Corning in the Morning

We were up early and checked out of our hotel well before the museums opened in Corning NY, so we decided to walk around this quaint little town and explore a little.

Corning is a city in the New York Finger Lakes region that offers several worthwhile attractions — certainly enough to spend a whole day exploring!

On the left is Corning Inc.’s world headquarters.
A river — the Chemung River — runs through it.
Corning NY is known, of course, for Corning Glass, and is named for Erastus Corning, an Albany financier and railroad executive. Interestingly enough, Erastus is known more for banking, having a minor role in Albany and New York politics, and railroads than he is for Corning Glass, the company that ended up bearing his name.
The buffalo bursting out of the Rockwell Museum is named
Artemus (for “art is a must”), and is the museum’s mascot. The museum is
housed in Corning’s Old City Hall, which was built in 1893.
Somewhat unrelated but relevant because in a previous visit to New York, we visited the Albany Rural Cemetery, a pretty Victorian rural-garden style cemetery, where Erastus is buried under one of the more ostentatious tombstones.

Although Corning is now known for glass, the area’s first real industry was lumber. The first settlers used the area’s river systems to transport logs and finished lumber in fleets downstream to buyers. At one time the mills of the Corning area were reputed to be among the biggest in the world. After the lumber was depleted the great mills moved north to new forests.

Originally built for the Boston Store, this building features a basket weave design
made of terra cotta, an Italian term that means cooked earth. Terra cotta was
widely produced in Corning after 1889, when the Corning Brick Works opened.
Now, the city is most closely identified with the Corning Glass Works, now renamed as Corning, Inc., which maintains its world headquarters in Corning. Corning Glass Works started out as the Bay State Glass Company, having been founded by Amory Houghton in Somerville MA. Houghton later moved the company to Brooklyn, where it was renamed as the Brooklyn Flint Glass Works. Houghton’s son, Amory Jr., moved it to Corning, then just a small village along the Chemung River, and renamed the company.
50 feet high with a bell that weighs 1400 pounds, the clock tower was once a favorite watering stop for local horses.
Built of Antrim stone found locally, the clock tower in Centerway Square is a memorial to Erastus Corning.

Eventually, Corning became known as the “Crystal City,” in part because companies such as Hawkes, Sinclair, and Hunt produced some of the finest American Brilliant Period cut glass between 1880 and 1915.

Mountain as Metaphor, 2011, painted by High School Learning Center students in a partnership between HSLC
and the Rockwell Museum. Climbing and descending a mountain represents a person’s journey through life.

The heart of Market Street is Centerway Square, a pedestrianized central square with a covered bandstand and public benches for public concerts and events. A restored historic clock tower serves as Centerway Square’s focal point.

This beautiful Victorian building, built in 1885, was designed by, and originally
housed the offices of, H.C. Tuthill, Corning’s most famous architect and master builder.
Today, a walk along Corning’s main street — Market Street — is to step back into history to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Known as the Gaffner District, this historic area sports a number of three- and four-story buildings.
There are a number of restaurants and boutiques and is a great way to spend a few hours. It’s worth noting that the Corning Glass Museum and the Rockwell Museum are within walking distance of each other and both are within easy walking of the Gaffer Historic District.
Check out other fun things to do in the Finger Lakes region:

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Some of the world’s finest cut crystal was created in the Hawkes building. Although
the company went out of business in 1976, the original sign painted on the building has been
preserved as a lasting tribute to the company and to this important era in Corning’s history.

3 Replies to “Corning in the Morning”

  1. Lynne Ricotta says:

    Nice article, except it’s the Gaffer district, not Gaffner. A Gaffer is a glassworker.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out — I’ll make that change!

  2. Joe Tierno says:

    I enjoyed your Corning article very much. Keep up the good work and feel free to add my name to your mailing list.
    Thank you,

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