Otsego County, New York

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Otsego County government offices are located at 197 Main Street, Cooperstown NY 13326; phone: 607‑547‑4225.


The Otsego County Court House was the successor to three previous court houses in Cooperstown, which had served the county since 1791, On June 15, 1880, a crowd of 10,000 persons from a widespread area gathered to see the cornerstone of the building laid with Masonic ceremonies. MORE.

Beginnings [1]

Otsego County, New York is a place whose natural resources and scenic qualities have played a historically significant role in its growth, development, and present-day conditions. The county is located in south-central New York State, in the Central Leatherstocking Region named after the leather leggings worn by frontiersmen and made famous by local author James Fenimore Cooper. It is west of Albany, southeast of Utica, and northeast of Binghamton. Situated in the foothills of the northern and western fringe of the Catskill Mountains, Otsego County contains the headwaters of the Susquehanna River. From its forestry and agriculture roots to the development of local art, literature, and tourism, Otsego County and its residents have and continue to be intricately linked to their local landscapes.

Known for its scenic rural character and cool summer weather, Otsego County is interspersed with steep hills generally less than 1,000 feet. Good agricultural soils are found along the stream and river corridors. The county has a total area of 1,013 square miles, 12 square miles. There are three main lakes — Otsego Lake, Canadarago Lake, and Goodyear Lake. These natural features along with major transportation routes along the Susquehanna have guided the growth of the county's villages and towns. Otsego Lake is often referred to as "Glimmerglass." The area around Otsego Lake was the first to be settled, as the Village of Cooperstown grew along its shores. The City of Oneonta is the other major urban center established along the Susquehanna River transportation corridor. Throughout its periods of growth and development Otsego County's history reveals a consistent concern by its residents to preserve its valuable farmland and scenic rural character. It is necessary to recognize the historical reasons that led Otsego County to develop this unique character in order to understand why this character is important today, and how it may be protected for the benefit of future county residents and visitors. In 1683 the British began establishing counties in New York. Albany County originally contained Otsego County's land, extending from northern New York and present-day Vermont westward to the Pacific Ocean. However, by 1772 officials decreased Albany County's size and split it into three parts. One of those parts was Tryon County — later renamed Montgomery County — which contained the western part of the Adirondack Mountains and lands west of the Delaware River.

In 1791, officials split Otsego County from Montgomery County, with Cooperstown named as the shire village. Only two towns were organized at that time: Otsego, to the west of the Otsego Lake; and Cherry Valley, to the east.

By 1800, 11 more civil divisions had been made within Otsego County, and by 1854 the number was brought up to the 24 divisions which exist today.

Prior to the Revolutionary War, the area that became Otsego County was populated by tribes of the Iroquois Nation. The thickly wooded, rough and hilly lands were used mostly as seasonal hunting, fishing, and meeting grounds. The growing season in the county is relatively short, so natives preferred to cultivate their maize, beans, squashes, and pumpkins in the fertile river valleys. Small numbers of white men also hunted and trapped in the area.

  1. Cornell University Department of City and Regional Planning, Otsego Land Trust Conservation Plan, 2004, Ithaca NY

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