Binghamton

Binghamton is a city in upstate New York located at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers. It is the cultural and financial center of the Greater Binghamton Metropolitan Area and is the Broome County seat. Binghamton is part of the "Triple Cities" with Endicott and Johnson City.

Binghamton has many fantastic examples of Romanesque Revival Architecture in the city's center and is known as the Parlor City for this and for its collection of ornate mansions and nice homes. The Binghamton area is also the Carousel Capital of America, home to 6 of the remaining 150 antique carousels in the nation. Other historic attractions are the Roberson Museum, Kopernik Space Center, and the Ross Park Zoo.
Both Rod Serling and the regional sandwich known as the "spiedie" were born here. They are celebrated at the annual Rod Serling Video Fest and the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally, respectively. Despite Binghamton's location as the urban core of the region, it has been named a Tree City by the National Arbor Day Foundation for many years, and has been ranked as the 9th best Green City by Better Homes and Gardens. The city has also achieved international recognition as a finalist for Philips Livable Cities Award for its Design Your Own Park program.

Neighboring Vestal is also home to The State University of New York at Binghamton (Binghamton University) , which acts as an athletic, academic, and cultural center for the city.

Understand

Neighborhoods

Downtown Binghamton
The Perry Block on Court Street. The Press Building rises in the background
The historic NYS Inebriate Asylum as of 2010
The first Dicks Sporting Goods Storefront

The City of Binghamton is divided into seven neighborhoods.

This is the region's administrative, business, entertainment and transportation center. It is located at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers south of the Norfolk Southern rail tracks and west of the Brandywine Highway. Generally, the city is characterized by commercial properties and several high-rise apartments towards the rivers with lower class single- and multifamily dwellings towards the highway. There are several areas of urban blight, most notably along the Brandywine industrial spine.

Downtown Binghamton is notable for its architecture and is the site of the Court Street Historic District. This district contains many historic buildings (89 in total) from the turn of the previous century, of which the Press Building and the Security Mutual Building are the most notable. A number of buildings on the National Register by famed architect Isaac G Perry are located here as well, including the Perry Block, the Broome County Courthouse, and the Phelps Mansion.

Located across the Chenango River from Downtown. This area is largely residential and its character ranges from urban to suburban. In general, the area between Seminary Avenue and the Susquehanna River is inhabited by middle to upper-class residents, while the area north of Seminary Avenue to the First Ward is inhabited by working-class residents and students from the neighboring colleges. There is a commercial corridor along Main St with mostly light commercial facilities and a couple of large plazas. Binghamton High School, location of the Helen Foley Theater, is located here, just across the Court St bridge from Downtown. Lourdes Hospital can also be found here.

Despite its residential character a number of historic and architecturally significant buildings can be found on the Westside. The Roberson Museum, the Gen. Edward F. Jones House, and the Abel Bennett Tract can be found here, to name but a few.

The Southside refers to the area of the city south of the Susquehanna River. It varies from upper-class homes in the western and southern portion to mostly middle class everywhere else. There is a small commercial center at the southern end of the S Washington St bridge including a variety of light commercial and restaurants and is also the site of Binghamton General Hospital. More light commercial and some light industrial can be found along parts of Conklin Ave, with more industry the further east one travels.

The Southside is also home to the Ross Park Zoo and the Discovery Center.

The Eastside lies east of the downtown area along the north bank of the Susquehanna River. It is mostly characterized by the Brandywine Industrial Spine, a region of heavy industry and urban blight that separates it from the rest of the city. Beyond this the neighborhood is largely working class, with various shops and restaurants concentrated on Robinson St. Rt 11, or Upper Court St as it is known once it passes under the Brandywine, is more commercial in nature, with several strip malls and home to most of the regions adult entertainment outlets.

The original Dicks Sporting Goods store is still in operation here, it can be found on Upper Court St a little past the Salvation Army. The area is also home to the New York State Inebriate Asylum, the first mental health facility to treat alcoholism as a disease. It too was designed by Isaac Perry and is listed on both the State and National historic registers.

The Northside is located just north of downtown across the Norfolk Southern rail tracks. It is characterized by large sections of commercial activity just north of downtown and along Chenango St. The rest of the area is residential, mostly working class single family homes.

