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Oswego is a city in Oswego Countymarker, New Yorkmarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 18,096 at the 2000 census. The 2005 population estimate for the city of Oswego is 17,705. Oswego is located on Lake Ontariomarker in north-central New Yorkmarker and promotes itself as "The Port City of Central New York". It is the county seat of Oswego Countymarker.

The city of Oswego is bordered by the towns of Oswegomarker, Minetto, and Scribamarker to the west, south, and east, respectively, and by Lake Ontariomarker to the north.Oswego lies within the Syracuse Metropolitan Statistical Area

Oswego Speedway is a nationally-known automobile racing facility. The State University of New York at Oswegomarker is located just outside the city on the lake.

Oswego is the namesake for communities in Montanamarker, Oregonmarker, Illinoismarker, and Kansasmarker.


Early history

The site was first visited in 1615 by the Frenchmarker explorer Samuel de Champlain. The Britishmarker established a trading post in the area in 1722 and fortified it with a log palisade later called Fort Oswegomarker. In 1755 they added Fort Ontariomarker on the northeast side of the river along with other fortifications. This strong point countered French efforts at Fort Niagaramarker to the west.

Military base

In August 1756, French forces defeated the British in the Battle of Fort Oswegomarker, capturing the fort during the French and Indian War. Fort Ontario was rebuilt, but Fort Oswego was only used an a cannon emplacement. During the American Revolution, American forces captured Fort Monroe, but it was retaken by the British and remained in their hands until well after the war was over. During the War of 1812, a weaker American garrison at Fort Oswego was overwhelmed by superior British forces, in order to stem the flow of supplies from the interior of New York state. Throughout the 19th Century, the U.S. military maintained a presence at Fort Ontario.

Growth of the city

Permanent settlement began in the early 19th century, and the Oswego Canal, a branch of the Erie Canal, reached the area in 1829. The city was incorporated in 1848. When the city incorporated its area and population were removed from the figures reported for the towns.

Oswego is home to the port of Oswego and once was a major railroad hub for the New York Central, Lackawanna/Erie Lackawanna, and NY Ontario and Western railways. Three stations remain: two passenger (D&LW and NYC) and one freight (NYC) as does a rather large trestle over the Oswego River. The tunnel on a local hiking trail in the city was the north end of the NYO&W.

Oswego was home to almost 1,000 Jewish refugees during World War II. Fort Ontariomarker was the only attempt by the United Statesmarker to shelter Jewish refugees during the war. Oswego also has the Safe Haven Museum to commemorate the stories of the refugees.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.2 square miles (29.1 km2), of which, 7.7 square miles (19.8 km2) of it is land and 3.6 square miles (9.2 km2) of it (31.76%) is water.

Oswego is located on the southeastern shore of Lake Ontariomarker at the mouth of the Oswego River, about 35 miles north of Syracuse, New Yorkmarker and 68 miles east of Rochester, New Yorkmarker.

New York State Route 481 (from Interstate 81) runs north/south to Oswego from Syracusemarker and Fulton. New York State Route 104 runs east/west from Rochestermarker to Oswego. The nearest city is Fulton, located south of Oswego and north of Syracuse.

As Oswego is located on the eastern shore of Lake Ontariomarker, in the center of the Snowbeltmarker, the region often sees prodigious lake effect snow accumulations. Oswego is one of the snowiest towns in America, with some winters totaling over 300 inches. In 2007, Oswego gained national attention when approximately 130" (slightly less than 11 feet) of snow fell in a two-week timespan. This broke the record of the Blizzard of 1966, which blanketed the city with 102" of snow. As a result of this storm, the school district closed all facilities for a week, effectively shifting the planned winter holiday.

Locations and communities near Oswego

  • Oswegomarker - the town of Oswego
  • Minetto - the town of Minetto south of the city
  • Scribamarker - the town of Scriba east of the city
  • Southwest Oswego - a hamlet located west of the city
  • Fruit Valleymarker - a hamlet located west of the city


As of the census of 2000, there were 17,954 people, 7,338 households, and 3,977 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,343.4 people per square mile (905.0/km2). There were 8,080 housing units at an average density of 407.3 persons/km2 (1,054.6 persons/sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was 95.32% White, 1.04% African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.82% Asian, 1.07% from other races, and 1.42% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.80% of the population.

