Sterling is a Town in Cayuga County, New York, United States. The population was 3,040 at the 2010 census. Located on the shore of Lake Ontario, the Town is named after Lord Stirling, an American general of the Revolutionary War. Sterling is the most northerly town in the county and lies northwest of Syracuse.
The region was formerly part of Onondaga territory, but the Iroquois, as allies of the defeated British, were forced to cede most of their lands in New York to the state after the war. This was part of the Central New York Military Tract, whose land was divided and granted as pay to veteran soldiers of the American Revolution. The first European-American settler, Pierre Dumas (also recorded as Peter DeMass), arrived in 1805.
Sterling was formed in 1812 from the town of Cato.
Improvements made to Little Sodus Bay of Lake Ontario in the early 19th century enabled the town to have port facilities and take part in the Great Lakes trade. Since commercial use of the port declined in the late 19th century with changes in transportation and development of western cities, the town has developed as a destination for vacations and recreation. The Sterling Renaissance Festival, held annually during the summer for almost thirty years, also attracts tourists to the town.