Lake Placid, New York

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Lake Placid, New York
Lake Placid from McKenzie Mountain.jpg
Lake Placid from McKenzie Mountain
"The Olympic Village"
Essex County New York incorporated and unincorporated areas Lake Placid highlighted.svg
Location in Essex County and the state of New York.
Coordinates: 44°17′08″N073°59′07″W / 44.28556°N 73.98528°W / 44.28556; -73.98528 Coordinates: 44°17′08″N073°59′07″W / 44.28556°N 73.98528°W / 44.28556; -73.98528
Country United States
State New York
County Essex
Town North Elba
  TypeCouncil / Manager
   Mayor Art Devlin
  Total1.53 sq mi (3.97 km2)
  Land1.36 sq mi (3.53 km2)
  Water0.17 sq mi (0.45 km2)  10.80%
1,801 ft (549 m)
  Density1,620.13/sq mi (625.44/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
  Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code 518
FIPS code 36-40761
GNIS feature ID0954931

Lake Placid is a village in the Adirondack Mountains in Essex County, New York, United States. As of the 2020 census, the population was 2,303. [2]


The village of Lake Placid is near the center of the town of North Elba, 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Plattsburgh. Lake Placid, along with nearby Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, comprise what is known as the Tri-Lakes region. Lake Placid hosted the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympics, the 1972 and 2023 Winter World University Games as well as the 2000 Goodwill Games.


Lake Placid was founded in the early 19th century to develop an iron ore mining operation. By 1840, the population of "North Elba" (four miles southeast of the present village, near where the road to the Adirondak Loj crosses the Ausable River), was six families. In 1845, the philanthropist Gerrit Smith arrived in North Elba and not only bought a great deal of land around the village but granted large tracts to former slaves. He reformed the land law and demonstrated his support of abolitionism.[ citation needed ]

The abolitionist John Brown heard about Smith's reforms, and left his anti-slavery activities in Kansas to buy 244 acres (1.0 km2) of land in North Elba. This parcel later became known as the "Freed Slave Utopian Experiment," Timbuctoo. Shortly before his execution in 1859, John Brown asked to be buried on his farm, preserved as the John Brown Farm State Historic Site.[ citation needed ]

As leisure time increased in the late 19th century, Lake Placid was discovered as a resort by the wealthy, drawn to the fashionable Lake Placid Club. Melvil Dewey, who invented the Dewey Decimal System, designed what was then called "Placid Park Club" in 1895. This inspired the village to change its name to Lake Placid, an incorporated village in 1900. Dewey kept the club open through the winter in 1905, which aided the development of winter sports in the area. Nearby Saranac Lake had hosted an international winter sporting event as early as 1889 and was used year-round by patients seeking treatment for tuberculosis at sanatoria. The fresh, clean mountain air was considered good for them and was a common treatment for tuberculosis.

By 1921, the Lake Placid area could boast a ski jump, speed skating venue, and ski association. In 1929, Dr. Godfrey Dewey, Melvil's son, convinced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Lake Placid had the best winter sports facilities in the United States. [3] The Lake Placid Club was the headquarters for the IOC for the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

In addition to the John Brown Farm and Gravesite, the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Bobsled Run, New York Central Railroad Adirondack Division Historic District, and United States Post Office are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [4]

Sporting Events

Olympic Winter Games

Works Progress Administration poster from the late 1930s to advertise public access to the bobsled run from the 1932 Olympics Olympic Bobsled Run Lake Placid2.jpg
Works Progress Administration poster from the late 1930s to advertise public access to the bobsled run from the 1932 Olympics

Lake Placid hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. During the 1932 games, the trails outside of the village served for the cross-country skiing events and the cross-country skiing part of the Nordic combined event. [5] Lake Placid, St Moritz, and Innsbruck are the only sites to have twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games.

