A Brief History
The land now known as the Village of Fairport was originally territory of the Onöndowa’ga. In English known as the Seneca people. Together, with the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Tuscarora, the Seneca make up the sovereign Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
The area of Fairport was settled in 1789 and grew with the success of the Erie Canal. These early settlers were citizens of a geographically large town called Northfield. Then the name was changed to Boyle, until Perinton split off and established in 1812. The development of the Erie Canal made it to Fairport in 1822 and became an important transportation route. Fairport, with a hotel and a post office, became a popular stop for travelers. In fact, Fairport got its name from canal travelers who labeled the stop as a “pretty fair port.” The term “Fairport” began to be used informally in the later 1820s, although it was not incorporated until 1867. With the Canal open from Rochester to Little Falls, land was cleared and several farms sprang up in and around the area. In 1827, the Fairport Hotel was built and in 1829 the Post Office was moved from Fullamtown to Fairport.
Mural by Carl Peters, Image Credit: Keith Boas -
This mural is located at the Perinton Historical Museum
With the coming of the railroad in 1853 and the success of the Canal, Fairport’s population began to grow. People that once lived in surrounding areas, such as Egypt, moved and settled near the Canal. Fairport experienced steady growth and by the time it was incorporated in 1867 had a population of more than 1,000.
As a canal port, Fairport was a destination for many local and regional farmers. Agricultural products, primarily potatoes, were shipped from the port, and businesses sprang up to serve workers with production and shipping companies. One prominent early industry was the DeLand Chemical Company, which produced chemicals such as Saleratus (baking powder) to make potash during the mid-1800’s.
During the late 1800’s, the P. Cox Shoe Company (subsequently the A.H. Cobb Preserving Company and the Sanitary Can Co.) built a factory west of North Main Street, north of the railroad tracks. This company became the American Can Company in 1909 and remained Fairport’s largest business until it closed in 1993. This area is currently known as the Cannery and is home to an athletic facility, offices, multiple restaurants, breweries, a distillery and entertainment venues.
The Erie Canal
Fairport, like the Canal, is different. Much of the local economic and employment base is service oriented. Many buildings that were once occupied by industrial uses have or will be converted to a mix of residential, retail, and office uses.
The Canal is still a major focus for Fairport with the development of the Northwest and Southwest Bicentennial Bank areas, Liftbridge Lane West pedestrian and biking-way and festival site.
Although it is no longer a major commercial waterway, the Erie Canal still draws thousands of people a year as a major recreational amenity and the annual Canal Days Festival, held the first weekend in June, draws and many as one hundred thousand attendees to Main Street in Fairport to celebrate arts, crafts, food, and the canal. During canal season (May-October) travelers on Main Street may see the lift bridge in go up for a large boat to pass underneath. The people of Fairport recognize that its heritage as a small Canal village is one of its biggest assets and they are committed to preserving it.
While trains no longer stop in Fairport for manufacturing, there are many trains each day that stop traffic on North Main St. Train viewing is a major hobby for many and located in the Fairport Junction on Liftbridge Lane East is the train view platform complete with a restored train caboose, seating and sounds from active trains passing through Fairport. Cameras located on the platform show a live feed of traffic on the rails in Fairport. More info about the train viewing platform.
Breweries and Distilleries and Food Manufacturing
From the north end of the Village to the south, Fairport has become home to multiple craft breweries: Triphammer Bierwerks, Faircraft Brauhaus and Fairport Brewing Company (FBC brewing no longer located in the Village), a bourbon distillery, Iron Smoke Distillery, a major food and beverage manufacturer - LiDestri Foods and a respected bakery, Amazing Grains, that supplies multiple Rochester restaurants and businesses with "salty bread". In addition to serving coffee, FairPour roasts beans for their own village operation and for wholesale to others. Much of the local economic and employment base is service oriented. Many buildings that were once occupied by industrial uses have or will be converted to a mix of residential, retail, and office uses.