The First Ward is largely a residential neighborhood. It occupies the area west of the Chenango River between the Norfolk Southern tracks I86/Rt 17. There are several notable Victorian style mansions along front street that have been transformed into mutli-family dwellings, but beyond that the First Ward is mostly known for Antique Row, located along Clinton St. Many portions of this street are blight, particularly toward Front St, but what is left has been turned into numerous antique shops. The Tri-Cities Opera can also be found on Clinton St.

Ely Park is the area west of the Chenango River and north of I86/Rt 17. It is generally residential and is primarily known for the municipal golf course and the government subsidized housing project of the same name located here.

Greater Binghamton

While the Binghamton Metropolitan Statistical area includes all Broome and Tioga Counties, the area referred to as Greater Binghamton is much less defined. Generally, it refers to the larger region of conurbation surrounding the city of Binghamton, from Kirkwood in the east to Endicott in the west and includes the following list of towns and villages. Most of these communities are considered to be small suburbs or bedroom communities with a couple of thousand residents, however, there is an exceptionally high level of integration between them, so much so that most outsiders will not realize they have crossed a municipal line. Many natives, even, will have trouble distinguishing where one community ends and another begins. Ultimately, these communities are only meaningful within the region itself, as the entire area is known as 'Binghamton' to the outside world.

A small suburb of Binghamton, it is located the furthest north along the Chenango River. It is notable for the Rt 12A bridge across the river.

Located just east of Binghamton along the Susquehanna River. Its industrial park is home to several major employers in the area including L-3 Communications, Universal Instruments, and Frito Lay. There is a small castle built as a residence by Alpheus Corby in 1900. It currently houses several of the town offices.

A generally upscale residential suburb sandwiched between Endicott and Johnson City and across the Susquehanna from Vestal. It is home to Highland Park and its well known Fourth of July fireworks display, as well as several golf courses and the IBM Glen. Traditions at the Glen Spa and Resort can be found here.

Located north of Binghamton on the east bank of the Chenango river; it is between Port Dickinson and Chenango Bridge. This is a small residential suburb.

Part of the 'Triple Cities' (although, again just a village), Johnson City is one of the major communities in the region. The village immediately borders and is indistinguishable from Binghamton's west side. One of the regions main shopping centers, the Oakdale Mall can be found here, as can the Endicott-Johnson Industrial Spine, a 230 acre area of industrial ruins that is slowly being revitalized. There are many small shops along Main St in Johnson City's center.

Located north of Binghamton on the opposite side of the river from Hillcrest. Broome Community College can be found here, as can Otseningo Park: home of the Spedie Fest and Balloon Rally. Port Dickinson (Port Dick) is largely residential in the immediate vicinity of BCC, however, further north is the Upper Front Street commercial district. This is a smaller version of the 'Parkway' in Vestal and contains many shops, restaurants, plazas, and strip malls. A few of the bigger chain stores can be found here such as Lowes and Regal Cinemas, one of the regions two multi-screen movie theaters. Port Dick is also home to Sam the Beer Man.

Vestal occupies all of the southern bank of the Susquehanna River west of Binghamton. This is the regions commercial center, with many large plazas, strip malls, shopping centers, and most of the regions big box stores built along the Vestal Parkway. There is also a lot of heavier industry and a sewage treatment plant located along Old Vestal Rd. Upper-class residential areas are built along the hillsides and hilltops to the south. The western part of Vestal, known as 'Four Corners' is home to the Vestal schools (ranked among the highest in the nation) and has more of a small town character, with small shops along Front St and middle-class neighborhoods. The Parkways is the areas busiest roadway and is best avoided unless you have a reason to be there.

Located just north of Endicott along Rt 26, this is generally considered the furthest westward extent of the Greater Binghamton region. There is a small shopping plaza surrounded by residential areas. West Corners is only notable for being home to the nationally recognized Phil's Chicken House.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°F) 28.4 30.9 40.6 53.1 65.6 73.4 78.1 75.8 67.8 56.7 44.3 33.4
Nightly lows (°F) 15.0 16.7 24.7 35.1 46.2 54.4 59.2 57.4 49.9 39.6 30.9 20.8
Precipitation (in) 2.6 2.5 3.0 3.5 3.6 3.8 3.5 3.4 3.6 3.0 3.3 3.0

Binghamton has a humid continental climate with 4 distinct seasons and is well known for its gloomy weather. On sunny days, it is common to hear locals remark on the absurdity of sunlight in Binghamton: "What is this crazy yellow orb and why does it hurt my eyes so?" This doesn't happen often though considering Binghamton averages only 52 sunny days a year. Binghamton also has a reputation as one of the rainiest cities in America. Its not, it only gets about 36in a year, but it does average 161 days of precipitation so it can certainly seem like it.

