Seven Years Later

18 06 2015


Seven years. The amount of time it takes to master something. Today, Ithacating celebrates its 7th birthday. It was started in a dimly-lit bedroom on a cool, rainy evening on June 18th, 2008. I’ve made the comment before that I’ve never written the birthday entry in the same place – until this year. Most of it was written the evening of the 16th at home, with a quick check of the numbers at lunch before scheduling its publication.

So, as always, the yearly stats. Here’s the summary for the year-to-date:


In previous years, the blog averaged 82, 166, 199, 216, 182 and 155 hits daily. The numbers look a little more dismal than they are; the blog had a large downturn in traffic starting around February 2013, and only started to experience an uptick again in February 2014. The upswing has continued for a lot of the past year, with some months setting all-time records in late 2014 and 2015. This year, as of 11:52 AM EDT, 445,292 hits have been received, about 219 hits per day. In other words, the most traffic I’ve ever received has been in the past 12 months.

I owe a lot of that to the Ithaca Voice.

The biggest change over the past year has probably been the Voice and its relationship with the blog. The Ithaca Voice launched only three days before the 6th birthday post, so its impact was yet to be meaningfully quantified. Looking at the numbers, the Voice has referred 1,108 viewers (vice-versa, Ithacating has referred about 116 viewers to the Ithaca Voice). Some pieces on the blog are “syndicated” in the Voice, and once in a while vice-versa; but there are articles and posts that are exclusive to each, so one has to be reading both to see everything.

Partially for my own time management, I set a formal publishing schedule for the blog – a news roundup on Friday nights, and a “topic of the week” on Monday nights. This gets suspended for photo update weeks, because those are much quicker to write.

I still get occasional visitors from Ithaca Builds (281), which I miss, although I’m happy for Jason and his pursuit of an MRE at Cornell. And although I tend to share historical photos more than blog posts on Twitter, that’s contributed about 1,449 visits over the past year, making it the second largest source of visitors after search engines.


It’s still remarkable to think about the changes that have happened to this blog over the past seven years. This was originally a Cornell blog for the most part. Cornell news, Cornell facilities and Cornell history. However, I started to exhaust myself of ideas, and the Ithaca development entries, which weren’t a big focus in the first couple years, began to take up a larger proportion of the subject matter.

I cringe when I look at some of the oldest entries. The quality of writing and the over-opinioned screeds are atrocious.

Slowly working my way into different subject matter changed viewing patterns; the huge summer dip hollowed, but I stopped getting such a large spike in January when the Greek system’s rushees came back to Cornell. But I’m still very self-conscious of what I write – facts are double-checked and opinions have been muted, especially write-ups in the Voice. I jokingly refer to pieces as “blog-appropriate” and “Voice-appropriate” depending on how colloquial my writing is and how much of my opinion shows.

I spent five years writing semi-anonymously, and only this past year have I really engaged with many of the people I write about – architects, developers, politicians and officials.  There are definitely times when I feel out of my league, and to find out these people read the blog is both motivating and anxiety-inducing. I don’t consider myself especially knowledgeable about Ithaca building projects and urban planning, but I like to think that I’m good at finding information and writing about it.

My favorite entries over the past year are the ones where I can combine history and development – the 10-story building once proposed for Stewart Avenue, the Collegetown history series I did last year, and that time Cayuga Heights stopped Cornell from building dorms. There were still a few Cornell-centric pieces – a biography of Cornell’s incoming madam president, a history of Cornell’s ladder-climbing provosts, Cornell’s logo failure, and dogs at Cornell. There were also some new fast facts entries, including a couple for Ithaca College.

Looking at construction projects over the past year, a few projects were completed, or are about to be completed. The Lofts @ Six Mile Creek has gone from a foundation to near completion, Planned Parenthood wrapped up its new building, Ecovillage is ready to open their new apartment building and Stone Quarry is nearly finished. A few smaller projects, like 140 College Avenue in Collegetown, are also nearing the finish line.

A few projects were approved. Some have started, or are about to start construction – 114 Catherine, 327 Eddy, 307 College and 205 Dryden in inner Collegetown. Elsewhere, there was 707 East Seneca, the downtown Marriott and Canopy Hotels, and the Carey Building. Still others are awaiting financing, like 323 Taughannock and the Hotel Ithaca.

