You may have heard of a bridge that is built on a bias, with no two angles alike and no corners square. The famous Lift Bridge crosses the Erie Canal on Main Street in the village of Fairport. The bridge is an oddity that the community cherishes. This past summer the Lift Bridge was “up” for repairs. The community made the most of this slight inconvenience with special events that brought people closer to the canal and downtown Fairport.
This “front porch friendly” town was once a cedar swamp. In 1817 Peter Ripley built the first home on what is now North Main Street. Fairport’s location on the Erie Canal and Route 250 greatly shaped the history of the village. Several large manufacturing companies started up in Fairport, such as the DeLand Chemical Works which produces an internationally selling baking product called Saleratus.
Today, Fairport is accommodating to the lifestyles of boaters, bikers, runners, walkers and hikers. With overnight docking on the canal and miles of towpaths and canalside parks, Fairport embraces the leisure and pleasures of locals and passersby.
Landmarks: Fairport Museum (formerly the WPA public built library), Henry DeLand House, First Baptist Church, Millston Block (oldest surviving building; built in 1827), Potter Memorial, The Box Factory
What’s in a name?
Fairport was named when a traveler proclaimed that the town was “Truly a fair port” for passersby.
A Food Processing Town:
• DeLand Chemical Works produced Saleratus (a white soluble compound used in effervescent drinks, baking powders and antacids).
• Cobb Preserving Company developed the open-top sanitary can and processed local fruits and vegetables.
• Sanitary Can Company, bought by American Can Company, was in operation until the 1980s.
• Certo was a jelling product invented in Fairport by Robert Douglas and was manufactured in the village until 1946.
• Ripley’s Believe it or Not for the Lift Bridge on Main Street
• One of the Top 100 “Best Places to Live in America”
• Fairport is a “Tree City USA” (Sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation)
Events in Fairport:
Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration, Ice Skating on Lift Bridge Lane East at Fairport Junction (November-March), Fairport Canal Days, Tuesday Cruz Nights (throughout the summer), Thursday Night Gazebo Series (throughout the summer), Farmers Market (May-November)
Village of Fairport: www.village.fairport.ny.us
Fairport-Perinton Merchants Association: www.fairportmerchants.com
Fairport Canal Days Festival: www.fairportcanaldays.com
Fairport Historical Museum: www.angelfire.com/ny5/fairporthistmuseum/
Fairport Village Partnership: www.fairportpartnership.org
The Landmark Society: www.landmarksociety.org
by Kristin Grove
Kristin Grove lives in Geneva and works as a graphic artist in Rochester. She encourages everyone to continue to support local businesses and the rich history of the Finger Lakes region.