Watertown, New York

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Watertown
City of Watertown
A grassy, thin oval-shaped garden with a tall statue in the middle surrounded by roads
A flowing river with a small waterfall at the end
A castle-looking gray church
A stone mansion surrounded by grass and bushes
A small, straightforward indoor mall
A group of brick buildings
A white stone library with a green dome on top and two lions in front surrounded by grass and bushes
A brick mansion
A tall, brick tower
Clockwise from top: the Public Square; the Black River; the St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the Emma Flower Taylor Mansion; the Paddock Arcade; a set of buildings including the Paddock Arcade; the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library; the Paddock Mansion; the Jefferson County Courthouse Complex.
Official seal of Watertown
Nickname(s): 
The Garland City
Watertown is located in New York
Watertown
Watertown
Location of Watertown in New York
Coordinates: 43°58′32.2″N 75°54′23.0″W / 43.975611°N 75.906389°W / 43.975611; -75.906389Coordinates: 43°58′32.2″N 75°54′23.0″W / 43.975611°N 75.906389°W / 43.975611; -75.906389
CountryUnited States
StateNew York
RegionCentral New York
CountyJefferson
Settled1800; 222 years ago (1800)
Incorporated (village)1816; 206 years ago (1816)
Incorporated (city)1869; 153 years ago (1869)
Government
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • City managerJeffrey M. Smith
 • City council
Members' List
Area
 • Total9.39 sq mi (24.31 km2)
 • Land9.03 sq mi (23.39 km2)
 • Water0.35 sq mi (0.92 km2)
Elevation
466 ft (142 m)
Population
 • Total24,685
 • Density2,733.7/sq mi (1,055.5/km2)
Demonym(s)Watertownian
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Zip Codes
13601, 13602
Area code(s)315
FIPS code36-78608
GNIS feature ID0968914
Websitewww.watertown-ny.gov

Watertown is a city in the U.S. state of New York and the county seat of Jefferson County. It is about 25 miles (40 km) south of the Thousand Islands. The Black River flows through the middle of the city. It is about five miles east of where it meets with Lake Ontario.[2][3] The city of Watertown is surrounded by the town of Watertown to the north, east, and west. The Public Square is in the middle of the city of Watertown. Watertown is 13 miles southwest of a U.S Army base, Fort Drum. As of the 2020 census, 24,685 people lived in Watertown. Thompson Park is a park in the city.[2] The Watertown City School District is the school district in the city.

The area was surveyed for the first time by Benjamin Wright in 1796. Watertown had its first residents in 1798. The first people to live in Watertown chose Watertown because of the water power that the Black River gave. Watertown legally became a settlement on March 14, 1800. The city became the county seat of Jefferson County in 1805. Watertown was incorporated as a village in 1816, and became a city in 1869.

In the 21st century, Watertown is a big part of upstate New York. Watertown has a lot of business with visitors from Canada, because the city is only 30 miles (48 kilometres) away from the border of Canada. Watertown, South Dakota was named after the city.[4]

History[change | change source]

Name[change | change source]

Watertown was named because of the Black River, which flows through the city.[5] It is not known who chose the name of Watertown, but most people think that the early settlers had an agreement. The name was chosen so that mills would be built. By 1850, Watertown and places next to Watertown had a lot of mills in them.[6]

1700s and 1800s[change | change source]

Watertown in 1865
Watertown in 1917

Alexander Macomb purchased the land of Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, and Oswego county in 1791.[7] Alexander Macomb sent surveyors to sell the land to settlers who passed by. The area was surveyed for the first time by Benjamin Wright in 1796.[8][9] After returning, Benjamin Wright said:[10]

Along the river there is some good land and some that is broken and rocky. The river is amazing rapid and rocky; some falls along the river which may be made good mill seats, and some excellent pine timber along the river. On the east line is a fine country. The west line is of good quality. There are some fine mill seats in this town which on the map are marked 'falls' and 'rapids.' To speak generally I think this to be an excellent town-ship, and scarcely any poor land upon it. Will settle very fast, if laid in lots and sold to settlers.

