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Watertown is a town in Jefferson County, New York, The Town of Watertown is located in the southeast part of the county. The town surrounds the City of Watertown on three sides. The Towns of Pamelia and the Black River form the northern boundary.
Watertown, New York, has been named the Number One small city in America for "summer comfort" in a new book, "The New Rating Guide to Life in America’s Small Cities", achieving the highest grade in the book’s environmental scale for having a warm, comfortable summer. Watertown is rated Number One in summer climate out of 193 small cities that qualified for the guide, beating out number two Ithaca, Number Three Beckley, W.Va. and Manitowoc, Wisc. and 5-rated Cortland. El Centro, Calif. is rated dead last at 193 this year, with the worst small city summer climate in America.
Overall, Watertown has much to boast about, being ranked 50th out of 193 small cities that qualified for the guide. The guide rates quality in 10 areas: climate/environment, diversions, economics, education, community assets, health care, housing, public safety, transportation, and urban proximity. Why is Watertown the best small city to be in during the summer? Rating guide Author Kevin Heubusch explains: "A long, hot summer is the rule for much of America. The breezes from Lake Ontario keep Watertown comfortable all summer long. Watertown’s average temperature for July is 79.9 degrees. The temperature usually climbs past 90 degrees only twice in the month. This small city has never had a day hotter than 97 degrees".
Compare the best rated Watertown with the worst rated El Centro, Calif., which has an average daily high in July of 108.4 degrees, according to the guide. "The New Rating Guide to Life In America’s Small Cities" (released Nov. 6 by Prometheus Books), the most popular guide to living in America’s micropolitan areas - those with 15,000 to 50,000 residents - is a thorough report card of the communities that rank among the best, and worst, of 193 qualifying micropolitan localities in the United States.
Author Kevin Heubusch uses all the latest information, from government statistics and independent sources, to grade each community, providing national averages and summarizing national trends that have affected communities large and small since the original, and overwhelmingly popular "Rating Guide to Life in America’s Small Cities" was published in 1990.
Highways serving Jefferson County include Interstate 81, which traverses the city line. Interstate 81 is the major north-south route through New York State from Ontario, Canada, and the Thousand Islands International Bridge to the Pennsylvania border at Binghamton. Route 11, a parallel north-south route, passes through the City. New York State Highways 3, 12, and 37 also use city streets. Route 3 is an east-west route; Route 12 connects near the Thruway at the Utica-Rome area and travels into the Clayton-Cape Vincent area, and then runs in a northeasterly direction along the river and connects with Route 37 near Ogdensburg. Route 37 begins at the northern city line and continues north along the St. Lawrence River to and then eastward to Malone. Route 26, from Rome, enters the city from Carthage and joins Route 12 at Alexandria Bay.
Jefferson County enjoys four distinct seasons. The monthly average temperature ranges from a low of 18° F in January to a high of 70° F in July. The average minimum/maximum temperature for January is 8/28° F; while for July it is 61/70° F. The yearly average precipitation is 40.5 inches. The snowfall averages 114 inches, of which 37 inches fall in December. Of the total annual precipitation, approximately 17 inches falls during the growing season of May, June, July, August and September.
The topography of the county is widely varied. To the north and west it is generally flat rolling plain with a soil mantle over rock, much of which is apparent on the surface. The south and southeastern sections of the county are marked by a high plateau, rising to an elevation of 1,200 to 1,500 feet above sea level, with an irregular surface plateau. The glacier till veneer which covers most of Jefferson County varies from a few inches to several feet in depth and consists of a mixture of stone, gravel, sand, silt and clay.
Jefferson County soils have been grouped into four resource areas: clays, silt loams, upland high-lime Towns, and upland acid loams. These areas are divided according to local conditions which influence the management of that soil. Approximately 80 soils have been named according to different characteristics - drainage, structure, and natural fertility.
One state senator (46th District) and one assembly person (114th District) represent Jefferson County in the state legislature which meets in the state capital, Albany. New York State Office Building: Located at the corner of Washington Street and Academy Street, Watertown, the Dulles State Office Building houses offices for a variety of New York State agencies: Attorney General, Departments of State, Health, Labor, Law, Transportation and Employment Services and the State Workman's Compensation Board.
Two regional planning agencies, the Development Authority of the North Country and the Tug Hill Commission, have offices in this building. First Step Day Care, Inc., opened in 1991, provides on-site childcare for state employees and the general public in its first floor location.
Commission Offices are located at Keewaydin State Park, off Route 12, on the outskirts of Alexandria Bay, 25 miles north of Watertown. This office serves as the central control point for State Parks in the 1000 Islands area.
Air: Watertown Intentional Airport, located five miles west of downtown Watertown in the Town of Hounsfield, is owned and operated by the City of Watertown. U.S. Air Express passenger and package service is provided by Liberty Express with three daily direct flights to the US Air hub - Pittsburgh. Free airport parking is available and car and luxury van rental service is available at the terminal. Weather observers work round-the-clock for the FAA at the Airport. Both lighted runways are 5000 feet long and 150 feet wide and one has an instrument landing system. Visiting aircraft have parking options of hanger, tie-downs or open ramp parking. Syracuse Airport, a major regional facility approximately a one hour drive south of Watertown, offers service to several major hub airports with service provided by major airlines including United, US Air, American, Delta, and Continental.
