Signs of Distinction

The History of New York State as Told by 51 Welcome Signs

By Chuck D'Imperio

Subjects: New York/regional, American History, General Interest, American Culture
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438488912, 132 pages, July 2022

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Table of contents


1. Adams: "The Arbor Day Village"

2. Andes: "Epicenter of the Anti-Rent War"

3. Bainbridge: "Home of Elmer's Glue. Stick with Us!"

4. Batavia: "Birthplace of Western New York"

5. Bethel: "Home of the 1969 Woodstock Festival"

6. Brockport: "The Victorian Village on the Erie Canal"

7. Canisteo: "Site of the World's Largest Living Sign"

8. Chaumont: "Home of One of the Largest Freshwater Bays in the World"

9. Cherry Valley: "First English Speaking Church West of the Hudson"

10. Chittenango: "Birthplace of L. Frank Baum: Author of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz"

11. Conesus: "Home of the Turtlestones"

12. Cooperstown: "Home of Baseball; Village of Museums"

13. Cuba: "First Oil Discovered in America, 1627"

14. Dansville: "Home of Clara Barton Chapter #1 American Red Cross. Home of New York State Balloon Festival"

15. East Bloomfield: "Home of the Northern Spy Apple"

16. East Durham: "Emerald Isle of the Catskills"

17. Elmira: "Honoring the Past; Building the Future"

18. Fredonia: "America's First Gas Well"

19. Geneseo: "Home of the Greatest Show on Turf"

20. Gorham: "Bandstand of the Finger Lakes"

21. Granville: "The Colored Slate Capital of the World"

22. Hamilton: "Birthplace of John Vincent Atanasoff, Inventor of the Computer"

23. Hobart: "Book Village of the Catskills"

24. Hoosick Falls: "Grandma Moses Country"

25. Hornell: "Home of Bill Pullman"

26. Horseheads: "Three Horses on Sign"

27. Ironville: "Birthplace of the Electric Age"

28. Jamestown: "Birthplace of Lucille Ball. Birthplace of Roger Tory Peterson. Home of Robert H. Jackson"

29. Kinderhook: "Home of 8th U.S. President Martin Van Buren"

30. Lackawanna: "Home of Father Baker"

31. Lake Placid: "Site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics"

32. LeRoy: "Birthplace of Jell-O"

33. Lily Dale Assembly: "World's Largest Center for the Religion of Spiritualism"

34. Marathon: "Home of the Central New York Maple Festival"

35. Mount Morris: "Home of the Pledge of Allegiance"

36. North Tonawanda: "Home of the Carrousel"

37. Phelps: "Home of the Sauerkraut Weekend"

38. Pine Island: "Heart of the Black Dirt Region"

39. Port Henry: "Champ Sightings in Bulwagga Bay Area"

40. Roscoe: "Trout Town U.S.A."

41. Seneca Falls: "Birthplace of the Women's Rights Movement"

42. Sherrill: "The Smallest City in New York State"

43. Springfield: "The Place to Be on the 4th of July Since 1914"

44. Troy: "Home of the Burden Water Wheel"

45. Unadilla: "Home of Boy Scout Troop #1"

46. Upper Jay: "Home of Toy Maker Arto Monaco"

47. Wallkill: "Elsie's Birthplace"

48. Waterloo: "Birthplace of Memorial Day"

49. Waterville: "Historic Center of International Hops Commerce"

50. Whitehall: "Birthplace of the U.S. Navy"

51. Wyoming: "The Gaslight Village"


Fifty-one unique New York towns with great stories to tell, from L. Frank Baum's and Jello's hometowns to the birthplace of the Women's Rights Movement.


Across New York State, small towns and big cities alike have stories to tell. A unique travel guide for history buffs, Signs of Distinction delves into the varied stories revealed on town welcome signs. Welcome signs in every corner of the state beckon visitors, urging you to stop and explore. After all, who could resist stopping in a village that declares itself, "The Birthplace of Jell-O?" Similarly, the town that calls itself, "The Bandstand of the Finger Lakes," makes you want to dance! Fifty-one stories—each accompanied by a photograph of the welcome sign—share the history of these communities and their unique attributes. History lovers, road warriors, and folks who love trivia will enjoy reading about these New York towns and the stories behind their welcome signs.

Chuck D'Imperio is an award-winning radio broadcaster, author, and newspaper columnist in upstate New York. His many books include Graves of Upstate New York: A Guide to 100 Notable Resting Places; Open House: 35 Historic Upstate New York Homes; and Upstate Uncovered: 100 Unique, Unusual, and Overlooked Destinations in Upstate New York, also published by SUNY Press.


"This compact guide is filled with discoveries about New York's local notables, history and activities." — Life in the Finger Lakes

"…a fun book to read." — Albany Times Union

Praise for Chuck D'Imperio

"This is the kind of insider-tourism knowledge that can only come from someone who loves a particular area and has spent a good portion of their life enjoying and exploring it. This is homegrown tourism done right, with enthusiasm, humor, and heart … immensely charming." — Manhattan Book Review

"…invites readers to explore a delightful array of sights in Upstate New York." — Syracuse Post-Standard

"D'Imperio gives readers dozens of reasons to explore all parts of upstate New York as they travel in search of palate-pleasing delights." — The Saratogian