ITHACA, N.Y. — The recent completion of the Ithaca Commons construction project spurred us to take a look back through the history books.

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Thanks to the good folks at the History Center of Tompkins County, we’ve dug up the following 26 photos of the strip now known as the Commons — going back to the 1840’s (!), when it was known as Owego Street. (That’s a bit of an oversimplification; most of the photos are of what is now the Commons, but some are from blocks nearby.)

Click here for previous Ithaca Voice reporting on the Ithaca Commons project.

Owego Street was later renamed State Street, which is the title that remained until “the Commons” were constructed in the 1970s.

Those Commons, of course, were significantly overhauled in a renovation that concluded (more or less) last week. For a complementary, contemporary photo gallery, see here.

Below are the 26 photos:

1 — Owego Street in 1840:

2 — Owego Street (State Street) at about 1867:

3 — State and Aurora streets, 1868:

4 — 53 East State Street (now the Commons) in 1875:

5 — The 200 block of East State Street, looking west from Aurora Street, in about 1900:

6 — The “Ithaca Street Railway” of State Street viewed from Cayuga Street in the 1890s

7 — The Ithaca Street Railway again — this time at the intersection of Aurora and State streets, looking west, in the “early 1900s.” You can see the Griffin Building — which housed Simeon’s until last year’s crash — on the right.

8 — East State Street, now the Commons, with the Colonial Building to the right, in “about 1903.”

9 — The 200 block of East State Street in 1921:

10 — This was taken sometime around 1925:

11 — State Street, also in 1925:

12 — Carey Building sidewalk, a block from the Commons, Sept. 13, 1937

13 — State Street of Ithaca in 1939:

14 — In 1943, Aurora Street at night

15 — Taken in 1944, what appears to be looking north from Aurora Street toward State Street

16 — The “Wilgus Block,” at the corner of State and Tioga, on June 8, 1948:

17 — State Street in 1950:

18 — 200 block of East State Street, March 22, 1969:

19 — The Commons in 1975, looking west from Tioga Street. Courtesy of Anton J. Egner and Associates:

And also some photos without apparent dates:

20 —

21 — What appears to be the “Outdoor Store” — maybe from the 1960s?

22 —

23 —

24 —

25 —

26 — 

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.