Monthly Archives: December 2013

Sunflower Park

Sunflower Park         SP Logo

Where: 185 Murray Street

Hours: 8am-Nightfall, daily

Activities: Clothing drives, ice cream socials, food giveaways, working closely with children, general fun at the park

Directions: Click Here

Contact Info:



Travel downtown to the heart of Binghamton’s First Ward and you’ll find a host of interesting places to visit. The area is packed with restaurants, community centers and most notably antique shops, but travel across Clinton Avenue heading down Murray Street, and you may be surprised to find a small park nestled in between the houses of the quiet neighborhood…Welcome to Sunflower Park.

Up until a few years ago, Murray Street Park, as it was then known, was nothing more than run down lot with a few pieces of play equipment. Few children ever came to play, and the area was never given the attention that it deserved. Thanks to the help of a handful of dedicated citizens and the “Design Your Own Park” organization—an initiative started right here at Binghamton University, Sunflower Park was able to blossom.

2010 was the turning point. The park was renamed and a steering committee was formed to help come up with ideas for the new park. Residents of the First Ward and Binghamton University worked together to both beautify the park, and to promote it throughout the community. The work was hard, and although it is technically a city park, the group did not have many financial resources to work with. Thanks to the dedication of a few tireless residents, the park was able to get some of the amenities that it desperately needed. With the help of the City of Binghamton and some grant money, the steering committee was able to equip the park with running water and electricity. This revolutionized the type of events and activities that could take place there. As the years went by, the park continued to flourish; benches were added, as well as some grills, new play equipment, a mural (painted by the local kids), a vegetable garden, and the most famous symbol of the park, a beautiful pavilion, decorated with a huge and ornate mosaic depicting sunflowers in full bloom.

As the park continued to grow, so did its influence in the community. More and more children came to play, and they weren’t the only ones. Nowadays it isn’t unusual to see a couples sitting together on the benches or an elderly person stopping by to watch the children play. Sunflower Park is a great place for people of all ages to relax and have fun.

There is so much to do at the park, thanks to the group of about ten active citizens that have made the park their main concern. Every Friday, you can find them at the park around noon, handing out packages of food to families in need. And that’s not all–the park hosts a plethora of annual events such as a Halloween party, Thanksgiving dinner, clothing drives, and ice cream socials. All of it is made possible by that same group of hardworking residents, and most of the money comes from their own pockets. The real impact that Sunflower Park has had on the community is to change the way that the people in the First Ward view their community. The park is a safe haven where people of all ages can go to interact with each other in a positive way.

Although Sunflower Park is thriving, there are many new events and programs that the steering committee would like to put into action, and they are always looking for new volunteers. If you are looking for a fun and rewarding way to get involved in the Binghamton Community, this could be a great opportunity. Simply contact Mary Lou Rutkowski or Patricia Tuttle for more information.

Thanks for reading, and remember to watch out for where Harpo turns up next!

SP Pavillion



The Carnegie Library

Carnegie Library Binghamton, New York – April 2009

If you’ve taken any sort of American history class, chances are you’ve heard of the famous industrialist Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American who  made an enormous fortune in the Steel Industry. Carnegie was also one of the biggest philanthropists in the U.S., using his wealth to built public works including the famous Carnegie Hall.

Carnegie built a number of libraries all over the world, 106 in New State York alone. In 1903 the city of Binghamton received a $75,000 gift from Carnegie to build a beautiful brick-and-limestone building in the Classical Greek Style with Ionic columns and porticos.  Names of thirteen literary icons are etched in stone above the large windows: Emerson, Lowell, Homer, Plato, Bacon, Shakespeare, Hugo, Virgil, Dante, Goethe, Schiller, Longfellow, and Hawthorne.

The library housed books as well as assembly meetings, an art gallery, and a museum.

In 2000, the library relocated to a brand-new, larger facility on Court Street. Since then the library has remained empty .


Source: Treasures of the Tier

Broome County Native American Features


Broome County, New York, provides numerous connections to Native American roots, and  cultures. There are many historical areas and  landscapes of Broome County that feature Native American land. One significant feature of the area is the Susquehanna river that extends for hundreds of miles, and is known as  the longest river along the East Coast. The Susquehanna river is the sixteenth longest river of the United States.