A few more projects were proposed – more Collegetown housing (some more likely than others), the Tompkins Financial Corporation HQ, 210 Hancock, 215-221 W. Spencer, and a Texas Roadhouse. Oh, and let’s not forget State Street Triangle, which will probably be a lightning rod of attention as it goes through the review process.

Lastly, a few projects also met their demise. 7 Ridgewood, a hotel for 339 Elmira Road, and the Cayuga Trails and Troy Road housing developments in Ithaca town. The town also recoiled from the Maguire HQ Plans, for now at least.

Over at Cornell, the Hotel School finished their new entrance and addition, the Gannett expansion started construction, Klarman Hall continued to plod towards completion, and the “Sesquicentennial Grove” was planted. Cornell announced plans to renovate Upson Hall and Rand Hall.

It’s been a busy year, and even CNN noticed. But it gives me plenty to write about in the news round-ups. I won’t issue a Friday night post if there are less than four news items, and that’s only happened a few times in the past year.

So, here I am. It’s been seven years, but I wouldn’t call myself a master of anything (except puffy cloud studies). In late April, I received a job offer in Sacramento. I was sudden, and only a couple close friends and family knew about it. Two years ago, I’d have taken it without question. A year ago, probably yes. But (after a stressful weekend of debate) I turned it down because it no longer felt like the right move at the right time, which has led to some soul-searching about what I want and don’t want. It’s not easy to articulate. I dunno where things will go moving forward. In life or in blog. But I’ll keep writing as long as I enjoy it.


Fast Facts: Cornell Students By NY County

4 11 2014

Unless otherwise noted, all source data comes from the Cornell University Factbook. For this, I’m only going to focus on the undergraduate population.

When I was a student at Cornell (oh, for those halcyon days of the late 2000s…yes, I am joking), there was a quip that 38% of the students come from New York State, but 90% of them are from New York City and its suburbs. An exaggeration, but the large presence of Westchester and Nassau and the like was forever a source of tension, if only a minor one. With access to Cornell’s enrollment figures, we can see by just how much downstaters dominate the student population.

For anyone from outside of New York, this post probably won’t be a whole lot of interest to you. But for the kids that want to play along at home, here’s a map of the counties of New York, all 62 of them.




In what should be a surprise to absolutely no one, Nassau County on Long Island and Westchester County comprise the largest sources of Cornell undergrads – 654 and 607 students respectively. Given 14,453 undergrads in fall 2014, that means these two counties alone account for 8.72% of the UG population. NYS students number 4,602 of that 14,453, 31.84% of the student body. If we define downstate as Orange, Putnam, and everything south (the definition of where upstate and downstate divide is fraught with contention, so I’m going with a rough middle ground), then downstate comprises 2,971 of those 4,602 students, 64.56%, or just under two-thirds. Only one county has no representation at Cornell – Hamilton, which has only 4,773 residents (2013 estimate), the smallest population for any county in the state.

Now, I can already hear the commentary now – “BC, you misleading and ignorant a–hole, these numbers should be presented per capita.” Way ahead of you, irritable dear reader. I downloaded the 2013 county census estimates and decided to do a little data magic, looking at enrollment per 100,000 residents of a given county.


Tompkins dominates, no surprise there. Westchester is next, showing that living in a county comprised of mostly affluent, tony suburbs with school districts to match is handy for getting into the Ivy Leagues. From there, we see it’s a mix of New York City’s affluent suburbs and counties close to Tompkins – though St. Lawrence, up by the Quebec border. is something of an anomaly.

One more thing I wanted to write up before concluding this post, which really only scrapes the tip of the iceberg. The percentage of NYS students continues to decrease as the enrollment increases, as shown below. In fall 2002, 38.93% of students came from NYS; in fall 2008, that number shrank to 33.85%; and by fall 2014, 31.84%. I have no idea if the state has any sort of minimum number or floor percentage that Cornell must adhere to, but if the trend continues, I could imagine some legislators pushing for one.


In sum – the 38% value hasn’t been accurate since 2002, so that quip was outdated by the time I started my time at the Big Red. The 90% value is also a little high, but there’s definitely a large contingent of NYC suburbanites in the student population, and it doesn’t see, so large when broken down to per capita values.