Jack Shea, a resident of the village, became the first person to win two gold medals when he doubled in speed skating at the 1932 Winter Olympics. He carried the Olympic torch through Lake Placid in 2002 shortly before his death. [6] His grandson, Jimmy Shea, competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, in his honor, winning gold in the Skeleton.

In the U.S., the village is especially remembered as the 1980 USA–USSR hockey game site. Dubbed the "Miracle on Ice", a group of American college students and amateurs upset seasoned and professional Soviet national ice hockey team, 4–3, and two days later won the gold medal. Another high point during the Games was the performance of American speed-skater Eric Heiden, who won five gold medals.

Lake Placid was interested in bidding for the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics but decided against it; Lillehammer, Norway was the only bidder and was awarded the games. Lake Placid shifted its interest toward bidding for the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics, but it again did not submit a bid. [7] As of 2023, Lake Placid is interested in bidding for a future edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games. The earliest Lake Placid could host is 2028, however Los Angeles will host the 2028 Summer Olympics that year and Salt Lake City is currently bidding for the 2030 Winter Olympics. [8]

Other International Sporting Events

Aside from hosting the Olympic Winter Games, Lake Placid has also attracted other international multi-sport events.

Lake Placid has hosted the World University Games on two occasions; hosting the 1972 Winter Universiade and the 2023 Winter World University Games.

Lake Placid hosted the 2000 Goodwill Games. [9]

Regular sporting events

2006 Ironman in Lake Placid Ironman 2006.jpg
2006 Ironman in Lake Placid
North Elba Showgrounds, showing Horse Rings, Olympic Cauldron, Whiteface Mountain North Elba Showgrounds.jpg
North Elba Showgrounds, showing Horse Rings, Olympic Cauldron, Whiteface Mountain

Recreational opportunities

Aerial view of the lake which gave the community its name Lake Placid.jpg
Aerial view of the lake which gave the community its name

Lake Placid is well known among winter-sports enthusiasts for its skiing, both Alpine and Nordic. Whiteface Mountain (4,867 ft or 1,483 m), in nearby Wilmington about 13 miles (21 km) from Lake Placid, offers skiing, hiking, gondola rides, and mountain biking, and is the only one of the High Peaks that can be reached by an auto road. Whiteface Mountain has a vertical elevation of 3,430 feet (1,050 m), the highest vertical elevation of mountains in Eastern North America. [14] [15] The area has one of only 16 bobsled runs in the Western Hemisphere.

In 2010, U.S. News & World Report highlighted Lake Placid as one of the "6 Forgotten Vacation Spots" in North America. [16]

Many people use Lake Placid as a base from which to climb the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondack Mountains. Those who complete these climbs may join the Adirondack 46ers.

Lake Placid built its first golf course in 1898, one of the first in the U.S., and has more courses than any other venue in the Adirondacks. Many of its courses were designed by well-known golf course architects, such as John Van Kleek, Seymour Dunn, Alexander H. Findlay, and Alister MacKenzie. The geographic features of the Adirondacks were considered reminiscent of the Scottish landscape, where the game started, and thus a fitting canvas for original play, or "mountain golf."

Lake Placid is near the West Branch of the Ausable River, a well-known stretch of water for fly fishing. More than 6 miles (10 km) of the West Branch are designated as year-round catch-and-release, artificial-lures-only water.

There are also cliffs and streams surrounding Lake Placid, perfect for free cliff jumping. Usually, around 20-50 feet high, these cliffs are good for any thrill-seeker in the area.


Lake Placid High School Lake Placid High School.jpg
Lake Placid High School

Lake Placid is home to five private schools:


Lake Placid is served by nearby Adirondack Regional Airport in Saranac Lake, 16 miles (26 km) from the village. Lake Placid Airport, two miles south of the village, has scheduled service provided by Cape Air.

Other relatively nearby airports include Albany International Airport, Burlington International Airport, Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, the airports in the New York metropolitan area, Ottawa International Airport, Toronto Pearson, and the airport in Plattsburgh. Lake Placid is also served by an Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach connection through Westport via limousine service. Adirondack Trailways stops there as well.