Please visit for more info


Centuries ago, Native Americans used to own land comprised of longhouses near the Susquehanna river. The beauty of Binghamton is captured through the pictures below featuring the Susquehanna River, and Choconut creek. Choconut Creek is another significant Native American landmark.  The map found in Lewis Henry Morgan’s Book “League of the Iroquois”, featured the Tuscarora Indians which were located within the Broome County Region In the year 1720.   The interactive map labels the six Iroquois nations in  New York State,  Please visit the Interactive Map Section on the website. Several tribes were associated with Broome county, NY. Native American culture geographically and historically has greatly influenced the rich history of Broome County.





Choconut was named after a creek associated with the Native American origin. The Choconut creek starts at Susquehanna county  Pennsylvania and eventually ends up near Vestal N.Y. Broome County, in which the site was comprised of Iroquois longhouses. The water flow of the Choconut creek eventually meets the Susquehanna river.

Please visit for more info on Choconut creek Landscape


Picture of Choconut Creek



Picture of Susquehanna River that connects to Johnson City, Vestal N.Y.

In the picture Erie-Lackawanna bridge extends over the Susquehanna River





“Small amounts of smelted copper scrap, cold hammered smelted copper hoops, and spirals, and glass beads” were located within Binghamton New York area in the late sixteenth century.(Grumet,425) Bowland, Comfort station and the Ochquaga Complex were classified as historic sites found in Broome County NY in the 1700’s, the 18th century(Grumet,427). Near Binghamton NY, located at the “Comfort Station site on the Chenango River” identified remnants of a colonial Otsiningo Nanticoke community.(Grumet, 428)



Special Thanks to the Collection center of Binghamton University Library and Leigh Eckmair.

The Indian towns In the mid eighteenth century there were approximately 600 Native American peoples that settled on various landscapes. These landscapes comprised of villages in the area of now called Broome County.  During this time period the Ouaquaga Native Americans represented the Oneida tribe. The Chenango featured the Onondaga peoples, and Owego Native American people were the Cayuga Indians. Chenango county is currently adjacent to Broome county today. The counties Delaware and Tioga also border Broome county. Both counties Tioga, and Delaware had connections to Native American History or were associated with Native Americans.

The Native American tribes such as the Cayugas, the Mahicans, and the Nanticokes are mentioned to be associated with the village on the landscape of the present day Vestal area. The Broome County region featured numerous Indian landscapes that were territories of the following tribes: Ouaquaga, Tuscarora , Susquehanna, Chenango , Nanticoke, and Choconut.

The lower portion of the Tuscarora towns were located below the village of Winsdor in Broome County; the towns were in close proximity to the village of Windsor, less than two miles away.


The Northeast Native American Cultures section is  for educational purposes only.

Partiers of the Parlor City

There is incredible and deeply historic architecture to be found all over the city of Binghamton. And a lot of these places are what students and residents are now calling home. Binghamton’s got hundreds of designated local landmark properties, many of them located on Riverside and the Tree Streets, a popular neighborhood for student living. You can access the full list here to see if your house could’ve belonged to a famous merchant from the Parlor City days.

Here are some Parlor city mansions that  now house social fraternities and some wild revelers:

63 Front Street

This lovely house on Front Street was built in 1828 by Franklin Whitney, son of Binghamton’s founder Joshua Whitney II. In 1840 the columns were added to mimic Greek Revival style architecture.  Today it houses the social fraternity TDX, and college partiers report that the balcony is “The perfect place to throw up off of when the bathroom’s full.”

Such fine folk, and what a nice chandelier

6 Riverside Drive

This Georgian-Revival style home was once the mansion of Charles McKinney, a famous coal merchant in New York state. Like 63 Front, it now houses a social fraternity.

84 Riverside

This Queen Anne style mansion designed by Architect Edward Vosbury and built in 1902 features beautiful crown moulding along its castle-esque corner tower. It had its own carriage house, which can be found today on 11 Johnson Drive. The house belonged to the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity in 2013, whose brothers reported that the basement was filled with black mold from past flooding but was otherwise a good place to play beer pong. A few punched holes in the walls and an entire security deposit later the house has been rented to a new fraternity for the next year.

