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Where is Cornell University?

Learn About Cornell's Location in Ithaca, New York

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Cornell University is situated in the picturesque city of Ithaca, New York, a thriving and diverse area surrounded by incredible natural beauty. The city is well-known for its famous gorges, with Ithaca Falls, Cascadilla Gorge and more than 100 other waterfalls and gorges located within 10 miles of downtown Ithaca. The city also sits along the southern edge of Cayuga Lake, the largest of New York’s Finger Lakes. Ithaca has a colorful history, settled in the late 18th century as part of a land grant system for Revolutionary War soldiers; for a brief time, the frontier town was known as Sodom for its supposedly questionable morals. Apart from its outdoor attractions, Ithaca offers a vibrant college town culture with its two major educational institutions, Cornell University and Ithaca College, overlooking the city from adjacent hills.

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Ithaca Quick Facts

  • Population (2010): 30,014
  • Total area: 6.1 sq mi
  • Time zone: Eastern
  • ZIP codes: 14850, 14851, 14852, 14853
  • Area codes: 607
  • Cities nearby:Elmira (30 mi), Syracuse (50 mi), Binghamton (50 mi)

Ithaca Weather and Climate

  • Moderate continental climate
  • Long, cold, snowy winters (average high temperatures in low 30s)
  • Average annual snowfall of 66.8 in
  • Warm, humid summers (average high temperatures in high 70s)


  • Served by Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit
  • Ithaca Carshare, a nonprofit carsharing service, is popular among students and city residents
  • No direct access to the Interstate highway system
  • Downtown Ithaca considered a walkable and bikeable area

Photo by pasa47 / Flickr

What to See

  • Outdoor attractions: Ithaca Falls, Cascadilla Gorge, Buttermilk Falls State Park, Cayuga Lake, Beebe Lake, Finger Lakes Trail, EcoVillage at Ithaca, Taughannock Falls State Park
  • Arts and entertainment: Cornell Cinema, Cayuga Wine Trail, Hangar Theatre, The Haunt, Ithaca Art Factory, Ithaca Ballet, Oasis nightclub, State Theatre of Ithaca
  • Historical sites: Carl Sagan’s grave, Cornell Plantations, Llenroc House, Paleontological Research Institution’s Museum
  • Ithaca Commons
  • Ithaca Farmers Market
  • Moosewood Restaurant
  • Sciencenter

Did You Know?

  • Ithaca has its own currency, “Ithaca Hours,” which are widely used as legal tender throughout the town
  • Ithaca’s name comes from the Greek island of Ithaca in Homer’s Odyssey
  • Novelist Vladimir Nabokov wrote Lolita at his home in Ithaca
  • The Erie Canal facilitates water access from Ithaca east to New York City and west, through the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico
  • Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum’s wife attended Cornell University, and it is speculated that Ithaca’s yellow brick-paved roads at the time may have inspired the author
  • Ithaca resident and local fountain owner Chester Platt invented and served the first documented ice cream sundae in 1892
  • The first electric street lamps in America were lit on the Cornell University campus in 1875
  • The song “Puff the Magic Dragon was written in Ithaca by Cornell University student Lenny Lipton

Ithaca Colleges and Universities


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