Spring weather in Binghamton is often very unsettled, especially early on. Snowstorms in late April, although uncommon, are not unheard of. Oftentimes, snow is preceded or followed by warm weather... sometimes in the same day! Spring flooding is common and the rivers are often elevated through the entire season as first snow melts and then heavy rains come. Rainy days are no more common than the rest of the year but are often heavier. However, once the unsettled weather of March and April is over, the weather is often fantastic with warm, pleasant days and the scent of myriad spring blooms filling the air.

Summer is generally not too hot, with temperatures often in the low to mid 80's. However they tend to be very humid, often oppressively so, and are best described as 'swampy'. Humidity tends to be worse in August and in the afternoon when temperatures are highest. Frequently the humidity will stay elevated for days at a time with no break, and often gets worse at night, making sleep uncomfortable without air conditioning. Swarms of enormous mosquitoes patrol the city on these days and have been known to carry off cats and small dogs.

Fall can be one of the most beautiful seasons in Binghamton and not just for the scenery. The humidity generally breaks in mid September and temperatures will usually remain pleasantly warm right up until it snows... usually on Halloween.

Winter tends to be cold, snowy, and unpredictable. Some years are subject to repeated freeze/thaw cycles that leave the city covered in a thick layer of hard packed snow and ice. Other years, it starts snowing and never stops, with each new storm packing the snow underneath into a thick layer of hard packed snow and ice. See the trend here? The city is perfectly situated to take advantage of both lake-effect snows off the Great Lakes and Nor'Easters coming in off the Atlantic (a Nor'Easter is like a hurricane, only with snow instead of rain). However, the city's distance from the Lakes and the barrier formed by the Appalachian Mountains tends to limit these to only a foot or two at a time. The Public Works Department does a passable job of keeping the highways clear, but in recent years has done a terrible job on city streets, with some streets not getting plowed at all until days after the storm has passed.

Get in

By plane

The area is served by the Greater Binghamton Airport IATA: BGM, 7 mi/ 12 km northwest of the city center. The airport is served by 3 daily round trips from Philadelphia on American Eagle, Detroit on Delta Connection, and Newark-Liberty on United Express. Service is provided primarily on 35-seat turboprop aircraft, although the three daily flights to Detroit are on regional jets.

As of 2014, BGM Airport is not served by mass transit due to the airport's low passenger volume and remote location far from any existing bus routes. Ground transportation options include:

The closest "larger" airports are Syracuse-Hancock International AirportIATA: SYR, roughly 70 miles north of Binghamton, and Albany International Airport IATA: ALB, 95 miles northeast. If you're originating from outside the East Coast, you may find these airports to have a better range of flight options, along with more competitive fares due to the presence of low cost carriers. Besides a wider range of mainline and regional service on American, Delta and United, Syracuse is also served by Allegiant and JetBlue, while Albany is served by Southwest Airlines. Another alternative is to fly into one of the three New York City airports (Newark, JFK, or LaGuardia) and reach Binghamton via frequent bus service from Port Authority (see below) - this may be the best option if you're originating from the West Coast or internationally.

By bus

Intercity bus service is available from the Binghamton Bus Terminal in center city adjacent to BC Junction (the hub for local bus service.)

New York City

Further Upstate and Canada

Eastern New York State and New England

Southern Tier

Service beyond Jamestown is operated by a Coach USA ErieLine connecting bus

By train

With New Jersey Transit planning to extend existing commuter rail service from New York City to Scranton, there have been periodic discussions regarding Amtrak reestablishing the Lake Cities/ Phoebe Snow (formerly operated by the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad from 1939 to 1970). This would connect New York Penn Station and Chicago via Binghamton and the Southern Tier. Today however, the nearest Amtrak station is 65 miles away in Syracuse, served by Empire Corridor/ Maple Leaf trains and the Lakeshore Limited. While it is possible to take a train to Syracuse and a bus to Binghamton, unless you're originating west of Buffalo it's usually cheaper and faster to take a bus directly. New York City is well served on both Greyhound/Trailways and CoachUSA (see above.)

By car

Three highways service the Binghamton area.

