George F. Johnson moved to Binghamton New York in 1878 at the age of 23. The son of a career shoemaker, Johnson had learned well every facet of the shoemaking business. In 1899 he entered into a partnership with a wealthy investor from Boston, named Henry B Endicott. Together they formed the Endicott-Johnson shoe company and soon dominated the shoemaking industry in America. At its peak EJ shoes employed over twenty thousand workers and produce hundreds of thousands of shoes a day.
In the early 1900s, industrialist George F. Johnson built a home for his secretary, Julia Bowes, and her husband Alphonsus, across from his home in the village of Endicott in Broome County. This graceful house remained a private residence for the next three decades before its transformation into Colonial Hall — the administrative offices for the Triple Cities College, an adjunct campus of Syracuse University in 1946. The college moved to Vestal in the late 1950s and evolved into Binghamton University. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skRESAE4REY
In the early 1990s, the home was transformed into the Endicott Visitor Center as part of the Susquehanna Heritage Area. With its exhibits focusing on the industrial heritage of the birth of Endicott Johnson Shoe Corporation and IBM in Endicott, and a large meeting and banquet room, the Endicott Visitor Center is one of many important stops along New Yorks Path Through History.
To say that the Union-Endicott area is rich in history would be an understatement. The earliest inhabitants made stone tools on the banks of Nanticoke Creek, 19th century immigrant workers filled local factories and supplied our nation with shoes, more recently, engineers developed pioneering technology and machines that changed the world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_OyZqH063g
The Union Historical Society was organized in 1989 to collect, preserve and display artifacts, relics, photographs and other items of local history. Today, these items are displayed at the Union Historical Society Museum on Endicott’s historic Washington Avenue. Divided into two main sections, the entire ground floor of the museum is devoted to the history of IBM, a world leader in the early development of computer technology that got its start just up the Avenue from the museum.
In the 1980s and 90s a movement began in New York to promote the unique heritage of the Empire State’s urban development. What began as a Cultural Park in Broome County has transformed into what is now the Susquehanna Heritage Area. https://youtu.be/KrqM1jVu_pA
The core story told through the Susquehanna Heritage Area is that of rising industrialism in and immigration to the “Triple Cities” of Binghamton, Endicott, and Johnson City. The heart of the Heritage Area is the Binghamton Visitor Center located at Roberson Museum and Science Center. Opened in 1996, the Visitor Center tells the story of this area with both permanent and temporary exhibits.
In the autumn of 1881, a poor, uneducated shoemaker from Massachusetts stepped off a train in Binghamton, New York. It would mark the beginning of an era that transformed and defined the region for the next 100 years. Johnson, a new documentary film from WSKG, chronicles the incredible life and legacy of the man, George F. Johnson, who shaped the Southern Tier into what it would become. Produced by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Brian Frey and utilizing rare photographs and archival film footage, Johnson traces the rise of what would become one of the largest shoe-making firms in the world, the Endicott Johnson Shoe Corporation. Johnson built more than just boots and factories; his true legacy would be the community that grew from the industrial community he created – a community so rich in tradition and culture it would become forever known as the Valley of Opportunity.