Six Years Later

18 06 2014

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Birthday number six. As blogs go, Ithacating is an old-timer. Many blogs stop within weeks, months, sometimes they limp into a year or two. Going into its seventh year of writing is something of an accomplishment. As with each birthday, here’s the statistical summary:


In previous years, the blog averaged 82, 166, 199, 216 and 182 hits daily. At this time last year, I was actually pretty concerned about the drop in traffic, thinking that the blog’s best days were behind it, and it would just be a slow decline until I finally gave up the ghost.

Before taking that drastic step, I figured I’d change up tactics first. For one, the twitter account was started on February 2nd; I try to keep many of the twitter posts unique, so that followers aren’t just getting rehash of the blog. About 500 hits have been from twitter (the vast majority from the Ithacating account), which accounts for about 2% of the blog visits over that Feb-Jun period – not enormous, but notable. After search engines and facebook, it’s the third largest source of visitors. I also started to leave links to other entries in posts, a practice I had shunned for years as a form of shameless self-promotion. I came to realize that, for easy info access, convenience outweighed modesty. However, I firmly maintain no one will ever see links to this blog on my personal Facebook or LinkedIn accounts.

Second, I decided to borrow methods from Ithaca Builds; in some ways, Jason was the kick in the rear this blog needed to get back on its game. A daily check of city document uploads allow this blog to be among the first, if not the first, to report on new proposals and developments, and when I get around to a photo tour every few months, I break them up into individual projects – much less photo lag, and a steadier flow of entries. The old maps I did for a couple older entries were also “retired”, seeing as the HTML version on IB is much more useful. Jason has his strengths, and I have mine; I like to think we’ve both found respectively niches that complement the other writer’s work.

Another small detail is seen here – many blog posts are now written in advance and scheduled. I wrote this two days ago, leaving out the actual numbers until today.

Over the years, the content of this blog has also evolved quite a bit. At the start, it was largely Cornell, Cornell facilities and Cornell history. However, I eventually started to work my way through most of those topics, and ideas became fewer and further between. The Ithaca development entries, which were a small portion in the beginning, began to take up a larger proportion of the topic matter. I don’t regret this move, but it definitely changed up traffic patterns and what visitors come to this blog for. If anything, it makes me feel a little self-conscious when I get emails or comments give me far more credit than I feel is due. If I became an expert on Ithaca development and urban planning, it wasn’t my intention. I just prefer to not look like an idiot when I write something up.


Anyway, the numbers: as of 3 PM today (note that the blog time is GMT), there have been 56,700 hits, a daily average of 155 hits over the past year. But, looking year to year by month since the big drop after January 2013,  numbers are up 20-50%, a pattern that looks to continue this month. It took some work, but this blog is bouncing back.

Looking over the past years, there have some Cornell-related posts, a topic near and dear to my fingers, if not my heart. Buildings named for “friends” of Cornell, Cornellians in the Olympics, and the “Fast Facts” entries.

I sill do construction updates once in a while, though mostly I’ve left those to Jason’s domain. About the only ones I visit more often are the Belle Sherman Cottages and the Boiceville Cottages; I actually feel a little bad about the Boiceville updates, because I have the remarkable ability to make the place look unattractive every time I take photos, due to  it always being grey or cold when I pass through. In the past year, Seneca Way finished up, the Argos Inn opened (and I hit up its bar), Collegetown Terrace continued construction, and Breckenridge welcomed its first renters. Harold’s Square received approval, the Marriott and Hotel Ithaca dragged along (but at least one has started and one is about to start). Many projects were announced, including hotels at 339 Elmira and 371 Elmira, a new apartment building for Collegetown, 323 Taughannock, the Chain Works District, and everyone and their grandmother wants to redevelop the old library. It’s been busy, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up, which I consider a good thing. History has taught me that not everything proposed will be built, but I’m optimistic much of it will, to the benefit of the city’s bottom line.

Over at Cornell, the Gannett addition was formally announced, the Statler planned yet another makeover, Gates Hall opened and the Dairy Bar reopened. Klarman Hall is underway and a new “Sesquicentennial Grove” is planned for Libe Slope. Lastly, I had my random topics, usually on the weather, the keyword bar, or my borderline obsession with 115 the Knoll.

