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Little Falls (city), New York facts for kids

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Little Falls, New York
Location within Herkimer County
Location within Herkimer County
Country United States
State New York
County Herkimer
 • Total 4.0 sq mi (10.3 km2)
 • Land 3.8 sq mi (9.8 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.4 km2)
Elevation 420 ft (128 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 4,946
 • Density 1,236.5/sq mi (477.4/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 13365
Area code(s) 315
FIPS code 36-42741
GNIS feature ID 0955522

Little Falls is a city in Herkimer County, New York, United States. The population was 4,946 at the 2010 census. The name is derived from a small cataract near the city. The city is built on both sides of the Mohawk River, at a point at which rapids had impeded travel upriver. Transportation through the valley was improved by construction of the Erie Canal, completed in 1825 and connecting the Great Lakes with the Hudson River.

The city of Little Falls is located at the southeastern corner of the Town of Little Falls and is east of Utica.

Little Falls has a picturesque location on the slope of a narrow and rocky defile, flowing through which the river falls 45 feet (13 m) in less than a mile (1.6 km), forming a number of cascades.


Little Falls was first settled by Europeans around 1723, when German Palatines were granted land under the Burnetsfield Patent. It was then the westernmost European settlement in the colony of New York. The need to portage around the falls promoted a trading location on the site of the future city. It was the first settlement in the town. The settlers were attacked during the French and Indian War, but rebuilt their farms.

The small settlement here was destroyed by Iroquois Indians, mostly Mohawk, and Tories in June 1782. The village was not resettled until 1790, and it was known at times as "Rockton" and "Rock City." Little Falls was incorporated as a village in 1811, and reincorporated in 1827. The City of Little Falls was chartered in 1895.

The Western Inland Canal (early attempt of the Erie Canal) was constructed in 1792 and helped the local economy. The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, passes through the city. Lock 17 of the New York State Erie Canal replaced the three locks of the original 1825 Erie Canal and is 40.5 feet (12.3 m) in height.

With dairy farms located throughout the town, Little Falls was a major center for the manufacturing of cheese in the third quarter of the 19th century. Its products were shipped to market in New York City and other major cities. In the 20th century it attracted immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, who worked in factories for textiles, gloves and other products.

In 1900, 10,381 people lived in Little Falls. It had its peak of population in 1920 with 13,029. Increasing urbanization of larger cities and the decline of manufacturing in the Mohawk Valley in mid-century have led to a decline in population.

In 1903, a westbound New York Central special newspaper train derailed due to excessive speed on a sharp curve killing the engine crew. In 1940, a much more serious crash at the same location of a fifteen car luxury passenger train killed 31.

Notable people

  • Benjamin T. Babbitt operated a machine shop in Little Falls early in his career; he became a 19th-century soap manufacturing magnate.
  • Francis Bellamy, author of the "Pledge of Allegiance," lived in the city.
  • Natale H. Bellocchi, United States diplomat, was born in Little Falls
  • David H. Burrell, an inventor and gentleman farmer who lived and worked here, patented the first technically sound oil burner that could burn both liquid and gaseous fuels in 1885 In 1985, President Ronald Reagan declared the year, "Oil Heat Centennial Year" because it marked one hundred years since the U.S. Patent Office granted Burrell a patent for his furnace. Burrell pioneered improved machinery for the local dairy industry, registering many patents. His company, D.H. Burrell and Co., was founded in 1885 to develop and distribute this equipment.
  • Fred J. Douglas, politician and US Congressman, lived in Little Falls.
  • Thomas Falvey, Wisconsin state legislator and mayor, lived in Little Falls.
  • Nicholas Herkimer, German immigrant and general who commanded troops in the Battle of Oriskany during the Revolutionary War. He died of wounds suffered in that conflict. A monument to him was erected in 1896, at his home on the outskirts of the city.
  • Mary Myers, was the first female to solo fly a lighter-than-air passenger balloon.
  • John Riccardo, Chair, Chrysler Corporation, was born here.
  • Louis Sugarman, an eye specialist and health advocate called "Professor', attracted hundreds of local spectators, and international celebrity, for his daily bath in the Mohawk River, even when the thermostat hit 23 below zero, earning him the title "the human polar bear".
  • Bill Warner, a motorcycle racer and world motorcycle land-speed record holder, was born in Little Falls. Warner was killed in a motorcycle crash in July 2013 while trying to set a new record.

National Register of Historic Places

The following are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: James Sanders House, Italian Community Bake Oven, Little Falls City Hall, Little Falls Historic District, Overlook, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, South Ann Street-Mill Street Historic District, the Overlook (Burrell) House, and the United States Post Office.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.0 square miles (10.3 km²), of which, 3.8 square miles (9.8 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (4.29%) is water.

Little Falls is mostly on the north bank of the Mohawk River near a waterfall which was considered smaller than another waterfall on the river by Cohoes, New York.

New York State Route 5, New York State Route 167, New York State Route 169, and New York State Route 170 converge on Little Falls. NY 170 has its southern terminus in the city, while NY 169 has its southern terminus south of the city, in the Town of Danube.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 5,387
1880 6,910 28.3%
1890 8,783 27.1%
1900 10,381 18.2%
1910 12,273 18.2%
1920 13,029 6.2%
1930 11,105 −14.8%
1940 10,163 −8.5%
1950 9,541 −6.1%
1960 8,935 −6.4%
1970 7,629 −14.6%
1980 6,156 −19.3%
1990 5,829 −5.3%
2000 5,188 −11.0%
2010 4,946 −4.7%
Est. 2015 4,787 −3.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 5,188 people, 2,339 households, and 1,277 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,367.0 people per square mile (527.1/km²). There were 2,646 housing units at an average density of 697.2 per square mile (268.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.78% White, 0.29% Black or African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.58% Asian, 0.06% from other races, and 0.96% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.54% of the population.

There were 2,339 households out of which 25.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.4% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.4% were non-families. 39.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the city, the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 24.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 84.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,965, and the median income for a family was $34,583. Males had a median income of $28,807 versus $21,040 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,139. About 9.3% of families and 16.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.9% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.

In literature

  • Walter D. Edmonds' novel, Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), featured German families in this area in the Revolutionary era.
  • Little Falls is the setting of the novel, The Ordinary White Boy (2001), by Brock Clarke.
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