West Utica in 1491

Historic Geology and Hydrology

This neighborhood used to be a grassy meadow dotted with elm trees, absorbing the Mohawk River's spring overflow, and at times may have been swampy. It served many of the wetland functions vital to the earth today. A creek, which Utica residents later named Nail Creek, flowed through the west side of the neighborhood, just east of Schuyler Street.

Historic Flora

This neighborhood was probably a grassy meadow filled with Eastern Arborvitae, Canadian Hemlock, Silver Maple, American Elm, Eastern Cottonwood, and White Pine. Other trees that may have grown here include Black Willow, Eastern Sycamore, Speckled Alder, Green Ash, Black Ash, Red Maple, Silver Maple, Shagbark Hickory, Boxelder, River Birch, Basswood, Swamp White Oak, Pin Oak and Balsam Poplar. Shrubs filled the area and may have included American Elder, Moonseed, River Grape, Poison Ivy, Trumpet Creeper, Peppervine and Buttonbush. There were many herbaceous plants as well such as Green Dragon, Sweet Flag, Ostrich Fern, Wood Nettle, American Black Currant, Stinging Nettle, Jewelweed and Turtlehead.

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.