Essex, New York

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Essex, New York
The Octagonal Schoolhouse in the hamlet of Boquet
The Octagonal Schoolhouse in the hamlet of Boquet
Location in Essex County and the state of New York
Location in Essex County and the state of New York
Coordinates: 44°16′41″N 73°24′35″W / 44.27806°N 73.40972°W / 44.27806; -73.40972
CountryUnited States
StateNew York
 • TypeTown Council
 • Town SupervisorRonald Jackson
 • Town Council
 • Total37.60 sq mi (97.38 km2)
 • Land31.63 sq mi (81.92 km2)
 • Water5.97 sq mi (15.46 km2)
266 ft (81 m)
 • Total671
 • Estimate 
 • Density20.30/sq mi (7.84/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)518
FIPS code36-031-24768
GNIS feature ID0978946

Essex is a town in Essex County, New York, United States overlooking Lake Champlain. The population was 671 at the 2010 census.[4] The town is named after locations in England.

The town is on the eastern edge of the county. It is 17 miles (27 km) south-southwest of Burlington, Vermont, which is on the opposite shore of Lake Champlain, 32 miles (51 km) south of Plattsburgh, 94 miles (151 km) south of Montreal, Quebec, and 135 miles (217 km) north of Albany, New York.[5] Essex is inside the Adirondack Park.


At the time of first European contact ca. 1530, the area on the western shores of Lake Champlain were inhabited by Mohawk people of the Iroquois confederacy, with substantial Abenaki (Algonquian) contact.

View of a home in Essex circa 1875

Essex was part of a land grant made to Louis Joseph Robart by King Louis XV of France. The land grant was lost after the British took over the region after 1763.

The region was first settled around 1765 with the intention of forming a baronial estate like those of the lower Hudson River for landowner and investor, William Gilliland.

The town was formed from a part of the town of Willsboro in 1805. It was an important shipbuilding location and port, but that economy collapsed after 1849 with the beginning of railroad lines in the region.

The Essex Village Historic District, Foothills Baptist Church, and the Octagonal Schoolhouse are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[6]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 37.6 square miles (97.4 km2), of which 31.6 square miles (81.9 km2) is land and 6.0 square miles (15.5 km2), or 15.88%, is water.[4]

The eastern border of Essex is the Vermont state line in the middle of Lake Champlain.

New York State Route 22 is a north-south highway in Essex.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2016642[2]−4.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
The Foothills Baptist Church in Boquet

As of the census[8] of 2000, there were 713 people, 302 households, and 202 families residing in the town. The population density was 22.5 people per square mile (8.7/km²). There were 522 housing units at an average density of 16.5 per square mile (6.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 99.7% White, 0.1% Native American, and 0.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.1% of the population.

There were 302 households out of which 24.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.0% were married couples living together, 9.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. 27.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.79.

In the town, the population was spread out with 21.3% under the age of 18, 5.3% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 29.0% from 45 to 64, and 20.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $37,596, and the median income for a family was $40,104. Males had a median income of $26,905 versus $19,583 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,087. About 10.8% of families and 11.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.1% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.

Education and culture[edit]

Most of Essex is served by Willsboro Central School District, though the Westport Central School District is also used. Additionally, some travel across Lake Champlain to Vermont or drive north to Plattsburgh for private school.

For twenty years, the Essex Theatre Company, located near the ferry dock in the Masonic Lodge, has continuously produced stage plays and broadway musicals for summertime enjoyment – and also occasional winter entertainment programs.

The entire town is situated among quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants, including the newly renovated Essex Inn. Most notable for their placement on the National Register of Historic Places, the entire town is included on the Registry.

Periodically there are adult education programs, such as a history lecture series, at the Whallonsburgh Grange.[9][10]

Public transport[edit]

Air service transport is provided by Plattsburgh International Airport (30 miles to north), and Burlington International Airport (across the lake via the ferry in Essex, to Burlington, Vermont). Both are within easy driving distance. Burlington International Airport serves international customers, and Plattsburgh International Airport serves regional and national carriers.

Ferry service between Essex and Charlotte, Vermont, is provided by the Lake Champlain Transportation Company. This became a year-round route in 1998.[11]

This route is used by many residents for access to medical care, jobs, school, and shopping. While most years in the past decade the ferry service has run year-round, the ice-breaking ferries usually used on this route were redeployed to Crown Point to fill in for the Champlain Bridge which was demolished in 2009.[12][13][14][15][16]

The first ferry service in Essex began operation around 1790.[17][18]

Amtrak service is available in Westport, 10 miles (16 km) to the south.

