Geneva is a city in Ontario and Seneca counties in the U.S. state of New York. It is located at the northern end of Seneca Lake; all land portions of the city are within Ontario County; the water portions are in Seneca County. The population was 13,261 at the 2010 census. Some claim it is named after the city and canton of Geneva in Switzerland. Others believe the name came from the word "Seneca". The main settlement of the Seneca was spelled Zoneshio by early white settlers, and was described as being 2 miles north of Seneca Lake.
The city lies within the Town of Geneva. The city identifies as the "Lake Trout Capital of the World."
The area was long occupied by the Seneca tribe, who established a major village of Kanadaseaga here by 1687. The British helped fortify the village against the French of Canada during the Seven Years' War (locally known as the French and Indian War); later they added defensive fortifications against the Americans during the Revolutionary War. During the latter warfare, the punitive Sullivan Expedition of 1779 mounted by rebel forces destroyed many of the dwellings, as well as the winter stores of the people, and they abandoned the ruins. Following the war and cession of the land by the Seneca, European-Americans settled here about 1793. They developed a town encouraged by the Pulteney Association, which owned the land and was selling plots.
At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, Lt. Col. Seth Reed, who had fought at Bunker Hill, was one of many pioneers who moved from Massachusetts into Ontario County. By trade with the Seneca, he bought a tract of land eighteen miles in extent. (This was illegal, as only the US government was authorized to make land deals with the Native Americans.) This occurred in 1787, while his wife Hannah stayed in Uxbridge, Massachusetts with their family. "Seth Read moved, his wife Hannah and their family to Geneva, Ontario County, New York in the winter of 1790".
The settlement at Geneva was not yet permanent; the Seneca continued to harass European Americans on the frontier. In 1795 Read and his family removed to Erie, Pennsylvania, where they became the earliest European-American settlers there.
The "Village of Geneva" was incorporated in 1806, 1812, and 1871, formally separating it from the surrounding area of Geneva Town. Later the village became a city.