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Little Falls (city), New York

Little Falls, New York
Location within Herkimer County
Location within Herkimer County
Little Falls, New York is located in New York
Little Falls, New York
Location within the state of New York
Country United States
State New York
County Herkimer
 • Type Mayor-Council
 • Mayor Robert J. Peters, Sr. (D)
 • Common Council
 • Total 4.0 sq mi (10.3 km2)
 • Land 3.8 sq mi (9.8 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.4 km2)
Elevation 420 ft (128 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 4,946
 • Density 1,236.5/sq mi (477.4/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 13365
Area code(s) 315
FIPS code 36-42741
GNIS feature ID 0955522

Little Falls is a city in Herkimer County, New York, USA. The population was 4,946 at the 2010 census. The name is derived from a small cataract near the city.

The city of Little Falls is located at the southeastern corner of the Town of Little Falls and is east of Utica.

Little Falls has a picturesque location on the slope of a narrow and rocky defile, flowing through which the river falls 45 feet (13 m) in less than a mile (1.6 km), forming a number of cascades.


  • History 1
    • Notable residents 1.1
    • National Register of Historic Places 1.2
  • Geography 2
  • Demographics 3
  • In literature 4
  • Notable people 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Little Falls was first settled around 1723. The need to portage around the falls promoted a trading location on the site of the future city, allowing it to be the first settlement in the town. Many of the earliest residents were German Palatines. [1] The small settlement here was destroyed by the Indians and Tories in June, 1782, and the place was not resettled until 1790 and was known at times as "Rockton" and "Rock City." Little Falls was incorporated as a village in 1811, and reincorporated in 1827. The City of Little Falls was chartered in 1895.

The Western Inland Canal (early attempt of the Erie Canal) was constructed in 1792 and helped the local economy. The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, passes through the city. Lock 17 of the New York State Erie Canal replaced the 3 locks of the original 1825 Erie Canal and is 40.5 feet (12.3 m) in height.

Little Falls was a major cheese center in the third quarter of the 19th Century.

In 1900, 10,381 people lived in Little Falls, in 1910, 12,273, in 1920, 13,029, and in 1940, 10,163.

Notable residents

On the outskirts of the city is the grave and residence of General Herkimer of Revolutionary War fame, with a monument erected in 1896.

Nineteenth-century soap manufacturing magnate Benjamin T. Babbitt operated a machine shop in Little Falls early in his career.

Little Falls was the home of David H. Burrell, an inventor and gentleman farmer, who, in 1885, patented the first technically sound oil burner which could burn both liquid and gaseous fuels. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan declared the year, "Oil Heat Centennial Year" because it marked one hundred years since the U.S. Patent Office granted, to Burrell, a patent for his furnace. Mr. Burrell was also a pioneer in the local dairy industry with many patents for improved machinery registered in his name. His company, D.H. Burrell and Co., was founded in 1885 to develop and distribute this equipment.

Francis Bellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance, lived in the city.[2]

Professor Sugarman the "human polar bear" circa 1900

In the late 1800s, and early 1900s, eye specialist and health advocate Professor Louis Sugarman of Little Falls, NY attracted hundreds of local spectators, as well as worldwide celebrity, for his daily plunge in the Mohawk River, even when the thermostat hit 23 below zero, earning him the title "the human polar bear".[3]

Bill Warner, a motorcycle racer and world motorcycle land speed record holder, was born in Little Falls. Warner was killed in a motorcycle crash while attempting to set a new record in July 2013.[4]

National Register of Historic Places

The following are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: James Sanders House, Italian Community Bake Oven, Little Falls City Hall, Little Falls Historic District, Overlook, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, South Ann Street-Mill Street Historic District, the Overlook (Burrell) House, and the United States Post Office.[5][6][7][8]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.0 square miles (10.3 km²), of which, 3.8 square miles (9.8 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (4.29%) is water.

Little Falls is mostly on the north bank of the Mohawk River near a waterfall which was considered smaller than another waterfall on the river by Cohoes, New York.

New York State Route 5, New York State Route 167, New York State Route 169, and New York State Route 170 converge on Little Falls. NY 170 has its southern terminus in the city, while NY 169 has its southern terminus south of the city, in the Town of Danube.


As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 5,188 people, 2,339 households, and 1,277 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,367.0 people per square mile (527.1/km²). There were 2,646 housing units at an average density of 697.2 per square mile (268.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.78% White, 0.29% Black or African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.58% Asian, 0.06% from other races, and 0.96% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.54% of the population.

There were 2,339 households out of which 25.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.4% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.4% were non-families. 39.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 24.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 84.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,965, and the median income for a family was $34,583. Males had a median income of $28,807 versus $21,040 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,139. About 9.3% of families and 16.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.9% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.

In literature

Little Falls is the setting of the novel, The Ordinary White Boy, by Brock Clarke (2001).

Notable people

John Riccardo, Chair Chrysler Corporation


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Johnstown Daily Republican (April 7, 1899). "Prof. Sugarman's Latest Feat" (PDF). The Johnstown Daily Republican. Retrieved 2011-08-31. Prof. Sugarman of Little Falls, whose river baths in midwinter have earned him a world wide celebrity and the title of "human polar bear,"...  The New York Sun (December 25, 1898). "Professor Sugarman's Cold Baths". The New York Sun.  The Otsego Farmer (April 7, 1899). "Mid-Winter Bather". The Otsego Farmer. In the coldest day of the winter, when the thermometer registered 23 degrees below zero, [Prof. Sugarman] took his plunge as usual 
  4. ^ Slotnik, Daniel E. (July 17, 2013). "Bill Warner, Who Set Speed Record on Motorcycle, Dies at 44".  
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  6. ^ "National Register of Historic Places". WEEKLY LIST OF ACTIONS TAKEN ON PROPERTIES: 7/19/10 THROUGH 7/23/10. National Park Service. 2009-08-07. 
  7. ^ "National Register of Historic Places". WEEKLY LIST OF ACTIONS TAKEN ON PROPERTIES: 8/22/11 THROUGH 8/26/11. National Park Service. 2011-09-02. 
  8. ^ "National Register of Historic Places". WEEKLY LIST OF ACTIONS TAKEN ON PROPERTIES: 2/06/12 THROUGH 2/10/12. National Park Service. 2012-02-17. 
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  11. ^ "American FactFinder".  

External links

  • Official City of Little Falls Web site
  • City of Little Falls
  • Little Falls Historical Society
  • Brief history of Little Falls
  • Little Falls Canal
  • Little Falls Public Library Collection on New York Heritage
  •  "Little Falls".  
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