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Jamestown, New York
Downtown Jamestown, viewed from Washington Street
Downtown Jamestown, viewed from Washington Street
The Pearl City
Jamestown, New York is located in New York
Jamestown, New York
Jamestown, New York
Location in New York
Jamestown, New York is located in the United States
Jamestown, New York
Jamestown, New York
Location in the United States
Country United States
State New York
County Chautauqua
Founded 1810; 213 years ago (1810)
Incorporated (village) 1827; 196 years ago (1827)
Incorporated (city) April 19, 1886; 137 years ago (1886-04-19)
 • Type Mayor-Council
 • Total 9.06 sq mi (23.47 km2)
 • Land 8.93 sq mi (23.14 km2)
 • Water 0.13 sq mi (0.33 km2)
1,378 ft (420 m)
 • Total 28,712
 • Density 3,215.2/sq mi (1,240.8/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
14701, 14702
Area code 716 Exchanges: 483,484,487,488 489,661,664,665
FIPS code 36-38264
GNIS feature ID 0953925

Jamestown is a city in southern Chautauqua County, New York, United States. The population was 28,712 at the 2020 census. Situated between Lake Erie to the north and the Allegheny National Forest to the south, Jamestown is the largest population center in the county. Nearby Chautauqua Lake is a freshwater resource used by fishermen, boaters, and naturalists.

Notable people from Jamestown include legendary comedienne Lucille Ball, U.S. Supreme Court justice and Nuremberg chief prosecutor Robert H. Jackson, musician Natalie Merchant, naturalist Roger Tory Peterson, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

In the 20th century, Jamestown was a thriving industrial area, noted for producing several well-known products. They include the crescent wrench, produced by Karl Peterson's the Crescent Tool Company in Jamestown beginning in 1907. and the automatic lever voting machine, manufactured by the Automatic Voting Machine Company, which dominated the lever voting machine industry from its location on Jones and Gifford Avenue in Jamestown until its bankruptcy in 1983. Jamestown was also once called the "Furniture Capital of the World" because of the once-thriving furniture industry. People visited from all over the country to attend furniture expositions at the Furniture Mart, a building that still stands in the city and houses offices for a variety of companies. For most of the 20th century, Blackstone Corporation, led by Reginald Lenna, was Jamestown's largest employer and one of the driving cores of the local economy, manufacturing washing machines and automobile components.


James Prendergast - Founder of Jamestown NY - 1900 illustration
James Prendergast, Founder of Jamestown

Jamestown is named after James Prendergast, an early Chautauqua County settler. His family purchased 3,500 acres (14 km2) in 1806, in the area now known as Chautauqua County. James Prendergast explored the area that is now Jamestown. Prendergast saw the area to be valuable, and so he purchased 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of land in the area in 1808. In the fall of 1809, Prendergast and an employee, John Blowers built a log cabin, which became the first building in Jamestown. Another log cabin as well as mills and a dam were built on the Chadakoin River later on. In 1855, Nightwatch was created for the purpose of looking out for fires.

Jamestown was incorporated into a village in 1827 and incorporated into a city on April 19, 1886. Oscar F. Price was elected as the first mayor of the city on April 13, 1886. James Murray was appointed to be the first Chief of Police and would lead a force of six police officers.

In 1887, Jamestown Electric Light and Power Company, Art Metal, and WCA Hospital were established. In 1888, Jamestown Woolen Spinning Co. established; cornerstone of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church laid. In 1889, the American Aristotype Co. was established. The first electric trolley car in Jamestown made its appearance in 1890. In 1891, a fire destroyed the Old Homestead Hotel at Third and Pine Streets and four people died. James Prendergast Library and the Municipal Light Plant were established the same year.

