Cooperstown is a village in and county seat of Otsego County, New York, United States. Most of the village lies within the town of Otsego, but some of the eastern parts is in the town of Middlefield. It is located at the southern end of the historic Otsego Lake and is in the Central New York Region of New York.
Cooperstown is best known as the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Farmers' Museum, opened in 1944 on farmland that had once belonged to James Fenimore Cooper, the Fenimore Art Museum, Glimmerglass Opera, and the New York State Historical Association are also based here. Most of the historic pre-1900 core of the village is included in the Cooperstown Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980; its boundaries were increased in 1997 and more contributing properties were identified.
The population of the village was 1,852 as of the 2010 census.
The village was developed within part of the Cooper Patent, which William Cooper – who later became a county judge – purchased in 1785 from Colonel George Croghan, former Deputy to Sir William Johnson, British Superintendent of Indian Affairs of the Northern District. The land amounted to 10,000 acres (40 km2). William Cooper founded a village on Otsego Lake. His son James Fenimore Cooper grew up in the frontier town. He later became a noted American author with The Leatherstocking Tales, a series of historical novels that includes The Last of the Mohicans.
Cooper established the village of Cooperstown in 1786, laid out by surveyor William Ellison. At the time, the area was part of Montgomery County. It was incorporated as the "Village of Otsego" on April 3, 1807. The name was changed to "Village of Cooperstown" on June 12, 1812, after the founder. William Cooper was appointed as a county judge in the late 18th century and was elected to the state assembly from Otsego County.
Cooperstown is one of only twelve villages in New York still incorporated under a charter, the other villages having incorporated or re-incorporated under the provisions of Village Law.
Geography and climate
According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2), of which 1.5 square miles (3.9 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (2.53%) is water.
The source of the Susquehanna River is in Cooperstown at the outlet of Otsego Lake. Blackbird Bay of Otsego Lake is north of the village.
The junction of New York State Route 28 and New York State Route 80 was constructed at Cooperstown. The village is also served by County Routes 31 and 33.
Cooperstown has a humid continental climate, with cold, very snowy winters, warm summers, and abundant precipitation year-round. Freezing temperatures have been observed in every month of the year, except for July. The record low temperature is −34 °F (−37 °C), set on February 9, 1934, and the record high temperature is 99 °F (37 °C), set on July 9 and 10, 1936.
Aside from James Fenimore Cooper, noted Cooperstown's authors include his daughter Susan Fenimore Cooper, the author of Rural Hours, and his great-great-grandson Paul Fenimore Cooper, author of Tal: His Marvelous Adventures with Noon-Zor-Noom (1929, 1957, 2001).
Other writers include the prolific poet W. W. Lord, who captured Cooperstown in many of his poems, as well as modern author Lauren Groff, who has written extensively about her hometown, notably in The Monsters of Templeton, a story that brings several Cooperstown legends to life.
The work of Cooperstown-based novelist and poet Marly Youmans has referred to the area, notably, in her epic poem Thaliad (2012), in which a group of child survivors of an apocalypse travel north and make their new home in an abandoned village on the shore of Glimmerglass Lake.
The Clark family
The Clark Estates building, originally the Otsego County Bank, was built in 1831 in the Greek Revival style.
The Clark family, whose fortune originated with a half-ownership of the patent for Signer Sewing Machine, has lived in Cooperstown since the mid-19th century. The family's holdings include interests assembled over a century and a half, which are now held through trusts and foundations. Their dominance is reflected in Clark ownership of more than 10,000 acres (40 km2) of largely undeveloped land in and around greater Cooperstown.
In the village, the Otesaga, the Cooper Inn, Clark Estates, and the Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home are all Clark properties. In addition, the Clarks were founding partners of, and retain an interest in, the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital.
Cooperstown still receives support from the Clark Foundation, which has donated to a variety of causes including various scholarships, non-profit organizations, and village services. The family has also donated land for the Cooperstown Central School District's new high school location − formerly horse stables − as well as for parks such as Fairy Springs and Council Rock, and recently, for a new Little League baseball field.
Jane Forbes Clark II, the primary family heir today, has continued this commitment. She has purchased strategic land to ensure the preservation of village entry points, as well as overseeing the expansion of the various Clark holdings.
In late November 2013, Clark discussed her family's continued support for the community during a meeting of The Women’s Club of Cooperstown. The Clark Foundation supports a variety of Cooperstown and Otsego County organizations and causes with donations of $7.5 million to charitable organizations every year. The family's Scriven Foundation, formed in 1975, donates to only Otsego County nonprofit organizations, such as the Cooperstown Village Library. The Scriven Foundation donates $1.5 million every year. According to Clark's presentation, the family's businesses employ 4,198 people, with 3,100 of those positions being full-time jobs.