12 Interesting Facts About Binghamton
Binghamton is a resilient community- a community beating the odds and bouncing back from economic loss and natural disasters. Our community is quickly showing the world what it is to rise from the fall and to grow as a hub for the arts, education, and healthcare, but we wouldn't be what we are today if it weren't for our past.
Here are 12 interesting facts about Binghamton.
People didn’t settle in the city of Binghamton until 1802, but at that time it wasn't called 'Binghamton.' It was actually known as 'Chenango Point.'
Binghamton was named after Philadelphia native, William Bingham. Bingham was a delegate for Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress from 1786 to 1788 and served in the United States Senate from 1795 to 1801. Bingham was a very wealthy man who was known for being a major land developer. One of his prime prospects was at the confluence of the Chenango River and Susquehanna River. Judge Joshua Whitney Jr. was Bingham's agent and a settler in this area and decided to call the town Binghamton to honor Bingham.
Abel Bennett was the very first Mayor of Binghamton and owned a major plot of land on Binghamton's west side. To this day, his plot of land is known as the Abel Bennett Tract Historic District. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Place in 2008.
Sometimes Binghamton is referred to as the 'Parlor City,' a name that goes back to the 19th century. Binghamton had massive mansions with huge parlors where people would gather and spend time together. There were so many fancy parlors that people started calling Binghamton the 'Parlor City.'
In addition to being called the 'Parlor City,' Binghamton was also sometimes called the 'Valley of Opportunity.' The reason for this name was because the city experienced a major growth in the 1800s and 1900s as an influx of immigrants entered the city and jobs were plentiful.
- 6George F. Johnson was head of the Endicott Johnson Shoe Factories- a major employer of more than 20,000 people and it was him who brought carousels to the Binghamton area in the 1920s. Johnson's stipulation was that the carousels were to be free to ride, for everyone's enjoyment. There are only about 150 of these carousels still in existence and with six of them, Binghamton and its surrounding area has the largest collection. This is why Binghamton is known as the 'Carousel Capital of the World.' These remaining carousels are all open to the public during the spring, summer and fall months and all are still absolutely free for the public to ride.
The Bundy Manufacturing Company started with a focus on producing time clocks. As a matter of fact, you can visit the Bundy Museum on Main Street in Binghamton and see some of the first clocks the company ever made. The Bundy Manufacturing Company underwent several mergers and name changes, but in 1914, Thomas Watson Sr. was hired and under his corporate leadership, the company changed its name to International Business Machines, or as the world calls it today, ‘IBM.’
During the Depression era, a Binghamton resident by the name of Edwin A. Link developed a flight simulator. Since the creation of flight simulation, Link Aviation and its successor companies have been the world leaders in training pilots. Before Link's death in 1981, he obtained more than 27 patents for aeronautics, navigation and oceanographic equipment. The field on which Greater Binghamton Airport lies is named after Link.
The Chenango Canal is what connected the Susquehanna River to the Erie Canal from Binghamton to Utica between 1834 and 1878. Most of it was filled and paved over following its closure in 1878, although parts of it are still in existence and maintained in part by the Chenango Canal Association. The Chenango Canal was 97 miles long and most of it followed the Chenango River, along what is now Route 12 from Binghamton on the south end to Utica on the north end.
Many famous people have ties to Binghamton including Rod Serling, Johnny Hart, the Jones brothers, William Baldwin and others. But another famous person with ties to Binghamton is musician Ingrid Michaelson who is known for her song "The Hat" in which she talks about her time in Binghamton while attending Binghamton University. The song features the lyrics, "I knitted you a hat all blue and gold to keep your ears warm from the Binghamton cold." Michaelson's songs have been featured in popular TV shows and commercials.
Around 1870, Binghamton was all about cigars. Not smoking them, but actually making them. There were more than 50 factories which employed over 5,000 people. As a matter of fact, Binghamton was just second behind New York City when it came to cigar production in the United States. If you visit the Lost Dog Cafe on Water Street in downtown Binghamton, you'll actually be stepping inside what was once the Hull-Grummond Cigar Company, one of the biggest cigar making companies in the country.
If you take a walk to the old train station next to NYSEG Stadium, behind the Binghamton Post Office, you'll see a tower sitting on the side of the road. This tower was constructed by Guglielmo Marconi, the man credited with creating radio as we know it today. While this Marconi town isn’t the first one the United States saw, it is the last remaining of the original towers. This tower was built to test the possibility of transmitting the first ever wireless communication to a moving train on the Lackawanna Railroad.