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Olean (town), New York facts for kids

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Olean, New York
Country United States
State New York
County Cattaraugus
 • Type Town Council
 • Total 29.7 sq mi (77.0 km2)
 • Land 29.6 sq mi (76.7 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
1,837 ft (560 m)
 • Total 1,963
 • Density 66/sq mi (25.6/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 716, 585
FIPS code 36-54727
GNIS feature ID 0979306

Olean is a town in Cattaraugus County, New York, United States. The population was 1,963 at the 2010 census. The name is derived from the Latin word "oleum" due to the discovery of crude oil in nearby Ischua.

The town of Olean is in the southeast corner of the county. The city of Olean, originally the village of Olean, is bordered by the town on three sides.


The area of Olean was first settled around 1805. The town of Olean was established in 1808 as the first town in the county. The northern part of the county was spun off as the town of Hebe in 1812; the western part became the town of Perry (later Perrysburg) in 1814, Great Valley was formed in 1818, Hinsdale in 1820, and Portville in 1837.

The village of Olean was originally named "Hamilton", after Alexander Hamilton. The United States Postal Service imposed the name Olean in 1817 to prevent confusion with Hamilton, Madison County, New York; no municipal law was ever passed changing the name. The name "Olean" was suggested for the area due to the oil found in the vicinity. The famed Wenro Oil Spring, discovered by the Franciscan missionary Joseph de La Roche Daillon in 1627 was located about 14 miles (23 km) upstream (northeast) of Olean Point. The original town hall burned in 1884, prompting a law that forbade wooden structures in parts of the town.

Notable inhabitants of the town have included Claude Allen, an Olympic athlete, and Catharine Young, a New York state senator.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 29.7 square miles (77.0 km2), of which 29.6 square miles (76.7 km2) is land and 0.12 square miles (0.3 km2), or 0.43%, is water.

The Allegheny River flows west through the town. The south town line is the border of Pennsylvania. The Southern Tier Expressway (Interstate 86 and New York State Route 17), New York State Route 16, and New York State Route 417 pass through the town.

Adjacent towns and areas



Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 1,047
1830 561 −46.4%
1840 638 13.7%
1850 899 40.9%
1860 2,706 201.0%
1870 2,668 −1.4%
1880 6,575 146.4%
1890 4,149 −36.9%
1900 4,854 17.0%
1910 885 −81.8%
1920 1,316 48.7%
1930 1,162 −11.7%
1940 1,432 23.2%
1950 1,800 25.7%
1960 2,268 26.0%
1970 2,211 −2.5%
1980 2,130 −3.7%
1990 1,999 −6.2%
2000 2,029 1.5%
2010 1,963 −3.3%
Est. 2014 1,925 −1.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 2,029 people, 827 households, and 564 families residing in the town. The population density was 68.5 people per square mile (26.4/km²). There were 891 housing units at an average density of 30.1 per square mile (11.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.88% White, 0.34% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.79% Asian, and 0.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.34% of the population.

There were 827 households out of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 8.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.7% were non-families. 25.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the town, the population was spread out with 24.2% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 26.9% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 99.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $36,288, and the median income for a family was $47,232. Males had a median income of $35,947 versus $23,641 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,265. About 7.1% of families and 10.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.6% of those under age 18 and 6.1% of those age 65 or over.

Communities and locations in the Town of Olean

  • Baldwin Heights – A district in northern Olean.
  • Barnum – A hamlet by the south town line on County Road 29.
  • Four Mile – A community at the west town line, located on NY-16.
  • Haydenville – A hamlet on the eastern town line on County Road 92.
  • Mount Hermanns – A steep hill on the south side of the river, formerly the area's first ski resort.
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