Lake Placid is not located on any interstate highway. It can be reached from Interstate 87 to the east via New York State Route 73, New York State Route 86, and New York State Route 9N. County Roads 21, 31, and 35 also serve the community.

In the 20th century, the New York Central Railroad (NYC) operated coaches and sleeping cars to Lake Placid on trains such as the North Star and the Iroquois. The NYC operated passenger trains to Utica, New York for connections west towards Chicago and Buffalo and east toward New York City until April 24, 1965. A 34-mile rail-trail is being constructed from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake on the old New York Central railbed, with completion planned for November, 2024. Track removal between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake (34 miles) was completed in 2021. In 2022, the Adirondack Railroad should commence running tourist passenger trains over the entire, renovated 108-mile former NYC route from Tupper Lake to Utica, NY. Both projects are being funded by New York State, which bought the entire 142-mile line from Penn Central in 1974.


Mirror Lake, looking north from the public beach Lake Placid - Mirror Lake.jpg
Mirror Lake, looking north from the public beach

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.5 square miles (4.0 km2), of which 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 10.79%, is water. [2]

The village is located near the southern end of Lake Placid lake. More immediate to the village is Mirror Lake, which lies between the village and Lake Placid.


Historical population
1910 1,682
1920 2,09924.8%
1930 2,93039.6%
1940 3,1367.0%
1950 2,999−4.4%
1960 2,9980.0%
1970 2,731−8.9%
1980 2,490−8.8%
1990 2,485−0.2%
2000 2,6386.2%
2010 2,521−4.4%
2020 2,205−12.5%
U.S. Decennial Census [17]

As of the census [18] of 2000, there were 2,638 people, 1,303 households, and 604 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,913.2 inhabitants per square mile (738.7/km2). There were 1,765 housing units at an average density of 1,280.1 per square mile (494.2/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 95.75% White, 0.68% African American, 0.45% Native American, 0.91% Asian, 0.57% Pacific Islander, 0.19% from other races, and 1.44% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.91% of the population.

There were 1,303 households, of which 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.1% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 53.6% were non-families. 45.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.02, and the average family size was 2.93.

The population was spread out, with 22.4% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.3 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $28,239, and the median income for a family was $43,042. Males had a median income of $26,585 versus $21,750 for females. The per capita income for the village was $18,507. About 8.5% of families and 13.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.3% of those under age 18 and 17.8% of those age 65 or over.


According to the Köppen climate classification system, Lake Placid has a warm-summer, humid continental climate (Dfb). Dfb climates are characterized by a least one month having an average mean temperature ≤ 32.0 °F (0.0 °C), at least four months with an average mean temperature ≥ 50.0 °F (10.0 °C), all months with an average mean temperature < 71.6 °F (22.0 °C) and no significant precipitation difference between seasons. Although most summer days are comfortably humid in Lake Placid, episodes of heat and high humidity can occur with heat index values > 90 °F (32 °C). Since 1897, the highest air temperature was 97 °F (36.1 °C). The average wettest month is June which corresponds with the annual peak in thunderstorm activity. During the winter months, the average annual extreme minimum air temperature is −23.5 °F (−30.8 °C). Since 1897, the coldest air temperature was −39 °F (−39.4 °C). Episodes of extreme cold and wind can occur with wind chill values < −50 °F (−46 °C). The average annual snowfall total is 104.1 inches (264 cm).

Climate data for Lake Placid, NY (LAKE PLACID 2 S, NY) 1991-2020 normals (Records 1897-2021)
Record high °F (°C)62
Average high °F (°C)23.3
Daily mean °F (°C)14.9
Average low °F (°C)6.5
Record low °F (°C)−37
Average precipitation inches (mm)3.10
Average snowfall inches (cm)21.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)18.514.113.414.215.214.714.413.312.315.315.318.6179.3
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)13.710.
Source: NOAA [19] [20]


According to the A. W. Kuchler U.S. potential natural vegetation types, Lake Placid would have a dominant vegetation type of Northern Hardwoods/Spruce (108) with a dominant vegetation form of Northern Hardwoods (23). [21] The plant hardiness zone is 4a with an average annual extreme minimum air temperature of −27.1 °F (−32.8 °C). [22] The spring bloom typically peaks on approximately May 12 and fall color usually peaks around October 1.

