Local Atmosphere

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4 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: Ithaca is great, the town is awesome and everyone is really chill and hippy-like. Cornell is literally across the hill and it's one big college town.

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: The commons is one of the best college towns in the United States. It is beautiful and provides students and locals with so many shops, restaurants, and even a few bars for night life. Additionally, the state parks and gorges are beautiful and always a nice place to relax with friends or my family when they come to visit.

5 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: I love walking around downtown Ithaca! Tons to do!

5 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: I love Ithaca! Going downtown is such fun and the atmosphere just on campus is very beautiful. Ithaca is a very clean place to be!

4 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: sick college town, a bunch of cool stuff to do


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Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Jennifer Segal
Newton ,MA
Communication Management
Grad Year
View all previous student authors

Although Ithaca is home to both IC and Cornell University, it is a small college town in comparison to big cities. With quaint coffeehouses, excellent theaters, large used bookstores, happening bars, boutiques, and shops—there’s usually something to do or see in Ithaca. In the midst of it all is the Commons, the marketplace down the hill that features restaurants, outside entertainment, and specialty stores. Collegetown, located next to the Cornell campus, also has a variety of different places at which to eat and shop. Around Lake Cayuga, tourists and wine enthusiasts follow the Finger Lakes Wine Trail, a series of local wineries that offer samples of their specialties. 

It’s hard to walk around campus or go downtown and not see someone with an “Ithaca is Gorges” shirt. No—Ithacans can spell; it’s just that it really is “gorges.” Ithaca and the surrounding areas have deep ravines and gorges in the hillsides, all of which lead to the lake. When students first arrive on campus in the fall, the days are hot, and students can be found outside enjoying picnics, swimming in the gorges, and hiking on picturesque trails. Generally, the Ithaca area features free-spirited and friendly people centered around a backdrop of various options in restaurants, stores, and entertainment. Ithaca allows for individuals to have many choices with the diverse atmosphere it offers.

Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. The 2000 film "Road Trip" directed by Todd Phillips was shot partially in Ithaca. The film makes several references to the school, but ultimately they call it a fictitious "Ithaca University."
  2. Bike Magazine has called Ithaca "one of America's top 10 biking towns."
  3. Ithaca has its own currency called "Ithaca Hours," which is intended to keep and stimulate business downtown.
  4. Ithaca is named for its location in the town of "Ulysses." The ancient Greek Ulysses lived in the town of "Ithaki."
Notable Natives
  • Hans Bethe - Nobel Prize winner, physicist
  • Alex Haley - author of "Roots: The Saga of an American Family" and the "Autobiography of Malcolm X"
  • Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo - guitarist for Gym Class Heroes
  • Mary McDonnell - actress ("Dances with Wolves")
  • Carl Sagan - astronomer, author
  • Rod Serling - creator and host of "The Twilight Zone"
  • David Foster Wallace - novelist
  • E. B. White - author ("Charlotte's Web")
Local Slang
  • Collegetown: Area near Cornell lined with food and shops
  • The Commons: A pedestrian marketplace
  • Cornellian: A person who attends Cornell
  • East Hill: The hill on which Cornell is located
  • Ithaca is Gorges: Refers to Ithaca's many natural gorges, commonly seen on clothing and bumper stickers
  • Ithacan: An IC student or the name of college newspaper
  • South Hill: The hill on which IC is located
  • Ten Square Miles Surrounded By Reality: Another common bumper sticker referring to Ithaca's unique atmosphere
Points of Interest
  • Buttermilk Falls State Park
  • Cayuga Lake
  • Collegetown
  • The Commons
  • Finger Lakes Wine Trail
  • Hangar Theatre
  • Ithaca Art Trail
  • Kitchen Theatre Company
  • Robert H. Treman State Park
  • Sagan Planet Walk
  • Taughannock Falls
Shopping Centers
  • Cayuga Mall
  • Ithaca Mall
  • Triphammer Mall
Movie Theaters
120 E. Green St.
(607) 277-6115
Movie Theaters
Cornell Cinema
104 Willard Straight Hall
(607) 255-3522
Movie Theaters
Fall Creek Pictures
1201 N. Tioga St.
(607) 272-1256
Movie Theaters
Regal Ithaca Mall Stadium 14
40 Catherwood Rd.
(607) 266-7960
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • New York City: : 4 hours
  • Syracuse, N.Y.: : 1 hour

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 80 responses

Very poor
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 80 responses

  • 5% Painfully remote.
  • 0% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 10% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 81% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 4% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 79 responses

  • 78% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.
  • 22% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 0% There aren't any nearby schools.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 79 responses

  • 13% Totally.
  • 52% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 35% No way.



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