Vestal is a town within Broome County in the Southern Tier of New York, and lies between the Susquehanna River and the Pennsylvania border. As of the 2000 census, the population was 26,535, estimated to have grown to 27,423 by 2005.
The Town of Vestal is on the south border of the county and is west and southwest of Binghamton.
Vestal is home to Binghamton University which draws visitors to the town through its entertainment and sporting events. The University brings over 14,000 students to the town and employs more than 3,000 faculty and staff.
The central area of Vestal, near Route 26 at Choconut Creek, was the site of a native village of the Ochugnut tribe of the Tuscaroras. During the American Revolution, a squad of soldiers from the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment, under the command of Lt. William McKendry were sent to exterminate the natives. During the summer of 1779, the squad eliminated at least two villages, including one situated in what is now nearby Downtown Binghamton (the Chenango, at the junction of the Chenango and Susquehanna rivers), and the Ochugnut (Choconut) at the site of Choconut Creek near present-day Vestal Senior High School. Reasons for the attack include the Iroquois alliance with Great Britain during the American Revolution. However, some evidence indicates that at least some of the natives were actually Tuscarora - descendants of the Cherokee who fled from North Carolina after wars in 1711 and the War of 1763. This community was actually sympathetic to the American cause, siding against the rest of the Iroquois confederation. See Sullivan Expedition or external links for more information on the role of Upstate New York in this conflict.
Following the war, several white families settled in the area near the Town of Union.
The Town of Vestal was formed from the southern half of the Town of Union in 1823.
The history of the town is closely related to its neighbors, Binghamton, Endicott, and Johnson City. During the 20th century, Vestal served as a residential suburb to emerging industries in its area, such as Endicott Johnson Corporation, IBM, and Lockheed Martin.
In 1950, Triple Cities College of Syracuse University, in Endicott, New York, relocated to Vestal and became Harpur College, a member of SUNY. Today, the college has become Binghamton University, the highest ranked public university in the Northeastern United States. The University adds 14,000 students to the local population each school year, and draws large numbers into the town for sporting, arts and other events.
During the 1990s, Vestal became the major retail center of the Southern Tier region of New York, with many large shopping centers such as the Town Square Mall, Parkway Plaza, Shoppes at Vestal, and Campus Plaza being built along the Vestal Parkway (NY Route 434), which became one of the busiest roads in the area. Vestal's historic central business district is located along three blocks of Front Street, still lined with small shops.
New York State Route 17 passes across the north part of the town and intersect north-south highway New York State Route 26 by the Susquehanna River. New York State Route 434, Vestal Parkway, intersects NY-26 south of the NY-17 junction. New York State Route 201 links the town to the north shore of the Susquehanna River.
There were 8,525 households out of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.9% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.5% were non-families. 25.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the town the population was spread out with 18.9% under the age of 18, 24.0% from 18 to 24, 20.6% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $51,098, and the median income for a family was $60,676. Males had a median income of $48,731 versus $29,035 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,363. About 4.3% of families and 7.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.6% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.
Vestal is linked from the west primarily by New York State Route 17, which is under development to become Interstate 86. It is also very close to Interstate 81 and Interstate 88. Two major bridges and one minor bridge of New York State Route 26, New York State Route 201, and Bridge Road link Vestal to the villages of Endicott and Johnson City. New York State Route 434, "The Vestal Parkway" is the main artery through Vestal. It provides a direct link to Binghamton in the east.
Broome County Transit provides Vestal with bus service around the town and to surrounding municipalities. Greater Binghamton Airport is located about seven miles away in Maine, New York, and provides direct flights to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, and Washington Dulles International Airport.
The town of Vestal has 21 town operated and maintained parks which cater to all ages.
Four picnic shelters (shelter #1 is under construction), tables, grills, playground equipment, ball field with lights, football field, softball fields, rest room facilities, running water, electricity, nature trail, hiking, sand volleyball court, ice skating, fitness trail, cross country skiing, parking.
Picnic shelter, grill, playground equipment, running water, stream, playground, electric, parking.
Picnic shelter, tables, grill, playground equipment, running water, parking, electricity.