Get around

BC Transit buses on the Binghamton University campus

Public Transit

Public transportation in Greater Binghamton and outlying areas is served by BC Transit, a service of the Broome County Department of Transportation. Busses run from approximately 6AM-9PM on weekdays, 7AM-6PM on Saturdays, and 9:30AM-5PM on Sundays. Some routes do not operate on weekends, service may be limited or suspended on public holidays. Cash fares are $2 per ride (includes one transfer ticket, if requested). If you'll be riding the bus more than twice in one day, an unlimited day pass can be purchased for $5 from the driver. Weekly ($25) and monthly ($70) passes are also available from the BC Transit office (at the junction) or Weis Market locations in Broome County. Any person affiliated with Binghamton University or Broome County Community College with a valid school issued ID can ride BC Transit free of charge.

Transit options are not limited to the local fixed-routes buses. BC Country provides transportation in outlying areas but must be arraigned in advance. BC Lift and OFA Mini-bus provide direct pickup for disabled and elderly residents who register with the Transportation Dept.

Binghamton University also operates OCCT (Off-Campus College Transport, sometimes referred to as the "Blue Bus" ). Anyone with a current BU ID Card (students, faculty, staff, etc...) and up to one guest can ride the Blue Bus. There were plans to also open the service up to visitors and community members for a fee, although as of 2014 this has not yet occurred.

Taxi

Taxis are plentiful in the city, during non-peak times plan on calling 20 minutes before you're ready to leave. Reserving a cab in advance is generally unnecessary and many operators in Binghamton actually discourage this practice unless you have a flight or bus to catch.

There are also several smaller operators with fleets of less than five vehicles. BC Junction, the Airport, the Binghamton University student union, and some downtown hotels have taxi stands but this is the exception rather than the rule. You may find yourself sharing your cab with other passengers when demand is high (although drivers will only pick up additional passengers who are going in the same general direction, and you'll generally be dropped off in the order you're picked up.) Fares are regulated by the county (although can vary by a dollar or two depending on the operator) and use a zone system, rather than a taximeter.

  • Central City
  • Westside and First Ward
  • Upper Front Street
  • Northside and Eastside
  • Southside
  • East Vestal (up to and including the Binghamton University campus)
As a rule of thumb, you're crossing into a new zone each time you cross a river, train tracks, or a town line.
  • West Vestal (beyond the BU campus)
  • Johnson City
  • Village of Endwell
  • Village of Endicott

There is currently no rideshare service, such as Uber or Lyft operating in Broome County (or in anywhere in New York State except the Five Boroughs and portions of Long Island.)

Bicycle

Bicycle routes exist but are limited. There are several streets with designated bike lanes, and several more with markings to warn drivers of possible bicycle traffic. However, bicycle transportation is not common, an many drivers, while not hostile, seem unsure of how to handle bike traffic.

Highways and Roads

Interstate 81

Interstate 86 / New York State Route 17

Interstate 88

U.S. Route 11

New York State Route 7

New York State Route 12

New York State Route 17C

New York State Route 26

New York State Route 201

New York State Route 363

New York State Route 434

Important Local Roads

Other Locations

Aerial photograph of the infamous Kamikaze Curve

River Crossings

Riverside Drive bridge over the mouth of the Chenango River
The historic South Washington St Lenticular Truss bridge

Chenango River

Moving from north to south:

Susquehanna River

Moving from east to west:

Parking

See

Confluence Park
The IBM Glen between Johnson City and Endwell

Do

Carousels

Movies

Museums and education

Arts and culture

Sporting events and recreation

STOP-DWI Events

STOP-DWI (which stands for "Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated") sponsors multiple sports competitions in Broome County as a way of reaching out to youth and the community about the dangers of drunk driving in addition to encouraging sports as a healthy alternative to drinking for teens.

Buy

Big Box Stores

Art galleries and craft shops

Antiques

Eat

Binghamton has always been (and still is) a melting pot of ethnic flavors. The city's history has been strongly influenced by German, Italian, and Polish immigrants; with many today coming from Eastern Europe, Latin America, and India. The eateries in the city reflect this and provide that big city cultural and culinary experience largely missing in many small cities. Many of the national chains are present in the city as well, and are easily located.

General Food/Cafés

Grocery/Deli

Indian Food

Japanese

The Binghamton area has a relatively high number of traditional and not so traditional Japanese restaurants, possibly owing to the significant international student population from Asia (which may also explain why the majority of these restaurants are located within a mile or two of the Binghamton University campus on the Vestal Parkway.)

