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Southern Tier

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Revision as of 20:12, 29 June 2009 by Jtpurdom (talk | contribs) (Eat: regional dishes, agriculture, spiedie added)

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Southern Tier

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The Southern Tier of New York State is the geographical region that includes the counties of New York State west of the Catskill Mountains and along the northern border of Pennsylvania.

Lake Erie lies to the west of the Southern Tier, and the north or bordered by the Niagara region and the Finger Lakes. The region is bordered to the south by the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania, and together these regions are known as the Twin Tiers.

The majority of the region between the Allegany Mountains and the Catskill Mountains is "dissected plateau"[1] split by a few large river valleys. Most of the population centers are clustered in these valleys, particularly in the east. West of the Allegany's the land slopes gently down to the shores of Lake Erie. Climate is typical humid continental with hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. The region can experience heavy snows, with both lake-effect snow and Nor'Easters commonly hitting the area. Two feet of snow from a single storm is not uncommon.


New York - Southern Tier region map.png


  • Binghamton, the largest city in the region. This historic city is known as the Parlor City and the Carousel Capital of America.
  • Corning, known as the Crystal City, is home to the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art.
  • Elmira, a historic town on the Chemung River. Mark Twain spent many summers here.
  • Fredonia is a village on the shores of Lake Erie. It is home to SUNY Fredonia.
  • Hornell is located in the Canisteo Valley, surrounded by beautiful forest.
  • Jamestown, city on the shores of Chautauqua Lake.
  • Johnson City, Part of the "Triple-Cities" with Binghamton and Endicott. Home of the "Square Deal".
  • Olean, city in the Allegany Mountains, home to the natural formation Rock City Park.
  • Owego, historic town on the Susquehanna River. Voted coolest small town in America.

Other destinations

  • Allegany State Park is one of the largest state park in New York.
  • Chautauqua County Grape Corridor, home of National Grape Coop (Welch's), birthplace of Concord grape juice and 2nd leading producer, and excellent wine region.
  • Chenango Valley State Park, ice age lakes provide excellent bird watching a fishing in this wilderness area.
  • Hiawatha Island
  • Lake Erie State Park, large bluffs overlooking the lake and fantastic public beaches.
  • Newtown Battlefield State Park site of the Sullivan Expeditions decisive win over the Iroquois Confederacy.
  • Midway State Park, one of the oldest continually operating amusement parks in the nation.
  • Rock City Park a rare geologic formation resembling a city.



Locations in the Southern Tier often take their names from Native American and early Colonial history. Many places and features, such as Chautauqua (sha-TAW-kwa) County, retain their original Indian names and can require a clever tongue to pronounce.

Get in

By plane

The Southern Tier is served by two regional airports with limited flights:

The nearby airports of Syracuse, Scranton, and somewhat farther away, Albany are considerably larger and offer more in the way of connections and services to the eastern portion of the Southern Tier. The western portion may be better served by airports in Buffalo and Erie, PA:

By car

  • Interstate 81 is a major north/south link to the Southern Tier. It intersects I86/17 and I88 in Binghamton.
  • Interstate 86/17 the Southern Tier Expressway crosses the entire length of the Southern Tier east to west. It provides a major link to the area from NYC and other downstate areas. Remaining sections of old Rt 17 are in the process of being upgraded to interstate standards for the completion of I86.
  • Interstate 88 provides direct connection from Binghamton to the Albany area.
  • Interstate 90/NYS Thruway runs along the coast of Lake Erie to the Buffalo area.

By bus

  • Greyhound Bus [9] has stations in Binghamton, Elmira, Hornell, and Olean.
  • Shortline Bus [10] is a regional busline. They specialize in student travel and visit every large city in the Southern Tier. They provide links to many metropolitan and tourist areas of the North-East and have at least 6 round trip buses from NYC to Binghamton daily.

By train

There currently is no passenger rail service offered in the Southern Tier, although there are some efforts to change this. [11]. However, there are Amtrak stations in nearby cities of Syracuse, Buffalo, and Erie.

Get around

The Southern Tier is a large, mostly rural region. As such, the best way to experience it is by car. There are several rental companies that service the area, particularly at the airports.

Public transportation is limited to the major metropolitan centers, with some interconnection between cities by private bus lines.


  • Corning Museum of Glass[12], in Corning, which boasts of one of the world's most extensive collections of glass items, including an amazing display of antique glassware. The museum is also home to The Rakow Library, a glass research center.
  • Newtown Battlefield [13]
  • Mark Twain Study[14]
  • Rockwell Museum of Western Art[15], in Corning, has a wonderful display of Western American paintings and sculptures accumulated over forty years by Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Rockwell.
  • Ross Park Zoo [16]


  • Broome-Tioga Sports Complex[17]
  • Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail[18]
  • En-Joie Golf Course[19]
  • National Soaring Museum and Hall of Fame[20]
  • Skyview Drags[21]
  • Shangri-La 2 Raceway
  • The Finger Lakes Trail[22], a hiking trail through the Finger Lakes region with large portions in the Southern Tier.
  • The Links at Hiawatha[23]
  • Tioga Downs[24], harness racing and video slots.


As with most areas of the northeastern United States, Southern Tier cuisine is the result of the ethnic melting pot that immigration created and food offerings tend to be similar from county to county. There are very few 'traditional' foods of the area as no one ethnicity or crop dominated the region. The city of Binghamton, however, was once a popular immigrant destination. These immigrants brought their cuisine to the region and the area is still home to a large number of fantastic ethnic eateries that have stayed reasonably true to the original dishes.

Outside the cities, the Southern Tier is still an agricultural region and is a great place to find a large variety of local produce. Almost every town has at least one farmers market where fresh, local produce can be purchased. The growing season is short and relatively cool, so fruits and vegetables that favor such conditions are easy to find. The region is well known for its strawberry's in the summer and its apple crop in the fall, but other produce that grows well include cherries, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, corn, and squashes. Maple Syrup was once produced across the region and is still celebrated at numerous maple festivals in the spring. Although production has declined, it is becoming more popular due to the rising interest in natural maple syrup.

The Southern Tier does have one dish for which it is well known. The Spiedie, chunks of marinated meat grilled on skewers, was born in Binghamton and is quite popular throughout the region.


Before Prohibition, New York was the leading producer of Hops in the US. The western section of the Southern Tier has a rich tradition in beer craft and there are a number of breweries and brewpubs to be found here. The aptly named Southern Tier Brewing Company [25] is located in Lakewood, NY (just west of Jamestown). STBC brews some very fine craft beers and a number of season beers.

Other brewpubs can be found in Corning, Ellicottville, and Fredonia.


Lodgings depend on a given travelers preferences. Hotels are limited to the cities and to major tourist attractions. Bed and Breakfasts can be found in many of the smaller towns, particularly to the extreme east and west of the region. Additionally, there are many campsites scattered all over the Southern Tier and wilderness camping is allowed in any NYS designated state forest, of which the Southern Tier has many.

Get Out

Nearby attractions include Lake Erie, Niagara Falls, Letchworth State Park, The Finger Lakes, Pine Creek Gorge, The Endless Mountains, The Pocono Mountains, and the Catskills.

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