Explore the deep heritage of Ithaca, New York and Tompkins County
through walking, biking, and driving tours.
Ezra Cornell Historic Tour
Ezra Cornell (1807-1874) first came to Ithaca at the age of 21. He worked as a carpenter and then in Jeremiah Beebe's plaster and flour mill. By the time he was 57 he was a millionaire and philanthropist. He founded Cornell University in 1865.
William Henry Miller Downtown Architecture Tour
William Henry Miller (1848-1922) was one of Ithaca's most prolific local architects, dramatically reshaping the skyline of Ithaca and Cornell University.
Tompkins County Veterans' Memorials Tour
Visit the sites on this Tompkins County Veterans' Memorials Tour to learn about the men and women who distinguished themselves through military service from the Revolutionary War to the most recent armed conflicts.
Wharton Studio Silent Film Tour
Visit the historic Wharton Studio where, from 1915 to 1921, silent movies were directed and produced, starring some of the best known actors of the day.
Ithaca has been home to literary luminaries, many of them connected with Cornell University or Ithaca College. Russian-born Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (1899-1977), writer, translator, critic, and teacher, taught at Cornell from 1948 to 1959. His controversial novel Lolita debuted in 1955. Nabokov reportedly drew on conversations he overheard while riding the bus in Ithaca for dialogue in the novel. Ithaca also served as inspiration for the setting of Nabokov’s Pale Fire (1962). Among his Cornell students were Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and novelist Thomas Pynchon.
Nabokov and his family rarely stayed in one Ithaca home for more than a year, with the residence at 802 E. Seneca Street an exception. The Nabokovs considered the home to be too large, drafty, and costly, but they stayed from fall 1948 to 1950. (For a look at the six homes the Nabokovs rented in the Cayuga Heights neighborhood, click the “Nabokov Trail”search button on the Cayuga Heights History Project’s interactive map.)
Tutelo Park, on Bostwick Road in the Town of Ithaca, was formerly the location of an indigenous village of 25 to 35 houses called Coreorgonel. The Cayuga, one of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, allowed the Sapony and Tutelo tribes to settle in the area as they migrated north from the Carolinas in the early eighteenth century. In 1779, during the Revolutionary War, the troops of Colonel William Butler burned Coreorgonel. Many Native American settlements in the area were destroyed under the command of Major General John Sullivan, who was sent by General George Washington to punish indigenous peoples for their allegiance to the British.
The site is now a Town of Ithaca park that includes Valentino Field, a regulation-sized Little League field, and a pavilion.
Tompkins County’s voice for historic preservation, education, and sustainability.
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Use the tools of history to understand the past, gain perspective on the present, and help shape the future.