Prendergast Library, postcard circa 1901–1907

In 1892, Chautauqua Worsted mills was formed. In 1893, Jamestown Veneer Works was started by Nathan Wilson and Jamestown's first ice cream company started making Collins Ice Cream. In 1895, the cornerstone of City Hall was laid and the City Council decided to lay no more wooden sidewalks. Eleazer Green is elected mayor the same year. In 1896, Empire Worsted Mills was formed. In 1898, Chautauqua Towel Mills was opened. In 1899, Henry H. Cooper was elected mayor. In 1900, Tinkham Brothers established their business, the Furniture Index was published, and the Hall Textile Corporation was formed. In 1903, Jamestown purchased a water system and the J.P. Danielson Tool Co. was organized. In 1906, James L. Weeks was elected mayor. In 1907, the Crescent Tool Company was started by Karl Peterson and Charles F. Falldine. In 1908, Samuel A. Carlson was elected mayor. Music Study Club and Jamestown Symphony Orchestra began the same year.

In 1910, the excavation began for construction of Jamestown General Hospital, which still stands in the present day. In 1911, the Norden Club was started. On August 6, actress Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown. The first plane to ever fly over Jamestown occurred on September 28, 1911. The Norden Clubhouse was completed in 1914. On April 8, 1917, Company E left for guard duty. The Emerson Glass Company started the same year. In 1918, Jamestown Corp. formed to make airplane propellers. A steam ship, the City of Pittsburgh sank at Boatlanding, also in 1918.

In 1921, the Zonta Club was organized. In 1925, the Hotel Samuels was sold. In that same year, the Scottish Rite Temple was formally opened and taxpayers voted a $350,000 bond issue for the Third Street Bridge. The following year, Third Street Bridge was completed and it still stands today. In 1927, Jamestown celebrated the centennial of its incorporation as a village. Lars Larson was elected mayor the same year. In 1930, Samuel A. Carlson served as mayor once again. In 1931, a fire destroyed the old Martyn Factory. Also, the city purchases Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Company.

Erie Railroad Station, 1909 postcard
East Second Street, Jamestown, NY
East Second Street c. 1910

In 1932, the ground was broken for the new armory, the Erie Railroad station was dedicated, and the Community Chest was permanently formed. In 1933, Elk Furniture Company was sold. Also, Milton Carlson and Frederick Larson took over Jamestown Airport. The board of education assumed title to school forest. Also in 1933, city councilman Leon F. Roberts was elected mayor. In 1934, Jamestown Airport Corp. offered an airport to the city and the city secured the old armory as a relief center. As part of The New Deal, ground was broken for a new high school, which provided jobs during the Great Depression.

In 1935, the Board of Education opened the new industrial arts building and City Council approved $314,000 airport for North Main Street site. In November, Jamestown High School was formally dedicated. In 1937, the Temple Hesed Abraham was dedicated and the Alfred Collegiate Extension Center opened with 80 students. In 1938, Kevin McElrath became mayor and Jamestown General Hospital's maternity annex opened. In 1939, twelve local plans surveyed by the government to produce supplies in wartime. Also, the city's new airport formally dedicated.

In 1940, the PONY league baseball began and Co. E was inducted into federal service. In 1941, Jamestown Municipal Stadium was dedicated and Samuel A. Stroth was elected mayor. In 1942, East Second Street widening was ordered and flames destroyed the old state armory. In 1945, Jamestown was hit by a tornado. In 1946, Dr. Carlyle C. Ring was named superintendent of schools. C.C. Ring Elementary School presently stands, in his honor. In 1950, Jamestown Community College was opened.

In 1951, Stanley A. Weeks was elected mayor and the addition to the municipal power plant was opened. In 1954, Samuel A. Stroth was elected mayor and Allegheny Airlines began east-west flight via Jamestown. In 1955, Carl F. Sanford was elected mayor. In 1956, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz visited Jamestown. In 1957, a $400,000 runway improvement to Jamestown Municipal Airport was added. In 1958, a new sewage disposal plant was opened, Buffalo Street pumping station was modernized, and a new wing opened at Jamestown General Hospital. In 1959, Jamestown's new post office was started. In 1960, Jamestown celebrated the sesquicentennial of first house erected here. That same year, Mohawk Airlines started to serve Jamestown.

