By Sandra Scott
Binghamton is in Broome County, New York named in honor of John Broome the lieutenant governor in 1806 when the county was established, is located on the Chenago River. At one time the Chenango River was connected to the Erie Canal by the 97-mile long Chenango Canal. It spurred growth in population and industry. The area was known as the “Valley of Opportunity” and was home to IBM and other major corporations. Today the county is a destination for those interested in art, museums, and outdoor fun.The county is part of New York State’s Susquehanna Heritage Area.
Carousels: There is something magical about a carousel or a merry-go-round that appeals to all age groups. The Binghamton area has been dubbed the Carousel Capital of the World because out of only 150 antique carousels remaining in the United States and Canada, six are in the Greater Binghamton area. All six are on the New York State Historic Register and the National Register of Historic Places. They are located in C. Fred Johnson Park in Johnson City, the George W. Johnson Park in Endicott, Highland Park in Endwell, Ross Park in Binghamton, West Endicott Park in Endicott, and Recreation Park in Binghamton. Each is unique. The one in Recreation Park has 60 jumping horses, chariots and the original two-roll WurliTzer Military Band Organ with bells. All the carousels were made by the Allan Herschell Company in North Tonawanda in what is called the “country fair” style.
Roberson Museum and Science Center: The Roberson features 19 and 20th century art, history, folk life, science, and natural history. As part of the 60th anniversary celebration they added a new natural history exhibit, “Journey from our Prehistoric Past’ with the Randolph Mammoth skull as a centerpiece, the most complete mammoth specimen found in NYS. There are a variety of displays to interest visitors including the model railroad that depicts what Binghamton, Johnson City, Owego, and Endicott looked like in the 1950s. Connected to the museum is the historical 1904 Roberson Mansion with a sweeping grand staircase.
Bundy Museum: Learn about the beginnings of IBM at the Bundy Museum. The Bundy brothers opened a time recording clock company. Time recording clocks were where workers “clocked” in and out. The company flourished and eventually grew into IBM. The house is a testament to the elegance and beauty of the Victorian age; however, there is much more to see in the annex including a fascinating exhibit dealing with one of their “favorite sons,” Rod Serling, creator of the Twilight Zone.
Cutler Botanic Garden: The Garden is one of about 360 gardens in the United States designated as a display garden for All-American Selection plants. Each year the staff previews the AAS winners that will be available commercially the following year. The garden paths twist around gardens of perennials, wild flowers, herbs and more. The Garden has a truly unique trail: The Shakespeare Trail. Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Shakespeare Dramatic Club of Binghamton have created a trail that identifies plants that are cited in the Bard’s works along with the associated quotation.
Arts: The arts are alive and well in Broome County. The University of Binghamton with several galleries featuring works of art drawn from their permanent collect of 3,000 objects as well as those on loan in regularly rotate exhibits. Anthony Brunelli Fine Arts Gallery has hand-on art classes for all ages and is one of several small galleries with changing exhibits. During First Friday Walks dozens of venues in downtown Binghamton and the city’s neighborhoods open with not admission costs. Those interested in the preforming arts will enjoy Broadway shows at the Forum Theater where the Binghamton Philharmonic and the Tri-Cities Opera perform. The University of Binghamton offers many productions as do several smaller theaters.