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History of Norwich
Norwich and the surrounding region have a long history. During the 18th Century the area was dominated by the Iroquois Confederacy. The confederation of five nations consisted of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas. Internal conflicts and European pressure eventually broke down the confederacy and many Iroquois left the area. Those remaining signed treaties with the American government ceding their land in return for goods and money.
Early settlers came largely from New England, especially Massachusetts and Connecticut. These early residents brought with them the name "Norwich," originally brought from England to Connecticut, to name their new home in New York. Norwich incorporated as a village on April 17, 1816 and incorporated as a city in 1914.
When the Erie Canal began construction in 1817, the Chenango valley and the City of Norwich were still a frontier area. The success of the Erie Canal stimulated hopes and imaginations of inland residents with the prospect of better connections to markets and supplies. Despite an adverse report by the Canal Commissioners, the New York State Legislature authorized the construction of the Chenango Canal in 1833. The Chenango Canal connected the Erie Canal just west of Utica to the Susquehanna River at Binghamton. Construction began in 1834, and the canal opened in 1837. While the canal significantly improved passenger and freight movement for the Chenango valley, it failed to increase the population or have a radical impact on the valley's economy. Ultimately, it was closed in 1878 due to declining revenues after the construction of railroads in the area.
The earliest industry in Norwich included sawmills, gristmills, woolen mills, and a hammer factory. As the area grew and manufacturing and transportation systems became more sophisticated, industry expanded to include the Norwich Furniture Company, the Norwich Silk Manufacturing Company, a piano and a violin factory and, most importantly for the long-term economic impacts on the City, the Norwich Pharmacal Company, started by the Reverend Lafayette Moore in 1885. Incorporated in 1889, it grew to be the principal industry of Norwich, manufacturing such products as Pepto-Bismol and Norwich Aspirin. Headquartered in the City, the company provided not only manufacturing jobs but a significant number of management, research, and other professional opportunities.
The City of Norwich has been through dramatic changes in the last decade. In the future it will build on its considerable assets, including historic resources, ample infrastructure, quality community services, and strong sense of community to stimulate new growth and development.