Elmira, New York has always had a long and illustrious history. It has also been home to numerous notable figures. In 1808, at a town meeting held at Teal's Tavern, the village officially changed its name from the Township of Chemung to the Town of Elmira. According to urban legend, Elmira was named after the daughter of the innkeeper. Elmira, also known as "The Queen City," was incorporated in 1864.
Elmira was a major transportation hub by the late 19th century, connecting Rochester and Buffalo with Albany and New York City. The completion of the Chemung Canal in 1833, the Juction Canal connecting Elmira and Corning, and the New York and Erie Railroads made this possible.
Elmira played a significant role in the Underground Railroad because of its proximity to Canada. Elmira hosted a prisoner-of-war camp during the American Civil War; the inmates dubbed it "Hellmira" due to the deplorable living conditions. The deceased inmates were interred at Woodlawn Cemetery.
John W. Jones, who played a key role in the Underground Railroad and buried the POW camp's deceased inmates, is among the notable Elmira residents. Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, was married to an Elmira native and wrote many of his books in the city. The first African-American athlete to win the Heisman Trophy was Ernie Davis. Additionally, Eileen Collins, Tommy Hilfiger, Hal Roach, and Brian Williams have called Elmira home.
Elmira has always been a leader in business and education. Elmira College, ID Booth, Chemung Canal Trust Company, and H. Strauss Clothier, among others, have been in this location since the beginning.
Eldridge Park in Elmira, New York is a well-known amusement park that opened around the turn of the 20th century. Approximately 15 acres in size, it is dedicated to the memory of a local doctor and is still in use.
Arnot Art Museum
The Arnot Art Museum, which opened in 1913 and is located at 235 Lake Street in Elmira, New York, is a municipal art museum. Its permanent collection includes European paintings from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, as well as American art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Its 21st-century collection focuses on representational art of the present day.
The First Arena is a multi-purpose venue with 3,784 seats located in downtown Elmira, New York. Among its many amenities are two ice surfaces, a full-service restaurant and bar, a food service center for the recreational rink, a video game arcade, 31 luxury suites, party/group outing facilities, and meeting/community rooms. The arena debuted as the Coach USA Center in 2000 and was renamed the First Arena in 2004. It was home to the Elmira Jackals from the time it opened until 2017 and the Elmira Enforcers of the Federal Prospects Hockey League from 2018 to 2021. It can be found at the intersection of W. Gray Street and N. Main Street.
Elmira, New York's Clemens Center is a concert and theater venue. It is named after Samuel Clemens, whose pen name was Mark Twain and who resided in Elmira while writing many of his novels.