Jamestown is a city in southern Chautauqua County, New York, in the United States. The population was 31,146 at the 2010 census. Situated between Lake Erie to the northwest and the Allegheny National Forest to the south, Jamestown is the largest population center in the county. Nearby Chautauqua Lake is a fresh water resource enjoyed by fishermen, boaters and naturalists. Chautauqua Institution is approximately 17 miles away, offering music, theater, educational classes and lectures for nine weeks during the summer.
Notable people from the Jamestown area include comedienne Lucille Ball; Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson; naturalist Roger Tory Peterson; singer Natalie Merchant; and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Products developed in Jamestown include the crescent wrench and automatic voting machines.
Jamestown was once called the "Furniture Capital of the World" where people visited from all over the country to attend furniture expositions at the Furniture Mart, a building that still stands in the city and currently houses offices for a variety of companies.
Jamestown is named after James Prendergast, an early Chautauqua County settler. His family purchased in 1806, in the area now known as Chautauqua County. James Prendergast explored the area that is now Jamestown. Prendergast saw the area to be valuable, and so he purchased of land in the area in 1808. In the fall of 1809, Prendergast and an employee, John Blowers built a log cabin, which became the first building in Jamestown. Another log cabin as well as mills and a dam were built on the Chadakoin River later on. In 1855, Nightwatch was created for the purpose of looking out for fires.
Jamestown was incorporated into a village in 1827 and incorporated into a city on April 19, 1886. Oscar F. Price was elected as the first mayor of the city on April 13, 1886. James Murray was appointed to be the first Chief of Police and would lead a force of six police officers.
In 1887, Jamestown Electric Light and Power Company, Art Metal, and WCA Hospital were established. In 1888, Jamestown Woolen Spinning Co. established; cornerstone of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church laid. In 1889, the American Aristotype Co. was established. The first electric trolley car in Jamestown made its appearance in 1890. In 1891, a fire destroyed the Old Homestead Hotel at Third and Pine Streets and four people died. James Prendergast Library and the Municipal Light Plant were established the same year.
In 1892, Chautauqua Worsted mills was formed. In 1893, Jamestown Veneer Works was started by Nathan Wilson and Jamestown's first ice cream company started making Collins Ice Cream. In 1895, the cornerstone of City Hall was laid and the City Council decided to lay no more wooden sidewalks. Eleazer Green is elected mayor the same year. In 1896, Empire Worsted Mills was formed. In 1898, Chautauqua Towel Mills was opened. In 1899, Henry H. Cooper was elected mayor. In 1900, Tinkham Brothers established their business, the Furniture Index was published, and the Hall Textile Corporation was formed. In 1903, Jamestown purchased a water system and the J.P. Danielson Tool Co. was organized. In 1906, James L. Weeks was elected mayor. In 1907, the Crescent Tool Company was started by Karl Peterson and Charles F. Falldine. In 1908, Samuel A. Carlson was elected mayor. Music Study Club and Jamestown Symphony Orchestra began the same year.
In 1910, the excavation began for construction of Jamestown General Hospital, which still stands in the present day. In 1911, the Norden Club was started. On August 6, actress Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown. The first plane to ever fly over Jamestown occurred on September 28, 1911. The Norden Clubhouse was completed in 1914. On April 8, 1917, Company E left for guard duty. The Emerson Glass Company started the same year. In 1918, Jamestown Corp. formed to make airplane propellers. A steam ship, the City of Pittsburgh sank at Boatlanding, also in 1918. On July 7, 1918, the death of Ira Lou Spring marked the first Jamestown man to die in France during World War I.
In 1921, the Zonta Club was organized. In 1925, the Hotel Samuels was sold. In that same year, the Scottish Rite Temple was formally opened and taxpayers voted a $350,000 bond issue for the Third Street Bridge. The following year, Third Street Bridge was completed and it still stands today. In 1927, Jamestown celebrated the centennial of its incorporation as a village. Lars Larson was elected mayor the same year. In 1930, Samuel A. Carlson served as mayor once again. In 1931, a fire destroyed the old Martyn Factory. Also, the city purchases Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Company.
In 1935, the Board of Education opened the new industrial arts building and City Council approved $314,000 airport for North Main Street site. In November, Jamestown High School was formally dedicated. In 1937, the Temple Hesed Abraham was dedicated and the Alfred Collegiate Extension Center opened with 80 students. In 1938, Harry C. Erickson became mayor and Jamestown General Hospital's maternity annex opened. In 1939, twelve local plans surveyed by the government to produce supplies in wartime. Also, the city's new airport formally dedicated.
In 1940, the PONY league baseball began and Co. E was inducted into federal service. In 1941, Jamestown Municipal Stadium was dedicated and Samuel A. Stroth was elected mayor. In 1942, East Second Street widening was ordered and flames destroyed the old state armory. In 1945, Jamestown was hit by a tornado. In 1946, Dr. Carlyle C. Ring was named superintendent of schools. C.C. Ring Elementary School presently stands, in his honor. In 1950, Jamestown Community College was opened.
In 1951, Stanley A. Weeks was elected mayor and the addition to the municipal power plant was opened. In 1954, Samuel A. Stroth was elected mayor and Allegheny Airlines began east-west flight via Jamestown. In 1955, Carl F. Sanford was elected mayor. In 1956, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz visited Jamestown. In 1957, a $400,000 runway improvement to Jamestown Municipal Airport was added. In 1958, a new sewage disposal plant was opened, Buffalo Street pumping station was modernized, and a new wing opened at Jamestown General Hospital. In 1959, Jamestown's new post office was started. In 1960, Jamestown celebrated the sesquicentennial of first house erected here. That same year, Mohawk Airlines started to serve Jamestown.
In 1961, Jamestown Community College moved into new Falconer Street campus and William D. Whitehead was elected mayor. In 1963, the City's first parking ramp opened at Main and Second Streets and Frederick H. Dunn elected mayor. Additionally, Grandin Mills on Allen Street was destroyed by fire and singer Natalie Merchant was born in Jamestown. In 1964, the Washington Street Bridge was completed. In 1967, an addition to Jamestown High School was completed. Also, Jamestown Community College opened a new Science and Engineering Building. In that same year, Charles B. Magnuson was elected mayor. In 1968, an addition to the James Prendergast Free Library was completed. In 1969, the Cherry Street parking ramp was opened, Rail service to Jamestown discontinued by Erie-Lackawanna Railway, Stanley N. Lundine was elected mayor, and the New Gustavus Adolphus Children's Home opened. In 1970, the Final approval was granted for the Brooklyn Square Urban Renewal Project.
Throughout the 1970s, homes in Brooklyn Square were relocated as well as many stores and shops. A second Urban Renewal Project was proposed in 2006, and the project began in 2007. Jamestown has hosted thirteen Babe Ruth World Series since 1980, and hosted the 13-Year-Old Babe Ruth World Series in 2008. The James Prendergast Library has regularly ranked in the top ten in the nation among those that service populations of 25,000-49,999, according to HAPLR, with a peak ranking of fourth in 2004.