The first people to live in Watertown, Hart Massey, Henry Coffeen, and Zachariah Butterfield, built cabins on the area that is now the public square in 1798 while migrating from New England after the Revolutionary War. When the settlers first surveyed Watertown, the land in the area was rocky and uncleared. The western end of the Public Square was about 12 feet (3.7 metres) higher than the western end. The middle of the square had a depression that was said to be big enough for a big skating rink.[11] The settlers chose to live in Watertown because of the water power that the Black River gave.[9][12] The area of Watertown was taken from the nearby town of Mexico on March 14, 1800.[13] On March 1, 1801, Hart Massey moved his wife and three children into the cabins.[14][15] In 1805, settlers cleared out the center of the town to create the public square.[2][9][12] Many buildings were built next to the public square in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the public square was made a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places on September 7, 1984.[16] The city became the county seat of Jefferson County in March 1805 when part of Oneida County became Jefferson County.[17][9] When Watertown became the county seat, it was one of the smallest places in the county.[9] Watertown was incorporated as a village in 1816,[7] and became a city in 1869.[18][12]

The Great Fire[change | change source]

On May 13, 1849, a fire destroyed most of public square and three surrounding streets, and a lot of the square had to be rebuilt.[19] The fire killed one person, and destroyed almost all of the businesses in the city. The fire destroyed three banks, a post office, three printing offices, two hotels, and thirty shops.[20] It costed $250,000, about $7,529,000 today, to fix the damage.[21] While rebuilding in 1853, the city made two parks in the middle of the square, with a fountain in the middle.[22]

20th century[change | change source]

Little Trees were invented in Watertown in 1951, and the headquarters of Little Trees is also in Watertown.[23] In the 1960s through the 1990s, New York destroyed many historic buildings, like the Woodruff Hotel and the old courthouse.[9] In the 1980s, unemployment in the area went up by 20%.[9]

In the 21st century, the city is an important part of a large area. In 2006, the city spent $7.4 million dollars to restore multiple buildings and also fixing roads and walkways. The city completed the project in 2008, but more fixes are planned.[24][25] In early 2019, Watertown was said to be the "Least Politically Prejudiced Place in America" by Amanda Ripley.[26][27]

Geography[change | change source]

The town of Watertown compared to the city of Watertown
The Black River

Watertown is in upstate New York.[28] The city of Watertown is about 25 miles (40 km) south of the Thousand Islands, 180 miles (290 km) northwest of Albany, and 328 miles (530 km) northwest of New York City.[29][30] The area of Watertown was taken from the nearby town of Mexico on March 14, 1800.[13] The town of Watertown is a lot bigger than the city. The town of Watertown is 35.93 square miles (93.1 square kilometres) large, and the city is 9.39 square miles (24.3 square kilometres) large.[31]

People[change | change source]

Line graph of the population of the city of Watertown overtime

The North Country has a lot of Amish people because there is a lot of cheap rural area.[32][33]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18709,336
188010,69714.6%
189014,72537.7%
190021,69647.3%
191026,73023.2%
192031,28517.0%
193032,2052.9%
194033,3853.7%
195034,3502.9%
196033,306−3.0%
197030,787−7.6%
198027,861−9.5%
199029,4295.6%
200026,705−9.3%
201027,0231.2%
202024,685−8.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[34] 2020[1]

2000 Census[change | change source]

In 2000, there were 26,705 people living in the city of Watertown. 89.13% of the people were White, 4.95% of the people were Black or African American, 3.59% of the people were Hispanic or Latino, 0.54% of the people were Native American, 1.16% of the people were Asian, 0.11% of the people were Pacific Islander, 1.67% of the people were from other races, and 2.45% from two or more races. 11,036 households, and 6,500 families living in the city. The population density was 2,981.3 inhabitants per square mile (1,151.1/km2). There were 12,450 housing units at an average density of 1,389.9/sq mi (536.6/km2).

2010 Census[change | change source]

In 2010, there were 27,023 people living in the city. 86.25% of the people were White, 6.04% of the people were African American, 5.59% of the people were Hispanic or Latino, 0.58% of the people were Native American, 1.83% of the people were Asian, 0.18% of the people were Pacific Islander, 1.33% of the people were from other races, and 3.79% from two or more races.

