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Clockwise from top: Binghamton skyline, the Endicott Johnson Square Deal Arch, the South Washington Street Bridge, the Ross Park Zoo carousel, Court Street Historic District, downtown in winter, and the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally.
Clockwise from top: Binghamton skyline, the Endicott Johnson Square Deal Arch, the South Washington Street Bridge, the Ross Park Zoo carousel, Court Street Historic District, downtown in winter, and the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally.
The Parlor City, Carousel Capital of the World, Valley of Opportunity
Restoring the Pride.
Country United States
State New York
County Broome
Settled 1802
Incorporated 1834 (village)
1867 (city)
 • Type Mayor-Council
 • City 11.14 sq mi (28.9 km2)
 • Land 10.49 sq mi (27.2 km2)
 • Water 0.65 sq mi (1.7 km2)  5.83%
850 ft (260 m)
 (2010 census)
 • City 47,376
 • Density 4,516.8/sq mi (1,743.9/km2)
 • Metro
Demonym(s) Binghamtonian
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
139xx (13901 = downtown)
Area code(s) 607
FIPS code 36-06607

Binghamton is a city in, and the county seat of, Broome County, New York, United States. It lies in the state's Southern Tier region near the Pennsylvania border, in a bowl-shaped valley at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers. Binghamton is the principal city and cultural center of the Binghamton metropolitan area (also known as Greater Binghamton, or historically the Triple Cities), home to a quarter million people. The population of the city itself, according to the 2010 census, is 47,376.

From the days of the railroad, Binghamton was a transportation crossroads and a manufacturing center, and has been known at different times for the production of cigars, shoes, and computers. IBM was founded nearby, and the flight simulator was invented in the city, leading to a notable concentration of electronics- and defense-oriented firms. This sustained economic prosperity earned Binghamton the moniker of the Valley of Opportunity. However, following cuts made by defense firms after the end of the Cold War, the region has lost a significant portion of its manufacturing industry.

Today, while there is a continued concentration of high-tech firms, Binghamton is emerging as a healthcare- and education-focused city, with the presence of Binghamton University acting as much of the driving force behind this revitalization.


Railroad Terminal Historic District Binghamton NY Oct 09
Former DL&W Station, part of the Railroad Terminal Historic District

Early settlement

The first known people of European descent to come to the area were the troops of the Sullivan Expedition in 1779, during the American Revolutionary War, who destroyed local villages of the Onondaga and Oneida tribes. The city was named after William Bingham, a wealthy Philadelphian who bought the 10,000 acre patent for the land in 1786, then consisting of portions of the towns of Union and Chenango. Joshua Whitney, Jr., Bingham's land agent, chose land at the junction of the Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers to develop a settlement, then named Chenango Point, and helped build its roads and erect the first bridge. Significant agricultural growth led to the incorporation of the village of Binghamton in 1834.

The Chenango Canal, completed in 1837, connected Binghamton to the Erie Canal, and was the impetus for the initial industrial development of the area. This growth accelerated with the completion of the Erie Railroad between Binghamton and New York City in 1849. With the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad arriving soon after, the village became an important regional transportation center. Several buildings of importance were built at this time, including the New York State Inebriate Asylum, opened in 1858 as the first center in the United States to treat alcoholism as a disease.

Valley of Opportunity: Growth as a manufacturing hub

Roberson Mansion Parlor Room
Parlor room at the Roberson Mansion

Binghamton incorporated as a city in 1867, and due to the presence of several stately homes, was nicknamed the Parlor City. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many immigrants moved to the area, finding an abundance of jobs. During the 1880s, Binghamton grew to become the second-largest manufacturer of cigars in the United States. However, by the early 1920s, the major employer of the region became Endicott Johnson, a shoe manufacturer whose development of welfare capitalism resulted in many amenities for local residents. An even larger influx of Europeans immigrated to Binghamton, and the working class prosperity resulted in the area being called the Valley of Opportunity.

Bird's-eye View, Binghamton, NY
Court Street, c. 1910

In 1913, 31 people perished in the Binghamton Clothing Company fire, which resulted in numerous reforms to the New York fire code. Major floods in 1935 and 1936 resulted in a number of deaths, and washed out the Ferry Street Bridge (now the Clinton Street Bridge). The floods were devastating, and resulted in the construction of flood walls along the length of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers.

During the Second World War, growth and corporate generosity continued as IBM, which was founded in Greater Binghamton, emerged as a global technology leader. Along with Edwin Link's invention of the flight simulator in Binghamton, IBM transitioned the region to a high-tech economy. Other major manufacturers included Ansco and General Electric. Until the Cold War ended, the area never experienced an economic downfall, due in part to its defense-oriented industries. The population of the city of Binghamton peaked at around 85,000 in the mid-1950s.

