The city of Utica, NY turned 191 years old on Monday, February 13th. Utica, located on the New York State Thruway at almost the center of the state, was incorporated as a city on February 13th, 1832.

Technically, Utica is actually older than the United States as it became a village 289 years ago through a land grant on January 2, 1734 at the site of the former Old Fort Schuyler, built for defense by American Colonists. Utica, with Herkimer to the east and Oriskany to the west, was a key battleground during the American Revolutionary War, the French and Indian War, and the Seven Years War against France. Prior to settlement of the land along the Mohawk River, it was occupied by the Mohawk, Oneida and Onondaga nations, which dates back as early as 4000 BC.

Utica and the Mohawk Valley were initially key to the American fur trade industry.

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In 1794, a state road was commissioned which would be called the Genesee Road, now Genesee Street, and it stretched fro. Utica to the Genesee River, according to wikipedia. In 1798, the road was extended east to Albany. Utica was well on its way to "major status" as by 1845, it was the 29th largest city with some 20,000 residents, larger than cities like Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland.

By the end of the 1800s, Utica was a major industrial city with railways, the Erie Canal system (1825), and a manufacturing industry that produced furniture, textiles and heavy machinery. During the Civil War, Utica was part of the Underground Railroad system as a slave escape route into Canada for slaves fleeing the south.

During the 20th Century, Utica became home to waves of Italian, Irish, Polish and Lebanese immigrants and by 1954, it became an exit on the New York State Thruway. However, during the years after World War II through the 1970s, Utica and much of the northeast experienced the decline of manufacturing, and as a result, Utica's population and economic diagnosis declined. Utica's population peaked in 1930 when according to the US Census, it was home to 101,740 residents. Today, Utica houses 66,198 citizens, according to the latest Census.

In recent years, Utica, Rome (Incorporated in 1870) and the Mohawk Valley are experiencing a much needed rebound as it attempts to reinvent itself from the manufacturing days of old. In 2023, the newly constructed MVHS Wynn Hospital will open in November in downtown Utica, new tech industries are growing at the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, along with nano technology and chip manufacturing in nearby Marcy, are helping Utica rebound. Additionally, new investments downtown that include Utica University, the Utica Comets AHL Hockey program, and youth sports at the newly constructed NEXUS Center, are pumping a new energy into the Greater Utica region.

Could this be the transformation the people of Utica have been seeking for decades? The city is 9 years away from its bicentennial and for the first time in a very long time, people are optimistic about the future. It will be very interesting to see what the city looks like in 2032. For now, enjoy the celebration as you're now 191.

Happy Birthday Utica!

Wikipedia was used as a source in the development of this article.

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