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Plattsburgh is a city in and county seat of Clinton Countymarker, New Yorkmarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 18,816 at the 2000 census.

The city of Plattsburgh is located entirely within the original boundaries of the town of Plattsburghmarker and is in the North Country region of the northeastern part of the state.

Micropolitan Statistical Area

The City of Plattsburgh is the population center and county seat at the heart of the Plattsburgh Micropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) - estimated population 82,215 as of July 2007 . A statistical area representing the greater Plattsburgh region (as defined by the U.S. government), the Plattsburgh MSA includes all communities in the immediate Clinton County, New Yorkmarker area.


Plattsburgh was founded by Zephaniah Platt in 1785 after he was granted the land by George Clinton. As early as Samuel de Champlain's 1609 expedition into the Lake Champlainmarker valley , this region began to fall under the influence of the French - and later under American and English colonial power. Early French contact and the proximity of Plattsburgh to Quebecmarker, make this a historically French region. Situated within and intimately intertwined with the extended fur trade network positioned in the Montrealmarker hinterland (and beyond), this area fell within the lands of the coureur des bois affiliated with the larger trading hub in Montreal. While Plattsburgh is cited by American historians as being a relatively new city, the area became occupied somewhere after the arrival of Samuel de Champlain in 1609 and the beginning of the Fur Trade in Montreal in the mid to late 17th century. While permanent French settlement was hampered by the looming threat of armed conflict with Iroquois natives of the region, French missionaries did begin to settle alongside local indigenous populations where Native villages were found, as early as 1609.. Moreover, the area near Plattsburgh is notable for being the site of an indigenous village.

In granting land to Zephaniah Platt of Poughkeepsie, New York - who went on to establish the new city of Plattsburgh to buffer emerging American interests in the Saint Lawrence Rivermarker valley and Lake Champlainmarker valley after the American victory in the American Revolutionary War - the centralized American authority proclaimed the area including and surrounding the old French trading areas and Iroquois settlement to be refounded as the settlement of Plattsburgh in 1785. Regardless, local residents exercised their unique French culture and history over the years in ways that are still visible today. In Plattsburgh, for example, there is no "Main Street" - a common vestige of English colonies, whereas in a unique tradition major streets and thoroughfares were named after the daughters of prominent businessman and politicians (e.g., Cathérine, Marguerite - present day Margaret Street and Plattsburgh's "Main Street", Cornélie - present day Cornelia Street). In a similar fashion, local residents named local streets after renowned Frenchmen including Samuel de Champlain, the original founder of the region, and General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm - the French general who gained fame defeating incredible numerical odds in multiple battles throughout both the Oswego and Hudson River Valley areas before going on to organize the last French defense of Québec at the Battle of the Plains of Abrahammarker. The oldest monument within the city limits, in fact, is dedicated to Samuel de Champlain.

The community set itself off from the Town of Plattsburgh by incorporating as a village in 1815. The city government was established in the former village in 1902.

With its significant location on a major water thoroughfare and close to the U.S.-Canadian border, Plattsburgh has been the site of a number of historic events including the Revolutionary War's Battle of Valcour Islandmarker and the War of 1812's Battle of Plattsburghmarker; the city has a War of 1812 museum.

Temple Beth Israelmarker was established in 1861, and completed the construction of its current building in 1971. Plattsburgh Normal School was founded in 1889. It burned in 1929, and was rebuilt in 1932. In 1948 it became State University of New York at Plattsburghmarker.

During the Cold War, military functions took a prominent role in Plattsburgh, which was home to Plattsburgh Air Force Basemarker (PAFB) and was the location of the Strategic Air Command's primary wing on the U.S. East Coast due to its geographic desirability. The base's location in the Champlain Valley (protected by the rain shadow of the Adirondack Mountains) ensured consistent, year-round weather that was safe for take-offs and landings. The 380th Bombardment, Aerospace, and Refueling Wings, all stationed at PAFB, included B-52 Bombers, air-refueling "tankers" and FB-111s. The base had a great deal of land surface and was one of only four military bases in the United States with a landing strip large enough for a Space Shuttle landing.On September 1, 1961, the 556 Strategic Missile Squadron was activated at Plattsburgh AFB.The Squadron consisted of 12 Atlas "F" Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles stored in underground silos at 12 sites surrounding the city of Plattsburgh. Ten of the silos were in New York, two across Lake Champlain in Vermont. The squadron played an active role in the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis, giving President Kennedy a powerful negotiating tool in dealing with Nikita Kruschev. The 556 SMS's life was relatively short lived since the Atlas was a liquid fuel system that was expensive and difficult to maintain. As the solid fuel Minuteman ICBM began to come on line, the liquid fueled missiles such as the Atlas an Titan were retired. The 556 SMS began deactivating in the spring of 1965, completing that task later that year.