It’s occurred to me that I have never written a “birthday” entry in the same place. Last year, about a week after that post, I did an interview for an air quality scientist job in Albany; after having an attack of conscience and turning down a job in California in December 2012 (the pay was great, but if I was going to hate the work, it wasn’t worth the move), I had felt that I was stuck in a rut. A few days after that June 27th interview, I received a phone call at 1:55 PM on July 1st, extending to me a job offer. It was great, because I was working night shift as a ship router, and had been woken from my nap; the excitement was tempered by drowsiness. I put in my notice, moved up here in late July, and here I am. I don’t want to “settle” in one tier of one job for too long, but it’s not a bad place to be for the time being. In a way, these anniversary entries are a timestamp of my life, one of many things I’ve enjoyed in these years of writing. I hope to make more timestamps in years ahead.

Cornell’s Presidential Credentials

2 05 2014


Making its rounds in the news over the past couple of months, Cornell’s president, David Skorton, is leaving the gorges of Ithaca to be the secretary (head) of the Smithsonian down in Washington D.C. The departure of Skorton in June 2015 will give him a tenure of about nine years, which as Cornell presidents go, is about average. Considering how many college presidents view their institutions as stepping stones, trying to get out of a place as soon as they have a year under their belt and another line on the resume (Excelsior, I suppose), Cornell’s not doing all that badly in this respect. Of course, this also opens up the task of trying to find Skorton’s successor, a task that is by no means an easy one.

In a meeting about what to look for in the next president, an audience member expressed that they would be very disappointed if all the candidates were white men. I hope the candidates aren’t all old white dudes, but I suspect this is mostly going to be a battle of credentials. In that vein, I decided to take a look at the credentials of Cornell’s past president, prior to their hire.

Andrew Dickson White – Hard to use here because he co-founded Cornell, so the circumstances aren’t comparable to other presidents. A.D. White’s resume prior to Cornell includes a B.A. and an M.A. from Yale, a stint working as a translator for the U.S. ambassador to Russia, a professorship at U. Michigan, and at the time of Cornell’s founding, a state senator out of Syracuse. Six years after his term at Cornell was voluntarily concluded in 1885, he had been asked to serve as the first president of Stanford University, but declined.

Charles Kendall Adams – Assistant professor at Michigan, 1863-1867, then full professor from 1867-1885. He was a former student and close colleague of A.D. White. Adams’s time at Cornell was a tumultuous and unhappy one, and he resigned due to conflicts with the Board of Trustees in 1892, after only seven years of service. His nine years that followed at U. Wisconsin would be much more amicable.

Jacob Gould Schurman – Professor, Acadia College (Canada), 1880-1882; Professor, Dalhousie College, 1882-1886; Professor, Cornell University, 1886-1892. Dean of the Sage School of Philosophy, 1891-1892. Schurman had the longest tenure of any president, at 28 years (1892-1920).

Livingston Farrand – M.D., Columbia, 1891. Doctor of Laws (LL.D.), Cambridge and Berlin, 1893. Adjunct professor of psychology, Columbia, member of multiple anthropological expeditions to the Pacific Northwest. Full professor of anthropology at Columbia, 1903-1914. President of U.Colorado, 1914-1919. Treasurer of the American Public Health Association (1912-1914), Executive Secretary for a tuberculosis prevention group (1905), Director in France for the International Health Board, 1917-1919. Chairman of the American Red Cross. Cornell president, 1921-1937; he died in Manhattan two years later.

Edmund Ezra Day – Degrees in economics, BA and MA from Dartmouth, PhD from Harvard. From 1923, professor at U. Michigan, where he would advance to become first dean of their business school, and dean of the university. President of Cornell 1937-1949. He passed away shortly after his resignation. the interim president, provost Cornelis de Kiewiet, would act as president for two years before a successor was approved. He would leave that same year to serve out a decade as president of the Univ. of Rochester.

Deane Malott – B.A. in economics from U. Kansas and a Harvard M.B.A. Assistant Dean/Assistant Professor at Harvard, 1923-1929. Vice President, Hawaiian Pineapple Company (now Dole), 1929-1934. Professor, Harvard, 1934-1939. Chancellor, U. Kansas, 1939-1951. Sat on numerous corporate boards. Deane Malott served 12 years at Cornell, 1951-1963, before he retired. Malott was noted as an excellent fund-raiser, and although personally a social conservative, he had a liberal approach to Cornell’s intellectual pursuits.

