City Historian

 

Plattsburgh was founded by Zephaniah Platt in 1785. As early as Samuel de Champlain's 1609 expedition into the Lake Champlain valley, this region began to fall under the influence of the French and later under American and English colonial power. Early French contact and the proximity of Plattsburgh to Quebec, make this a historically French region.
 
While Plattsburgh is cited by American historians as being a relatively new city, the area became occupied somewhere after the arrival of Samuel de Champlain in 1609 and the beginning of theFur Trade in Montreal in the mid to late 17th century.
 
The community set itself off from the Town of Plattsburgh by incorporating as a village in 1815. The city government was established in the former village in 1902.
 
With its significant location on a major water thoroughfare and close to the U.S. - Candian border, Plattsburgh has been the site of a number of historic events including the Revolutionary War's Battle of Valcour Island and the War of 812's Battle of Plattsburgh; the city has a War of 1812 museum.
 
Plattsburgh Normal School was founded in 1889. It burned in 1929, and was rebuilt in 1932. In 1948 it became State University of New York at Plattsburgh.
 
During the Cold War, military functions took a prominent role in Plattsburgh, which was home to Plattsburgh Air Force Base (PAFB) and was the location of the Strategic Air Command's primary wing on the U.S. East Coast due to its geographic desirability. The 380th Bombardment, Aerospace, and Refueling Wings, all stationed at PAFB, included B-52 Bombers, air-refueling "tankers" and FB-111s.  The base had a great deal of land surface and was one of only four military bases in the United States with a landing strip large enough for a Space Shuttle landing.
 
Despite its numerous awards for performance excellence, PAFB was closed on September 29, 1995 in a round of national base closures in the early 1990s as the Air Force began to pare down its post-Cold War missions. The base property is now managed by the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation (PARC) and is used by a number of industrial manufacturers and commercial airlines.
 
Throughout much of the 1980s, when the Candian dollar was strong relative to the U.S. dollar, Plattsburgh was a favorite tourist location for vacationers from Montreal and southern Quebec.  Bilingual signs, in English and French, are found in parts of the city. The city beaches and camp grounds were regularly crowded and Plattsburgh attracted enough retail stores and outlets to build a second large indoor shopping mall, Champlain Cenre North, in addition to several outdoor shopping centers. The additional retail space of the Champlain Centre North along with the Consumer Square made the Pyramid Mall irrelevant; it was largely demolished and converted into a  power center with a 115,000 sq ft (10,700 m2) Lowes Home Center and a new Price Chopper as the anchor stores. However, with the closing of PAFB and the strengthening U.S. dollar in the 1990s, Canadian tourism declined, although it has rebounded with the falling dollar of 2007.
 
Today, the city relies largely in part on new industries expanding on the former airbase as well as established manufacturing plants, one being Bombardier and the other the Georgia-Pacific paper plant. The GP plant is housed in the former LOZIER Auto factory built at the turn of the century on the former (lakefront) Anderson Farm.

 

City Historian

John W. Krueger

41 CIty Hall Place

Plattsburgh, NY  12901

(518)332-0360

jkruegervt@msn.com





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