Picnic shelter, tables, grill, playground equipment, ball field, half basketball court, running water, no parking.
Picnic shelter, tables, grill, playground equipment, tennis court, basketball court, stream.
Soccer fields, ball field, golf practice.
Picnic shelter, tables, grill, playground equipment, basketball and kickball court, running water, no parking.
Picnic shelter, tables, playground equipment, ball field, stream, no parking.
Picnic shelter, tables, grill, playground equipment, softball fields, two full court basketball courts, rest rooms and concession stand, running water, soccer fields, electricity, river access, boat ramp, parking.
Nature trail, stream, hiking, cross country skiing, parking. Dogs allowed on leash.
Band Gazebo, electricity, park benches, and free summer band concerts on Tuesdays at 7:00 PM. No parking.
Picnic shelter, tables, grill, playground equipment, ball field, basketball court, running water, parking.
Picnic shelter, tables, grill, playground equipment, no parking, running water.
Picnic shelter, tables, grill, playground equipment, tennis courts, ball field, soccer field, running water, parking, ice skating.
Picnic shelter, tables, playground equipment, running water, parking, electric.
Picnic shelter, tables, playground, running water, no parking.
Picnic shelter, tables, playground, ball field, running water, soccer field and parking.
Picnic shelter, playground equipment, tennis courts, ball field, basketball court, running water, ice-skating, parking.
Large outdoor pool & wading pool, rest rooms & changing area, electricity, running water, parking.
Three softball fields.
The largest park in the area is Arnold Park located off of Pierce Hill Road. This park offers a newly constructed plastic playground for the little ones, multiple picnic areas for families to share a meal at, a sand volleyball court, a standard sized baseball field and three other large grassy areas for various other types of sports, as well as a nature trail through the wooded areas surrounding the park. In October, the Recreation Department holds a Halloween event at the park. Activities include a large hay maze, a haunted house, pumpkin painting, and more. Also, every summer in August, the Recreation Department puts on a family oriented picnic and summer festival. There are game areas for young children with candy prizes as well as small toys, there are multiple inflatable bounce houses, and ample food for all concerned. Other activities include face painting, a shaving cream pie throwing contest, a dunk tank, and the main attraction, a 50 foot long slip'n'slide down the side of a hill. Also held here are games from the Recreational Baseball league from the Vestal's Senior League (ages 12+) up through an adult STABL league which consists of mainly college students who are returning to play ball in the summer, and games from the Pee Wee Football league.
Another busy attraction run by the Recreation Department is the Vestal Memorial Pool on Clayton Avenue off of Rt. 434. This large, 40x20 yard pool is the spot to cool off in a hurry. Admission is $1 for adults, 50¢ for children, Senior citizens are free, and yearly pool passes are available for purchase at the Rec. Department located at 516 Front Street in Vestal. There is a large main pool with water depth ranging from three feet deep in the shallow end, to 5'6" in the middle of the pool where there are lane markings for swimming laps, to 9' deep in the diving well which plays host to two diving boards. *Note: There are no flotation devices allowed in the main pool for safety reasons* In addition to the main pool, there is a wading pool for patrons who are 5 years and under.
Every summer in early August, there is a free water carnival where the pool area is jam packed with activities and patrons. Included are a raging rapids ride, where children are gently jostled by lifeguards in a rubber inner tube, a water balloon toss, a diving competition, a "car wash" station where a child's size structure constructed of PVC pipe is available for them to run through, a DJ for the day, Lifeguard Target practice, where patrons jump off of the diving boards and attempt to hit one of the lifeguards in a rubber inner tube with a soft water splash bomb, an obstacle course made up of rings and hoops to swim through and mats to jump over in the water, as well as the general favorite with the kids, a "walk on water" experience where the kids run out onto green wrestling mats on the water as if they were walking on the water itself. Occasionally, their progress is hindered by a little shaking of the mats from the lifeguards, just to make it fun. The day culminates with a greased watermelon competition between two teams, aided by the lifeguards. All 35 lifeguards are on staff for the entire event with multiple guards on first aid duty at all times, roving guards to ensure safety, and guards running every event, making sure everything runs smoothly, and making sure that everyone enjoys the day safely.