Despite its numerous awards for performance excellence, PAFB was closed on September 29, 1995 in a round of national base closures in the early 1990s as the Air Force began to pare down its post-Cold War missions. The base property is now managed by the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation (PARC) and is used by a number of industrial manufacturers and commercial airlines.

Because of the strategic weather advantage of the former PAFB site, as well as its relatively convenient access by air to the most remote parts of Upstate New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton used the former airbase landing strip on her trips to campaign in the North Country region during her first term as a US Senator from New York in early 2002.

Throughout much of the 1980s, when the Canadian dollar was strong relative to the U.S. dollar, Plattsburgh was a favorite tourist location for vacationers from Montrealmarker and southern Quebecmarker. Bilingual signs, in English and French, are found in parts of the city. The city beaches and camp grounds were regularly crowded and Plattsburgh attracted enough retail stores and outlets to build a second large indoor shopping mall, Champlain Centre North, in addition to several outdoor shopping centers. The additional retail space of the Champlain Centre North along with the new Consumer Square (Walmart, Staples, TJ Maxx...) made the Pyramid Mall irrelevant; it was largely demolished (with exception of Kmart and the restored old Price Chopper building) and converted into a power centre with a Lowes Home Center and a new Price Chopper as the anchor stores. However, with the closing of PAFB and the strengthening U.S. dollar in the 1990s, Canadian tourism declined, although it has rebounded with the falling dollar of 2007. Today, the city relies largely in part on new industries expanding on the former airbase as well as established manufacturing plants, one being Bombardier and the other the Georgia-Pacific paper plant. The GP plant is housed in the former LOZIER Auto factory built at the turn of the century on the former (lakefront) Anderson Farm.

Notable residents

Plattsburgh has been tied to a number of famous and infamous people. John Henry Hopkins, Jr., a former rector of Plattsburgh's Trinity Episcopal church was the author of the well-known Christmas carol We Three Kings. Jean Arthur (1900-1991), a comedy actress of the 1930s and 1940s and the star of her own CBS television series in 1966, The Jean Arthur Show, was born in Plattsburgh and lived there from 1900 to 1908. Tony Award winner John Lloyd Young who played Frankie Valli in the original Broadway cast of Jersey Boys, is a Plattsburgh native. Angelica Costello, also known as "Venus," a star of pornographic films, was a Plattsburgh resident. Recent former residents of Plattsburgh include Doug Raaberg, holder of a world circumnavigation record in the B-1B and Michael P. Anderson, one of the seven astronauts who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Eric Harris, one of the two shooters at Columbine High Schoolmarker in Littleton, Coloradomarker, lived on the Plattsburgh Air Force base when it was active. The Philadelphia Flyers hockey player Jesse Boulerice is also a native of Plattsburgh. The City of Plattsburgh was the first city in the state to elect an openly gay mayor when they elected Daniel Stewart (R) in November 1999. Actor Dave Annable attended college at SUNY Plattsburghmarker from 1998 to 2003, earning his degree in 2009.

Recent events

On November 22, 1975 Peter Frampton recorded the live song Do You Feel Like We Do for the album Frampton Comes Alive at Plattsburgh State's Memorial Hall.

In August 1996, the rock band Phish, which was based across Lake Champlainmarker in Burlington, Vermontmarker, held the first of its seven weekend-long festivals at the former Plattsburgh Air Force Basemarker. The festival, called The Clifford Ball, attracted 65,000 fans from all over the country and featured seven sets of music by the band. Fans camped out onsite in tents and RV's.

On April 20, 2002, there was an earthquake a few miles southwest of Plattsburgh in Clintonville. It measured 5.1 on the Richter Scale, and was felt as far south as Pennsylvaniamarker and as far north as Mainemarker.

On January 2, 2006, the Latin inscription on the city seal, garbled 60 years earlier, was corrected. The seal now correctly says Ipsa Sibi Præmium Virtus which is “Virtue is its own reward.” The seal and phrase were originally chosen by the City's Common Council, from a contest held in the 1920s. The mistake was corrected by Dr. Ann Tracy, a Latin scholar at SUNY Plattsburgh, and Plattsburgh City Clerk Keith Herkalo, after a new city police officer asked what the phrase meant.

Spelling of Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh is sometimes mistakenly spelled as Plattsburg, leaving off the "h". Adding to the confusion are many historic documents relating to the famous naval engagement between the United States and Britain in 1814 which refer to the "Battle of Plattsburg".

Compounding the confusion, in 1950 the editor of the New York State Legislative Manual, seeking to simplify the organization of that year's manual, requested a listing of state post offices from the U.S. Postal Service. Upon review of the listing, the difference in spelling was noted. The City was contacted and an investigation begun by postal authorities.

