View Full Version : Tell me about Corning/Elmira, NY

01-26-2012, 09:23 AM
My GF applied for a job in the Corning/Elmira area of New York and there's a decent probability she'll get it.

I've been roughly in that area a few times, specifically just passing through on my way to/from Syracuse, and I never paid any attention so I really don't know anything about the area.

Mind you I'm coming from a dense urban environment (DC) and our current cost of living is extremely high. I've always felt kind of like a small-town guy who was born and raised in a big city. I don't care about an exciting nightlife or trendy restaurants or whatever. I could easily handle not having any of that crap (and the crowds of people that come with it).

Anyway, anyone know anything about Corning, Elmira, or the surrounding area? What's it like to live there? What's the cost of living? What's the housing market like? What's there to do in town? Is it a nice place to live? Etc.... Your input is greatly appreciated!

02-02-2012, 02:16 PM
Hmm, nothing.

Oookay, in that case, let's expand it out to the general Western New York/Southern Tier area.

What's it like out there?

02-02-2012, 04:18 PM
My mother grew up in Elmira, so I spent a fair amount of time there as a child. I've visited a couple of times since. Overall, it's a pretty nice working-class town, where probably not enough people are working these days. It used to be the home of American LaFrance, which was the major maker of fire engines in the country, and of Schweitzer Bros., the largest glider/sailplane manufacturer. I think about the only industry of note still there is Anchor Glass. The city depended on the railroad; the decline of same is probably the biggest reason for its decline. It is, after all, pretty isolated for a northeast city.

I think it's comparatively attractive for a New York smallish city, but maybe that's just nostalgia talking. The country surrounding it is beautiful.

Corning is still the home of Corning Glass, though I don't know how many employees are there. That's all I know about Corning.

02-02-2012, 05:29 PM
There's a big, honking max security prison in Elmira with a gigantic statue of two naked men in front-- one bent over at the waist and the other behind him "helping" him up. And a dog run.

That's what I know about Elmira.

02-02-2012, 05:50 PM
What's the cost of living? What's the housing market like?
I'm not sure about the rest but this I do have some insight to. Remember to factor property taxes into your calculations of livability. If Corning/Elmira is like most other places in Upstate NY, there will be good houses available for well under $100K. But the property taxes might be almost as much as the mortgage. Or it might not. I just know that in a lot of places, they can be onerous out of proportion to the assessed value.

02-02-2012, 06:04 PM
Corning is the nicer of the two cities. Much, much nicer - a well preserved downtown that sees a bit of street life on weekends, a fairly well educated middle-class population thanks to Corning Glass (they're not just stamping out Corelle plates; a lot of research and specialized manufacturing takes place there), and even an honest-to-goodness Wegmans. More transplants from around NYS and the rest of the country, as well.

Elmira ... it's kind of like a small Utica, but not as Italian-American. Blue-collar, with more of a "seen better days" vibe. Run-down downtown, with the only building I've ever seen that could be described as ... uhh, vaginic? There's some decent neighborhoods. Horseheads is really the only suburb of Elmira of note, with a decent mall (Arnot Mall) with the usual retailers (Macy's, Sears, etc) and usual chain retail stores and restaurants. The Elmira area may not be well-off, but economically it's stable.

Housing in Corning is also more expensive than Elmira. A 45 minute commute from Ithaca is possible, housing there approaches "an hour from New York City" prices.

If online dating profiles are any indicator, there's far more college-educated and articulate women in Corning, and more biker chicks and grandmothers in their late 30s/early 40s in Elmira.

The Binghamton/Elmira/Corning/Twin Tiers area is the northernmost part of what is technically considered Appalachia. Go beyond the urban areas, and you'll encounter pockets of West Virginia-style rural poverty, something you don't see around Syracuse, Rochester or Buffalo.

All the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes cities have the problem of being "centrally isolated"; large cities seem tauntingly close, but just far enough away where travel there is inconvenient.

Little Nemo
02-02-2012, 06:47 PM
I used to live in Elmira. I have to say I was not overly impressed with the town.

As elmwood said, like many rust belt towns, it's a city in decline. It's a college town but there doesn't seem to be any real college culture going on.

Cost of living is cheap (at least when I was living there) and the weather was decent.

Corning is more prosperous than Elmira (Corning Glass is the city's big employer). But Corning is smaller than Elmira so your choices in that city may be narrower.

02-02-2012, 07:38 PM
Do you like being outside in the winter, doing things like skiing or other winter recreation? I think one's happiness in this area is largely tied to how well you handle winters, they are relatively long and could be very snowy. If you are prone to cabin fever, it would be a long haul.

02-02-2012, 07:52 PM
But on the other hand, the deep hotness of summer is also not as long as almost anywhere else in the US that actually has a summer, except for some places on the West Coast with a Mediterranean climate. I know that DC and most places in the midwest can get both the depths of cold and heat (or just heat in DC's case.) But NYS winters are milder than the upper midwest's and their summers are milder than most of the midwest, too, not as many 90 degree days as in Chicago.

Now, spring lasts forever. It's not all tiptoeing thru the fresh tulips with fluffy bunnies either, it's smell-all-the-dead-mud and freezing rain type spring. But I'd step in those puddles again for that fresh crisp few weeks of fall --- ahhhh.

02-03-2012, 08:50 AM
Cost of living is cheap (at least when I was living there) and the weather was decent.That's good to know, since she'll probably have to be the primary support, unless I can convince my employer to let me telework from there (which is highly unlikely).

Do you like being outside in the winter, doing things like skiing or other winter recreation? I think one's happiness in this area is largely tied to how well you handle winters, they are relatively long and could be very snowy.

We love winter. We like being outside in the cold. We don't like the long, hot summers in DC. I actually enjoy shoveling snow.

02-03-2012, 09:14 AM
I've lived in Binghamton, which is about 60 miles from Elmira. Corning was another 30 miles away IIRC. Binghamton/Johnson City/Endicott is the "tri-city area" , with a lot of cultural things -- the Robeson Institute (now the Robeson Science Center), Ross Park Zoo, SUNY Bunghamton (Now Binghamton University). It had a "living" downtown with things going on, but it was a much smaller city than Rochester (where I'd lived before), and felt it. And, of course, there was a lot fewer things than Boston, where I'd lived before that. (Binghamton has chenged significantly since I lived there, but I don't know if for better or worse. A lot of the big companies that were still going when I lived there have closed or pulled out, so I suspect I wouldn't like it as much).

Elmira I visited, and it was smaller. When I visited Corning, my only impressions were Corning Glass (with its museum) and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art.