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Plattsburgh
City of Plattsburgh
MacDonough Monument in front of City Hall
MacDonough Monument in front of City Hall
Official seal of Plattsburgh
Seal
Nickname(s): 
"The Lake City" "(La Ville sur le Lac)" "The Burgh"
Motto(s): 
Ipsa Sibi Præmium Virtus
("Virtue is its own reward.")
Map of the city
Map of the city
Location in Clinton County and the state of New York.
Location in Clinton County and the state of New York.
Coordinates: 44°41′43″N 73°27′30″W / 44.69528°N 73.45833°W / 44.69528; -73.45833Coordinates: 44°41′43″N 73°27′30″W / 44.69528°N 73.45833°W / 44.69528; -73.45833
Country United States
State New York
Region The Adirondacks; The North Country
County Clinton
Settled 1785
Incorporated 1815 (village)
1902 (city)
Named for Zephaniah Platt
Government
 • Type Mayor–council
Area
 • Total 6.59 sq mi (17.08 km2)
 • Land 5.04 sq mi (13.05 km2)
 • Water 1.56 sq mi (4.03 km2)  23.4%
Elevation
138 ft (42 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 19,841
 • Density 3,872.79/sq mi (1,495.43/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
12901, 12903
Area code(s) 518
FIPS code 36-58574
GNIS feature ID 0960698
Website CityofPlattsburgh-NY.gov

Plattsburgh is a city in, and the seat of, Clinton County, New York, United States, situated on the north-western shore of Lake Champlain. The population was 19,841 at the 2020 census. The population of the unincorporated areas within the surrounding (and separately incorporated) Town of Plattsburgh was 11,886 as of the 2020 census, making the combined population for all of greater Plattsburgh to be 31,727. Plattsburgh lies just to the northeast of Adirondack Park, immediately outside of the park boundaries. It is the second largest community in the North Country region (after Watertown), and serves as the main commercial hub for the sparsely populated northern Adirondack Mountains. The land around what is referred to as Plattsburgh was previously inhabited by the Iroquois, Western Abenaki, Mohican and Mohawk people. Samuel de Champlain was the first ever recorded European that sailed into Champlain Valley and later claimed the region as a part of New France in 1609.

Plattsburgh was the site of the amphibious Battle of Plattsburgh in the War of 1812, a key American victory that marked the end of hostilities in the Northern United States. It has been an important military outpost for much of its history, from hosting one of the largest Citizens' Military Training Camps prior to World War I, and Plattsburgh Air Force Base, the east coast center of operations for the Strategic Air Command during much of the Cold War period. The conversion of the base to a civilian airport in the 1990s resulted from the Base Realignment and Closure process during the wind down of the Cold War, and today it serves as a hub for economic development for the region. The city was named one of the Financial Times Top 10 Micro City of the Future several times.

Micropolitan Statistical Area

The City of Plattsburgh is the population center and county seat at the heart of the Plattsburgh Micropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) - population 82,128 as of the 2010 Census. A statistical area representing the greater Plattsburgh region (as defined by the U.S. government), the Plattsburgh MSA includes all communities in the immediate Clinton County, New York area.

History

Under French rule

Beginning with Samuel de Champlain's expedition into the Lake Champlain valley in 1609, the Plattsburgh region began to come under the French influence, later passing under English and finally American control. The early French contact and its closeness to Quebec made this a historically French area. Located in the extended fur trade network in the Montreal hinterland, the Plattsburgh area was the realm of the coureur des bois who served the larger trading hub in Montreal. Although Plattsburgh is a relatively new city, the surrounding area was settled during the mid-to-late 17th century. Permanent French settlement was hampered by the threat of conflict with the Iroquois, but French missionaries began living among the indigenous population as early as 1609. Moreover, the area near Plattsburgh is notable for being the site of an indigenous village.

Transition to British and then American rule

Plattsburgh and much of the lands comprising present day Clinton County were originally part of the French settlement of New France. They stayed a part of New France until the outcome of the French and Indian War, where the French lost their hold on this region to the British. This conflict (1754–1763) predated the American Revolution (1775–1783). As a condition of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, a vast region including present-day Plattsburgh was ceded from France to Britain. It was incorporated into British rule as part of the Indian Reserve. The Reserve was established by Britain as an attempt to protect British colonial positions in New England and the Middle Colonies using the newly acquired lands to buffer against armed conflict with either France or Spain. The founding of present-day Plattsburgh, however, was not an act of the British, rather it coincided with the American territorial acquisition after the American Revolutionary War; ended as per the agreement between the newly established United States of America and Great Britain via the 1783 Treaty of Paris.

