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Downtown Jamestown, view from Washington Street.
Downtown Jamestown, view from Washington Street.

Jamestown is a city in southern Chautauqua County, New York, United States. The population was 31,146 at the 2010 census and was estimated at 29,591 in 2017. Situated between Lake Erie to the northwest and the Allegheny National Forest to the south, Jamestown is the largest population center in the county. Nearby Chautauqua Lake is a freshwater resource used by fishermen, boaters and naturalists.

Notable people from Jamestown include comedian Lucille Ball, U.S. Supreme Court justice and Nuremberg chief prosecutor Robert H. Jackson, naturalist Roger Tory Peterson, singer Natalie Merchant, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Products developed in Jamestown include the crescent wrench and automatic voting machines.

Jamestown was once called the "Furniture Capital of the World" where people visited from all over the country to attend furniture expositions at the Furniture Mart, a building that still stands in the city and houses offices for a variety of companies.


Jamestown is named after James Prendergast, an early Chautauqua County settler.[3] His family purchased 3,500 acres (14 km2) in 1806, in the area now known as Chautauqua County. James Prendergast explored the area that is now Jamestown. Prendergast saw the area to be valuable, and so he purchased 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of land in the area in 1808. In the fall of 1809, Prendergast and an employee, John Blowers built a log cabin, which became the first building in Jamestown. Another log cabin as well as mills and a dam were built on the Chadakoin River later on.[4] In 1855, Nightwatch was created for the purpose of looking out for fires.[5]

Jamestown was incorporated into a village in 1827 and incorporated into a city on April 19, 1886.[6] Oscar F. Price was elected as the first mayor of the city on April 13, 1886.[4] James Murray was appointed to be the first Chief of Police and would lead a force of six police officers.[5]

In 1887, Jamestown Electric Light and Power Company, Art Metal, and WCA Hospital were established. In 1888, Jamestown Woolen Spinning Co. established; cornerstone of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church laid. In 1889, the American Aristotype Co. was established.[6] The first electric trolley car in Jamestown made its appearance in 1890. In 1891, a fire destroyed the Old Homestead Hotel at Third and Pine Streets and four people died. James Prendergast Library and the Municipal Light Plant were established the same year.[6]

In 1892, Chautauqua Worsted mills was formed. In 1893, Jamestown Veneer Works was started by Nathan Wilson and Jamestown's first ice cream company started making Collins Ice Cream. In 1895, the cornerstone of City Hall was laid and the City Council decided to lay no more wooden sidewalks. Eleazer Green was elected mayor the same year. In 1896, Empire Worsted Mills was formed. In 1898, Chautauqua Towel Mills was opened. In 1899, Henry H. Cooper was elected mayor. In 1900, Tinkham Brothers established their business, the Furniture Index was published, and the Hall Textile Corporation was formed.[6] In 1903, Jamestown purchased a water system and the J.P. Danielson Tool Co. was organized. In 1906, James L. Weeks was elected mayor. In 1907, the Crescent Tool Company was started by Karl Peterson and Charles F. Falldine. In 1908, Samuel A. Carlson was elected mayor. Music Study Club and Jamestown Symphony Orchestra began the same year.[6]

In 1910, the excavation began for construction of Jamestown General Hospital, which still stands in the present day. In 1911, the Norden Club was started. On August 6, actress Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown. The first plane to ever fly over Jamestown occurred on September 28, 1911. The Norden Clubhouse was completed in 1914. On April 8, 1917, Company E left for guard duty.[6] The Emerson Glass Company started the same year. In 1918, Jamestown Corp. formed to make airplane propellers. A steam ship, the City of Pittsburgh sank at Boatlanding, also in 1918.

In 1921, the Zonta Club was organized.[6] In 1925, the Hotel Samuels was sold. That same year, the Scottish Rite Temple was formally opened and taxpayers voted a $350,000 bond issue for the Third Street Bridge. The following year, Third Street Bridge was completed and it still stands today. In 1927, Jamestown celebrated the centennial of its incorporation as a village. Lars Larson was elected mayor the same year.[6] In 1930, Samuel A. Carlson served as mayor once again. In 1931, a fire destroyed the old Martyn Factory. Also, the city purchases Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Company.[6]

In 1932, the ground was broken for the new armory, the Erie Railroad station was dedicated, and the Community Chest was permanently formed.[6] In 1933, Elk Furniture Company was sold. Also, Milton Carlson and Frederick Larson took over Jamestown Airport. The board of education assumed title to school forest. Also in 1933, city councilman Leon F. Roberts was elected mayor. In 1934, Jamestown Airport Corp. offered an airport to the city and the city secured the old armory as a relief center. As part of The New Deal, ground was broken for a new high school, which provided jobs during the Great Depression.[6]

