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.
Religious Buildings in Downtown Ithaca
This tour is based on research coordinated by Historic Ithaca Board member Thresa Gibian, working with a cadre of dedicated volunteers in 1995 to highlight historic houses of worship in downtown Ithaca.
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.
In 1876 Theodore Zinck (1849-1903) moved with his wife Emilie (1856-1928) to Ithaca from Rochester and entered the hotel business. By 1880 he was the proprietor of his own establishment, the Hotel Brunswick, at 108 to 110 North Aurora Street. The hotel's "Lager Beer Saloon and restaurant" was commonly called Zinck's, a popular hangout for Cornellians in the 1890s. Zinck prided himself on keeping an immaculate establishment where good food and drink were served in a convivial atmosphere. Zinck died in 1903, and with him died the original Zinck’s, celebrated in the song, “Give My Regards to Davy,” which chronicles the life of a student who promises:
“Oh! We’ll all have drinks
Down at Theodore Zinck’s
When I get back next fall!”
The saloon reopened under new management in 1907. It operated until Ithaca went dry in 1918, re-emerging when Prohibition ended in 1933. Zinck’s moved to 109 South Aurora Street, where it was a student hangout from 1947 to 1961. Then it relocated to its final site at 120 South Aurora Street, just south of the Ithaca Hotel. It closed its doors for the last time in 1967. Zinck's legacy lives on through generations of Cornell alumni celebrating the International Spirit of Zinck's Night every October.
The Ithaca Hotel
The Ithaca Hotel once anchored the southwest corner of State Street and Aurora Street. Built in 1872, the brick building housed the Dutch Kitchen, where generations of students carved their initials into the wooden tables and walls. The hotel was torn down in the 1960s during the era of urban renewal. Just south of the hotel, the final incarnation of the famed Zinck's Bar served a mixed clientele of Cornellians and townies alike in the 1960s. Today the Marriott Ithaca Downtown Commons and its Monks on the Commons carries on this long heritage of hospitality and conviviality at the vibrant site.
Tompkins County’s voice for historic preservation, education, and sustainability.
Explore a complete guide to Ithaca events,
attractions, dining, shopping, and more!
Use the tools of history to understand the past, gain perspective on the present, and help shape the future.