Skaneateles, New York.

Skaneateles, New York

The village of Skaneateles is located in the US state of New York, on the shores of Skaneateles Lake. The land on which the village now stands was first allocated to veterans of the American Revolutionary War. The first white settlers began arriving in the area in the 1790s. By the mid-19th century, Skaneateles developed an economy supported mainly by falling waters on the Skaneateles Creek, which powered the establishments set up along its shores. By the beginning of the 20th century, the village became popular with tourists and is a popular vacation destination today.

Geography Of Skaneateles

Beautiful scenery by Lake Skaneateles. Editorial credit: PQK /

Skaneateles is located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. It is situated on the northern shore of Skaneateles Lake and is included within the city limits of the town of Skaneateles. Within its immediate vicinity are a few other small towns and rural communities. Syracuse, the closest city to Skaneateles, is located to the northeast. Skaneateles Creek flows through the village and connects to Skaneateles Lake. The total area of Skaneateles is 1.7 sq. miles (4.5 sq. km).

Population Of Skaneateles

Street view at Skaneateles,
Street view at Skaneateles. Editorial credit: PQK /

The total population of the village of Skaneateles is 2,459. More than 97% of the village's residents are non-Hispanic whites, while just under 2% are mixed racial. Over 95% of Skaneateles' residents speak only English. Just over 3% speak other Indo-European languages. Almost 95% of the village's population was born in the United States, and 68.24% were born in the village itself. 

Economy Of Skaneateles

Skaneateles is a very affluent locale. The average household income in the village is $192,732, the poverty rate is 2.87%, and the unemployment rate is 2.1%. Although the village's poverty rate is very low, it should be noted that 100% of the village's African American population, which comprises just 0.25% of the population, is classified as living in poverty. The largest industries in Skaneateles, in terms of the number of employees, are healthcare & social assistance, educational services, and professional, technical & scientific services. One of the major employers in Skaneateles is Welch Allyn, one of the world's largest manufacturers of medical diagnostic instruments and bar code scanning products. Tourism is also a mainstay of the village's economy.

History Of Skaneateles

Lake front Church with Steeple and clock tower.
Lake front Church with Steeple and clock tower.

What is now the village of Skaneateles was territory belonging to Native Americans of the Six Nations Confederacy, also known as the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy. "Skaneateles" is an Iroquois word meaning "long lake". At the end of the American Revolutionary War, the state of New York was divided into townships, which were further divided into Military Tracts. These Military Tracts were awarded to soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War as part of the New York Militia. Skaneateles was part of the Township of Marcellus until it broke away in 1830 to become an independent town. The Village of Skaneateles was incorporated in 1833.

The first white settler in the area was Abraham Cuddeback, who arrived in June 1794. He settled on the west side of Skaneateles Lake. The settlers that came after him settled on the high ground east of the present-day village. Aside from their homes, these settlers also built a church, school and tavern. Eventually, the settlers moved down to the foot of the lake where the present-day village is located. These settlers soon built a dam on Skaneateles Creek, which caused the creek's water level to drop almost 500 feet before flowing to the Seneca River and ultimately Lake Ontario. The settlers used the power generated from this falling water to supply cheap power to the mills and distilleries that sprang up along the creek. In the 1860s, a railroad called the Short Line transported goods to what was known as the Skaneateles Junction, where they were shipped to their destinations by the New York Central Railroad.

In 1894, the city of Syracuse built a pipeline to transport water to its reservoirs from the Skaneateles area. As a result, Syracuse began to flourish, but supplying water to the city led to the loss of the water used to supply cheap power to Skaneateles' mills, causing them to close and forcing their employees to seek work elsewhere. However, by the turn of the century, a new industry was emerging in Skaneateles: tourism. The rise of tourism began when the trolley business started bringing people to the village. One aspect of life in Skaneateles that attracted tourists was the presence of steamships on the lake. These disappeared, however, when the automobile became popular.

In 1961, the Skaneateles Historical Society was formed to help preserve the village's history. In 1985, a downtown Historic District was established. Four years later, the Skaneateles Historical Society was given the opportunity to take over the former Skaneateles Creamery Company building. The organization agreed to lease the building from the village, and in 1990, renovations were undertaken to restore it to its original look. Two years later, the old creamery became the permanent home of the Skaneateles Historical Society & Research center. 

Attractions In And Around Skaneateles

Pier and luxury boats docked in the Skaneateles Lake
Pier and luxury boats docked in the Skaneateles Lake. Editorial credit: PQK /

Perhaps the most well-known attraction associated with the village of Skaneateles is Skaneateles Lake, which is the most easterly lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. It has the distinction of being at a higher altitude than the other Finger Lakes, which is why it is sometimes referred to as "The Roof Garden of the Lakes". It is also the cleanest water of all the Finger Lakes, and the second cleanest water in the entire United States. In fact, the water in Skaneateles Lake is so pure that the city of Syracuse and other municipalities use it unfiltered. The lake has long been popular for recreational sailing, and cruises are available from the village.

Aside from the lake, the village of Skaneateles itself is an attraction worthy of visiting. The downtown area along Genesee Street is a historic district with charming, quaint shops that sell everything from clothes to jewelry, plus various restaurants. The village provides all-day parking for just $6 right in the center of town for visitors traveling by car. Other attractions in Skaneateles and the surrounding area include the Bahar Nature Preserve, Carpenter Falls, and several art galleries, distilleries, and wineries.  

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