Buildings Alive Historic Walking Tour

Downtown Corning has a rich history of architectural excellence that comes to life during our Buildings Alive Historic Walking tour!

Here's a little history of our charming downtown:

The town of Corning was initially developed as the hub of the region's huge lumbering industry. The Chemung River provided the necessary transportation, and in 1851, the rapidly growing community was incorporated as the city of Corning. Corning's Historic Market Street, a model for downtowns everywhere and the heart of America's Most Fun Small Town, was the lumber industry's central thoroughfare and enjoyed as much traffic then as it does today. And just so you know, it hasn't changed in appearance much either!

After 1855, brick and stone replaced the predominantly wooden structures that lined Market Street to make them less susceptible to fire. It was Corning Brick Works that met the challenge to produce the bricks necessary to preserve the buildings that you enjoy today. The Victorian love for ornamentation prompted an additional terra cotta to the product line. This natural brick-like material could be molded into any decorative pattern or shape, and thus architectural integrity met beauty. Many unique examples of such splendor are still enjoyed today by locals and tourists alike.

While the area's foundation was developed with lumber and grew with brick, it's the crystal that allowed the city to soar. The growth of the railroad and the city's connection with the Erie Canal attracted the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company to move here from New York City in 1868. With that move, the company took on the name of the town it now called home and became Corning Glass Works, which today is known around the world as Corning Incorporated. Since then, the Crystal City of Corning, New York has enjoyed a brilliantly successful century and a half with no signs of dulling. 

Click here for a print-friendly PDF brochure with descriptions of the buildings in our Buildings Alive Historic Walking Tour!

Explore Downtown Corning