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Estevan (440) 2015 Honda Fit

Estevan Fuertes

Estevan is named after Estevan Fuertes. Born in Puerto Rico in 1838, Fuertes was a successful civil engineer who worked on public infrastructure in Puerto Rico, on the Croton aqueduct for New York City, and on early Panama canal surveys for the US Government. From 1873-1902 he served as the Dean of Cornell School of Civil Engineering, where he re-structured and built up the size of the school significantly. He was an advocate of laboratory-based learning, and played a key role in the planning and construction of both a large hydraulics research laboratory on Fall Creek and the Fuertes Astronomical Observatory. His son was Louis Agassiz Fuertes, a famous ornithologist and bird illustrator.

Eleanor (511) 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor is named in honor of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who attended the dedication ceremony of the Southside Community Center as First Lady, in 1938, after the building went up in 1937 as a Works Progress Administration project. She was also instrumental in securing funding for Cornell’s College of Home Economics.

Rudy (535) 2012 Toyota Prius C

Rutabaga Curl

Rudy is a native Ithacan, born in December 1996 on the final day at Ithaca Farmers Market season. To be exact, Rudy entered the world via the Market’s wooden midway when the vendors’ discussion turned to “unusual winter sports,” among them the Olympic sport of curling. In true Ithaca fashion, the International Rutabaga Curl evolved from a few market vendors hurling their wares along the concourse at season’s end to an annual event. The event now draws hundreds of Ithacans to compete. It even has its own Facebook page:

Barbara (1827) 2016 Honda Fit

Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock (1902-1992) worked in plant cytogenics, meaning she used microscopes to investigate plant genetics at the cellular level. She demonstrated the phenomenon of chromosomal crossover, which increases genetic variation in species. She also discovered transposition – genes moving about within chromosomes – often described as jumping genes, and showed that genes are responsible for switching the physical traits in an organism on or off.

She would have been recognized as a remarkable scientist regardless of her gender or era, but the fact that she made such significant contributions at a time when women were so discriminated against makes her story that much more impressive. Not until the 1960s, when other scientists began to corroborate her results, was McClintock’s work recognized for what it was. And once the accolades started coming in, they didn’t stop. She was a member of the first cohort of the MacArthur Fellows in 1981, and in 1983 she was awarded a Nobel Prize for having discovered controlling elements – almost 40 years earlier.

McClintock received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D degrees from Cornell University.

Matilda (2420) 2012 Toyota Prius C

Matilda Joslyn Gage

In 1826 Matilda Electa Joslyn Gage was “born with a hatred of oppression.” Reared in a house in Cicero, NY that was a station on the Underground Railroad, she would later face prison for assisting escaped slaves after the Fugitive Slave Law was enacted. She was also known for her advocacy on behalf of Native Americans. In 1852, Gage addressed the National Women’s Rights Convention in Syracuse, New York. Solidifying her position in the women’s suffrage movement, she founded the Women’s National Liberal Union. A prolific writer, Gage co-authored History of Woman Suffrage with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Sophronia (2491) 2012 Honda Fit Sport

Sophronia Bucklin

Sophronia is named after Sophronia Bucklin. Born in 1828, this Ithacan served in the Hospital Service as a nurse during the Civil War. After the battle of Gettysburg, Bucklin served in a tent hospital ministering to the most wounded soldiers. She was an efficient and dedicated nurse, and a compassionate friend to her patients, many of whom she corresponded with after the war. She published an account of her experiences entitled In Hospital and Camp: A Woman’s Record of Thrilling Incidents Among the Wounded in the Late War.

Stewie (2564) 2013 Toyota Prius C

Edwin Stewart

Edwin C. Stewart was the son of David B. Stewart, the first Mayor of Ithaca. He attended public schools in Ithaca, then went on to serve in both the NYS Assembly and Senate. He became Mayor of Ithaca in 1920. Mayor Stewart led the renewed interest in the reopening then Renwick Park for use as a lakeside municipal park. One month before the park’s formal opening, Mayor Stewart died and the park was renamed Stewart Park in his honor.

Konstantin (3519) 2016 Honda Fit EX

Dr. Konstantin Frank

Dr. Konstantin Frank pioneered the use of European grape varieties in the Finger Lakes region. Born in Ukraine, his PhD thesis focused on cold-weather techniques for growing Vitis vinifera. He came to the United States in 1951, and eventually moved to the Finger Lakes when he took a position at Cornell University’s Geneva Experiment Station. With his experience in growing grapes in cold weather back home, he successfully disproved the critics who thought it was impossible to grow Vitis vinifera in the region. Only a decade after arriving in the US, he founded Vinifera Wine Cellars and began a legacy of renowned Rieslings and other wines that we love today.

