East Utica District in 1491

Historic Geology and Hydrology

The landscape in this neighborhood gradually transitioned from grassy meadow to rocky cliff to upland forest. During the spring the meadow would become inundated with water due to the Mohawk River. Starch Factory Creek flowed freely through the area, although it was called a different name, Yahnunsaga, by the Native Americans. A creek, which Utica residents later named Ballou Creek, flowed through the west corner of the neighborhood and a tributary of the Mohawk River ran down what is now Jefferson Avenue.

Historic Flora

This neighborhood was probably a forest dominated by Sugar Maple, American Beech and Basswood, with an understory of Yellow Birch, White Elm and Red Maple. In some sections Quaking Aspen, Balsam Poplar, White Pine, Hemlock, Black Cherry, Green Ash, Black Ash, Red Oak, Striped Maple, American Linden, Paper Birch, Black Birch and Grey Birch also probably grew. Shrubs filled the area and may have included species such as Hobblebush, Mapleleaf Viburnum and Blackcap Raspberry. Nannyberry, Mountain Laurel and Canada Honeysuckle may have also grown in the area. The ground layer may have consisted of plants such as Indian Cucumber-root, Canada Mayflower, Shining Club moss, Common Wood Fern, Mountain Wood Fern, Christmas Fern, Star Flower, Bellwort, Common Wood-sorrel, Partridge Berry, Foamflower, Round-leaf Violet, Twisted Stalk, Purple Trillium and mosses. Painted Trillium, Goldthread, Hairy Beardtongue, Common Wood-sorrel, Kidney-leaved Violet, Pink Lady's Slipper, Wood Lily, Spotted Wintergreen, Wild Bergamot and Wild Sarsaparilla may have also covered the forest floor.

Historic Fauna

The neighborhood was teeming with wildlife. Many amphibians and reptiles, including over 8 kinds of salamanders, 7 species of frogs, 16 kinds of snakes and 8 kinds of turtles, including the near-threatened Blanding's Turtle and vulnerable Spotted Turtle, may have lived here. Many mammals roamed, foraged and reared their young, including 6 species of shrews and 8 different kinds of bats, including the Indiana Bat, which is now endangered. Opossums, gray and red foxes, coyotes, lynx, bobcats, otters, skunks, martens, ermines, weasels, minks, badgers, raccoons, black bears, moose, white-tailed deer, woodchucks, 4 kinds of squirrels, chipmunks, beaver, mice, voles, lemmings, porcupines, and many hares and rabbits probably called your neighborhood their home. Upwards of 220 species of birds flew through the neighborhood on a yearly basis, including at least 17 types of ducks, 6 types of herons, 6 kinds of hawks, 6 kinds of gulls, 8 species of owls, egrets, ibises, bitterns, turkey vultures, ospreys, bald eagles, golden eagles, falcons, grouses, wild turkeys, rails, sandpipers and 7 species of woodpeckers, including the near-threatened red-headed woodpecker. Ravens, crows, jays, vireos, waxwings, bluebirds, thrushes, wrens, swallows, finches, warblers, sparrows, grackles and blackbirds also probably frequented the area, as did 7 types of flycatchers and 20 types of warblers, including the olive-sided flycatcher and chimney swift, both of which are now near threatened.