Plattsburgh's founding under American rule

Plattsburgh was founded by Zephaniah Platt in 1785 after he was granted the land by George Clinton. In granting land to Zephaniah Platt of Poughkeepsie, New York - who went on to establish the new city of Plattsburgh to buffer emerging American interests in the Saint Lawrence River valley and Lake Champlain valley after the American victory in the American Revolutionary War - the centralized American authority proclaimed the area including and surrounding the old French trading areas and Iroquois settlement to be refounded as the settlement of Plattsburgh in 1785.

Regardless, local residents exercised their unique French culture and history over the years in ways still visible today. In Plattsburgh, for example, there is no "Main Street" - a common vestige of English colonies, whereas in a unique tradition major streets and thoroughfares were named after the daughters of prominent businessman and politicians (e.g., Catherine, Margaret, present day North Catherine and South Catherine Streets, and Plattsburgh's "Main Street", Cornelia St.). In a similar fashion, local residents named local streets after renowned Frenchmen including Samuel de Champlain, the region's founder, and General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm - the French general who gained fame defeating incredible numerical odds in battles throughout the Oswego and Hudson River Valley areas before going on to organize the last French defense of Québec at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. The oldest monument within the city limits is dedicated to Samuel de Champlain.

Notable historical events

With its significant location on a major water thoroughfare and close to the Canada–US border, Plattsburgh has been the site of a number of historic events including the Revolutionary War's Battle of Valcour Island and the War of 1812's Battle of Plattsburgh; the city has a War of 1812 museum. The Battle of Plattsburgh is significant as it was the final battle between the British/Canadian forces and the American (a feet that was made prominent given the battle was a flout of no less than 14,000 United Kingdom and Canadian forces compared to a force of 1,500 American regulars and 1,900 New York and Vermont militia) -- for references see Battle of Plattsburgh.

Plattsburgh Normal School was founded in 1889. It burned in 1929, and was forced to relocate to City Hall for three years. In 1932 the college moved into the current Hawkins Hall which became the base of the modern campus. In 1948 it became State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

In 1915, the Preparedness Movement established the first and best-known of its training camps for prospective military volunteers at Plattsburgh. The "Plattsburgh camps" trained about 40,000 potential Army officers in the summers of 1915 and 1916.

During the Cold War, military functions took a prominent role in Plattsburgh, which was home to Plattsburgh Air Force Base (PAFB) and was the location of the Strategic Air Command's primary wing on the U.S. East Coast due to its geographic desirability. The base's location in the Champlain Valley (protected by the rain shadow of the Adirondack Mountains) ensured consistent, year-round weather that was safe for take-offs and landings. The 380th Bombardment, Aerospace, and Refueling Wings, all stationed at PAFB, included B-52 Bombers, air-refueling "tankers" and FB-111s. The base had a great deal of land surface and was one of only four military bases in the United States with a landing strip large enough for a Space Shuttle landing.

Plattsburghb47
A B-47 bomber with the inscription "Pride of the Adirondacks", one of two aircraft on display in the Clyde A. Lewis Air Park.

On September 1, 1961, the 556 Strategic Missile Squadron was activated at Plattsburgh AFB. The Squadron consisted of 12 Atlas "F" Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles stored in underground silos at 12 sites surrounding the city of Plattsburgh. Ten of the silos were in New York, two across Lake Champlain in Vermont. The squadron played an active role in the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis, giving President Kennedy a powerful negotiating tool in dealing with Nikita Khrushchev. The 556 SMS's life was relatively short lived since the Atlas was a liquid fuel system that was expensive and difficult to maintain. As the solid fuel Minuteman ICBM began to come on line, the liquid fueled missiles such as the Atlas and Titan were retired. The 556 SMS began inactivating in the spring of 1965, completing that task later that year.

Despite its numerous awards for performance excellence, PAFB was closed on September 29, 1995 in a round of national base closures in the early 1990s as the Air Force began to pare down its post-Cold War missions. The base property is now managed by the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation (PARC) and is used by a number of industrial manufacturers and commercial airlines.

