Local Facts & Statistics
Tompkins County Overview
Tompkins County and Ithaca are located in the central Finger Lakes Region of New York State, four hours from New York City, three hours from Niagara Falls, two hours from Rochester and four hours from Philadelphia, PA. The Finger Lakes Region of New York is made up of 14 counties, which occupy 9,000 square miles of the state.
Tompkins County measures 476 square miles. Ithaca sits at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake, the longest of the 11 Finger Lakes.
Home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, Tompkins County and Ithaca exemplify the small-town atmosphere, while showcasing the qualities of a larger metropolitan city.
The climate of Tompkins County provides for a variety of outdoor activities ranging from boating, swimming and hiking in summer, to cross-country skiing and ice-skating in winter. “Ithaca is gorges” has become the indelible adage that aptly describes the Ithaca area, which has been blessed with deep cut gorges and spectacular waterfalls.
Tompkins County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York, and comprises the whole of the Ithaca metropolitan area. As of the 2000 census, the population was 96,501. The county seat is Ithaca, and the county is home to Cornell University, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College. The name is in honor of Daniel D. Tompkins, who served as Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States of America.
Tompkins County Quick Geography & Weather Facts
- Land area – 476.1 square miles (2000 census)
- Persons per square mile – 213 (2000 census)
- Connecticut Hill – Highest point in Tompkins County (2,099 ft. above sea level)
- Cayuga Lake – Lowest point in Tompkins County (382 ft. above sea level)
- Average high temperature in January – 32 degrees F.
- Average high temperature in July – 78 degrees F.
- Average yearly rainfall – 35.4 inches
- Average yearly snowfall – 67.3 inches
- Source: Northeast Regional Climate Center
DID YOU KNOW?
- Tompkins County is home to three gorge parks (there are only six in the entire state of New York).
- Ithaca is host to over 150 waterfalls, all of which lie within a 10-mile radius of downtown.
- Taughannock Falls (pictured below) is 215 feet high, a greater vertical drop than Niagara Falls.
- An avid boater can sail from the open ocean through the locks of the New York State Erie Canal, down Cayuga Lake to Ithaca.
- With over 128 species of fish in the Finger Lakes Region, it’s not surprising that Cayuga Lake was selected one of the top 10 bass-fishing lakes by Sports Afield Magazine.
- The Sagan Planet Walk, built to honor the memory of Ithaca resident and Cornell University astronomer, Carl Sagan, is a true-to-scale model of our solar system. It is one of the only walkable “planet walks” in the world. The Sciencenter, Ithaca’s hands-on museum and outdoor science playground, is the sponsor of the Sagan Planet Walk, and is one of eight museums involved in the partnership of educational attractions called the Discovery Trail. Some others include the Museum of the Earth and Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology.
- Ithaca ranked 17 nationwide among the “Best Places for Business and Careers,” Forbes magazine, April 2006.
- Ithaca offers more restaurants per capita than New York City. The famous Moosewood Restaurant is located in Ithaca, and two of its famous cookbooks that present recipes for scrumptious vegetarian meals have won James Beard Awards in the healthy focus and vegetarian categories.
- The downtown Ithaca Commons was named one of New York’s top design projects of the century by the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
- Ithaca Hours, our local paper currency, has been featured in over 400 media venues nationally and internationally. The currency exchange has set standards worldwide and brings important visitors to Ithaca, such as Madame Mitterand (former First Lady of France) and community development specialists from every continent.
What is the Local CPI?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to say with real accuracy what the local Consumer Price Index (CPI)is for the Ithaca or Tompkins County area. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates these figures for the nation as a whole, for large urban areas (the larger Metropolitan Statistical areas, and then for regions of the country. Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD) and the Tompkins Chamber think that the closest match for Ithaca is the All Urban Consumers. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you can use the calculator to find out what the CPI is compared to another year. In other words, if something cost you $100 in 2000, what would it cost now.
You can also use the tables on this page, but they are a little more confusing:
There are three other sources of information that might be useful. Dr. Elia Kacapyr of Ithaca College publishes an Index of Economic Activity in Tompkins County and tracks data going back to 1985. http://www.ithaca.edu/economics/tcdex.htm
The second source of economic information is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) provides information on weekly earnings and employment by County. These usually lag about six to nine months.
Finally, the Tompkins Chamber and TCAD participate in a Cost of Living index (COLI) study with an organization called C2. We research the cost of food, housing, and many goods and services three times per year and these figures are then used to calculate a local cost of living vs. many other communities in the United States. However, these figures do not include the cost of local or state taxes. It’s simply too complicated to assess taxes because states and municipalities assess property and sales taxes in such a large variety of ways. The calculator is listed under Resources on the Chamber’s website.
If you have other questions, please call us at the Chamber at 607/273-7080.