James Perkins – Degrees in political science from Swarthmore (BA) and Princeton (PhD). Professor, Princeton, 1937-1941. Administrator, United States Office of Price Administration and the Foreign Economic Administration, 1941-1945. Vice president, Swarthmore, 1945-1950. Vice President, Carnegie Corporation (an educational foundation), 1950-1963. Perkins served as president for six years, 1963-1969, before stepping down in the aftermath of the Willard Straight takeover. Afterwards, he served as the chairman and CEO of the International Council for Educational Development for 20 years.

Dale Corson – BA (Emporia College), MA (U. Kansas), PhD (Physics, U.C. Berkeley, 1938).  Co-discoverer of the element astatine. Helped to develop radar during WWII. Associate professor of physics, Cornell, 1947-1956. Full professor, 1956. Dean of the Engineering School, 1959-1963. Provost of Cornell, 1963-1969. Appointed president after Perkins’s resignation, Corson was considered a mild-mannered scientist who provided stability to the university through the 1970s. After eight years, Corson resigned as president in 1977, becoming Chancellor and then appointed president emeritus.

Frank H.T. Rhodes – U. Birmingham (UK), BA,MA, PhD (Geology, 1951). Fulbright Scholar, U. Illinois, 1950-1951. Professor of geology, U. Durham (UK), 1951-1954. Assistant professor, U. Illinois, 1954-1955. Associate Professor, U. Illinois, 1955-1956. Geology. Dept head, U. Wales-Swansea (UK), 1956-1967. Dean of science, U. Wales-Swansea, 1967-1968. Visiting research scholar, Ohio State, 1965-66. Professor, U. Michigan, 1968-1971. Dean, College of Literature, Science and the Arts at U. Michigan, 1971-1974. Vice president of academic affairs, U. Michigan, 1974-1977. Frank Rhodes served as Cornell president from 1977-1995. He is a professor emeritus of the geology department and still lives in Ithaca.

Hunter R. Rawlings III – B.A. (Classics, Haverford College, 1966), PhD (Classics, Princeton, 1970). Associate Professor, U. Colorado-Boulder, 1970-1980. Dean of classics dept., U. Colorado-Boulder, 1978-1980. Recipient of U. Colorado teaching excellence award, 1979.  Full professor, U. Colorado, 1980-1988. Associate vice chancellor, 1980-1984. President, U. Iowa, 1988-1995. Rawlings served as president of Cornell from 1995 to 2003, and later as the interim president between Lehman and Skorton. Rawlings was known as a strong fundraiser, but was criticized for his hands-off approach to the university. He continues a professor at Cornell, and is also the president of the American Association of Universities.

Jeffrey Lehman – the only one with Cornell in his pedigree prior to his presidency. BA, Cornell (mathematics, 1977). J.D. and an M.P.P. (Master of Public Policy), U. Michigan, 1981. Law clerk to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (1982-83),  Lawyer, Caplin & Drysdale, 1983-1987, Assistant law professor, U. Michigan, 1987-1992, Professor of law/law and public policy, 1992-2003, Dean of U. Michigan law school, 1994-2003. Lehman served only two years as Cornell president before suddenly stepping down due to disagreements with the trustees; what specifically caused the rift remains a subject of debate. He continued as a Cornell law professor until 2012, and is now the vice chancellor of NYU Shanghai.

David Skorton – BS (Psychology, Northwestern, 1970), M.D. (Northwestern, 1974). Medical residency in cardiology, UCLA. Instructor, U. Iowa, 1980. Assistant Professor in internal medicine, U. Iowa, 1981. Assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, U. Iowa, 1982. Vice president of research, U. Iowa, 1992. Vice president for research and external relations, U. Iowa, 2002. Chancellor, U. Iowa, 2003-2006.

So if the latest presidents are any indicator, they’re going to have a lot of education, a lot of titles on their resume, and more likely than not, hail from a large state school. Given our trend for Iowans, has anyone contacted Sally Mason yet?





