kids encyclopedia robot

Central New York facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Map of New York Economic Regions
Regions of the US state of New York

Central New York is the central region of New York State, including the following counties and cities:

Cayuga County Auburn
Cortland County Cortland
Madison County Oneida
Onondaga County Syracuse (largest city in the region)
Oswego County Fulton and Oswego

With a population of about 773,606 (2009) and an area of 3,715 square miles (9,620 km2), the region includes the Syracuse metropolitan area.


The New York State Department of Transportation's definition of the Central/Eastern region includes the counties of Albany, Broome, Chenango, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, and Washington, but does not commit itself to a definition of Central New York per se.

Cortland County and Tompkins County are often considered part of the New York State region called the Southern Tier; the ski country demarcation line runs through Cortland County. Tompkins County, which includes Ithaca at the edge of Cayuga Lake, is also considered part of the Finger Lakes. Oneida County and Herkimer County are often considered part of the New York State region called the Mohawk Valley, although the "Central New York" and "Mohawk Valley" definitions overlap. Only Onondaga County, Cayuga County, Oswego County and Madison County are always considered "Central New York".

As Daniel Koch writes in his book, Land of the Oneidas: Central New York State and the Creation of America (2023), “the term ‘central New York’ is a confounding one, which has been defined differently by various writers and agencies at different times.” His work on central New York focuses on the homeland of the Oneida people along with the neighboring homelands of the Onondaga people to the west and the Mohawk people to the east.


During the early historic period, the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee, Five Nations) successfully excluded Algonquian tribes from the region.

The Central New York Military Tract (land reserved for soldiers of the American Revolution) was located here. Many towns derived from the tracts have classical names.


The geography of the region comprises lakes, with Finger Lakes region located in the west central part of the state; the lake plain in the northern part of the state extending to Lake Ontario; and Appalachian Plateau, with high hills rising at the southern edge of Syracuse. Between the lake plain and Appalachian highlands is a zone noted for drumlins, smaller, scattered hills formed as mounds of debris left by the last glacier.

Owasco Lake is located in the center of Cayuga County, which has more waterfront land than any other county in the state not adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean.

Oneida Lake and Oneida Creek define part of the northern boundary of Madison County. The Great Swamp, formerly located south of Oneida Lake, was a rich wetlands habitat important to many species of birds and wildlife. This was drained by local and state construction projects in the early decades of the twentieth century. The area was known as "Black Beach" for its mucklands.

Onondaga County is in the central portion of New York State, west of Albany and Utica, east of Rochester and northeast of Ithaca. Skaneateles Lake and Otisco Lake are both in Onondaga County.

Part of the Tug Hill Plateau is in the eastern part of Oswego County. The Salmon River Falls, a 110-foot (34 m) waterfall, is a popular sightseeing destination in the northeastern portion of Oswego County.

Higher education

Major colleges and universities in the region include Syracuse University, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Colgate University, Hamilton College, Le Moyne College, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Cortland, Utica College, SUNY ESF, Cazenovia College, SUNY Morrisville, Wells College and SUNY Polytechnic Institute.


Major newspapers in the region include the Oneida Daily Dispatch, Syracuse Post-Standard, Auburn Citizen, Rome Daily Sentinel, Ithaca Journal, and Utica Observer-Dispatch.

The region is served by several television stations based in Syracuse (including ABC affiliate WSYR-TV, NBC affiliate WSTM-TV, CBS affiliate WTVH, Fox affiliate WSYT and PBS member station WCNY-TV) and Utica (NBC/CBS affiliate WKTV, ABC affiliate WUTR and Fox TV affiliate WFXV).

Speech patterns

Central New York is near the eastern edge of the dialect region known as the Inland North, which stretches as far west as Wisconsin. The region is characterized by the shift in vowel pronunciations known as the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, although in recent decades the shift has begun to fade out among younger generations.

Many Central New Yorkers pronounce words like elementary, documentary and complimentary with secondary stress on the -ary, so elementary becomes instead of the more widespread pronunciations of and. This feature is shared with the rest of Upstate New York.

The word soda is used for soft drink in Central New York; this distinguishes it linguistically from Western New York, where pop is used.

See also

  • Syracuse metropolitan area
kids search engine
Central New York Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.