Italian

Binghamton has some of the most authentic southern Italian and Sicilian food this side of Italy. Each of these restaurants also serves pizza but the focus is on fine Italian dinning.

Pizzerias

Pizza in Binghamton is predominantly New York Style. However, Binghamton is well known (and sometimes reviled) for its 'sheet' or square pizza. Those who enjoy New England (Greek) Style pizza, may want to check out Amici's (see above)

Eastern European

Pub Food/Diners

Specialty/Steakhouse

Spiedies

The Spiedie is a regional dish born in Binghamton to Italian immigrants. It consists of marinated chunks of meat grilled over charcoal on metal skewers. It is served still on the skewer with a slice of Italian bread (almost always Felix Roma's) used to pull the meat off, usually with a little marinade drizzled on top. The meat was originally lamb, but has come to include chicken, pork, and venison.

Garbage Plates

Drink

State Street and the historic Stevens Square Building


State Street

One of the most popular areas in Binghamton for the drinking crowd, particularly among BU students. The pub area of the street is generally closed town to vehicular traffic in the evenings on weekends. This is the epicenter of the annual 'Pub Crawl' among graduating BU seniors.

LGBT

Although not quite to the extent of rainbow filled Ithaca, Binghamton is a diverse and accepting city with a "live and let live" attitude. Nearly all the major bars and nightlife spots see both locals and college students who are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender on a regular basis, odds are nobody even gives it a second thought. (Bars where being openly LGBT could be problematic are well off the beaten path in the rural outskirts of the city and likely would not be of any interest to tourists. Even if you did happen to stumble into one by mistake, odds you would face outright hostility or violence are fairly low). Discrimination based on sexual orientation or (as of 2016) gender identity/ expression is a crime in New York State.

Binghamton's sole gay bar/ club (Merlins) closed in 2015, although there are other spots that tend to attract a larger LGBT crowd:

Sleep

Binghamton has many places to stay, but if you will be visiting around Binghamton University's Commencement (late May, early June), be sure to book VERY early. Hotels have been known to fill up a year in advance.

Hotels/Motels

The Old Binghamton City Hall, now the Grand Royale Hotel

Bed and Breakfast

Camping

Learn

Work

Binghamton (along with Upstate New York in general) has struggled economically over the second half of the 20th century. Recently, New York State has been trying to develop Binghamton as the state's "tech hub", encouraging startups and small businesses to relocate to the area with substantial tax and other incentives. While there has been some growth in the technology sector the past few years, so far this has been largely restricted to engineering, robotics, and aerospace and hasn't yet extended to software or web development. Companies such as IBM, Sanmina, BAE Systems, Universal Instruments, and Lockheed Martin all have a substantial presence in the Triple Cities and are among the largest employers in Broome County.

The other two major skilled fields are medicine and education. Both hospital systems in the area, United Health Service and Our Lady of Lourdes (Catholic Health) always have a demand for medical staff (especially nurses), along with IT, administrative, and support professionals. Binghamton University, being one of the flagship campuses of the SUNY system, employs a significant number of faculty members, researchers and support staff members. Although not to the same extent, Broome County Community College also employs a similar range of people.

High paying positions that do not require either professional licenses and/or a graduate degree are still relatively hard to come by. There are still a small number of manufacturing jobs available through Raymond Corporation, Felchar, and Frito-Lay. Several larger companies operate call centers in and around Binghamton, including Time Warner Cable and New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG). Contract call centers (hired by a company to replace or augment their in-house customer service department) also exist. The largest of these is Nationwide Credit (NCI), a former collection agency in Endicott.

Being a college town, there are also a multitude of jobs available each year in restaurants, bars, and retail, although many of these positions are part-time without benefits. That said, these positions may help you get your foot in the door into the area if you're looking to relocate, and Binghamton is not a bad small city to relocate to or settle down in. Many believe that Binghamton is on the verge of its second renaissance with a multitude of natural and cultural resources, a relatively low cost of living, and extremely friendly and hard working people who would be more than happy to welcome you into the community.

Connect

Go next

New York State

Pennsylvania

Routes through Binghamton

Syracuse Cortland  N  S  Clarks Summit Scranton
END  W  E  Oneonta Schenectady
Elmira Johnson City  W  E  Kirkwood Central Valley-Harriman


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 22, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.