In 1961, Jamestown Community College moved into new Falconer Street campus and William D. Whitehead was elected mayor. In 1963, the City's first parking ramp opened at Main and Second Streets and Frederick H. Dunn elected mayor. Additionally, Grandin Mills on Allen Street was destroyed by fire and singer Natalie Merchant was born in Jamestown. In 1964, the Washington Street Bridge was completed. In 1967, an addition to Jamestown High School was completed. Also, Jamestown Community College opened a new Science and Engineering Building. In that same year, Charles B. Magnuson was elected mayor. In 1968, an addition to the James Prendergast Free Library was completed. In 1969, the Cherry Street parking ramp was opened, Rail service to Jamestown discontinued by Erie-Lackawanna Railway, Stanley N. Lundine was elected mayor, and the New Gustavus Adolphus Children's Home opened. In 1970, the Final approval was granted for the Brooklyn Square Urban Renewal Project.

Throughout the 1970s, homes in Brooklyn Square were relocated as well as many stores and shops. A second Urban Renewal Project was proposed in 2006, and the project began in 2007. Jamestown has hosted thirteen Babe Ruth World Series since 1980, and hosted the 13-Year-Old Babe Ruth World Series in 2008. The James Prendergast Library has regularly ranked in the top ten in the nation among those that service populations of 25,000-49,999, according to HAPLR, with a peak ranking of fourth in 2004. .



Climate data for Jamestown, New York
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 31.9
Average low °F (°C) 14.5
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.94
Snowfall inches (cm) 25.7
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 17.3 13.1 13.1 12.5 11.5 11.9 11.2 10.7 10.3 12.2 13.2 16.2 153.2
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 11.8 8.9 5.7 1.3 0 0 0 0 0 .3 3.1 9.1 40.3
Source: NOAA


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 3,155
1870 5,336 69.1%
1880 9,357 75.4%
1890 16,038 71.4%
1900 22,892 42.7%
1910 31,297 36.7%
1920 38,917 24.3%
1930 45,155 16.0%
1940 42,638 −5.6%
1950 43,354 1.7%
1960 41,818 −3.5%
1970 39,795 −4.8%
1980 35,755 −10.2%
1990 34,681 −3.0%
2000 31,730 −8.5%
2010 31,146 −1.8%
2020 28,712 −7.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 31,730 people, 13,558 households, and 7,904 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,534.6 inhabitants per square mile (1,364.3/km2). There were 15,027 housing units at an average density of 1,673.9 per square mile (646.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.52% White, 3.39% African American, 0.64% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.8% from other races, and 2.16% from two or more races. Regarding ethnicity the largest ethnic group reported in the 2000 Census was Italian and the second largest was Swedish. 19.7% were of Italian, 18.1% Swedish, 12.8% German, 9.0% Irish, 8.7% English and 5.5% American ancestry. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.94% of the population, according to Census 2000

Historically, up until the 1980s, Jamestown comprised primarily people of Italian or Swedish descent, about fifty percent of the population being of Italian descent, and fifty percent being of Swedish descent. Jamestown's strong heritage is showcased at the local museum, The Fenton History Center, which boasts both a Swedish Room and an Italian Room.

There were 13,558 households, out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.1% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.7% were non-families. 35.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 25.8% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,837, and the median income for a family was $33,675. Males had a median income of $30,003 versus $20,039 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,316. About 15.8% of families and 19.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.1% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.



  • The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center is dedicated to the city's best-known daughter, Lucille Ball, and held a ceremony in honor of what would have been Ball's 100th birthday in August 2011. As of 2016, a National Comedy Center and Museum of National Comedy in honor of Lucille Ball is being planned and built on the corner of Second and Washington Streets. This is adjacent to the newly renovated Train Station. Washington Street Bridge has also recently been fully rebuilt and renovated and renamed the Luci Desi Bridge in preparation for the grand opening in 2017. The National Comedy Center
  • The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History continues the legacy of Roger Tory Peterson by promoting the teaching and study of nature, and to thereby create knowledge of and appreciation and responsibility for the natural world.
  • The Lucile M. Wright Air Museum located at 300 North Main Street in downtown Jamestown.
  • The Jamestown Gateway Train Station located at 211-217 West Second Street in downtown Jamestown
  • On August 2, 2015 construction began on The National Comedy Center which will be adjacent to the train station. The comedy center is expected to open in the spring of 2017.


