Ogdensburg is a city in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The population was 11,128 at the 2010 census. In the late 18th century, European-American settlers named the community after American land owner and developer Samuel Ogden.
The City of Ogdensburg is at the northern border of New York, at the mouth of the Oswegatchie River, on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River. It is the only formally designated city in Saint Lawrence County.
The Port of Ogdensburg is the only U.S. port on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Ogdensburg International Airport is located south of the city. The Ogdensburg–Prescott International Bridge, northeast of the city, links the United States and Canada.
This was ancient territory of indigenous peoples of varying cultures. By 1000 CE, Iroquoian-speaking people were settling along the St. Lawrence River and practicing agriculture, as well as hunting and fishing. Since the 1950s, historians, linguists, and archeologists have found evidence of a distinct people, the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, who inhabited the areas along the St. Lawrence River from before 1300 until the late 16th century. They spoke Laurentian and were a group distinct from the later historical five and Six Nations of the Iroquois Haudenosaunee. By the late 16th century, this people disappeared from the St. Lawrence Valley, probably due to warfare by the Mohawk over the fur trade.
By the time of later French contact, for instance in the early 17th century with Samuel de Champlain, the Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee: Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca, were allied in the Iroquois Confederacy, based in present-day New York. Onondaga settlements extended up along the south shore of Lake Ontario. Both the Huron and Mohawk used the St. Lawrence Valley for hunting grounds and as a path for war parties.
The earliest European settlement in the area was a French mission, built by Abbé Picquet in 1749. Located near the mouth of the Fleuve Oswegache (Oswegatchie River), he named it Fort de La Présentation (Fort of the Presentation). The mission attracted natives for the fur trade, many of whom settled in the village and converted to Catholicism. Mostly Onondaga, the converted Iroquois at the mission became known as Oswegatchie.
By 1755, there were 3,000 Iroquois living at the mission settlement. By comparison, Montreal had only 4,000 residents at the time. Oswegatchie was one of the Seven Nations of Canada. The residents were hostile to the encroachments of British colonists on their territory. During the 1750s and the Seven Years' War, warriors from this fort were allied with French officers in attacking British colonists in the Champlain, Mohawk and Ohio valleys.
The city is near the site of the 1760 Battle of the Thousand Islands between British and French forces during the Seven Years' War (also known in the US as the French and Indian War.) After the British victory, France ceded its land in Canada to England. The English renamed the installation Fort Oswegatchie, after the native name for the river (as it sounded in French). As with the other mission settlements, the British did not disturb the relationship of the Oswegatchie and their Catholic priests. This became part of Lower Canada or Quebec province. The village remained under British rule until 1796 following the American Revolutionary War. With the northern border redefined by Jay's Treaty, the settlement became part of United States territory.
The first settlers under a United States flag arrived that year. United States settlers essentially drove the Oswegatchie, former British allies, out of the area; many went to Akwesasne or other Mohawk reserves in Canada.
New American residents named the village Ogdensburgh after Samuel Ogden, an early landowner. The community developed around this early settlement and was designated the county seat from 1802 to 1828. During the War of 1812, the city was captured by British forces to end the partial blockade on the St. Lawrence River and harassment conducted from the community. Local merchants used the absence of United States troops to conduct extensive trade with Canada.
The community was incorporated as a village in 1817. Unlike Plattsburgh, it removed the "h" in the spelling of its name. The locale became the City of Ogdensburg in 1868.
Ogdensburg was an important trading city and station in the development of railroads in northern New York and southeastern Canada; the Ogdensburg & Lake Champlain Railroad (later Rutland Railroad) (1849), Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad (1853) and Portland & Ogdensburg Railway (never completed), all involved lines through the area.
In 1940 the town was the site of the signing of the Ogdensburg Agreement between Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King and United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This renewed the ties between the two countries after the 1939 outbreak of World War II in Europe. The celebrated German POW Franz von Werra escaped from Canada to Ogdensburg in a rowboat.
The Library Park Historic District, Judge John Fine House, Acker and Evans Law Office, New York State Armory, Oswegatchie Pumping Station, Ogdensburg Armory, Robert C. McEwen United States Custom House, United States Post Office, and Fort de La Présentation Site are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.