In 1935, the Board of Education opened the new industrial arts building and City Council approved $314,000 airport for North Main Street site.[6] In November, Jamestown High School was formally dedicated. In 1937, the Temple Hesed Abraham was dedicated and the Alfred Collegiate Extension Center opened with 80 students. In 1938, Kevin McElrath became mayor and Jamestown General Hospital's maternity annex opened. In 1939, twelve local plans surveyed by the government to produce supplies in wartime. Also, the city's new airport formally dedicated.[6]

In 1940, the PONY league baseball began and Co. E was inducted into federal service.[6] In 1941, Jamestown Municipal Stadium was dedicated and Samuel A. Stroth was elected mayor. In 1942, East Second Street widening was ordered and flames destroyed the old state armory. In 1945, Jamestown was hit by a tornado. In 1946, Dr. Carlyle C. Ring was named superintendent of schools. C.C. Ring Elementary School presently stands, in his honor. In 1950, Jamestown Community College was opened.[6]

In 1951, Stanley A. Weeks was elected mayor and the addition to the municipal power plant was opened.[6] In 1954, Samuel A. Stroth was elected mayor and Allegheny Airlines began east-west flight via Jamestown. In 1955, Carl F. Sanford was elected mayor.[6] In 1956, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz visited Jamestown. In 1957, a $400,000 runway improvement to Jamestown Municipal Airport was added. In 1958, a new sewage disposal plant was opened, Buffalo Street pumping station was modernized, and a new wing opened at Jamestown General Hospital. In 1959, Jamestown's new post office was started.[6] In 1960, Jamestown celebrated the sesquicentennial of first house erected here. That same year, Mohawk Airlines started to serve Jamestown.[6]

In 1961, Jamestown Community College moved into new Falconer Street campus and William D. Whitehead was elected mayor.[6] In 1963, the City's first parking ramp opened at Main and Second Streets and Frederick H. Dunn elected mayor.[6] Additionally, Grandin Mills on Allen Street was destroyed by fire and singer Natalie Merchant was born in Jamestown.[6] In 1964, the Washington Street Bridge was completed. In 1967, an addition to Jamestown High School was completed.[6] Also, Jamestown Community College opened a new Science and Engineering Building. In that same year, Charles B. Magnuson was elected mayor. In 1968, an addition to the James Prendergast Free Library was completed. In 1969, the Cherry Street parking ramp was opened, Rail service to Jamestown discontinued by Erie-Lackawanna Railway, Stanley N. Lundine was elected mayor, and the New Gustavus Adolphus Children's Home opened. In 1970, the Final approval was granted for the Brooklyn Square Urban Renewal Project.[6]

Throughout the 1970s, homes in Brooklyn Square were relocated as well as many stores and shops. A second Urban Renewal Project was proposed in 2006, and the project began in 2007. Jamestown has hosted thirteen Babe Ruth World Series since 1980, and hosted the 13-Year-Old Babe Ruth World Series in 2008. The James Prendergast Library has regularly ranked in the top ten in the nation among those that service populations of 25,000-49,999, according to HAPLR, with a peak ranking of fourth in 2004..

On August 1, 2018, Jamestown opened the Jamestown National Comedy Center. This became the official National Comedy Center, receiving national designation from Congress.[7]



As of the census of 2000, there were 31,730 people, 13,558 households, and 7,904 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,534.6 inhabitants per square mile (1,364.3/km2). There were 15,027 housing units at an average density of 1,673.9 per square mile (646.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.52% White, 3.39% African American, 0.64% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.8% from other races, and 2.16% from two or more races. Regarding ethnicity the largest ethnic group reported in the 2000 Census was Italian and the second largest was Swedish. 19.7% were of Italian, 18.1% Swedish, 12.8% German, 9.0% Irish, 8.7% English and 5.5% American ancestry. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.94% of the population, according to Census 2000 [1]

Historically, up until the 1980's, Jamestown was comprised primarily of people of Italian or Swedish descent, about fifty percent of the population being of Italian descent, and fifty percent being of Swedish descent. Jamestown's strong heritage is showcased at the local museum, The Fenton History Center [51] , which boasts both a Swedish Room, and an Italian Room.[1]

There were 13,558 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.1% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.7% were non-families. 35.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.94.[1]

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 25.8% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.3 males.[1]

The median income for a household in the city was $25,837, and the median income for a family was $33,675. Males had a median income of $30,003 versus $20,039 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,316. About 15.8% of families and 19.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.1% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.[1]


The government of the City of Jamestown is a mayor-council form of government.[11]

The executive branch consists of a mayor elected to 4-year terms without term limits, and the heads of the departments, most of them appointed by the mayor.[11]

This section lists the mayors of Jamestown, New York.