The Keyword Bar XXI

11 04 2014

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I figured I had two options at the moment – write about all the Chain Works District news, or do one of my tried-and-true keyword bar articles, where I examine and comment/answer on searches that led folks to this site. Well, I’m holding off on the Chain Works discussion, until some of the materials presented start floating around one of the local government websites (city of Ithaca, town of Ithaca, or county), and can be reused here. So in the meanwhile-

1. “what frat can ithaca college students join” 4-9-2014 and “ithaca college sorority options” 4-2-2014
Officially, IC offers a few professional music fraternities, but there are a couple of social Greek chapters that are based at IC but are not officially affiliated with the college. Rarely, IC students join Cornell University Greek organizations, though it’s normally no more than 10 IC students per year. Many of these are in the MGLC, fraternities and sororities that focus on minority groups, but a couple do join chapters affiliated with Cornell’s IFC (I don’t know if Pan-Hellenic allows sororities to recruit IC students; maybe in the informal fall rush). These students aren’t allowed to serve in leadership positions in most chapters, and I imagine the trek between campuses gets old after a while.
2. “cornell snow graduation” 4-8-2014

Thankfully, there’s nothing to worry about. According to the NRCC, the latest snow of any amount (trace or higher) in Ithaca occurred on May 18th (1973). With graduation traditionally at the end of May, the possibility of snow is very remote. Winter graduation is a different story.

3. “proposed south hill development town of ithaca” 4-7-2014.

That would be the Troy Road development. Which from a planning/land use perspective, I become less and less a fan of every time I see it. But then, I prefer New Urbanist planning, not suburban cut-and-paste development. I just keep reminding myself that the current zoning is worse, and the town has a poor track record in raining in sprawl.

4. “is there any problem of construction in collegetown terrace” 4-4-2014

Jason over at Ithaca Builds would know this better than I, but as far as I’m aware, there’s been no indication of construction issues. Perhaps the parking isn’t being utilized as much as they thought it would, but that has more to do with planning than construction.

5. “the cradit-moore house” 4-1-2014

Actually, this one has a pretty cool story attached. The Cradit-Moore house dates from 1817, with an addition built in 1860-61. The older north wing was built by Issac Cradit, and the south wing by Peter Kline (the Kline family were locally prominent farmers who held a lot of land, and its where Kline and Klinewoods Roads take their name from). The house was bought in 1938 by Dr. and Mrs. Norman Moore. Dr. Moore was the director of the Cornell U. infirmary, and in 1948, the Moores sold the house to Cornell but with the condition that they could live out the rest of their days in the home. When Cornell began plans to expand North Campus with CKB and Appel back in the late 1990s, the original intent was to demolish the house. This caused substantial protest, and working with the non-profit preservation group Historic Ithaca, Cornell donated the house away in 2000 and Historic Ithaca loaded the house, all in one piece, onto a flatbed truck and hauled it .3 miles to a new foundation on a lot donated by Cornell further up Pleasant Grove Road. The house was then sold to a private owner to recuperate the moving costs, the new foundation and landscaping.

Image property of Historic Ithaca

Image property of Historic Ithaca

6. “tunnel barton teagle” 3-25-2014

It exists, though like many of Cornell’s tunnels, it doesn’t appear to be open for public use.

Ithaca is Cold

3 04 2014


It probably doesn’t take a meteorologist to realize that this year was a long, cold and harsh winter. But let’s give it some perspective. All data comes courtesy of the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC).

Records go back to 1893 for the Ithaca area. If we look at just snowfall, this was a fairly average year. The typical Ithaca winter averaged 64 to 67 inches, depending on your source, with accumulations on 19 days. Barring any freak spring snowstorms (God forbid), this year will finish up at 63.3 inches tallied from 20 days of accumulating snow, virtually par for the course.

Then we take a look at the cold. That was the news maker this year – the cold, not the snow. Let’s put this into perspective and look at the period from November 1 to March 31st – what most folks would describe as the cold season, rather than just calendar or meteorological winter (we’ll hit met winter in a minute).

This was tied for the second coldest cold season since 1893. The average temperature was 24.8 F. Tied with the winter of 1969/1970, and 0.3 F short of the record holder, 24.5 F set in the winter of 1903/04. Even the detestable cold of the winter of 1993/1994 wasn’t as bad as this year (though it holds fourth at 25.0 F). The average coldest temperature in a year is about January 18th, with a high of 30 F and a low of 17 F.  23.5 F. In other words, the temperatures seen on what is usually the coldest day in a year could very nearly be applied to a five month period. It was that bad.

