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Welcome

The Town of Potsdam is located in the Adirondack foothills, in the center of St. Lawrence County, New York. We are home to two villages, the Village of Potsdam and the Village of Norwood. Our Town Hall is located at 18 Elm Street and our Town Court 35 Market Street, Potsdam, NY.

Since its formation, Potsdam has been considered a cultural and educational center.   We are rich in education and technology hosting the State University of Potsdam and Clarkson University, two exceptional learning institutions. Potsdam is also proud to have one of the state’s finest public school systems and a progressive medical facility Canton Potsdam Hospital.

A little history

A square ten miles on each side, the Town of Potsdam was established on February 21, 1806, upon an Act of the Legislature. David Clarkson and Associates purchased this land in 1802. In 1803 land agent, Benjamin Raymond was one of the first settlers to the region. He built a hut on the banks of the Raquette River and his charge was to sell land, build dams, businesses, and lay out roads and streets. Today, the roads and streets in Potsdam are mainly as Benjamin Raymond laid them out, as straight as possible to every town near here. Someone once asked Mr. Raymond if he planned to have all the roads lead to Potsdam. He replied, “If anybody got onto one of these roads, he could come to Potsdam.” The catchphrase was born “All Roads Lead to Potsdam.”

The “Union Settlement” established in 1807 is believed to be one of the first communes in the United States.

In its early stages, Potsdam was rich in industry. Farms, sawmills, a gristmill, the sandstone quarry – mining world renowned Potsdam Sandtone, logging and paper mills flourished. Also, education was as important to Potsdam in the 1800’s as it is today.

Education was at the root of Potsdam’s foundation and remains the most important industry today. The academy was established in 1810 and Mr. Raymond petitioned the Regents of the University of the State to be recognized. The charter finally was approved in 1816. In 1868 the Normal School was built and rebuilt in 1917, using the stone from the original construction, now known as Old Snell Hall. The Crane Normal Institute of Music, started by Julia Crane, became part of the Normal School, which is now SUNY Potsdam. In 1896, Clarkson College of Technology was founded and today both SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University are well respected educational institutions thriving in Potsdam.