In the days of peak train service, local Delaware & Hudson Railroad trains ending at Plattsburgh or at Rouses Point made stops in Essex, but not the named trains, Laurentian, or its overnight counterpart, the Montreal Limited.[19][20]

Access to medical care[edit]

Essex is in a rural area in the Adirondack Park, so most of its access to medical care is via the ferry operated by Lake Champlain Transportation. The nearest emergency department is Elizabethtown Community Hospital, a 25-bed rural hospital with eighteen on its active medical staff,[21] which is a 17-mile (27 km) drive. Further away, accessible via 20-minute ferry and a significant drive, is the emergency department of Fletcher Allen Hospital,[22] a large, full-service hospital affiliated with the University of Vermont. An important fully staffed hospital and full-service emergency department is at CVPH Medical Center, in Plattsburgh, approximately 35 miles (56 km) to the north.[23]

Communities and locations in Essex[edit]

  • Beggs Point – Small point in the hamlet of Essex. Horseshoe nail and window sash factories were located here before burning down in the early 1900s. Now the town park with playground, fishing pier and boat launch. Sunrise religious services for Easter.
  • Boquet River – Its southern branch flows northward through the western portion of the town.
  • Boquet (formally West Essex or Wessex) – A hamlet on NY-22 west of Essex.
  • Brookfield – A former hamlet in the western part of Essex settled in 1797 by mostly Morris County, New Jersey, and Dutchess County, New York, farmers and bloomers. Cemetery still exists.
  • Bluff Point – A point in the southeast portion of Essex hamlet. Lake depth drops to 100 feet (30 m) off the cliff.
  • Bull Run – The hill on south Main Street traveling into Essex hamlet.
  • Crooked S Hill – The hill west of Boquet after crossing the river. Named from the appearance of Jersey Street (County Road 12) as it twists up the hill.
  • Grog Harbor – A shallow bay between Bluff Point and Cannon Point. Named when liquor smugglers had to dump their cargo.
  • Canon Point – A shallow projection into Lake Champlain at Craterclub.
  • Crater Club – A hamlet on the shore of Lake Champlain, south of Essex hamlet on County Road 9.
  • Essex (formerly "Elizabeth") – The hamlet of Essex on the shore of Lake Champlain at the junction of NY-22 and County Road 9. The hamlet is the location of the town government and is a ferry port to Vermont. The village was the first county seat of Essex County when it was formed in 1799 until 1807, when Elizabethtown became the county seat. It was founded about 1765. The Essex Village Historic District encompasses many of the historic buildings.
  • Essex Station (also known as Merriam Station) – A location southwest of Essex hamlet on NY-22.
  • Sandy Beach – A private small sand beach in the northeast part of Essex hamlet.
  • Split Rock Point – The easternmost extension of the town into Lake Champlain.
  • Whallonsburg – A hamlet in the south part of the town on NY-22. It was founded about 1770. before a fire in the early 1900s, the hamlet produced furniture and other wood products. The Essex County Home and Farm was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.[6]
  • Whallons Bay – A bay of Lake Champlain in the southwest part of Essex. The town beach is located here. Governor Pataki owns a home in Whallon's Bay.

Notable people[edit]

Some notable Essex residents, past and present, include:


  1. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 4, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  3. ^ "History of Essex, New York". History of Essex County, ed. H. P. Smith. Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co. (1885)
  4. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Essex town, Essex County, New York". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  5. ^ Google Maps
  6. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  7. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  8. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  9. ^ "Whallonsburgh Grange Lyceum Series". Archived from the original on 2011-04-04. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
  10. ^ North Country Public Radio UpNorth Forum
  11. ^ Tom Gresham, "The Job That Comes and Goes: In the pilothouse with Lake Champlain's ferry captains". Adirondack Life, July/August 2007.
  12. ^ Brian Mann, "Critics say ferry closure would cause 'ordeal' in Champlain Valley", North Country Public Radio, November 11, 2010.
  13. ^ "Essex Neighbors Fear Ice Will Close Ferry: Commuters Say Ferry Service Needs a Solution" Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine, WPTX, October 22, 2010.
  14. ^ Matt Sudkoski, "Winter ferry closures worry Essex, N.Y.–Charlotte riders".[permanent dead link] Burlington Free Press, October 25, 2010.
  15. ^ "Commuters fight for year-round ferry" Archived 2012-03-09 at the Wayback Machine, WCAX, November 10, 2010.
  16. ^ Lohr MckInstry, "Essex-Charlotte ferry reopens". Plattsburgh Press-Republican, March 22, 2010.
  17. ^ Jan Peden, History of Essex, New York: An Introductory Sketch Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine. Historic Essex (Essex Community Heritage Organization).
  18. ^ David C. Hislop, Jr., Essex on Lake Champlain, p. 34.
  19. ^ 'Official Guide of the Railways' August 1939, D & Hudson section, Table 1
  20. ^ 'Official Guide of the Railways' August 1939, D & Hudson section, Table 1
  21. ^ Medical Staff & Specialty Physicians, Elizabethtown Community Hospital.
  22. ^ Directions from Essex, NY to 111 Colchester Avenue, Burlington, VT, Google Maps.
  23. ^ Google Maps.
  24. ^ Children’s author Kellogg visits Norwood students,, June 18, 2010.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°18′36″N 73°21′09″W / 44.31000°N 73.35250°W / 44.31000; -73.35250