Throughout much of the 1980s, when the Canadian dollar was strong relative to the U.S. dollar, Plattsburgh was a favorite tourist location for vacationers from Montreal and southern Quebec. Bilingual signs, in English and French, are found in parts of the city. The city beaches and camp grounds were regularly crowded and Plattsburgh attracted enough retail stores and outlets to build a second large indoor shopping mall, Champlain Centre North, in addition to several outdoor shopping centers. The additional retail space of the Champlain Centre North along with the new Consumer Square (Walmart, Staples, TJ Maxx...) made the Pyramid Mall irrelevant; it was largely demolished (with exception of Kmart and the restored old Price Chopper building) and converted into a power center with a 115,000 sq ft (10,700 m2) Lowes Home Center and a new Price Chopper as the anchor stores. Today, the city relies largely in part on new industries expanding on the former airbase as well as established manufacturing plants, such as Bombardier, Nova Bus, and Georgia-Pacific paper plant. The GP plant is housed in the former LOZIER Auto factory built in the early 20th century on the former (lakefront) Anderson Farm.

The City of Plattsburgh was the first city in the state to elect an openly gay mayor when they elected Daniel Stewart in 1999.

Spelling of Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh is sometimes mistakenly spelled as Plattsburg, leaving off the ‹h›. Adding to the confusion are many historic documents relating to the famous naval engagement between the United States and Britain in 1814 which refer to the Battle of Plattsburg. As a result, some history has been written using the latter spelling. For example, historian and former president of the Society of the War of 1812 in Illinois, John Meloy Stahl published in 1918 "The Battle of Plattsburg: A Study in and of The War of 1812."

Compounding the confusion, in 1950 the editor of the New York State Legislative Manual, seeking to simplify the organization of that year's manual, requested a listing of state post offices from the United States Postal Service. Upon review of the listing, the difference in spelling was noted. The City was contacted and an investigation begun by postal authorities.

U.S. Postal Service records show that the name of the post office was changed to Plattsburg in 1894. During the period 1892-1894, the federal Post Office Department was growing at a rapid pace. The Postmaster General issued an order establishing guidelines for post office names for new post offices. The order was misunderstood by local postal officials who caused the name of the village post to be changed to Plattsburg. As a result of the 1951 investigation, the name of the city post office was changed back to Plattsburgh. At no time was the name of the city itself ever changed.

To this day, some signs (including US and Canadian highway signs and a sign at the Plattsburgh (Amtrak station), among others) erroneously point the way to "Plattsburg". There is also a bank with plattsburg bank inscribed at the top.

Geography

Saranac Plattsburgh NY obelisk
Saranac River flowing through Verdantique Park

Plattsburgh is at 44°41′43″N 73°27′30″W / 44.69528°N 73.45833°W / 44.69528; -73.45833 (44.695365, -73.458593). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 6.6 square miles (17.0 km²), of which, 5.1 square miles (13.1 km²) of it is land and 1.5 square miles (4.0 km²) of it (23.40%) is water.

Plattsburgh is on the western shore of Lake Champlain in the northeastern part of the state of New York, just south of Cumberland Head.

The Saranac River flows through the city into Lake Champlain.

The Northway, Interstate 87 is a north-south major highway west of the city. US 9 and NY 22 are additional highways traversing the city from north to south. NY 3, NY 190, and NY 374 approach the city from the west.

Plattsburgh International Airport, Montreal's NY Airport, has attracted bargain seekers from Canada seeking cheap fares to Florida, the sole major airline is Allegiant Air Lines of Las Vegas. These travelers rarely venture into the city, but instead seek out the Route 3 Corridor to occupy their time.

Demographics

Downtown Plattsburgh
Downtown Plattsburgh

As of the census of 2010, there were 19,989 people, 7,600 households, and 3,473 families residing in the city.

The population density was 3,919.4 people per square mile (1,525.9/km2). There were 8,691 housing units at an average density of 1704.1/sq mi (663.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.88% White, 3.5% Black or African American, 0.38% Native American, 2.77% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.03% from other races, and 2.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.4% of the population.