Kurt (3836) and Kilgore (3837) 2013 Honda Fits

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, a reluctant chemistry major, was an Assistant Managing Editor and Associate Editor of The Cornell Daily Sun, which allowed him to pursue his more humanistic interests. Vonnegut studied at Cornell for three years before he was drafted by the U.S. Army. He went on to be a well-known novelist.

Kilgore Trout is a character that appears in several of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels. He is loosely based on Vonnegut’s fellow writer, Theodore Sturgeon, who like Vonnegut’s character shares a name with a fish.

Carl (4214) 2012 Toyota Yaris

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan was a well-known astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist who spent most of his life as a professor at Cornell University where he directed the Laboratory for Planetary Studies. Sagan made significant contributions to the field of astronomy. Ithaca’s Carl Sagan Planet Walk, a to-scale replica of Earth’s solar system, starts on the Ithaca Commons and ends at the ScienceCenter on Third Street.

Haley (4224) 2012 Toyota Prius C

Alex Haley

Alex Haley was born in Ithaca in 1921. While a member of the Coast Guard, Haley turned his attention to journalism. Ultimately, he would achieve the rank of Chief Journalist in the Coast Guard, a position created in his honor. His post-Coast Guard journalism lead to an editorial position with Reader’s Digest, then at Playboy, where he created the interview feature. Interviewing prominent citizens for this position led to his collaboration with Malcolm X on his autobiography. He is best known for his book: Roots: The Saga of an American Family.

Gino (4522) 2017 Honda Fit

Gino Bush

Gino Bush has been active in pursuing social justice in Ithaca for at least 25 years. Gino founded and led the Circle of Recovery, a support group for former addicts. This group expanded into Ithaca High School where Gino worked to mentor and empower young men.

Gino was the force behind getting streets renamed to honor Bishop Cecil Malone and the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Gino also persuaded the leadership of Cayuga Medical Center to hire formerly incarcerated individuals. This made CMC one of the few local large employers to routinely give those with felony records a chance at decent employment. Gino’s contact with CMC leadership also led to at least two members of their leadership team joining the board of directors of Opportunities, Alternatives, and Resources. (Photo credit: Ithaca Times, 2009)

Saponi (5239) 2013 Honda Fit

Tutelo dance

Saponi is named in reverence for the Saponi and Tutelo tribes of Native Americans, who had fled north from Virginia and North Carolina around 1700, and were taken in by the Cayuga Iroquois. They established a village, Coreogonel, in the south part of Ithaca near Buttermilk Falls. In 1779, amidst unrest between the British and the French, Iroquois tribes across Central New York were brutally forced from their homes and land. The American Army, led by General Sullivan, was sent to destroy Coreogonel, but found that the inhabitants had already fled to Fort Niagara for safety. The settlement was destroyed. Today, a park in their memory exists on Bostwick Road.

Ben (5284) 2013 Toyota Prius

Ben Nichols

Ben Nichols served three terms as mayor of Ithaca (1989-1995) after retiring from his 30 year tenure as professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell University. While he was mayor, Nichols persuaded Cornell to contribute to local emergency services otherwise funded by property taxes and spearheaded attempts to extend domestic benefits to same-sex couples in Ithaca.

Devon (5525) 2015 Toyota Prius II

Brachiopod fossils

Devon is named after the unique and fossil rich Devonian Shale formations common in the geology of the Ithaca area. Finger Lakes geology exposes interesting fossils and sedimentary rocks from the Devonian Era (350-400 million years ago), some unusual igneous intrusions, and a lot of glacial features, both erosive and depositional.

Learn more:
On the Rocks: Local Geology is Right in Front of You (Ithaca Times, 2014)
The Museum of the Earth at the Paleontological Research Institute

Pearl (5575) 2012 Toyota Prius C

Pearl White

Silent movie starlet Pearl White first took the stage at age six. By age thirteen she was riding horses bareback in a circus. It is no wonder she performed most of her own stunts in the silent films that made her a star. Known as the “Queen of Serials,” she is best known for her portrayal of the title character in The Perils of Pauline. Pearl White lived at the Ithaca Hotel in 1915 while she was working with the Wharton Brothers silent film studio on The Exploits of Elaine.

Elizabeth (6093) 2013 Toyota Prius C

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton is best known for her activism in the women’s suffrage movement. She is recognized as the main author of The Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, an 1848 manifesto delivered at the first women’s rights convention, which was held in Seneca Falls, New York.

Beebe (6372) 2018 Toyota Prius C Two

Elizabeth Beebe

Elizabeth Beebe

Beebe is named in honor of Elizabeth Beebe (1830s-1905), who dedicated her life as Ithaca’s first social worker in the West End of Ithaca.