Rail: ConRail Transportation Company offices are located at Massey Street yard. Trainmaster, supervisor of the track, car control, train crew caller and engine crew caller are also at Massey Street yard, located on Outer Massey Street, Watertown.
Bus: Greyhound Terminal is located at 540 State Street, Watertown. Thousand Islands Bus Lines operates daily round trip service between Watertown and Ogdensburg with stops in Clayton and Alexandria Bay from the Greyhound terminal. Schedules for both lines are available at the Greyhound terminal. Watertown's Citi-Bus Corp. provides service within the city limits. A paratransit system is also available through the Citi-Bus system.
Trucking: Numerous firms service the area, including Canadian firms located on Wellesley Island. Customs brokers are located at Hill Island, Canadian border. The United Parcel Service (UPS) located on Outer Coffeen Street is open daily 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Highway: Highways serving the Watertown area include Interstate 8 1, which traverses the City line. Interstate 81 is the major north-south route through New York State from Ontario, Canada, and the Thousand Islands Intentional Bridge to the Pennsylvania border at Binghamton. Interstate 81 also connects with the New York State Thruway in Syracuse and with Route 17 near Binghamton. Route 1 1, a parallel north-south route passes through the city. New York State Highways 3, 12, and 37 also use city streets. Route 3 is an east-west route; Route 12 connects near the New York State Thruway US 90 at the Utica-Rome area and travels into Clayton-Cape Vincent area, and then runs on a northeasterly direction along the river and connects with Route 37 near Ogdensburg. Route 37 begins at the northern City line and continues north along the St. Lawrence River to Massena and then easterly to Malone. Route 26, out of Rome, enters the City from Carthage and joins Route 12 at Alexandria Bay.
The major geographic features of Jefferson County include the St. Lawrence River Valley/Thousand Islands Region in the north, the Lake Ontario lowlands in the west, the Tug Hill Plateau in the southeast, the Black River Valley which bisects the county east to west, and the Theresa Lakes Region in the northeast. The County encompasses 1,293 square miles, making it the ninth largest county in the State. Elevation ranges from a high of 1,700 feet above mean sea level in the Tug Hill region, to a low of 244 feet above mean sea level along the shoreline. Aside from its major population centers (City of Watertown, Fort Drum, and the larger villages) the County is primarily rural in character, with its major land uses reflected in open spaces, agriculture, and forests.
The County's population, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, is 111,738. The major population center within the County is the City of Watertown with a 2000 population of 26,705. Between 1980 and 1990, Jefferson County experienced a 26 percent increase in population and was the fastest growing county in New York State. The largest factor for this growth was the activation of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) at Fort Drum, which is located in the north eastern portion of the County. For more current information about Jefferson County's demographic trends, visit Census Highlights.
Jefferson County's economy has traditionally been resource based, with many economic opportunities afforded by its water, agricultural and forest resources. Dairy farming, food processing, and papermaking are major industries in the County with a long tradition. In addition, railroad equipment, industrial machinery, and medical equipment manufacturing are also substantial contributors to the County's economy. Jefferson County is a regional administrative center for State government programs and also benefits from being the home of the 10th Mountain Division and ("The New") Fort Drum. The expansion of Fort Drum in the 1980's has brought a boom in Jefferson County Farm construction and trade. Jefferson County's economy is favorably blessed by its location adjacent to large Canadian markets.
The natural beauty of the County led to the development of a tourism industry, particularly in the Thousand Islands region which became known at the turn of the century as the "Millionaires' Playground". Today, Jefferson County offers four seasons of recreation for the outdoor sports enthusiast. With world renown sport fishing, boating, and winter recreation opportunities, the economic impact of tourism is substantial.
The County offers a "one-stop shopping" approach for businesses to access our economic development network through the Jefferson County Job Development Corporation (JCJDC). With offices at 800 Starbuck Ave in Watertown, the JCJDC is housed in the Watertown Center for Business and Industry, the County's newest incubator for business expansion.
Yankee ingenuity overcame inadequate transportation and communication facilities to establish a prosperous agricultural, industrial, and mercantile tradition. Jefferson County has been world famous for its manufacturing tradition: cotton and woolen yarns, carriages, sewing machines, water pumps, oil lamps, portable steam engines, railroad brakes, plows, emery grinders, paper machinery, cylinder 125th Anniversary of Arbor Day printing presses, high pressure hydraulic pumps, and turbine starting systems are just a few of the examples. Throughout its history, Jefferson County has demonstrated a resiliency and ingenuity in the face of change. The genesis of Arbor Day, the Dewey Decimal System, the Five and Dime Store (Woolworth's), Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and Thousand Islands Dressing, were all developed in Jefferson County.