It’s time to tackle Clinton Avenue. As far as I can tell, this street has had three names in its lifetime. The first was River Street because it led to the Tioughnioga River. The second was Mill Street because it was the road leading to the Red Mills. It was renamed Clinton Avenue after New York State Governor DeWitt Clinton (1817-1828, two terms). Clinton is largely remembered for constructing the Erie Canal. According to the maps I consulted at CCHS, in 1855, the street was called River Street, but “Mill” was penciled in beside that. In the 1876 atlas, the street is labeled Mill Street but by 1888, it is labeled Clinton Avenue.
All of this is pretty straightforward as far as why the street was called different names at different times and why. However, I found a fun account that takes us back to visit one of the favorite destinations in the village of Cortland. There is no credit given for who left us this memory, and there is no date, but based on the 1888 map, it probably is from around the 1880s.
“The J. Samson house that stood at the east corner of Church and was moved to make way for the Congregational Church is now standing at 18 Charles (Note: the Samson house was still at the corner of Church and Mill Streets on the 1876 atlas but by 1888, the Congregational Church was in that spot). Gladding’s Laundry is remembered at Washington; some remember DeLoyd Bliss at Rickard and his Solid Comfort Cigar Factory (Note: we have covered both Rickard Street and DeLloyd Bliss in previous posts).
But the crowning glory of Clinton Avenue was access to THE COVE. Skating rink of the whole town!! What fun! The ringing of the skates was a sound not duplicated on this earth. One went in usually near Doran’s ice wagons, opposite Cleveland, or at Hubbard St. or near it. And if one got home in time for supper it was in error.
But do not forget to visualize the low, wooden-staved watering trough in the wide part at the corner of Main or that the McGraw trolley ran down Clinton and Elm.”
Sometimes it’s the mundane details that create the most lasting memories. When you’re a kid and you are doing the same thing every day (like ice skating at The Cove!), you might not think it important enough to document your adventures. However, when your descendants are looking for information about you and your life, they will be thrilled to find fabulous little stories like this one. Those stories totally bring a person to life again AND tell what life was like at that particular time! Write some of your adventures down and share them with your family or bring them to CCHS and we will file them away for your family you will never meet to discover one day in the future! ~Tabitha