She was selected to become the city missionary because of her age, because she was educated and respected, and because she was divorced, a socially awkward position at the time. Being divorced also meant was that she had no home and no family to care for and so was free to take up the city’s work.

The services provided by Elizabeth Beebe and the Ladies Union Benevolent Society have since been taken over by state social services agencies. Elizabeth Beebe felt that we were all our brother’s and sister’s keepers and that we had a social responsibility to aid others. (Source: The Ithaca Journal, Sept. 2014)


Serling (6797) 2013 Toyota Prius C

Rod Serling

Rod Serling was born in Syracuse with strong family ties to the central New York region. A successful scriptwriter best known for The Twilight Zone series, he lectured and taught master classes at Ithaca College from 1968 until his death in 1975.

Frances (7529) 2014 Toyota Prius C

Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins was the U.S. Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), as such becoming the first female member of the U.S. Cabinet. Perkins championed the labor movement, and played a key role in the establishing minimum wage and overtime laws, the Social Security Act, unemployment insurance, and federal laws regulating child labor. After her career in public service, Perkins was a lecturer at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations until her death in 1985. We named this Prius C “Frances” in honor of her contributions to safer working conditions.

Bernie (7737) 2011 Honda Fit

Bernie Milton

Bernie Milton (1942-2002) was an Ithaca community member and musician, Ithaca’s “King of Soul.” Music ran deep in the Milton family and by age 11 Bernie had already performed Elvis Presley’s “I Got a Woman” at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Milton signed his first recording contract in 1960 and had a regional hit, ‘The Waddle,’ in 1962. He led several bands through the 60s,70s and 80s; such as Bernie and the Cavaliers, Bernie Milton and the Soul Patrol, and the Bernie Milton Experience. Beginning in 1982 and until his death in 2002, Bernie was a DJ for the WICB radio show “Looking Back”, sharing his love of south, rhythm and blues, and Motown music with Ithaca. The show is carried on today by his nephew, Ricky Milton.

Peter (7988) 2013 Toyota Prius C

St. James Church

Peter Webb purchased his freedom from slavery in Virginia in 1818, for a price of $384, before relocating to Caroline, New York, making him the first freed slave to live in Tompkins County. Webb founded Ithaca’s St. James A.M.E. Zion Church, a stop on the Underground Railroad, in 1833. More on the rich history of the Underground Railroad at the church and in our region can be found here.

Tess (9140) 2015 Toyota Prius C

Illustration from the novel

Tess is named after Tess of the Storm Country, a novel written by author Grace Miller White in 1909. White lived in the West End of Ithaca, which was an impoverished area home to squatters, known at the time as the Rhine or Silent City, which is also the setting of the novel. Tess and her father are squatters, and the novel follows the story of their conflict with the wealthy landowner Elias Graves. Inspired by current events and cultural currents at the time of its conception, the novel blends history with fiction, including the tragic Chi-Psi fire of 1906, conflicts over illegal net fishing in the waters near the Rhine, and changing women’s roles during the suffrage movement. Tess of the Storm Country was made into a movie four times, in 1918, 1922, 1932, and 1960. Learn more in this article from the Ithaca Journal.

Irene (9297) 2017 Toyota Tacoma

Irene Castle, 1914

Irene is named for Irene Castle, famed ballroom dancer and silent film actress. She and her husband, Vernon Castle, were credited with reviving the popularity of modern dancing. Veron Castle died following a plane crash in 1918, and shortly thereafter Irene married Robert E. Treman and moved to Cayuga Heights. The current Sigma Chi fraternity house at Cornell was previously owned by Castle, given to her as a wedding gift by her new father in law, Robert H. Treman. She sold the house to Sigma Chi after divorcing Treman in 1923.

Through her numerous performances, Irene Castle became a fashion icon, and ushered in changing trends in skirts and corsets, and began the bob haircut trend popular in the later flapper era. Castle was also a long-time animal rights activist.

Levi (9369) 2016 Honda Fit

Levi Spaulding

Levi is named for Levi Spaulding, who moved north to Ithaca from the deep south during the Jim Crow Era and soon became an established and respected pillar of Southside and the larger Ithaca community. He opened his own barbershop, and as of 1903 he was also the manager of the Arion Orchestra. He was notably the Ithaca Police Department’s first African American patrolman, often seen directing traffic at the corner of Aurora & State. He died of heart attack in the line of duty after pursuing a suspect in a dramatic axe murder case in 1930. Source: The Ithaca Times. Click here to read the full coverage of Levi Spaulding’s story.


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