There were 7,600 households, out of which 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.1% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.3% were non-families. 40.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 16.5% under the age of 18, 27.7% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,846, and the median income for a family was $46,337. Males had a median income of $35,429 versus $26,824 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,127. About 13.6% of families and 23.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.0% of those under age 18 and 13.0% of those age 65 or over.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 3,032
1870 5,139 69.5%
1880 5,245 2.1%
1890 7,010 33.7%
1900 8,434 20.3%
1910 11,138 32.1%
1920 10,909 −2.1%
1930 13,349 22.4%
1940 16,351 22.5%
1950 17,738 8.5%
1960 20,172 13.7%
1970 18,715 −7.2%
1980 21,057 12.5%
1990 21,255 0.9%
2000 18,816 −11.5%
2010 19,989 6.2%
2020 19,841 −0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

Transportation

Plattsburgh is about a 60-minute drive from Montreal, Quebec. Many people commute across the United States-Canada border, and the city advertises itself as "Montreal's U.S. suburb". New York state is Quebec's largest trade partner, with about $6 billion in trade annually. The proximity leads to Plattsburgh's prominence as a large trade center for a city its size.

Highway

  • I-87.svg Interstate 87 by passes Plattsburgh to the west, connecting Montreal with Albany and points south. Three main exits serve the city of Plattsburgh, with a fourth serving the Cumberland Head district of the town.
  • US 9.svg U.S. Route 9 is a north-south highway crossing through the city on the east side.
  • NY-3.svg New York State Route 3 is an east-west state highway that enters the city from the west as Cornelia Street, intersects Route 22 and then ends at Route 9.
  • NY-22.svg New York State Route 22 is a north-south state highway that enters the city from the southwest and then turns north to run parallel to the west of Route 9. Part of Route 22 in downtown is a divided highway.
  • NY-314.svg New York State Route 314 is a short east-west highway on the north town line with the town of Plattsburgh connecting Interstate 87 with the Grand Isle–Plattsburgh Ferry to Vermont.

Rail

Plattsburgh Amtrak
Plattsburgh's Amtrak train station

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Plattsburgh, operating its Adirondack daily in both directions between Montreal and New York City.

See also: Plattsburgh (Amtrak station)

Ferry

The closest American city larger than Plattsburgh is Burlington, Vermont, reachable via ferry or a bridge further north at Rouses Point. Ferry service is provided at Cumberland Head heading to Grand Isle by the Lake Champlain Transportation Company. There is also a seasonal ferry service offered by the same company in Port Kent, about 10 miles to the south. The latter ferry goes to Burlington, Vermont.

Air

Plattsburgh International Airport uses the runway of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, which closed in 1995. The airport terminal was completed in February 2007 with the building being dedicated on April 27, 2007.

Plattsburgh International offers passenger service to Boston via PenAir, an Alaska-based airline that recently established destinations in the Northeast, PenAir makes daily flights to Boston-Logan International Airport using twin engine, turboprop powered Saab 340 aircraft. Allegiant Air also uses Plattsburgh Int'l, offering direct flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando aboard mainline McDonnell-Douglas MD-88 jetliners and seasonal service to Las Vegas using Boeing 757 airliners which are the largest commercial aircraft operating from the airport. Spirit Airlines offers flights to Myrtle Beach on Airbus A320 and A319 jetliners.

Cargo flights are offered by FedEx Feeder which delivers goods to more major airports aboard Cessna Caravans to be shipped on long haul flights and UPS which does similar service using ATR-72 turboprop aircraft.

Bus

The city is serviced by the Clinton County Public Transportation, or CCPT for short. The county-wide bus service offers passengers city and county-wide bus routes, allowing passengers from surrounding communities to travel to and from Plattsburgh. These routes operate five days a week, with a citywide shopping shuttle offered on Saturdays. There is no bus service on Sundays or major holidays.

For those going longer distances, Greyhound and Adirondack Trailways offers multiple daily trips towards Montreal and Albany.

Filming

The movie Frozen River was filmed in Plattsburgh and surrounding areas.

In September, 2011, the British/Irish band One Direction filmed part of their music video "Gotta Be You" on the SUNY Plattsburgh Campus.

In the Mad Men season 5 episode, "Far Away Places", Don and Megan Draper purportedly visit Howard Johnson's Restaurant and Motor Lodge in Plattsburgh, but the exteriors were shot in Baldwin Park, California.