The legislative body of Jamestown consists of nine council members, who are elected every two years without any term limits. Six council members represent each of the city's 6 wards, and three additional council members are known as councilmembers-at-large, representing the entire city.[11] The table below outlines the current members of the Jamestown City Council.[29][30]


  • The Fenton History Center is named for former resident Reuben Fenton, the 25th Governor of New York.
  • The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center is dedicated to the city's best-known daughter, Lucille Ball, and held a ceremony in honor of what would have been Ball's 100th birthday in August 2011. Washington Street Bridge has also been fully rebuilt and renovated and renamed the Luci Desi Bridge.
  • The Jamestown Gateway Train Station at 211-217 West Second Street in downtown Jamestown
  • The National Comedy Center which is adjacent to the train station, opened on August 1, 2018.[31] It currently holds the personal archives of George Carlin, Shelley Berman[32] and the Smothers Brothers.[33]
  • The Robert H. Jackson Center [52] was built to preserve the life and legacy of Robert H. Jackson while educating the community about justice and tolerance with a continuing emphasis on the Nuremberg Trials.[34]
  • The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History[35] continues the legacy of Roger Tory Peterson by promoting the teaching and study of nature, and to thereby create knowledge of and appreciation and responsibility for the natural world.
  • The Lucile M. Wright Air Museum at 300 North Main Street in downtown Jamestown.[36]

Jamestown was the home city for the Jamestown Jammers baseball team of the New York–Penn League. The Jammers were the Single A Short Season affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Following the 2014 season, the Jammers announced they would be relocating to Morgantown, West Virginia.[37] It was later announced that a new team in the Prospect League (which, in turn, has since moved to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League) would replace the Jammers, and the team would keep the name.

Northwest Arena is a 1,900 seat ice arena in the city. Among the teams that have played in the arena as primary tenants included the Jamestown Rebels and Jamestown Ironmen of the North American Hockey League, the Jamestown Jets of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League, the Jamestown Vikings of the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League, the Jamestown Titans of the North Eastern Hockey League, and the Southern Tier Xpress of the North American 3 Hockey League. The Jamestown Rebels will begin playing at the arena in 2018, returning the NAHL to Jamestown after a five-year absence.

Jamestown High School's boys and girls basketball teams have both won numerous Sectional and Division titles, with the basketball team winning back to back Section VI titles in 2009–10, 2010–11 while reaching the NYSPHSAA Class AA State Championship in 2011. The High School football team has been to five New York State Championships, losing in 1993, and winning in 1994, 1995, 2000 and 2014.

Jamestown hosted its 15th Babe Ruth World Series in August 2011.[38]

Jamestown hosted, at what is now Northwest Arena, three exhibition games prior to the start of the 2011 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.

Chautauqua Mall is in nearby Lakewood; most of the Jamestown area's big-box stores are located just outside city limits in Lakewood and a stretch between Lakewood and Jamestown known by the Census Bureau as Jamestown West. While the Census Bureau refers to this stretch of area between Jamestown and Lakewood as Jamestown West, the local population refers instead to this area as Celoron.

The first Jamesway store opened in Jamestown. It later relocated to Chautauqua Mall. Jamesway has since left the mall and was replaced by Office Max, J.C. Penney, and Sakura Chinese Buffet.

Twin towns — Sister cities

Jamestown is twinned with:[39]


Jamestown is 71 miles south of Buffalo, 158 miles north of Pittsburgh, and 145 miles Northeast of Cleveland.

The Chadakoin River runs through Jamestown.

Major employers

The Jamestown area has a few large manufacturing plants that are major employers in this region. These include Hope's Windows, Bush Industries (makers of ready-to-assemble furniture), Cummins Inc. (manufacturer of diesel engines; the heavy duty engine plant is in the Town of Busti, just west of Jamestown, but still called the Jamestown Engine Plant or JEP), SKF AeroEngine (formerly MRC Bearings), TitanX Engine Cooling Inc., Jamestown Container Companies (corrugated container manufacturer), Truck-Lite (makers of truck lighting systems), "Blackstone Advanced Technologies" (makers of sheet metal), "Jamestown Electroplating Works Inc" (Metal Plating Finishing Service), and "Water Street Brass Corporation" (manufacturer of decorative brass hardware). The area was once known as the "furniture capital of the world" for its many talented furniture and brass hardware manufacturers. Chain stores have opened in recent years in the surrounding area, including Walmart, KMart, Wegmans, CVS, and Rite Aid.

"The Connection" an outsource phone call center has become a major employer on the corner of Second and Washington Streets in Jamestown housed in the Furniture Mart building, and headquartered out of Minnesota.

In an effort to accommodate tourism for local festivals, especially the annual Lucy Fest, several new hotels have opened up in the Jamestown area. This includes the newly renovated building now known as the Double Tree Hilton located on 4th Street in downtown Jamestown NY, and the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel located in what the Census Bureau calls West Jamestown, know to the local population as Celoron NY. Other hotels also quite new to Jamestown, include La Quinta on 3rd Street in Jamestown NY, and a Hampton Inn, Comfort Inn, and Holiday Inn Express all accessible from North Main Street in Jamestown NY in the vicinity of Bob Evans Restaurant and Mc Donald's Mc Mobil Restaurant and gas station.