Decline and recovery

20 Hawley Street, Binghamton, NY
20 Hawley Street (designed by Charles Luckman), built during urban renewal
Flooding in 2011 due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee

Post-war suburban development led to a decline in the city population, as the towns of Vestal and Union experienced rapid growth. As seen in many other Rust Belt cities, traditional manufacturers saw steep declines, though Binghamton's technology industry limited this impact. In an effort to reverse these trends, urban renewal dominated much of the construction during the 1960s and early 1970s, with many ornate city buildings torn down during this period. The construction included the creation of Government Plaza, the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena, and North Shore Dr. (NY 363). As was typical of urban renewal, these projects ultimately failed to stem most of the losses, though they did establish Binghamton as the government and cultural center of the region. The city's population declined from approximately 64,000 in 1969 to 56,000 by the early 1980s.

As the Cold War came to a close in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the defense-related industries in Greater Binghamton began to falter, resulting in several closures and widespread layoffs These were most notable at IBM, which sold its Federal Systems division and laid off several thousands of workers. The local economy went into a deep recession, and the long-prevalent manufacturing jobs dropped by 64% from 1990 to 2013.

In the 21st century, the city has attempted to diversify its economic base in order to spur revitalization. The local economy has slowly transitioned towards a focus on services and healthcare. Major emphasis has been placed on Binghamton University, which built a downtown campus in 2007, and several student housing complexes have been created downtown. Further student housing projects are planned, and the increased downtown residential population has spurred development of supporting businesses, along with a renewed focus on the riverfront. Unfortunately, the recovery has been stymied by two severe floods. While the majority of the impact of the Mid-Atlantic United States flood of 2006 was in the surrounding metropolitan area, the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee topped city flood walls in September 2011, causing $1 billion of damage in Greater Binghamton.



Confluence Park
Confluence Park, facing west towards the confluence of the Susquehanna (left) and Chenango (right) rivers

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.14 square miles (28.9 km2). 10.49 square miles (27.2 km2) of it is land and 0.65 square miles (1.7 km2) of it (5.83%) is water.

Binghamton is located at the confluence of two rivers, in the middle of a long but relatively narrow valley. The north branch of the Susquehanna River passes south of downtown. This branch rises in eastern New York and receives a number of tributaries above Binghamton. In the center of the city, the Chenango River feeds into the Susquehanna from the north. As a result, eleven bridges span the rivers inside city limits. Major floods have occurred in 1865, 1935, 1936, 2006, and 2011.

Downtown Binghamton at Night
Downtown at night

The incorporation of Binghamton united various communities located on both shores of the two rivers. The majority of the city's population and development lies along the rolling terrain nearest the riverbanks with sparse development in the hills that define the city limits. The old city was laid out on a grid system by Joshua Whitney, Jr., but as development spread to the outer regions of the city and merged with other settlements, several grids were eventually juxtaposed against each other. In the Southside, the grid breaks down, as more curvilinear roads make up the predominantly residential areas along the hills.

Binghamton Security Mutual Building
Security Mutual Life Building (1905), a Beaux-Arts landmark by T. I. Lacey & Son

The city was the traditional economic center of the region, and contains several historic districts. The Railroad Terminal Historic District consists of several factories and buildings along the railroad line in the northern limits of downtown. Over 1,000 properties on the West Side contribute to the Abel Bennett Tract Historic District, mainly made up of residential properties along Riverside Drive. The State Street-Henry Street Historic District in downtown consists of several older low-rise buildings. The Court Street Historic District contains some of the most notable architecture in the city, including the Press Building and Security Mutual Building, early 20th century high rises, and the Broome County Courthouse. The Press Building was the tallest building in Binghamton until the completion of the State Office Building in Government Plaza, which remains the tallest in the city. Away from downtown, the majority of the buildings are single- and multi-family dwellings, along with low-rise business buildings lining commercial arteries. Along the railroad corridors, a number of factories, mostly abandoned, rise above the otherwise-uniform landscape.

Main Street runs through the West Side, and continues west to serve as Main Street in the villages of Johnson City and Endicott. On the east side of the Chenango River, the road becomes Court Street, the major east-west artery in downtown and the East Side.