Now let’s look at meteorological winter, December 1 – February 28th/29th. 21.4 F. This is, surprisingly, not awful. It’s the 15th coldest meteorological winter on record. Below average, but not awful. 2002-2003 was worse (21.2 F). The winter of 1917-18 is worst, with an average of 19.0 F. So winter was cold, and seems to be shifting the blame to November and March.

In that respect, we have to hand it to March for being an epic piece of frigid dung. Fourth coldest March on record, at 24.5 F. Only March 1900 (24.4 F), 1984 (23.8 F) and 1960 (21.5 F) were worse. November 2013 averaged 35.7 F, which is once again below average, as the 16th coldest November on record. To sum up this season, it wasn’t just the cold, it was duration that truly made it a memorable year.

To touch upon the cold a little more thoroughly, the number of subzero temperatures in the cold season was 23. 23 subzero days ties second place for the most subzero days in a cool season. Tied with 1947/48, and one short of the record holder, 1960/61 (change it to met winter and it moves to third, behind 1960/61 and 1962/63). In terms of maxima, it still has yet to hit 60 this year, the last time Ithaca was above the “jacket line” was December 23rd. You know, because everyone wants a green Christmas, followed by three months of polar conditions.

So there you have it. Persistent troughing in the east gave us one of the coldest cool seasons in decades. If you want to blame someone, look at California and their persistent ridge out west, giving them their warmest winter ever recorded. But then, given the drought, and given that the fringe suburbs of SoCal may go through this again in six months, maybe blame’s not the right word.

2013 Census Estimates: Say Hi to the New Neighbors

30 03 2014

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Every late March, the U.S. census releases their new population estimates for counties. So, I causally checked in to see how the Tompkins County numbers were doing. The county typically shows a modest addition of a few hundred each year – from 2010 to 2012, the estimated addition was 990 residents, from 101,564 to 102,554, which if carried out evenly, it would be an expected 4.9% increase for the decade (and roughly on par with the 5.2% in the 2000s).

I was a little taken aback when I saw the numbers for this year. For one thing, somewhere along the way, they revised 2012’s number up to 102,713. For another thing, this year’s number is a relative spike in the trajectory – 103,617.  In addition of 904 from the revised 2012 figure, and 1,063 from the original 2012 estimate. So, the change from 2012 to 2013 is about as much or more than the gain of the previous two years. Using the 2013 figure and extrapolating the three years’ estimates out to the end of the decade, the county would be projected to grow 6.74% to about 108,400 residents in the year 2020.

In many states, this would not seem an overly impressive figure. But it is worth noting that this is economically-depressed upstate New York. Last year, the only counties that were growing faster than Tompkins (as a percentage) were Jefferson County (Watertown, with the economic engine of Fort Drum) and Saratoga County (Saratoga Springs, with the massive Global Foundries computer chip plant in suburban Malta).  With the 2013 figures, Tompkins County moves into the second-place slot, behind Jefferson County (I note that the population estimates gave Jefferson a population decrease this year; the army base up there is expected to see a loss of 1500 to 2000 soldiers as it loses a brigade over the next few years, as part of army cutbacks). I’m also leaving out downstate counties/boroughs – Kings County/Brooklyn Borough is projected to have added 88,000 people for 3.5% growth since 2010. Almost all of Tompkins’s population, in three years. New York City gains ever-more reason to view it and its boroughs as the center of the world. On the other end of the scale, Schoharie (sko-hair-ee) County has the biggest estimated percent loss, at -2.8%. Schoharie is a rural county just west of Albany; it suffered a major hit from Hurricane Irene.

Echoing my comments from last year, estimates should be used with caution, as they don’t always reflect the true population. From the housing units perspective, using the number of 2.29 residents per unit estimated for 2008-2012, one gets justification for about 395 more units of housing for the past year, or about 897 units since 2010. I’m cautious about using these number as much more than curiosities, but they’re intriguing, and seem to bode well for the health of this county. Even when the jobs numbers aren’t.



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