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Tompkins County, New York facts for kids

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Tompkins County
Ithaca Falls Ithaca New York.JPG
Allan H. Treman State Marine Park, Ithaca, New York - Marina 2.jpg
Stewart Park July2014.jpg
Cornell University, Ho Plaza and Sage Hall.jpg
Official seal of Tompkins County
Map of New York highlighting Tompkins County
Location within the U.S. state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location within the U.S.
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Country  United States
State  New York
Founded April 17, 1817
Named for Daniel D. Tompkins
Seat Ithaca
Largest City Ithaca
 • Total 492 sq mi (1,270 km2)
 • Land 475 sq mi (1,230 km2)
 • Water 17 sq mi (40 km2)  3.4%
 • Total 105,740
 • Density 210/sq mi (80/km2)
Demonym(s) Tompkins Countyan
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
13053, 13062, 13068, 13073, 13102, 13736, 14817, 13864, 14850, 14851, 14852, 14853, 14854, 14867, 14881, 14882, 14883, 14886
Area code 607
Congressional district 23rd

Tompkins County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2020 census, the population was 105,740. The county seat is Ithaca. The name is in honor of Daniel D. Tompkins, who served as Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States.

Tompkins County comprises the Ithaca, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is home to Cornell University, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College.


When counties were established in the British Province of New York in 1683, the present Tompkins County was part of Albany County. This was an enormous county, including the northern part of New York State as well as all of the present State of Vermont and, in theory, extending westward to the Pacific Ocean. This county was reduced in size on July 3, 1766 by the creation of Cumberland County, and further on March 16, 1770 by the creation of Gloucester County, both containing territory now in Vermont.

On March 12, 1772, what was left of Albany County was split into three parts, one remaining under the name Albany County. One of the other pieces, Tryon County, contained the western portion (and thus, since no western boundary was specified, theoretically still extended west to the Pacific). The eastern boundary of Tryon County was approximately five miles west of the present city of Schenectady, and the county included the western part of the Adirondack Mountains and the area west of the West Branch of the Delaware River. The area then designated as Tryon County now includes 37 counties of New York State. The county was named for William Tryon, colonial governor of New York.

In the years prior to 1776, most of the Loyalists in Tryon County fled to Canada. In 1784, following the peace treaty that ended the American Revolutionary War, the name of Tryon County was changed to Montgomery County in honor of the general, Richard Montgomery, who had captured several places in Canada and died attempting to capture the city of Quebec, replacing the name of the hated British governor.

In 1789, Montgomery County was reduced in size by the splitting off of Ontario County. The actual area split off from Montgomery County was much larger than the present county, also including the present Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Steuben, Wyoming, Yates, and part of Schuyler and Wayne counties.

Herkimer County was one of three counties split off from Montgomery County (the others being Otsego and Tioga counties) in 1791. Onondaga County was formed in 1794 by the splitting of Herkimer County.

Cayuga County was formed in 1799 by the splitting of Onondaga County. This county was, however, much larger than the present Cayuga County. It then included the present Seneca and Tompkins counties.

In 1804, Seneca County was formed by the splitting of Cayuga County.

On April 7, 1817, Tompkins County was created by combining portions of Seneca and the remainder of Cayuga County. The county was named after then Vice-President (to President James Monroe) and former New York Governor Daniel Tompkins. Tompkins almost certainly never visited the county named for him.

In 1854, the county lost the town of Hector and the west line of lots in Newfield to the newly formed Schuyler County, New York.


Robert H. Treman State Park in Tompkins County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 492 square miles (1,270 km2), of which 475 square miles (1,230 km2) is land and 17 square miles (44 km2) (3.4%) is water.

Tompkins County is in the west central part of New York State, south of Syracuse and northwest of Binghamton. It is usually geographically grouped with the Finger Lakes region, but some locals consider themselves to be part of Central New York or the Southern Tier.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • NY-13.svg New York State Route 13
  • NY-13A.svg New York State Route 13A
  • NY-34.svg New York State Route 34
  • NY-34B.svg New York State Route 34B
  • NY-38.svg New York State Route 38
  • NY-79.svg New York State Route 79
  • NY-89.svg New York State Route 89
  • NY-96.svg New York State Route 96
  • NY-96B.svg New York State Route 96B
  • NY-222.svg New York State Route 222
  • NY-227.svg New York State Route 227
  • NY-327.svg New York State Route 327
  • NY-366.svg New York State Route 366
  • NY-392.svg New York State Route 392


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 20,681
1830 36,545 76.7%
1840 37,948 3.8%
1850 38,746 2.1%
1860 31,409 −18.9%
1870 33,178 5.6%
1880 34,445 3.8%
1890 32,923 −4.4%
1900 33,830 2.8%
1910 33,647 −0.5%
1920 35,285 4.9%
1930 41,490 17.6%
1940 42,340 2.0%
1950 59,122 39.6%
1960 66,164 11.9%
1970 77,064 16.5%
1980 87,085 13.0%
1990 94,097 8.1%
2000 96,501 2.6%
2010 101,564 5.2%
2020 (est.) 105,740 4.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

As of the census of 2000, there were 96,501 people, 36,420 households, and 19,120 families residing in the county. The population density was 203 people per square mile (78/km2). There were 38,625 housing units at an average density of 81 per square mile (31/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 85.50% White, 3.64% African American, 0.28% Native American, 7.19% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.09% from other races, and 2.26% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.08% of the population. 12.4% were of German, 11.7% English, 11.1% Irish, 9.2% Italian and 6.0% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 2.85% of the population reported speaking Spanish at home, while 1.86% speak Chinese, 1.07% Korean, and 1.00% French.

There were 36,420 households, out of which 25.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.20% were married couples living together, 8.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.50% were non-families. 32.50% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 19.00% under the age of 18, 26.00% from 18 to 24, 26.20% from 25 to 44, 19.30% from 45 to 64, and 9.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 97.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,272, and the median income for a family was $53,041. Males had a median income of $35,420 versus $27,686 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,659. About 6.80% of families and 17.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.00% of those under age 18 and 5.40% of those age 65 or over.


Tompkins County, New York Divisions
Towns, cities, villages, and census divisions of Tompkins County




Census-designated places



Tompkins County Public Library, Ithaca NY
Tompkins County Public Library, 101 East Green St., Ithaca NY
The eight-square schoolhouse or Dryden District School No. 5 is a one room schoolhouse just south of New York Route 13 in Dryden Township.

There are three institutions of higher education in Tompkins County:

  • Cornell University in City of Ithaca
  • Ithaca College in the Town of Ithaca
  • Tompkins-Cortland Community College in the Town of Dryden

The county is served by several school districts (the largest being Ithaca City School District), and several public libraries including the Tompkins County Public Library, the Southworth Library and the Ulysses Philomathic Library.

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