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Genesee Profile

Genesee County:

Incorporated in 1805, Genesee County sits on the region’s western border between the cities of Buffalo and Rochester, with Batavia as its county seat and largest municipality. Genesee County was named for the Indian word meaning "beautiful valley.” Originally, Genesee County comprised virtually all of Western New York, and was divided into only four "Shires" or towns; Batavia, Northampton, Southampton, and Leicester. Gradually, parcels of land were taken from Genesee County to form other counties; Allegany (1806), Cattaraugus (1808), Chautauqua (1808), Niagara (1808), part of Livingston (1821), part of Monroe (1821), Erie (1821), Orleans (1824) and Wyoming (1841).  What was left is the present Genesee County.

Land has always been the county's greatest asset. The diversity of soils and climate conditions attracted the early settlers who carved out homes and farms, developing Genesee into one of the richest agricultural regions within New York State. Genesee County has the highest percentage of classified farmland in the state and three of the top 100 vegetable farms in the country. The fertile muck soil in Elba has made Genesee one of the principal counties in the nation for growing beets and onions. Dairy farming is still the leading commodity in the county and over all Genesee is fourth in agriculture sales within New York State. The countryside is dotted with farm stands and annually the Farmer's Market provides a cornucopia of fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers.

Genesee County has a variety of recreational opportunities for every age and interest. Darien Lake Fun Country, started in 1976 as a camping facility, has grown into New York's largest combination theme park and entertainment resort. Darien Lake Theme Park now features more than 100 rides, including one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in North America. Genesee County Park and Forest is the oldest county facility in the state. Situated in the town of Bethany the park comprises more than 400 acres and offers year-round enjoyment. The 2,000 acres of the Bergen - Byron Swamp was dedicated in 1964 as a National Natural History Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior. This swamp possesses exceptional value as an illustration of the Nation's Natural Heritage and contributes to a better understanding of our environment. It is of special interest to students of zoology and botany and is a haven for bird watchers. The rich historical significance of the county may be experienced in the variety of local museums. The two largest, the Holland Land Office and the LeRoy House are both treasure troves of artifacts from the past. Each of the museums offers unique displays that illustrate the daily lives from the inhabitants who contributed to the development of these communities.

Among its strengths, Genesee has relatively high revenue from tourism and strong growth in average salaries. The average salary in the county, adjusted for inflation, increased by 13% since 2000, more than the state or the nation. However, the county has also been losing population and saw increases in poverty: total poverty rate rose by 3 points and the child poverty rate rose by 9 points from 2000 to 2014-18, which was the highest rate of increase in child poverty among the region’s counties.

All available data on the entire Genesee/Finger Lakes Region can be accessed here.