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Salamanca, New York

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Title: Salamanca, New York  
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Subject: George Abbott, Rochester, New York, Allegany State Park, Western New York, Erie Lackawanna Railway, U.S. Route 219, List of places in New York: S, Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, Kit Cope, Ira Joe Fisher
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Salamanca, New York

This article is about the city. For the adjacent town, see Salamanca (town), New York.

Salamanca (city), New York
Location in the state of New York

Coordinates: 42°9′31″N 78°42′57″W / 42.15861°N 78.71583°W / 42.15861; -78.71583Coordinates: 42°9′31″N 78°42′57″W / 42.15861°N 78.71583°W / 42.15861; -78.71583

Country United States
State New York
County Cattaraugus
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Mayor Carmen A. Vecchiarella (D)
 • City Council
 • Total 6.2 sq mi (16.1 km2)
 • Land 6.0 sq mi (15.5 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.6 km2)
Elevation 1,381 ft (421 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 5,815
 • Density 940/sq mi (360/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 14779
Area code(s) 716
FIPS code 36-64749
GNIS feature ID 0964291

Salamanca is a city in Cattaraugus County, New York, United States, located inside the Allegany Indian Reservation. The population was 5,815 at the 2010 census. It was named after José de Salamanca.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.2 square miles (16.1 km²), of which 6.0 square miles (15.5 km²) is land and 0.2 square mile (0.6 km²) (3.69%) is water.

Salamanca is located on a reservation of the Seneca Nation of Indians (one of the six tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy), and the city population of about 6000 is about 37% Native American. The city lies on the Allegany River and is adjacent to the Allegany State Park.

The Southern Tier Expressway (Interstate 86 and New York State Route 17) passes south of the city, as do U.S. Route 219 and New York State Route 417.


Climate data for Salamanca, New York
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 72
Average high °F (°C) 30
Average low °F (°C) 14
Record low °F (°C) −25
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.08
Source: The Weather Channel [1]


What is now known as the city of Salamanca was originally two separate communities, one on the Little Valley Creek and the other on the Great Valley Creek; the westernmost one of the two was called "Hemlock," a name derived from the fact that there were numerous hemlock trees throughout the surrounding majestic mountains of the Mighty Ohi:yo'. Hemlock was later renamed "West Salamanca" and (although it was marked on road signs as late as the 1990s) was eventually incorporated into a single city of Salamanca. The city itself was incorporated in 1913. The majority of the city, with the exception of a northeastern spur along the Great Valley Creek, was constructed on the Allegany Indian Reservation held by the Seneca Nation of New York, as established in various treaties. Under the nation's policy, non-Seneca residents are barred from owning real property on the reservation, and non-Senecas can only lease the property from the Seneca Nation.[2] The previous leases had had only nominal payments. When the leases expired in the early 1990s, and when the nation attempted to raise the cost of the lease, many people living in the city did not agree on the amount of lease payments or the legitimacy of the Senecas' absolute ownership claim, and this caused bitterness, lawsuits, and appeals to government officials. In the end, the new leases were put into effect, and fifteen households were seized and their owners evicted from their homes for refusing to sign the lease.[3] The current lease is in effect until 2030, with an option to extend until 2070.

Despite the lack of ownership, leased land held by non-Senecas is subject to property tax, which the lessee must pay to the city, Cattaraugus County and the Salamanca City Central School District, whereas Seneca-owned land is exempt under the same treaties. Once a Seneca acquires the land, it is taken off the tax rolls; for this reason, the city of Salamanca does not auction off abandoned properties on the reservation in a property tax auction, for fear that the Senecas will buy the land and take it off the tax rolls.

One of the casualties of the ownership system was the Ray Evans Seneca Theater, which has recently been upgraded into a center for the performing arts focusing on local live theater.

Casino gambling

The Seneca Nation of Indians opened a gambling casino in Salamanca in May 2004. About 1,000 new jobs were created by the current casino operation, creating a housing shortage for the influx of workers. The 25% share of the revenue going to the city and county have enabled the city to try to refurbish its worn-down image.

