The location now known as Potsdam was first called Tsi tewate’nehtararénie’s, meaning “the place where the gravel settles under the feet in dragging the canoe.” We would like to acknowledge with respect the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka/Mohawk Nation, Protectors of the Eastern Door of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the indigenous peoples on whose ancestral lands our village now stands. Later, settlers began arriving in the area in 1802, and the Town of Potsdam was founded four years later. The Village of Potsdam was officially incorporated in 1831, centered on the scenic Raquette River.
Location that inspires
Potsdam is located in New York’s North Country region, bordered by the Adirondack Mountains to the south and the Thousand Islands to the north, all along the Canadian border. The Village of Potsdam is a classic historic college town, centered on the scenic Raquette River, where outdoor recreational opportunities and cultural activities abound. The region offers some of the best freshwater fishing in the world, as well as a wonderful setting for hiking, biking, cross country skiing, and much more. Known for the distinctive local reddish-pink sandstone used in our historic structures and churches, Potsdam has a number of buildings on the National Historic Register, including a segment of downtown Market Street.
Classic college town
Potsdam was recognized as the seventh “collegiest college town” in America, in a 2023 Washington Post ranking. As home to both SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University, our historic municipality was named in the top 10 ultimate college towns in the country, based on the high percentage of college students calling it home (59.8% of urban area residents on average when class is in session). This culturally active college town environment also makes for a vibrant local scene, with numerous athletic, artistic and recreational events drawing residents and visitors to the region each year.
High quality of life
Potsdam is ranked among the top places to live in New York State (Niche.com), with a high quality of life and welcoming community atmosphere, enhanced by a low cost of living.
The village is home to St. Lawrence Health (an affiliate of Rochester Regional Health) and Canton-Potsdam Hospital. The hospital is currently completing a major expansion, with construction of its $71.8 million Regional Care Pavilion.
The Potsdam Central School District is consistently ranked among the top rankings of best high schools in U.S. News & World Report, and educates approximately 1,300 students from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12.
Local food & agriculture
The region’s food scene is centered around local agriculture, with the popular seasonal Potsdam Farmer’s Market (operated by GardenShare) centrally located in a new Amish-designed pavilion near Ives Park. Downtown restaurants and grocers offer locally grown and raised goods, enhanced with unique eateries, ranging from vegan and gluten-free offerings to international cuisine and national chains. Even village trees are tapped for local maple production, which reaches its sweet heights each spring during sugaring season.
Explore more: GardenShare Local Food Guide
Sustainability & environment
The village and town of Potsdam are a certified Climate Smart Community, officially designated with bronze status through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. As the municipality works to reduce greenhouse emissions and adapt to a changing climate, it honors both the natural beauty and abundance of its environment.
The village is a sustainable place to live, work and play, scoring highly for walkability (walk score: 81) and above average for bikeability (bike score: 69), making it possible to cycle or walk to everyday destinations and accessible recreation at local parks and trails.
Recreation for all
Outdoor recreation is just steps from your door, with beautiful trails for walking, running, strolling, cross-country skiing and mountain biking all available right within the village… and even more just a short drive away.
Paddlers, anglers, swimmers and even tubers alike enjoy the Raquette River, with several municipal boat launches, the beach at Sandstoner Park, and a recreation rental program for canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
The Pine Street Arena and Potsdam Recreation program host figure skating, open skate, ice hockey leagues, youth sports programs in soccer, baseball, lacrosse and more, as well as six newly completed outdoor lighted pickleball courts. Children can scramble on playgrounds at the beautiful Ives Park Playscape, at Sandstone Park and at Lawrence Avenue Elementary School, and play the outdoor musical instruments at Garner Park.
Events & Activities to Explore
In addition to our growing business community, Potsdam is home to a number of institutions and organizations that make our downtown vibrant for all:
Clarkson University Science Café
Festivals & More
Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities and performances throughout the year, including:
- Potsdam Summer Festival
- Ives Park Concert Series
- North Country Arts Festival
- LoKo Arts Festival at SUNY Potsdam
- Collegiate and high school sports events
- Frosty Fest
- Raquette River Marathon
- And many more!
Potsdam Chamber of Commerce (Visitor/Relocation Information & Business Directory)
Discover St. Lawrence County (Visitor and Relocation Guide)
Life Undiscovered (St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce)