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Geneseo, New York facts for kids

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The Bear Fountain sits in the center of Geneseo village's main street. In this picture, it is decorated with flags for Memorial Day.
The Bear Fountain sits in the center of Geneseo village's main street. In this picture, it is decorated with flags for Memorial Day.
Country  United States
State  New York
County Livingston
Town established 1789
 • Total 45.2 sq mi (117.1 km2)
 • Land 44.0 sq mi (113.9 km2)
 • Water 1.2 sq mi (3.2 km2)
Elevation 909 ft (277 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 9,654
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 14454
Area code(s) 585
FIPS code 36-28618
GNIS feature ID 0978991

Geneseo /ˌɛnˈs/ is a town in Livingston County in the Finger Lakes region of New York, United States on the far south end of the five-county Rochester Metropolitan Area. The population was 10,483 at the 2010 census. The town and surrounding area is quite rural. The English name "Geneseo" is an anglicization of the Iroquois name for the earlier Iroquois town there, Gen-nis-he-yo (which means "beautiful valley"). A village of the same name lies within the town's western portion. The town is known today mainly as the home of the highly selective State University of New York at Geneseo.



Near Geneseo was the largest Seneca village, Chenussio, and a center of power for the Iroquois Confederacy. It was also the Confederacy's "bread basket", with orchards, vineyards, and fields of maize and vegetables.

During the American Revolution, the Seneca joined the British and the Tories against the colonists who were fighting for independence. The alliance's raids from the west was a major threat to the American cause, and General Washington sent the Sullivan Expedition to neutralize the Iroquois. As Sullivan's army approached Geneseo with their "scorched earth" policy, the Senecas repeatedly fell back. However, a large Seneca party ambushed one of Sullivan's scouting parties, carried them as prisoners to Geneseo and killed them. When Sullivan's troops arrived and found the bodies, they became enraged and destroyed anything that could support the Iroquois. No longer able to raid from Geneseo and the surrounding area, about 5,000 Seneca fled to British-held Fort Niagara, where they spent one of the coldest winters on record, with much loss of life, in camps outside the fort with only the small amount of supplies the British could spare.


The town was established in 1789, before the formation of Livingston County. The settlement of Geneseo by the colonists began shortly after the arrival of James and William Wadsworth in 1790. The brothers came to the Genesee Valley from Connecticut as agents of their uncle, Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth, to care for and sell the land he had purchased. The Wadsworths were participants in the negotiations of the Treaty of Big Tree between Robert Morris and the Senecas at the site of Geneseo in 1797.

Geneseo, as well as nearby Mount Morris, was part of The Morris Reserve Morris held back from his sale of much of western New York to the Holland Land Company.

Geneseo was the birthplace of Eliza Emily Chappell Porter in 1807, who was a nurse, teacher, school builder, and underground railroad operative during the Civil War. Geneseo was also the birthplace, in 1851, of the swindler Ferdinand Ward.

The village of Geneseo became the county seat of Livingston County in 1821 and was incorporated in 1832. The State Normal School, now the SUNY Geneseo, opened in 1871. A portion of the village was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior in 1991.

Present day

Doty Building at SUNY Geneseo
The Doty building, which was purchased and renovated for usage by SUNY Geneseo, was once Geneseo's high school. Currently it holds administrative offices for the college.
Livingston County Courthouse
The Livingston County Courthouse and offices are at the end of Main Street.
P-51D Mustang "Excalibur"
A P-51 Mustang at the 2007 Geneseo Airshow.
Conesus Lake Ring of Fire and fireworks 2
Conesus Lake during the 2006 Ring of Fire.

The valley of the Genesee is wide and fertile, with some of the best agricultural land in New York, but it was very prone to flooding, and Geneseo suffered several bad floods until the United States Army Corps of Engineers' construction of the Mount Morris Dam upstream of the community in the 1950s. Agriculture is now a large contributor to Geneseo's economy. Geneseo is also used by many as a bedroom community for jobs in nearby Rochester. The village of Geneseo is governed by a mayor and four trustees.