Northside of Binghamton
North Side, along Chenango Street

Binghamton is divided into seven neighborhoods. Downtown Binghamton, also known as Center City, is home to most of the city's largest buildings, and is home to government services. Located at the northeast corner of the river confluence, downtown is increasingly being populated by college students, and supports a flourishing arts scene. The North Side is across the Norfolk Southern rail tracks from downtown, lying along the Chenango River. The North Side is a light commercial and working-class residential section of the city, with Chenango Street serving as its major artery. The East Side lies east of the Brandywine Highway, along the north bank of the Susquehanna River. The neighborhood is largely residential with commercial corridors along both Robinson and Court streets, and contains pockets of industrial development along its borders.

Across the Chenango River lies the West Side, a primarily residential neighborhood along the banks of the Susquehanna, containing a combination of family homes, student housing, and stately mansions. Main Street forms the West Side's commercial corridor, made up of several large supermarkets, pharmacies, bank branches, pubs, restaurants, auto shops, and a few strip malls. The First Ward is a largely residential neighborhood opposite the railroad tracks from the West Side, but is best known for Antique Row, a series of antique shops that line Clinton Street. Several gold-domed ethnic churches are located in this part of the city, as a result of settlement in the area by a large number of Eastern European immigrants. Ely Park is Binghamton's northernmost neighborhood, and contains its municipal golf course. It lies on portions of Prospect Mountain and other hills north of the First Ward.

The Southside lies along the south bank of the Susquehanna River, connected to downtown by several bridges. At the base of the historic South Washington Street Bridge is the Southbridge commercial district. The neighborhood is partitioned into two separate neighborhood assemblies, divided by Pennsylvania Avenue and Southbridge, due to their distinct characters. Southside East contains working-class residences and some public housing projects, while Southside West is primarily made up of larger middle-class residences.


Binghamton has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb), with cold, snowy winters and warm, wet summers. Summers in Binghamton are typified by warm yet temperate days, and there are an average of only 2.6 days annually where the high exceeds 90 °F (32 °C), with the highest recorded temperature at 98 °F (37 °C) on July 16, 1988. Winters are somewhat less moderate, with 5.8 days with sub-0 °F (−18 °C) lows annually on average; the lowest temperature ever recorded was −20 °F (−29 °C) on January 15, 1957. As with most cities in upstate New York, precipitation in Binghamton is spread evenly throughout the year, and as such there is no dry season.

Binghamton is the 10th rainiest city in the United States, with 162 rainy days a year. With 212 cloudy days annually, it is also the seventh cloudiest city in the country, and the cloudiest east of the Rocky Mountains. Binghamton's proximity to the Great Lakes results in significant cloudiness and precipitation, as weather systems traveling over the lake pick up significant moisture, and cooler air masses from the west and the north culminate in a continuously unsettled weather pattern.

Snowfall is significant, with an annual total of 84.4 inches (214 cm). Binghamton is not as greatly affected by lake-effect snow as cities further north or west such as Syracuse and Buffalo, which are part of the Great Lakes snowbelt. However, persistent snow bands from both the Great Lakes and the Finger Lakes do occasionally result in moderate snows. Binghamton receives occasional major snowfall from nor'easter storms as well (such as the 1993 Storm of the Century), and competes for the Golden Snowball Award with other upstate cities. <section begin="weather box"/>

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Holy Spirit Church, Binghamton, New York
Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church, located in the First Ward
Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 1,203
1840 2,800 132.8%
1850 6,000 114.3%
1860 8,325 38.8%
1870 12,692 52.5%
1880 17,317 36.4%
1890 35,005 102.1%
1900 39,647 13.3%
1910 48,443 22.2%
1920 66,800 37.9%
1930 76,662 14.8%
1940 78,309 2.1%
1950 80,674 3.0%
1960 75,941 −5.9%
1970 64,123 −15.6%
1980 55,860 −12.9%
1990 53,008 −5.1%
2000 47,380 −10.6%
2010 47,376 0.0%
2015 (est.) 46,032 −2.8%
Historical Population Figures

As of the census of 2010, there were 47,376 people, 21,150 households, and 9,986 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,516.8 per square mile (1,743.9/km²). There were 23,842 housing units at an average density of 2,273.1 per square mile (877.6/km²). Of all households, 20.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 26.9% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 52.8% were non-families. 40.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 25.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.94.

Population trends

Until the mid-1950s, Binghamton saw its population grow rapidly due to its industrial boom, and was one of the largest 100 cities in the United States between 1890 and 1910. Since 1950, the city has experienced sustained population loss, some of which was the result of suburbanization. Much of the recent population loss has occurred throughout the region, and is skewed towards the younger population, resulting in the growth of the relative proportion of the elderly in Broome County.