Just don’t breathe in too deep now

Binghamton: A Brief History

Chances are if you’re viewing this page you live in or around Binghamton, whether you’re a student or a local resident. Ever wonder how this strange little city came to be? Here’s a brief bulleted history of Binghamton to give you a general idea of how we got here:

  • The first Europeans who came to the general area were soldiers of the 1779 Sullivan Expedition. They destroyed local villages of the Onondaga and Oneida tribes who were living there.

William Bingham, image courtesy of the Library of Congress

  • In 1786, a wealthy Philadelphia man named William Bingham bought a 10,000 acre patent for the land, which was then called Chenango Point. Agricultural growth and the building of roads, railroads and the Chenango Canal through the 1800′s led Binghamton to become a ‘Valley of Opportunity’ for manufacturing companies.
  • Binghamton officially became a city in 1867. In the late 1800′s and early 1900′s, immigrants flocked to the area, drawn in by the abundance of jobs. In the 1920′s, the major employer of the region became Endicott Johnson shoe company, which was known for treating workers well under the system of welfare capitalism. “Which way EJ?” was said to be what they asked immigration officials at Ellis Island in New York City.


Workers in an Endicott Johnson Shoe factory. Image from Broome County Historical Society.

  • Binghamton became so prosperous through this industrial boom that it gained the nickname ‘The Parlor City’ due to the large number of stately mansions that were built by those who made it big in industry. You can still see some of these mansions on Riverside Drive today.
  • In 1935, Binghamton experienced devastating floods which, unfortunately, would hit the area again the early 2000′s.

    Bird’s Eye View of Binghamton (from top of courthouse). Note earlier version of bank on right side of Chenango Street)

  • During WWII Binghamton continued to grow as IBM, which was founded in greater Binghamton, flourished in the transition to a high-tech economy. Edwin Link’s famous invention of the flight simulator in Binghamton would also contribute to this growth. The population of the city peaked in the mid-1950′s, when it was home to around 85,000 people.
  • What is now known as Binghamton University was established in 1946 as a subsidiary of Syracuse University under the name Triple Cities College. Similar to Broome Community College, it was created to cater to the needs of returning WWII veterans. The school was renamed Harpur College upon its induction into the SUNY system in 1950.

Washington Avenue Looking North, Endicott, N.Y. Postcard courtesy of The Endicott History Project

  •  Unfortunately, Binghamton’s prosperity would not last forever. Post-war suburbanization led people to settle in smaller suburban sprawls, drastically reducing the city’s population. As the Cold War wound down in the late 1900′s, the defense-related industry in Binghamton began to pack up and leave, including the economic juggernaut IBM. These companies laid off thousands of workers and the local economy plunged into a deep recession, with jobs dropping by 64% from 1990 to 2013.

Abandoned Endicott-Johnson Factory building

  • Binghamton is rocked by tragedy after being hit hard by the Mid-Atlantic US Flood of 2006 and later floods from tropical storm Lee, which caused $1 billion worth of damage, and then on April 3, 2009, when shootings at the American Civic Association left 14 dead. 
  • Despite these tragic events, Binghamton continues to push towards revitalization. The city is working closely with Binghamton University, creating student housing complexes and promoting local businesses to diversify its economic base.  Binghamtonians and University students are working to  make the city better each day, preserving the art and culture of its vibrant past and looking forward to the promising future.

    Downtown Binghamton at night


Broome County Historical Society

Ghosts in the Valley of Opportunity 


Welcome BU students to the Binghamton History: Then and Now page, your portal to Binghamton’s rich historical past!

This page is devoted to showcasing Binghamton’s interesting history to new Bing U students in order to give them a broader perspective and lead them to discover all that Binghamton has to offer.

Ever wonder how Binghamton came to be the way it is today?

This portion of the Binghamton Microcosm website is devoted to showcasing Binghamton’s historical development over the years, and how it came to be the Binghamton we know and love today.

This page will include images, videos, and links to important historical sources and the local organizations that work to promote and preserve these places of historic and cultural significance.

Check out What’s Goin’ On Binghamton’s cool video compilation of old postcard pictures of Binghamton transposed with pictures of Binghamton in 2013 below!

Video Link: What’s Goin’ On Binghamton- Now & Then