & Hale Shoe and Boot Works, the Rome Canning Company, a locomotive works, several lumber processing businesses, knitting mills, and breweries are all among the Gilded Age industries that were contemporary to the times.

Rome was incorporated as a city in 1870, and continued to grow into the early 20th century with newer industries like brass, copper, wire and cable all becoming major industries in the nascent city. The 1900s and 1910s saw rapidly expanding trolley and streetcar service, allowing the further expansion of the city into residential suburbs. In 1904 the city charter was revised to divide the city into seven wards. In the mid to late 20th century, Rome's fortunes became tied to the military when the U. S. Air Force sited a repair and maintenance depot that eventually became Griffiss Air Force Base. This base housed the research facility known as the Rome Air Development Center for 40 years and today houses the Northeast Defense Sector (NEADS) which provides air sovereignty and executes counter-air operations over the eastern United States.

† Stevens Wright, "Rome" The History of Oneida County, (C.L. Hudson Inc., Oneida County N.Y.: 1977), 225.

  1. Travis Bowman, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Vikki Holmes, First Methodist Episcopal Church of Rome, Oneida County, N. Y., nomination document, 2009, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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