There were 7,338 households out of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.3% were married couples living together, and 45.8% were non-families. 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 16.5% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 18.7% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 87.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.2 males.

Due to declining population and increased vacant rental properties the city has been aggressively recruiting single-parent HUD families from other areas of the state.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,248, and the median income for a family was $41,613. Males had a median income of $33,220 versus $21,729 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,558. 23.0% of the population and 13.0% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 24.2% are under the age of 18 and 12.5% are 65 or older.


The city is governed by a Mayor and board of aldermen who are elected from the city's seven ward.

The City of Oswego is a part of New York State's 48th Senate District, represented by Democrat Darrel Aubertine. The city is also part of the 124th Assembly District, which is represented by Republican Will Barclay.

Oswego is located inside the 23rd Congressional District of New York, which is represented by Democrat Bill Owens.

Notable Current or Former Residents

See List of famous inhabitants

Steve Levy, went to SUNY OswegoAl Roker, went to SUNY Oswego

Culture and recreation

Recreational fishing at Oswego, c.
Oswego has a long history stretching back to the 15th century. Visitors can learn about the city's history by visiting museums such as the H. Lee White Marine Museum, The Richardson-Bates House, and Fort Ontario. Throughout the city and public parks, many historical monuments can be found honoring historical figures, and other forts that stood in what is now the historical district. The most notable historian was Rosemary Nesbitt, who is immortalized by a monument in the city's signature public park; Breitbeck Park. Every Halloween, she would traditionally let down her long silver hair, dress in a ghostly gown, and tell ghostly haunted tales spanning across the entire history of the city. Nesbitt, who also founded the Marine Museum and wrote various books about the city's history, died on August 2, 2009 at the age of 84.

Dining is becoming widely recognized in Oswego with many classic restaurants, cafes, and more modern family restaurants as the city continues its expansion eastward.

Boating, fishing, and hiking are also activities that are enjoyed by all residents and visitors. Oswego also has three ice-skating rinks, a large public pool located on the Fort Ontario grounds, bowling, and a movie theater.

Every year the city hosts the Oswego Harborfest, a four-day festival of music, culture and food, centered around the Oswego Harbor, culminating in a fireworks display on the Saturday evening of the festival. The event is sponsored by local businesses, and the entertainment is mostly admission-free. The festival continues to draw approximately 150,000 to 300,000 attendees every year.

In 2007, SUNY Oswego Lakers men's hockey team won the NCAA Division III Ice Hockey Championship. Garren Reisweber's goal 12:55 into overtime gave Oswego State a 4-3 win over Middlebury on March 18, 2007. The Lakers captured the school's first ever national championship in a team sport. The 2006-07 season marked the first season Oswego played in the newly built, state-of-the-art Campus Center, located on Lake Ontario. The Campus Center replaced Romney Field House which opened in 1964, and is believed to be the first ice rink built within the State University of New York system.


The city is served by The Palladium Times newspaper, Oswego County Today as well as OswegoNYlion and is the home to the radio stations WRVOmarker, WSGOmarker, WTKV (TK105), WNYO and WMVN. Oswego also has its own television station, WTOP, which is completely student-run, and is served by the Oswego High School television station, WBUC. Oswego is served by the Syracusemarker TV market. Previous media included the Oswego Daily Times.


The city is part of the Oswego City School District. The Oswego City School district has one high school (grades 9 - 12), one middle school (grades 7 & 8) and five elementary schools (grades K - 6). The State University of New York at Oswegomarker (SUNY Oswego) is located just west of the city in the town of Oswego. Trinity Catholic School (formerly St. Paul's Academy) provides classes for K - 6. Oswego Community Christian School provides classes for K - 8.


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