Jamestown was the home city for the Jamestown Jammers baseball team of the New York–Penn League. The Jammers were the Single A Short Season affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Following the 2014 season, the Jammers announced that they would be relocating to Morgantown, West Virginia. It was later announced that a new team in the Prospect League would replace the Jammers, and the team would keep the name.

Jamestown is the current home of the Jamestown Chiefs, a semi-pro football team.

Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena is a 1,900 seat ice arena in the city. Among the teams that have played in the arena as primary tenants included the Jamestown Ironmen of the North American Hockey League, the Jamestown Jets of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League, the minor professional Jamestown Vikings of the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League, the Jamestown Titans of the North Eastern Hockey League and the current Southern Tier Xpress of the North American 3 Hockey League.

Jamestown High School's boys and girls basketball teams have both won numerous Sectional and Division titles, with the basketball team winning back to back Section VI titles in 2009–10, 2010–11 while reaching the NYSPHSAA Class AA State Championship in 2011. The High School football team has been to five New York State Championships, losing in 1993, and winning in 1994, 1995, 2000 and 2014.

Jamestown hosted its 15th Babe Ruth World Series in August 2011.

Jamestown hosted, at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena, three exhibition games prior to the start of the 2011 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.


Chautauqua Mall is located in nearby Lakewood.

The first Jamesway store opened in Jamestown. It later relocated to Chautauqua Mall.


Jamestown is located 71 miles south of Buffalo, 158 miles north of Pittsburgh, and 145 miles Northeast of Cleveland.



The Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport (JHW) is north of the city and provides scheduled and charter air service.


Bus service is provided by Coach USA of Erie. Connections are available to the Greyhound service in Buffalo. There is also a county-wide bus service (CARTS) and taxi service through various companies including Rainbow Cab and UBER.


Present-day Jamestown is on the mainline of the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad which provides freight service. A proposal to connect the WNYP to the New York and Lake Erie Railroad would allow for excursion rail service; to do so, the NYLE would need to undergo extensive rehabilitation of the rail lines near the junction between the two rail lines at Waterboro, several miles east of Jamestown. Amtrak does not serve the area, except through contract with Coach USA to provide Thruway Motorcoach service along Coach USA's existing bus route to bus Amtrak passengers to and from the Exchange Street Station in Buffalo.

Until 1950, two railroad companies traveled through Jamestown:

  • Erie Railroad – mainline passing through Jamestown (New York to Chicago), whose last trains were the Atlantic Express/Pacific Express (discontinued, 1965) and the Lake Cities (discontinued, 1970).
  • Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad - freight and passenger interurban train company, which went defunct in 1950.

In 1976, the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad was absorbed into Conrail, and then ultimately, by Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation in 1998.

The Erie Railroad's former Jamestown Station still exists and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. It is now home to a portion of the National Comedy Center which opened in Summer of 2018.

An electric interurban railroad—Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad (JW&NW)—connected all three above towns (Jamestown-Mayville-Westfield) and ran along the north side of Lake Chautauqua. The JW&NW ended passenger operation in 1947, continued with freight, then quit entirely in 1950. Its rails and right-of-way have slowly disappeared.


The Southern Tier Expressway (Interstate 86/Route 17) passes to the north and east of Jamestown, with direct access to the city from Exits 12 and 13. New York State Routes 60 (Foote Avenue) and 394 (Fairmount Avenue on the west side, Second Street on the east) pass through the city north-to-south and east-to-west, respectively; Route 430 (Fluvanna Avenue) begins in Jamestown and follows a westward path. U.S. Route 62 passes by Jamestown to the southeast.