2020 Census[change | change source]

In 2020, there were 24,685 people living in the city of Watertown. There were 10,867 houses with 43.3% of the houses having people living in them. The population density was 2,996.0 people per square mile (4821.5/km2). 83.8% of the people were White, 8.5% were Black or African American, 1.0% were Native American, 1.5% were Asian, 7.8% were Hispanic or Latino, 0.1% were Pacific Islander, and 4.4% were two or more races.[1]

8.7% of the people were under 5 years old. 23.6% of the people were under 18 years old; 53.8% of the people were between 18 and 64 years old. 13.9% were 65 or older. 50.2% of the people were men, and 49.8% of the people were women. 20.9% of the people had a Bachelor's degree or higher.[1]

Economy[change | change source]

In 2020, the average price of a house was $133,400, and the average income for a household being $40,253. 21.6% of the people who lived in Watertown were in poverty.[1] Much of Watertown's economy is from visitors from Canada, because it is only around 30 miles (48 kilometres) away from the border of Canada.[35] In the 1980s, unemployment in Watertown grew 20%, and property values started to drop very fast.[9] When Fort Drum started, Watertown started to make consumer products instead of industrial products.[9]

Factories[change | change source]

Factory Square is 80 acres (32 hectares) of abandoned factories above the black river that used hydropower. The factories were built in the 1880s and 1890s, which made the population and economy boom. In the year 1900, 3,760 people were hired to work in the factories. There was a district with a lot of saloons next to Factory Square. The district had a lot of fraud from factory workers going to the saloons after work. The Watertown Daily Times sometimes wrote about factory workers being scammed by "tin-horn gamblers and short-card men".[3]

Three factories on elevated ground above the Black River
1909 Panorama of Factory Square above the Black River
A brick factory with smoke coming out of the chimney
The Shaughnessy Knitting Mill inside of Factory Square (c. 1918)
A long row of women inside of a factory
Workers inside the Shaughnessy Knitting Mill inside Factory Square (c. 1910s)

Government[change | change source]

The city council in 2021

The city's government was made after Watertown became a village in 1816. The fire department was also made. In 1852, the borders of the village grew.[36] The police departments in the city are the Watertown Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.[37][38]

Buildings and Transport[change | change source]

The Dulles State Office Building, the tallest building in Watertown

The tallest building in Watertown is the Dulles State Office Building.[39] The city of Watertown and the town of Watertown both use Watertown International Airport.[40]

Historic buildings[change | change source]

