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Ithaca Town

Ithaca Town Hall is located at 215 North Tioga Street, Ithaca NY 14850; phone: 607-273-1721.

Beginnings [1]

The Town of Ithaca is located on the hills and along the Inlet Valley at the southern end of Cayuga Lake in the eastern Finger Lakes Region of central New York State. Prominent features of the region's natural environment, its lakes, gorges, hills, and soils, are mainly the result of Ice Age glaciation. The Town of Ithaca was established in 1821 and includes the Village of Cayuga Heights, which incorporated in 1915. The Town surrounds the City of Ithaca and is itself surrounded by the eight other towns of Tompkins County.

At the time of Ithaca's first non-native settlement shortly after the American Revolution, the region was inhabited by native Americans of the Iroquois Confederation. As elsewhere on the American frontier, the natives were driven out to make way for this settlement. Forests soon fell to create farm fields, build houses, and feed the appetites of cities and industries for charcoal. The land that is now the Town of Ithaca remained largely rural in character until the end of the nineteenth century. Industry, commerce, housing and other intensive uses were concentrated primarily in the Village of Ithaca (now the City of Ithaca) and in Free Hollow (now the hamlet of Forest Home).

The Town of Ithaca is located in the eastern Finger Lakes Region of central New York State. The physical features of this area are the result of glacial transformation of sedimentary rock deposited here hundreds of millions of years ago by an inland sea. At the height of the Ice Age, Ithaca was covered by an ice sheet estimated to have been about one-half mile thick. Cycles of glaciation carved the Finger Lakes, shaped the distinctive hilly terrain, and deposited huge amounts of rock, gravel, and soil. Gorges and glens are the result of stream erosion on glacially over steepened hillsides. The last glaciers retreated about 10,000 years ago.

The Town of Ithaca is situated on the hillsides surrounding the deep valley occupied by Cayuga Lake and Cayuga Inlet. This valley and the Six Mile Creek valley define Ithaca's East, South, and West Hills. Fall Creek, Cascadilla Creek, and Coy Glen form other prominent valleys in the Town. There are numerous watercourses contained by ravines or gorges, sometimes deep and spectacular, such as Buttermilk, Enfield, Fall, and Six Mile creeks. Most of the Town has a rolling topography with moderate grades except for steep slopes near the lake shore, valley sides, and gorges.

  1. Town of Ithaca Planning Board, Town of Ithaca Comprehensive Plan, 1993, www.town.ithaca.ny.us/, accessed March 2008
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