Economy

For the past three two-year cycles, the Plattsburgh Region was named as a Top 10 Micro City of the Future, in both North America and South America, in FDis rankings. The FDi is a publication of the Financial Times of London and ranks cities across the world in various categories. In the year 2015, Plattsburgh obtained 2nd Place for Economic Potential, 1st for Human Capital and Lifestyle, 3rd for Business Friendliness, 9th for Connectivity, and 1st for Foreign Direct Investment Strategy.

The largest employers in Clinton County are C.V.P.H. Medical Center, SUNY Plattsburgh, Clinton County Government, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Advocacy and Resource Center, City of Plattsburgh, and Swarovski Lighting. SUNY Plattsburgh contributes approximately $300 million to the regional economy each fiscal year.

Other large companies in the area include: Bombardier Transportation, which builds rail-cars in a 219,000 sq ft (20,300 m2) plant; Norsk Titanium, which opened its U.S. branch in Plattsburgh to make parts for the aerospace industry through the use of titanium rapid plasma deposition; and Nova Bus and Prevost which manufactures busses for the American market.

Education

The city is home to SUNY Plattsburgh, a liberal arts university which is a part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system and Clinton Community College, which is also part of the SUNY System. SUNY Plattsburgh has been a part of the city since its founding in 1889 as the Plattsburgh State Normal School. Today, the college is host to about 5,500 undergraduates, 400 graduate students, and almost 400 faculty members. Students at the K–12 level who attend public schools in the city are served by the Plattsburgh City School District, which educates 2,000 students in five different schools.

Notable people

  • Michael P. Anderson, one of the seven astronauts who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, was born in Plattsburgh and lived there until the age of one. He later was stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base while in the service.
  • Jean Arthur (1900–1991), comedy actress of the 1930s and 1940s and the star of her own CBS television series in 1966, The Jean Arthur Show.
  • Rockwell Blake, world-renowned operatic tenor and first recipient of the Richard Tucker Award, known for his roles in the Bel Canto operas, was born in Plattsburgh.
  • Jesse Boulerice, retired NHL hockey player, was born in Plattsburgh.
  • Thomas John Carlisle, poet
  • Tom Chapin, Grammy-award-winning singer-songwriter, graduated State University of New York at Plattsburgh.
  • John Henry Hopkins Jr., author of the well-known Christmas carol "We Three Kings", was rector of Plattsburgh's Trinity Episcopal church from 1872 to 1876.
  • John White Moore, Rear Admiral of the United States Navy, noted for his service in the American Civil War and the Spanish–American War.
  • Bryan O'Byrne, character actor, was born in Plattsburgh, attended St. Peter's Elementary School, Plattsburgh High School, and graduated from Plattsburgh State.
  • Roman Phifer, former NFL linebacker
  • David A. Stafford, Brigadier general in the United States Marine Corps.
  • Daniel Stewart, first openly gay elected mayor in NY State History. In office 2000–2006.
  • Roy Stone, Brigadier General in the United States Army, noted for his participation in the Battle of Gettysburg
  • Rick Tuttle, Freedom Rider and Los Angeles City Controller.
  • John Lloyd Young, Tony Award winner who played Frankie Valli in the original Broadway cast of Jersey Boys, Clint Eastwood's eponymous film based on the play, and Member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities (appointed by Barack Obama) graduated from Plattsburgh High School in 1993.
  • Karen Elizabeth Wetterhahn (October 16, 1948 – June 8, 1997) was an American professor of chemistry at Dartmouth College who specialized in toxic metal exposure. She died of mercury poisoning at the age of 48 due to accidental exposure to the organic mercury compound dimethylmercury (Hg(CH3)2). In response, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommended that the use of dimethylmercury be avoided unless absolutely necessary and mandated the use of plastic-laminate gloves (SilverShield) when handling this compound.
  • Lucretia Davidson (September 27, 1808 - August 27, 1825), renowned poet whose work before her death by Tuberculosis at the age of 16 received accolades and the praise of prominent contemporaries such as Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Southey, and Catharine Sedgwick. The epitaph on Davidson's headstone in Plattsburgh's Riverside Cemetery is a poem drafted by William Cullen Bryant, titled "The Death of the Flowers."
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