However, noticeable, significant change has not yet occurred in the city, with new construction in only a few select areas. Main Street and US Route 219 (which runs through the city) remains largely untouched with little to no renovation and is populated by cigarette, tobacco, coffee shops, gas stations and empty storefronts. Some have criticized the current trend of developing the "New Salamanca" as a tax free cigarette/gas haven. The Seneca Nation has made efforts to reverse this trend and established an economic development corporation to encourage diversification of the city's businesses in 2011. Furthermore, the casino payments were stopped in late 2010 in a dispute with the state over whether or not it had violated the exclusivity terms of the agreement by opening racinos elsewhere in Western New York.

The contentious relations between Seneca and non-Seneca residents led columnist Selena Zito to dub the city of Salamanca a "failed American city" in a 2011 column.[2]


As of the 2010 United States census, Salamanca had a population of 5,815. The ethnic and racial makeup of the population was 75.5% non-Hispanic white, 0.9% African-American, 16.9% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.8% reporting two or more races and 3.3% Hispanic or Latino.[4]

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 6,097 people, 2,469 households, and 1,575 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,015.6 people per square mile (392.3/km²). There were 2,749 housing units at an average density of 457.9 per square mile (176.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.26% White, 0.66% Black or African American, 20.74% Native American (U.S. Census), 0.33% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 1.75% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.82% of the population.

There were 2,469 households out of which 31.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.2% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% were non-families. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.0% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,579, and the median income for a family was $30,996. Males had a median income of $25,549 versus $19,180 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,812. About 18.0% of families and 22.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.7% of those under age 18 and 15.9% of those age 65 or over.

Notable residents

  • Chuck Crist - Former National Football League safety; he later returned to his hometown to serve as a principal in the city schools. Crist has been involved in a protracted dispute with the district, about which no details are known, that has led to him being suspended from his position since November 2009.
  • Ray Evans (1915–2007) — musician/songwriter; composed the Christmas song "Silver Bells". A stage theater in the city, the Ray Evans Seneca Theater, bears his name, although it was closed in 2011 due to disrepair.[6] The annual "Silver Bells in the City" festival, held each December, is dedicated to Evans.
  • Hon. Edward B. Vreeland — banker, congressman, co-author of the "Aldrich-Vreeland Bill" that transformed the United States Banking system in the early 20th century. Senator Aldrich was represented Rhode Island and was the maternal grandfather of Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, Governor of New York in the 1960s.
  • Hon. Albert T. "Ab" Fancher — New York State Senator in the late 19th/early 20th century; co-owner (with E.B. Vreeland of the Seneca Oil Company, a subsidiary of Standard Oil Company); donated much of the land to New York that now comprises Allegany State Park, the largest state park in New York; developed the Fancher farm, on the western side of Salamanca, that boasts one of the largest barns in New York.
  • Paul Owens — player, scout, coach and general manager with the Philadelphia Phillies during the second half of the 20th century; club manager in 1983 when the Phillies went to the World Series. Raised in Salamanca's East End; graduated from local schools and St. Bonaventure University.
  • Carson Waterman — Seneca Indian artist whose work graces everything from the walls of leading museums and galleries to the Seneca Allegany Casino to a subway station in Buffalo, New York to such published works as the Allegany Seneca Storybook, and Seneca Coloring Book.[7]
  • Gordon Canfield — American politician, member of the House of Representatives for New Jersey's 8th Congressional district.
  • Ira Joe Fisher — Daytime television personality and weather reporter. Born and worked in Salamanca, although he spent most of his childhood in nearby Little Valley.



  • Hogan, Thomas E, "City in a Quandary: Salamanca and the Allegany Leases", New York History 55 [January 1974]

External links


  • City of Salamanca
  • Salamanca Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Salamanca, New York, Western New York Railroad Archive
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