The town of Corning was originally developed as the hub of the region’s huge lumbering industry. The Chemung River provided the necessary transportation and in 1851 the rapidly growing community was incorporated as the City of Corning.
Corning’s Historic Market Street, a model for downtowns everywhere and the heart of America’s Most Fun Small Town, was the lumber industry’s central thoroughfare, and enjoyed as much traffic then as it does today. And you know, it hasn't changed in appearance much either.
After 1855, brick and stone replaced the predominately wooden structures that lined Market Street. Less susceptible to fire, it was Corning Brick Works that met the challenge to produce the bricks necessary to preserve the buildings that you enjoy today. The Victorian love for ornamentation prompted an additional terra cotta to the product line. This natural brick-like material could be molded into any decorative pattern or shape, and thus architectural integrity met beauty. Many unique examples of such splendor are still enjoyed today, by citizens and tourists alike.
While the area’s foundation was developed with the lumber, and grew with brick, it’s crystal that allowed the city to soar.
The growth of the railroad and the city’s connection with the Erie Canal attracted the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company to move here from New York City in 1868. With that move, the company took on the name of the town it now called home and became Corning Glass Works, which today is known around the world as Corning Incorporated.
Since that time, the Crystal City of Corning, New York has enjoyed a brilliantly successful century and a half, with no signs of dulling. Crystals are tough, beautiful and unique, and the same is true for Corning’s Historic Market Street. Corning’s Gaffer District is honored to dedicate our Historic Walking Tour to the memory of Mary Ann Sprague, a preservation enthusiast and instrumental force in the restoration and preservation of Market Street. She was proud of her city, and relished in the documentation of its history. Like the gems found along our walkways, Mary Ann’s work has not gone unnoticed.
Now please, enjoy your tour.