WCA Hospital (Women's Christian Association) was founded May 23, 1885, and included a nursing school until Jamestown Community College filled the need with a two-year RN nursing program. It has a school of Medical Technology and Radiology Technology. Though Jamestown General Hospital still stands on Jones Hill and is part of UPMC Chautauqua WCA. It houses mental health units as well physical, drug and alcohol rehab units. The main campus of UPMC Chautauqua WCA is on the corner of Allen St and Foote Avenue.

The greater Jamestown area remains at the center of an impressive agricultural region. Among the area's leading producers are Welch's, Mogen David, Kraft Foods and Red Wing. Of all the counties in New York State, Chautauqua County has more farms than any other (about 2,200). Although its primary agricultural product is milk, Chautauqua County is also the state's greatest producer of wine and jelly grapes. The area's production of Concord grapes is one of the nation's largest, second only to California.


SUNY Jamestown Community College provides a two-year education and four-year degrees through matriculation agreements with several universities. Recent additions to the campus include a state-of-the-art LEED certified science building and three residence halls. Jamestown Business College, near the downtown core, now offers a four-year degree.

Founded in 1867, Jamestown Public Schools is the city's sole school district. The district also extends into several bordering towns. Jamestown Public Schools include: Jamestown High School; three middle schools, Persell Middle School, George Washington Middle School, and Thomas Jefferson Middle School; as well as five neighborhood elementary schools, Lincoln elementary school, Fletcher elementary school, Clinton V Bush elementary school, CC Ring elementary school, and Love elementary school.

The Red Raider Marching Band won the NY State Field Band Conference Championship in 2014 and 2015, and has consistently placed in the top 10 at Bands of America competitions. They played at the pregame show at the 2004 FedEx Orange Bowl. In December 2007, they traveled to Florida to play at the Citrus Bowl. The other premiere music ensemble at JHS is the A Cappella Choir.


The Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport (JHW) is north of the city and provides scheduled and charter air service.

Bus service is provided by Coach USA of Erie. Connections are available to the Greyhound service in Buffalo. There is also a county-wide bus service (CARTS) and taxi service through various companies including Rainbow Cab and UBER.

Present day Jamestown is on the mainline of the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad which provides freight service. A proposal to connect the WNYP to the New York and Lake Erie Railroad would allow for excursion rail service; to do so, the NYLE would need to undergo extensive rehabilitation of the rail lines near the junction between the two rail lines at Waterboro, several miles east of Jamestown. Amtrak does not serve the area, except through contract with Coach USA to provide Thruway Motorcoach service along Coach USA's existing bus route to bus Amtrak passengers to and from the Exchange Street Station in Buffalo.

Until the 1970s, four railroad companies traveled through Jamestown:

  • Erie Railroad – main line passing through Jamestown (New York to Chicago)

In 1976, the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad was absorbed into Conrail, and then ultimately, by Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation in 1998.

The Erie Railroad's former Jamestown Station still exists, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

An electric interurban railroad—Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad (JW&NW)—connected all three above towns (Jamestown-Mayville-Westfield) and ran along the north side of Lake Chautauqua. The JW&NW ended passenger operation in 1947, continued with freight, then quit entirely in 1950. Its rails and right-of-way have slowly disappeared.[40]

The Southern Tier Expressway (Interstate 86/Route 17) passes to the north and east of Jamestown, with direct access to the city from Exit 12. New York State Routes 60 (Foote Avenue) and 394 (Fairmount Avenue on the west side, Second Street on the east) pass through the city north-to-south and east-to-west, respectively; Route 430 (Fluvanna Avenue) begins in Jamestown and follows a westward path. U.S. Route 62 passes by Jamestown to the southeast.


The following stations are licensed to Jamestown or its immediate suburbs:

WNYB, channel 26, is the only station licensed to Jamestown. It has no local operations and was, for all but its first three years of existence, operated out of Buffalo. The station, a TCT owned-and-operated station, now operates the straight TCT national feed.[41] Its transmitter is located well north of Jamestown, in Arkwright.

Previous transmitters that had carried Trinity Broadcasting Network (W10BH) and WNED-TV (W46BA) have since been shut down.

WNY News Now, based in Jamestown, operates a daily local television newscast that is distributed online.

  • WNG541 – 162.525 (licensed to Frewsburg; operated out of the National Weather Service office in Cheektowaga)

The daily The Post-Journal is published in Jamestown. Free weekly papers distributed in the city include the Jamestown Pennysaver, the Chautauqua Star, and the Jamestown Gazette.

Notable people

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