Created 21-Dec-11
Modified 10-Aug-21
Visitors 2247
0 photos
Maybe I should call this series of imprints "A city without a face". It somehow seems that way, despite some semblance of architectural and social coherence (especially in the Near Westside Historic District). It is not as gritty and fractured as Binghamton - well, few places in mid-to upstate New York really are, Kingston and Utica come to mind - but it also seems much less ambitious. Its most significant achievement probably lies well in the past: it was the starting point of the Chemung Canal, and a connector to the Junction Canal (corner of Washington and State) which - briefly - brought so much coal into Elmira that it was the logistical coal capital of the entire northeast region of the country. Major railroads followed the canal, and still played a huge part during both World Wars. Much of the extensive infrastructure is decommissioned these days, although the post-war National Highway Act in the 60s created quick road access with Route 17. At the same time, concepts of "urban renewal" swept the land, with decidedly mixed results, as can be witnessed in Syracuse, Binghamton and here. The flood of 1972 proved disastrous, and it appears as if the downtown area never really recovered. Water Street East certainly lacks vitality, and Clemens Square (not pictured) requires a complete makeover in my view.

Elmira is not a bad place to raise a family, though. Rent and real estate costs are low, and according to a recent study by an insurance group, it ranks as the fourth safest small community in the entire country (pop. under 150.000). However, once the children mature and reach college age, the area has little to offer to retain and employ them.

Visited on a rather mild Monday in mid-December with perfectly strange lighting. Olympus E-5 with PanaLeica Summilux and Elmarit lenses.

Thomas H. Hahn
Ithaca, NY
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Guestbook for Elmira vernacular
Nancy Kane(non-registered)
I grew up just blocks from that Bendix plant, and played in the stream into which Bendix dumped chemical spills. You've done a fantastic job capturing the drear of the Elmira/Elmira Heights area. I noticed the Mark Twain grave was not the big marker that just had his medallion ripped off in an act of vandalism (2014). Thank you for noticing the beauty in the decrepitude.
Donald J. Dalsis(non-registered)
This was sent to me by a friend and enjoy/enjoyed it A LOT. Old memories that I still keep . We were SO mad when we were made to relocate to S, Florida in 58. Looking back it was the best for us. Sister still lives outside Elmira and I was there the last time the of week of 9/11 in 01. Have moved to just S. of ATL,Ga. after 40 years in Miami. How did I handle those winters ( 11 ) in S.Tier?
Thanks for the GOOD Memories
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