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Elmira Reformatory - 1900, Elmira, NY

I was musing over the last post from Gayle on the Winnetoon Jail and, at the same time, stumbled across an article posted in the Elmira [New York] Daily Gazette & Free Press from May 2, 1903.

In case you didn’t know, my husband is originally from Elmira and we lived in the area from 1984 – 1996.  Last year we moved back to my husband’s old stomping grounds (actually, about 20 miles SW from Elmira) when he retired.  (I wanted to move to North Carolina, but, that’s another story…)  We have friends and many acquaintances nearby, so the move wasn’t so bad.  But I refused to move back to Elmira.  The downtown is a ghost town and everyone’s reference to the town is peppered with pre and post flood stories from Hurricane Agnes in 1972…STILL!

“Well, that was before THE FLOOD.”  “Oh, downtown was so nice before THE FLOOD.”  “Elmira just isn’t the same since THE FLOOD!”

Now, it’s been nearly 40 years since THE FLOOD and the only “growth” that I’ve noticed is that Elmira has experienced the addition of another state prison.  There are two prisons in Elmira now which house many of the state’s hard-core criminals.  And Elmira is also home to the families that followed these prisoners here.  Crime has risen.  And now we blame the increased population from downstate and THE FLOOD on Elmira’s demise.

So, I had to chuckle when I found this article (below) about Elmira’s crime in 1903.  Mind you, this was for one month!  And the population was nearly the same then as it is now, about 30,000.  I know there weren’t any drug arrests then, but public intoxication was definitely on the rise at the turn of the last century.

Be sure to note the last paragraph.  “Of those arrested, 76 were Americans, 1 German, 3 Scotch, 10 Italians, 1 Finnish, 3 Russians, and 7 Irishmen.”  Those darn Americans…I wonder if they were from downstate??