History of Utica, New York

Utica, the county seat of Oneida County, is situated in the Mohawk Valley of upstate New York, approximately midway between Buffalo and New York City. It was originally included in a grant of 22,000 acres made by George II of England to William Cosby and some associates in 1734. The British built Fort Schuyler on it in 1758, but when Fort Stanwix at Rome was renamed for Col. Peter Schuyler, the first Fort Schuyler became known as Old Fort Schuyler. It was abandoned before the Revolutionary War.

Settlers began arriving in 1773, and the village became an important stop for settlers heading farther west. The manor was sold by the sheriff in 1792 to a group that included General Philip Schuyler and General John Bradstreet. The new proprietors had the land surveyed and built an inn. In 1798, the name Utica was chosen from names placed in a hat. It is presumed to be in reference to an ancient city of that name in Roman North Africa.

The city was incorporated as a village in 1798, the same year that Oneida County was organized. After the Erie Canal arrived in 1825, Utica grew quickly and became a city in 1832. Utica State Hospital for the Insane was established in 1842. It later became known as Utica State Hospital and is currently called the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center. Utica College, a private college established by Syracuse University, opened in 1946.

Frank W. Woolworth opened his first five and ten cent store in Utica in 1879, but it was a failure. Undeterred, Woolworth opened another store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which was successful. For a long time, Utica led New York in the manufacture of cotton and knitted goods. When textile manufacturers began a gradual shift towards production in the South after World War II, Utica diversified its manufacturing base.

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