History Hike

Then and now photos of around the Ithaca Commons

History Hike

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Students of Tc3

Tour Information

Ever wondered what Ithaca once looked like? Then take a walk through a bygone time with the History Hike! Come view scenes of the past while enjoying a walk through the present. Throughout each step of the journey you can compare what Ithaca was, and what it is now through historic and current photographs.

The History Center in Tompkins County brings you this walking tour in honor of the Tompkins County bicentennial celebration. Make sure to check out the full exhibit in February which commemorates many aspects of Tompkins County’s rich history.

The photos and information used in this tour were sourced from "Ithaca Then & Now by Merrill Hesch & Richard Pieper, revised and updated by Harry Littell."

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

The starting point of this tour, the History Center. Please be careful on your walk and stay aware of your surroundings. Have a great time!
Photographed in 1934. This building, now home to the History Center, actually used to be a warehouse that stowed various products for the stores nearby. It was refurbished in 1993 and became the Gateway Plaza. State Street itself was a bust... Read more
Photographed between 1898-1904. Once a great landmark, the Ithaca Hotel was located at the site of Viva Restaurant. It could house 200 guests and 175 dinners at one time. In 1898, the building was renovated and rebranded as The New Ithaca H... Read more
Photographed between 1916-1931. At the height of the local film industry in 1916, the Crescent Theater was built to show the work of the Whartons Studio. Unlike other theaters in this era, which had impeccable stages for performers and cou... Read more
Photogarphed in 1912. Originally based in the Trebloc building on South Aurora Street, The New York Telephone Company had quite a rocky existence. Through many merges and breakups, it ended up being acquired by Bell Atlantic and then the Am... Read more
Photographed in 1900. The Ithaca Commons is home to a variety of local businesses and is the very heart and soul of Ithaca. Though the stores have steadily evolved with the times to fit the tastes of the public, it has always been a bustlin... Read more
Photographed in 1919. The way this building was constructed in 1910, with many hardy, loadbearing walls, indicated that it was once intended to become a three-story hotel. Instead, many smaller stores were erected which boasted a range of ... Read more
Photographed in 1911. Located to the right of the former Ithaca High School was one of Ithaca's many performance theaters. The Star Theatre was a very popular stop until 1920 when it merged with the Crescent and the Strand theatres. After t... Read more
Photographed in 1900-1912. In 1807, this was the sight of Ithaca's first school. The building was demolished around 1884 and then reconstructed. A fire ravaged the structure in 1912, which completely destroyed it. Later, in 1960, a new buil... Read more
Photographed 1870. Named in honor of New York governor DeWitt Clinton, the Clinton House was one of the finest hotels in New York; boasting a total of one hundred fifty rooms. This beautiful Greek Revival building served as a hub for import... Read more
Photographed between 1910-1916. Treman King and Company Hardware provided merchandise for a steadily growing community, and eventually became so popular that it needed to expand to a four story building. It provided all sorts of needs such... Read more
In 1997, the last general retail store in Ithaca, Woolworth, closed its doors. Once part of a four hundred store chain, the Woolworth name came to an end. After many debates, Tompkins County Board of Representatives approved the purchase... Read more
Established in hopes that Ithaca would be a prominent theatre town, Henry L. and John M. Wilgus paid for the construction of a massive opera house entitled the Atheneum. A few retail stores occupied the first floor while the theater could ... Read more
Photographed in 1908. Located at the insection of State Street and the Ithaca Commons was the original site of a popular grocery store established in 1869. Various businesses expanded into the surrounding buildings in 1904; this included ... Read more


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