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Fair Haven, New York
Fair Haven, New York is located in New York
Fair Haven, New York
Fair Haven, New York
Location in New York
Country United States
State New York
County Cayuga
Town Sterling
 • Total 2.93 sq mi (7.60 km2)
 • Land 1.76 sq mi (4.56 km2)
 • Water 1.17 sq mi (3.04 km2)
285 ft (87 m)
 • Total 745
 • Estimate 
 • Density 407.16/sq mi (157.20/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 315
FIPS code 36-24988
GNIS feature ID 0949802

Fair Haven is a village located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in Cayuga County, New York, United States. The population was 724 at the 2020 census. Fair Haven is within the town of Sterling and is northwest of Syracuse. The village is on Little Sodus Bay, an arm of Lake Ontario.


The openings in the sand bars on Little Sodus Bay were widened and protected by jetties in the middle of the 19th century, thus improving the shipping capabilities of Fair Haven. The west pier was marked with outer and inner lighthouses. The Lehigh Valley Railroad served Fair Haven, and coal was brought up from Pennsylvania to a trestle in North Fair Haven to be shipped by sail freighter to Canada. Ice was harvested from the bay and shipped by rail to New York City. Summer tourists arrived by rail from Auburn and other inland towns to enjoy the parks on the waterfront. When its use as a port waned, the village became a resort area.

Fishing and recreational boating are popular now, and the bay is ringed with cottages and year-round residences. There has been an active yacht club on the west shore for over a century, and many sailboats are seen during the summer. As of 2010 the village is served by several restaurants on Main Street and one on the bay, the Pleasant Beach Hotel.

The history of Fair Haven has been well documented by photographer Edna Williams (1883-1967) and several writers, most recently Robert Kolsters who has two books, Looking Back at Fair Haven (ISBN 978-0-9726841-2-5), loaded with historic pictures and other information. There is an active historical association in nearby Sterling that operates a museum in the Red Schoolhouse. Susan Peterson Gately (Passages on Inland Waters ISBN 0-9646149-2-8) has a section devoted to the work of Edna Williams containing a biography by June MacArthur, curator for the Edna Williams photographic collection.

Cottage Farm was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.


Fair Haven is located at 43°19′27″N 76°42′19″W / 43.32417°N 76.70528°W / 43.32417; -76.70528 (43.324175, -76.705154). This is 31 miles (50 km) north of Auburn and 14 miles (23 km) southwest of Oswego. Kingston, Ontario, Canada, is 55 miles (89 km) to the north across Lake Ontario.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.6 km2), of which 1.7 square miles (4.5 km2) is land and 1.2 square miles (3.0 km2), or 39.96%, is water.

Fair Haven is located around Little Sodus Bay, a bay on the south shore of Lake Ontario. The bay is bounded on the west, east and south by drumlins and on the north by Lake Ontario. The lake level is 245 feet (75 m) above sea level, and the bay averages 30 feet (9.1 m) in depth with several protected coves and anchorages. One well marked reef hazard ("Grass Island"), approximately 800 feet (240 m) long (N-S) and 100 feet (30 m) wide (E-W) with a depth of only 2 feet (0.6 m), is located in the northwest corner of the bay out of the main channel. There are two active marinas on the bay, Fair Point at the north end and Chinook Harbor at the south end.

NY Route 104A passes through the village. Fair Haven Beach State Park is located on Lake Ontario at the northern edge of the village.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 532
1880 621 16.7%
1890 738 18.8%
1900 610 −17.3%
1910 571 −6.4%
1920 552 −3.3%
1930 562 1.8%
1940 471 −16.2%
1950 628 33.3%
1960 764 21.7%
1970 859 12.4%
1980 976 13.6%
1990 895 −8.3%
2000 884 −1.2%
2010 745 −15.7%
2019 (est.) 717 −3.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 884 people, 395 households, and 259 families residing in the village. The population density was 503.3 people per square mile (193.9/km2). There were 727 housing units at an average density of 413.9 per square mile (159.5/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 98.19% White, 0.11% African American, 0.68% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.34% from other races, and 0.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.57% of the population.

There were 395 households, out of which 21.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.7% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.2% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.67.

In the village, the population was spread out, with 20.2% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 23.9% from 25 to 44, 29.6% from 45 to 64, and 21.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.3 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $36,382, and the median income for a family was $39,091. Males had a median income of $37,917 versus $26,250 for females. The per capita income for the village was $18,287. About 4.3% of families and 8.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.6% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.

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