Some buildings on the National Register of Historic Places are the Paddock Mansion (added on December 11, 1979),[41] the Watertown Masonic Temple (added on January 23, 1980),[42] and the Emerson Place (added on April 18, 2003).[43] There are 58 buildings inside the 16-acre (6.5-hectare) Public Square (added on September 7, 1984).[44]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Quickfacts - Watertown city, New York". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 11, 2021. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Our History". Watertown NY. Archived from the original on October 22, 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Widdis, Randy William (July 3, 1987). "We Breathe The Same Air": Eastern Ontarian Migration to Watertown, New York In The Late Nineteenth Century". New York History. 68 (3): 261–280. JSTOR 43460228. Archived from the original on February 21, 2022. Retrieved February 21, 2022 – via JSTOR.
  4. Thompson, Harry F. (2009). A New South Dakota History (Second ed.). Sioux Falls, SD: Center for Western Studies - Augustana College. ISBN 978-0-931170-00-3.
  5. Hungerford 1945, p. 136.
  6. Naomi, ‎ ‎ (2021-09-03). "How Did Watertown New York Get Its Name?". Discover New York's North Country. Archived from the original on February 19, 2022. Retrieved 2022-02-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Skinner 1876, p. 58.
  8. "Town of Watertown, New York - Town Supervisors". www.usgennet.org. Archived from the original on January 16, 2020. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 WPBS-TV (2017-09-22), "Discovering Watertown", Vimeo, archived from the original on February 23, 2022, retrieved 2022-02-23
  10. Skinner 1876, p. 13.
  11. Dutton & September 25, 2001, p. 5.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Dutton & September 25, 2001, p. 6.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "History of Jefferson County in the State of New York from the Earliest Period to Present Time". genealogytrails.com. Archived from the original on February 19, 2022. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  14. Monroe 1912, p. 7.
  15. Hungerford 1912, p. 13.
  16. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
  17. Hough, 1854 & 26.
  18. "Downtown Revitalization Plan for the City of Watertown, New York" (PDF). American Planning Association of Upstate New York. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 5, 2022. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  19. "Hamilton Child's Jefferson County Gazetteer 1890". Child's Gazetteer. Rootsweb. Archived from the original on 20 October 2015. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  20. "Destructive Fires". Niles National Register: 321. May 23, 1849. Archived from the original on May 28, 2022. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  21. "Great Fire in Watertown, N.Y." Boston Pilot. Vol. 12, no. 20. May 19, 1849. p. 7. Archived from the original on February 20, 2022. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  22. Dutton & September 25, 2001, p. 8.
  23. "About | Little Trees". www.littletrees.com. Archived from the original on February 15, 2022. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  24. "Downtown Revitalization Plan for the City of Watertown, New York" (PDF). American Planning Association of Upstate New York. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 5, 2022. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  25. "Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) Instructions" (PDF). New York State. 2016. p. 5. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 5, 2022. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  26. Ripley, Amanda (2019-03-04). "The Least Politically Prejudiced Place in America". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on March 5, 2019. Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  27. "Watertown is the most politically tolerant place in America, study says". syracuse. 2019-03-04. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020. Retrieved 2022-02-25.
  28. "City & Town of Watertown, New York". visitwatertown. Archived from the original on 2022-02-19. Retrieved 2022-05-17.
  29. Board, United States Civil Aeronautics (April 1979). Economic Decisions of the Civil Aeronautics Board. U.S. Government Printing Office. Archived from the original on February 25, 2022. Retrieved February 25, 2022.
  30. "Watertown is pure North Country". Discover Upstate NY. February 26, 2022. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved February 26, 2022.
  31. "Town and City of Watertown US Census, Land Area", United States census, 2010, 2020; Town of Watertown, New York;. Retrieved on May 14, 2022.
  32. Widdis, Randy William (July 3, 1987). "We Breathe The Same Air": Eastern Ontarian Migration to Watertown, New York In The Late Nineteenth Century". New York History. 68 (3): 261–280. JSTOR 43460228. Archived from the original on February 21, 2022. Retrieved February 21, 2022 – via JSTOR.
  33. Mende, Susan. "North country's Amish population continues to grow". NNY360. Archived from the original on February 21, 2022. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  34. "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  35. Gaul, Alex (June 15, 2021). "Summer tourism strengthens north country economy". NNY360. Archived from the original on December 1, 2021. Retrieved 2022-02-12.
  36. Skinner 1876, pp. 58–59.
  37. "Welcome to Jefferson County, New York - Sheriff's Office". co.jefferson.ny.us. Archived from the original on November 2, 2021. Retrieved 2022-02-27.
  38. "City of Watertown, New York - Police Department". www.watertown-ny.gov. Archived from the original on February 28, 2022. Retrieved 2022-02-27.
  39. "Tallest buildings in Watertown, New York". Emporis. Archived from the original on May 18, 2022. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  40. FAA Airport Master Record for ART (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. effective November 8, 2018.
  41. "NPGallery Asset Detail". npgallery.nps.gov. Archived from the original on February 18, 2022. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  42. "NPGallery Asset Detail". npgallery.nps.gov. Archived from the original on February 18, 2022. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  43. "NPGallery Asset Detail". npgallery.nps.gov. Archived from the original on February 18, 2022. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  44. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.

Citations[change | change source]

Further reading[change | change source]

Dutton (September 25, 2001). "Images of America: Watertown (NY)". Images of America. ISBN 0738509221 – via Amazon.

Other websites[change | change source]

Official website

Official tourist website

The Public Square official website