The town can be roughly divided into three geographies: the village has a small-town atmosphere, much of Route 20A is heavily commercialized, and the majority of the town's area is farmland. One of the main issues faced by the community today is urban sprawl. The increasing presence of big-box stores on Route 20A has been welcomed by some residents, who appreciate the convenience of nearby retailers, and discouraged by others, who oppose the suburbanization of the small town.

The Geneseo Airport (D52) is a general aviation airport west of the village, on the Wadsworth farm. It was established during July 1969, and is used for approximately 20 aircraft operations each day. Since 1980, it has hosted groups restoring and operating historic military aircraft—originally the National Warplane Museum, and now the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum. An airshow is held annually on the field, during the second weekend in July.

The Association for the Preservation of Geneseo (APOG) is a civic organization dedicated to preserving, improving, and restoring the places of civic, architectural, and historic interest to Geneseo and to educate members of the community to their architectural and historical heritage. Additional aims and purposes are to encourage others to contribute their knowledge, advice, and financial assistance.

Sweet Briar and the Wadsworth Fort Site are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has an area of 45.2 square miles (117.1 km²), of which, 44.0 square miles (113.9 km²) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.2 km²) of it (2.74%) is water.

The Genesee River defines the western town line, and Conesus Lake defines the eastern town line. Interstate 390 and U.S. Route 20A pass through the town, along with State Routes 39, 63, and 256.


Geneseo has a mild climate; summers typically bring temperatures between 60–80 °F (16–27 °C), while winters average 15–35 °F (−9–2 °C).

Climate data for Geneseo, New York
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 67
Average high °F (°C) 32
Daily mean °F (°C) 24
Average low °F (°C) 16
Record low °F (°C) -24
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.57
Source: The Weather Channel


The town includes a number of hamlets on the western shore of Conesus Lake. From north to south along NY 256 (West Lake Road), they are:

Conesus Lake panorama
Part of the east side of Conesus Lake as seen from Geneseo's Long Point Park.
  • Cottonwood Cove
  • Eagle Point
  • Long Point
  • Long Point Cove
  • Sacketts Harbor
  • Sleggs Landing
  • Wadsworth Cove


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 1,598
1830 2,675 67.4%
1840 2,892 8.1%
1850 2,958 2.3%
1860 3,002 1.5%
1870 3,032 1.0%
1880 3,340 10.2%
1890 3,534 5.8%
1900 3,613 2.2%
1910 3,188 −11.8%
1920 3,007 −5.7%
1930 3,135 4.3%
1940 3,133 −0.1%
1950 3,782 20.7%
1960 4,337 14.7%
1970 7,278 67.8%
1980 8,673 19.2%
1990 9,178 5.8%
2000 9,654 5.2%
2010 10,483 8.6%
Est. 2015 10,590 1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
Sturges Hall at SUNY Geneseo
Sturges Hall is SUNY Geneseo's landmark building.

As of the census of 2000, there were 9,654 people, 2,523 households, and 1,303 families residing in the town. The population density was 219.6 people per square mile (84.8/km²). There were 2,698 housing units at an average density of 23.7 persons/km² (61.4 persons/sq mi). The racial makeup of the town was 93.91% White, 1.48% African American, 0.11% Native American, 2.61% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.69% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.19% of the population.

There were 2,523 households out of which 23.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.3% were married couples living together, 8.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.4% were non-families. 26.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the town, the population was spread out with 11.9% under the age of 18, 51.3% from 18 to 24, 15.2% from 25 to 44, 13.2% from 45 to 64, and 8.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females there were 72.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 68.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $40,660, and the median income for a family was $62,206. Males had a median income of $42,218 versus $25,969 for females. The per capita income for the town was $15,303. About 8.7% of families and 29.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.2% of those under the age of 18 and 5.5% ages 65 or older.

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