Age and gender

In the city, the population was spread out with 19.9% under the age of 18, 15.0% from 18 to 24, 24.7% from 25 to 44, 25.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.2 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 males.

Metropolitan area

The Binghamton metropolitan area is home to 251,725 people. The MSA is composed of all of Broome County and neighboring Tioga County. The urban area, which includes portions of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, has a population of 158,054. Alternatively defined, the number of people living in an approximately 30-mile radius of the city center is 316,270. This count includes Broome County and portions of Tioga, Cortland, Delaware, Chenango, and Tompkins Counties in New York, and parts of Susquehanna, Bradford, and Wayne Counties in Pennsylvania.

Income and poverty

The median income for a household in the city was $30,978, and the median income for a family was $43,436. Males had a median full-time income of $40,170 versus $35,060 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,576. About 23.6% of families and 33.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 47.3% of those under age 18 and 14.9% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Binghamton JulyFest 2005
July Fest

The region has, in the last several years, developed a growing and pervasive arts scene. These include a large cluster of art galleries and shops centered around downtown Binghamton. These galleries have given rise to the First Friday Art Walk, through the efforts an association of local artists and merchants in Downtown Binghamton. These events have been drawing large crowds downtown since 2004. Artists of local prominence that display or have galleries include photorealist painter Anthony Brunelli, Orazio Salati, and Marla Olmstead, a local child who achieved fame in the art world for her abstract art.

The Binghamton Philharmonic is the region's premiere professional orchestra. Founded in 1955, the Philharmonic provides symphonic music to all of the Southern Tier. Concerts are performed throughout the year, with a variety of classical, pops and chamber music. The Tri-Cities Opera stages full-scale operas at the Broome County Forum. The professional company has performed since 1949, and is famed for its actor training program. Several other semi-professional and amateur orchestras and theaters exist in the region, such as the Cider Mill Playhouse.

Spiedies on Grill
Spiedies being grilled
Binghamton Blues On The Bridge
Blues on the Bridge

The Roberson Museum and Science Center, at the heart of Binghamton, is home to the Binghamton Visitor's Center, the Link Planetarium, and a number of exhibits detailing the culture and history of Greater Binghamton and the Southern Tier. The Kopernik Observatory & Science Center observatory is the largest public observatory in the northeast United States. The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park, in the Southside, opened in 1875, and is the fifth oldest zoo in the nation.

Binghamton is known as the Carousel Capital of the World, as it houses six of the remaining antique carousels. Two of these are within city limits, one at Recreation Park and another at the Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park. Other visitor attractions include the Phelps Mansion museum, the Cutler Botanic Garden, the Bundy Museum of History and Art, and the interactive, child-oriented Discovery Center. The Center for Technology & Innovation, a museum dedicated to local industry, is currently under construction.

The area is the home of the regional dish known as the spiedie. It is very popular locally, and numerous restaurants in the area serve spiedies, but they have only experienced limited penetration beyond the Southern Tier and Central New York. Spiedies are celebrated at the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally, which is held at Otsiningo Park every August and attracts over 100,000 people annually.

Other annual events held in the city include the St. Patrick's Day parade in March, July Fest (a festival of jazz music, arts, and crafts held downtown since 1962), the 100-year-old St. Mary of the Assumption Bazaar in August, Blues on the Bridge (a September music festival that takes place on the South Washington Street Bridge), and the Columbus Day Parade and Italian Festival every October, which includes a marching band competition. Broome County is home to several festivals (including a significant concentration of ethnic celebrations due to its heritage), which in 2001 were recognized by the New York Department of Economic Development as the year's official I Love New York festival, and collectively dubbed the "Festival of Festivals." Notable former festivities include the Yegatta Regatta and the Pops on the River concert.

Residents of Binghamton typically speak the Inland Northern dialect of American English, and the region falls within a distinct set of isoglosses that also contain Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. Much of the local accent has been subject to the Northern cities vowel shift, though this has not fully taken hold. Unlike other Inland Northern cities, people in Binghamton typically refer to athletic shoes as sneakers (as opposed to tennis shoes), and to soft drinks as soda (and not pop).

Parks and recreation

Binghamton is known for its bicycling and walking clubs, facilities, and trails. The Binghamton River Trail is an urban trail starting at Confluence Park, where the rivers intersect, and traveling alongside the Chenango River, past the Martin Luther King, Jr. Promenade and Noyes Island, up to Cheri A. Lindsey Park in the North Side. In 2007, Binghamton was named the ninth-greenest city in the U.S. by Country Home magazine.

Sister cities

Binghamton also has a local sister city project:

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