SUNY Jamestown Community College provides a two-year education and four-year degrees through matriculation agreements with several universities. Recent additions to the campus include a state-of-the-art LEED-certified science building and three residence halls. Jamestown Business College, near the downtown core, now offers a four-year degree.

Founded in 1867, Jamestown Public Schools is the city's sole school district. The district also extends into several bordering towns. Jamestown Public Schools include: Jamestown High School; three middle schools, Persell Middle School, George Washington Middle School, and Thomas Jefferson Middle School; as well as five neighborhood elementary schools, Lincoln elementary school, Fletcher elementary school, Clinton V Bush elementary school, CC Ring elementary school, and Love elementary school. The former Rogers Elementary School now functions as a Success Academy for selected Jamestown area students. A disciplinary Tech Academy, located on Fourth Street is also part of the Jamestown Public School system.

The Red Raider Marching Band won the NY State Field Band Conference Championship in 2014 and 2015.

Notable people


  • John Jachym, businessman and sportsman
  • Reginald Lenna, businessman and philanthropist
  • Willis R. Whitney, founder of the research laboratory of the General Electric Company

Entertainment and arts

  • Douglas Ahlstedt, opera singer
  • Theodore Albrecht, music historian
  • Brad Anderson, cartoonist
  • Mitchell Anderson, notable character actor
  • Marshall Arisman, illustrator
  • Fred Ball, movie studio executive, actor, brother of Lucille Ball
  • Lucille Ball, actress, comedian, and businesswoman was born in Jamestown and raised in nearby Celeron; two life-size statues of her are in Celoron Park.
  • Suzan Ball, actress and second cousin of Lucille and Fred Ball
  • Rob Buck, founding member of 10,000 Maniacs
  • Nick Carter, singer, member of the Backstreet Boys
  • Dennis Drew, keyboardist for 10,000 Maniacs
  • William Feather, publisher and author
  • Vagn F. Flyger, wildlife biologist, one of the world's foremost authorities on squirrels
  • Gilbert Dennison Harris, notable geologist
  • Hayward A. Harvey, inventor of the Harvey process
  • Shawn Higbee, professional motorcycle racer
  • Harry Pratt Judson, second President of the University of Chicago
  • Laura Kightlinger, actress, comedian, writer
  • John Lombardo, founding member of 10,000 Maniacs
  • Natalie Merchant, singer; her band 10,000 Maniacs originated in Jamestown; their gold and platinum records hang in Jamestown City Hall
  • The Mighty Wallop!, rock band
  • Pandora Boxx, drag queen, contestant on second season of reality-television series RuPaul's Drag Race
  • Julie Anne Peters, author
  • Roger Tory Peterson, naturalist
  • Charles Pitts, radio engineer and LGBTQ+ freeform radio pioneer
  • Jackson Rohm, country/pop musician
  • Elliott Fitch Shepard, owner of the Mail and Express newspaper
  • Ira Spring, photographer, author
  • Jud Strunk, singer/songwriter
  • Dale Willman, award-winning journalist
  • Thomas B. Woodworth, newspaper publisher, lawyer


  • Wilfred Beaver, World War I flying ace
  • John B. Hayes, retired US Coast Guard Admiral
  • Harriet L. Leete, Red Cross nurse in World War I

Science and technology


  • Cheryl Bailey, Executive Director of the National Women's Soccer League
  • Hugh Bedient, former MLB pitcher
  • Walter Brown, former MLB player
  • Leon Carlson, former MLB relief pitcher
  • Stephen Carlson, NFL tight end
  • Parke H. Davis, football player and coach
  • Michael G. Foster, karate pioneer
  • Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, born and raised in Jamestown
  • Dwight Lowry, former MLB catcher
  • Jim McCusker, retired NFL player
  • Irv Noren, former professional baseball and basketball player
  • Nick Sirianni, NFL head coach

Images for kids

See also

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