U.S. Postal Service records show that the name of the post office was changed to "Plattsburg", without the "h", in 1894. During the period 1892-1894, the federal Post Office Department was growing at a rapid pace. The Postmaster General issued an order establishing guidelines for post office names for new post offices. The order was misunderstood by local postal officials who caused the name of the village post to be changed to "Plattsburg", without the "h". As a result of the 1951 investigation, the name of the city post office was changed back to "Plattsburgh", with the "h". At no time was the name of the City ever changed.

To this day, some signs [including US and Canadian highway signs and a sign at the Plattsburgh marker, among others] erroneously point the way to "Plattsburg". There is also a bank that has "PLATTSBURG BANK" inscribed at the top.


Saranac River flowing through Verdantique Park
Plattsburgh is located at (44.695365, -73.458593) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.6 square miles (17.0 km²), of which, 5.1 square miles (13.1 km²) of it is land and 1.5 square miles (4.0 km²) of it (23.40%) is water.

Plattsburgh is located on the western shore of Lake Champlainmarker in the northeastern part of the state of New Yorkmarker, just south of Cumberland Headmarker.

The Saranac River flows through the city into Lake Champlain.

The Northway, Interstate 87 is a north-south major highway west of the city. US 9 and NY 22 are additional highways traversing the city from north to south. NY 3, NY 190, and NY 374 approach the city from the west.


Downtown Plattsburgh
As of the census of 2000, there were 18,816 people, 7,600 households, and 3,473 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,728.2 people per square mile (1,438.6/km²). There were 8,010 housing units at an average density of 1,587.1/sq mi (612.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.41% White, 2.46% Black or African American, 0.52% Native American, 1.49% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.68% from other races, and 1.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.12% of the population.

There were 7,600 households out of which 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.1% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.3% were non-families. 40.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the city the population was spread out with 16.5% under the age of 18, 27.7% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 86.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,846, and the median income for a family was $46,337. Males had a median income of $35,429 versus $26,824 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,127. About 13.6% of families and 23.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.0% of those under age 18 and 13.0% of those age 65 or over.


The government consists of a mayor who is elected in citywide vote. A city council consists of a six members who are elected from one of six wards.Donald Kasprzak (R,C) is the current mayor of the city. He took office on January 1, 2007. Kasprzak was elected November 7, 2006 with 51% of the vote over his opponents, Kevin Duniho (D) and Mike Drew (R,I).

Donald Kasprzak - Mayor

Tim Carpenter - Ward I

Michael Kelly - Ward 2

George Rabideau - Ward 3

Jim Calnon - Ward 4 (Mayor Pro-tem)

Amy Valentine - Ward 5

Chris Jackson - Ward 6


Plattsburgh is in close proximity to Montreal (and the U.S./Canadian border), leading to its prominence as a large trade center for a city its size.

Bypassing Plattsburgh to the west is Interstate 87, which connects Montrealmarker with Albanymarker and points south. There are three main exits serving the city of Plattsburgh, with a fourth serving the Cumberland Headmarker district of the townmarker. Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Plattsburgh, operating its Adirondack daily in both directions between Montrealmarker and New York Citymarker.

The closest major American city is Burlington, Vermontmarker, via boat or ferry. Service is provided at Cumberland Headmarker heading to Grand Islemarker by the Lake Champlain Transportation Company. There is also a seasonal ferry service offered by the same company in Port Kent, about 10 miles to the south.

Travelling by air is served by Plattsburgh International Airportmarker using the runway of the Plattsburgh Air Force Basemarker which was closed on September 25, 1995. The new airport terminal was completed in February 2007 with the building being dedicated on April 27, 2007. Plattsburgh International offers passenger service via several regional carriers and also serves commercial flights for both FedEx and UPS. Plattsburgh International is in the process of a large expansion of the parking lot and the terminal.

For bus service, the city is serviced by the Clinton County Public Transportation, or CCPT for short. The county-wide bus service offers passengers both city and county-wide bus routes, allowing passengers from surrounding communities to travel to and from Plattsburgh. These routes operate five days a week, with a city-wide shopping shuttle offered on Saturdays. There is no bus service offered on Sundays or Major Holidays.

For those going longer distances, Greyhound and Adirondack Trailways offers multiple daily trips towards Montrealmarker and Albanymarker. The bus station is located at the America's Best Value Inn in the town of Plattsburghmarker, right next to the on-ramp for Interstate 87 (Exit 37).


The movie Frozen River was filmed on location in Plattsburgh.


  1. "Annual Estimates of the Population of Micropolitan Statistical Areas", Retrieved 10/11/08 from
  2. "Zephaniah Platt". Zephaniah Platt. Retrieved on March 2, 2005.
  3. Perkins, G.H. (1879). Archaeology of the Champlain Valley. American Naturalist, V.13, No. 12.
  4. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Available ""
  5. History, Synagogue website, About Us. Accessed October 19, 2009.
  6. Bombardier website: Bombardier Transportation in the USA

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