Lake Placid panorama. High School (middle), the Olympic Center (right), and the speed skating oval Panorama Lake Placid.jpg
Lake Placid panorama. High School (middle), the Olympic Center (right), and the speed skating oval

Notable people

Singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey was raised in Lake Placid Lana Del Rey @ Grammy Museum 10 13 2019 (49311023203).jpg
Singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey was raised in Lake Placid

Winter Olympic athletes

Speed Skater Jack Shea was born in Lake Placid and won two gold medals at the 1932 Winter Olympics. Jack Shea 1929.jpg
Speed Skater Jack Shea was born in Lake Placid and won two gold medals at the 1932 Winter Olympics.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Essex County, New York</span> County in New York, United States

Essex County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2020 census, the population was 37,381. Its county seat is the hamlet of Elizabethtown. Its name is from the English county of Essex. Essex is one of only 2 counties that are entirely within the Adirondack Park, the other being Hamilton County.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Adirondack Mountains</span> Mountain range in northeastern New York, United States

The Adirondack Mountains form a massif in northeastern New York with boundaries that correspond roughly to those of Adirondack Park. They cover about 5,000 square miles (13,000 km2). The mountains form a roughly circular dome, about 160 miles (260 km) in diameter and about 1 mile (1,600 m) high. The current relief owes much to glaciation. There are more than 200 lakes around the mountains, including Lake George, Lake Placid, and Lake Tear of the Clouds, which is the source of the Hudson River. The Adirondack Region is also home to hundreds of mountain summits, with some reaching heights of 5,000 feet or more.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1980 Winter Olympics</span> Multi-sport event in Lake Placid, New York, US

The 1980 Winter Olympics, officially the XIII Olympic Winter Games and also known as Lake Placid 1980, were an international multi-sport event held from February 13 to 24, 1980, in Lake Placid, New York, United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">North Elba, New York</span> Town in New York, United States

North Elba is a town in Essex County, New York, United States. The population was 8,957 at the 2010 census.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wilmington, New York</span> Town in New York, United States

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saranac Lake, New York</span> Village in New York, United States

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">1932 Winter Olympics</span> Multi-sport event in Lake Placid, New York, US

The 1932 Winter Olympics, officially known as the III Olympic Winter Games and commonly known as Lake Placid 1932, were a winter multi-sport event in the United States, held in Lake Placid, New York, United States. The games opened on February 4 and closed on February 13. It was the first of four Winter Olympics held in the United States; Lake Placid hosted again in 1980.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lake Placid (New York)</span> Body of water

The body of water named Lake Placid is a lake in the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York, the United States. It is on the northern side of the Village of Lake Placid.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Adirondak Loj</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alpine skiing at the 1980 Winter Olympics</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mount Van Hoevenberg</span> Mountain in United States of America

Mount Van Hoevenberg is a summit point located in the Adirondack Mountains in the Town of North Elba, Essex County, New York, 9 miles (15 km) east-southeast of the village of Lake Placid. Named for Henry Van Hoevenberg (1849–1918), it is best known for the location of the bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton track, and of a network of cross-country ski trails. The Mount Van Hoevenberg sports complex was used to host the 1932 (bobsleigh) and 1980 Winter Olympics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">McKenzie Mountain</span> Mountain in New York, United States

McKenzie Mountain is a 3,861-foot (1,177 m) mountain in western Essex County in the towns of St. Armand and North Elba in the Adirondack Park, a unit of the Forest Preserve.


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Further reading