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Thread: Living in Ithaca (Cornell)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Living in Ithaca (Cornell)

    The most important thing to me, behind tuition, is geography. Tjordanova shared some thoughts about Cornell's setting:

    Ithaca can be boring if you are coming from a large city, and a car is fairly essential for grocery shopping and traveling anywhere beyond the Commons, which is the downtown pedestrian area. The commons doesn't usually have too much activity, but it does host some great festivals such as the Apple Harvest Festival in the fall, and the Chili Festival in the winter. They also hold contra-dancing (which is like country/line dancing) during the summer. There is also a farmers' market, and the famous vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant is located near the commons. So basically, this is a great place if you are vegetarian (like I am). If you can't already tell, most people in Ithaca are progressive and far-left leaning.

    Ithaca is also great for people who love nature and the outdoors, it's quite beautiful, and there are many opportunities to go hiking or swim in the gorges (when it's warm of course). Also, there is a regular daily bus to NYC, and the trip is about 4-5 hours in one direction. (Although, depending on what company you use, a ticket costs about $50 or as much as $90 during peak times). Many students do long weekends in New York City, and a few of my friends had their thesis projects based there. So if you want to do research in NYC, it is doable. There is also a daily bus to Syracuse, where there is the second largest mall in the U.S.... but I only went once during my 5 years there. Syracuse isn't that interesting either, I mostly went there for the airport (flying to Ithaca is very expensive!).

    Ithaca does have an excellent College Town right next to Cornell, where there are many bars and restaurants, and most people from campus hang out there. There are trivia nights, happy hours, places to play pool, bagel places, Indian food, sushi, bubble tea, even a small dance club (though most people have house parties). Also, while Ithaca is fairly small (I think about 30,000 people), a large portion of that is college students (13,000 +). It is nice to be surrounded by so many people of similar age as you, it makes it easier to make friends. On campus there is this place called the Big Red Barn, where they host happy hours just for graduate students.

    Although Ithaca is a little out-of-the-way, Cornell still attracts many famous people. We have had both Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert give shows, Maya Angelou was my convocation speaker, I went to a talks by famous architects such as Rem Koolhaas and Richard Meier, and I am sure many world renowned scientists work and give lectures there. There is also an Indie/Underground music scene, that brings acts such as the Arcade Fire, before they were famous. There are also many student groups on campus as well, ranging from human rights and environmental groups to unicycling groups to a capella groups. Basically, the activities at Cornell and Collegetown make up for the lack of stuff to do in Ithaca.



    Anyone else who has visited or lived there is encouraged to share!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Sounds about right to me. (I went to Cornell for undergrad.) I'd be happy to answer any additional questions anyone might have.

  3. #3

    where to live

    Which part of the town is the best place for students? I want to live somewhere not far the campus as well not far from markets and restaurants. Not far means within 10/15 min walking distance.

    I am looking at Southern area just below the campus.. like E Buffalo St and E Seneca St. How much should I expect to pay for the rent?

    Thanks.

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    Rent varies a lot, just like anywhere else. Many grad students live near The Chapter House along Stewart Ave, which is 10 minutes from the edge of campus. Campus housing is a bit pricey, but convenient. If you're living off campus consider where the nearest bus stop is, because walking up the hill in winter can get old.

    Agree with OP. Ithaca is a small place, but if you like the outdoors and a college town atmosphere there is plenty to do. Personally, I like it.

  5. #5
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    i am a current undergrad at cornell and know the housing market very well. it's my fourth year afterall.

    yes please try and stay near collegtown(south) and not in grad housing at maplewoods because they are far from civilization. my grad friends always complain about the distance, but some people like to stay within the grad community.

    both addresses that you gave are where many students live. i personally have been staying slighly further, because of cheaper rent and much better living conditions.

    check this http://www.ithacastudentapartments.com/ out..it's where i am been staying for the last 3 years. love the management company. expect rent to be around $700 for a studio, less if you get an apartment together for a few people. there's a stuttle bus to school every morning

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by buzz2007 View post
    Which part of the town is the best place for students? I want to live somewhere not far the campus as well not far from markets and restaurants. Not far means within 10/15 min walking distance.

    I am looking at Southern area just below the campus.. like E Buffalo St and E Seneca St. How much should I expect to pay for the rent?

    Thanks.
    The area you mention is Collegetown, which is mostly inhabited by undergrads but does have some grad students too. It's very much an undergrad-type neighborhood (loud parties on weekends, etc.), but it's the most convenient to campus and has lots of cheap restaurants and bars. There are a couple of small grocery stores too, but they don't have a very good selection. The big supermarkets are out on the edge of town and are really only accessible by car or bus (and bus is kind of tricky, although people do it). Downtown (further west) is somewhat closer to the supermarkets and has plenty of restaurants and such too, but it's pretty far from campus. Horizontal distance isn't too bad, but it's at the bottom of a huge, steep hill and the vertical distance is a pain. Quite a few graduate students do seem to live down there, though, especially since it's much quieter than Collegetown. It's also cheaper, I believe. Rent in Collegetown when I was there (three years or so ago) was typically around $500 to $600 per person per month, and downtown was a bit less. Rents outside of Ithaca itself, which has a distorted rental market due to the large number of students, are much lower, but living in those areas would absolutely require driving to school, and parking etc. would be a huge problem. Not worth it in my opinion, but some graduate students find the low rent and very quiet conditions in the surrounding towns and rural areas worth the hassle of driving.

  7. #7
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    About the car, then...

    It sounds like there may be a compelling reason to bring one. If I plan to live farther away and drive to campus every day, are the campus parking lots near classrooms or way out there -- just like on-campus grad housing? And in residential neighborhoods, is parking a cinch? How much is a parking pass on campus? (Los Angeles sometimes has a ridiculous parking situation: you supposedly must have a car because the city is enormous, but sometimes there is nowhere to put it. At my alma mater, parking meters cost about 0.25 for six minutes, and there was still a tight time limit on them.)
    Last edited by judyblume; 17 Mar 2010 at 9:47 PM.

  8. #8
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    @Judyblume thank you for starting this thread! It's really helpful! I am considering these options right now, too. I am most tempted by Cornell right now and am interested in the living/etc. situation as well. I would plan to bring a car myself... but would try to avoid relying on it when possible. I love the outdoorsy stuff offered by Ithaca and the lakes region so I'd hope to get out and about when possible-- so a car helps there. But I'm interested in potentially rooming with people, somewhere pretty local to campus-- I think it sounds like the most affordable way to get a decent place. Thoughts welcome here!

  9. #9

    cemetery

    thanks for all your helpful comments!

    what do you guys think of the cemetery? Are the houses across the cemetery considered good places?

    I grew up in Asia, and I have some creepy notions about cemetery. I can't imagine walking across the cemetery alone.....after evening classes at Sibley Hall.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by judyblume View post
    About the car, then...

    It sounds like there may be a compelling reason to bring one. If I plan to live farther away and drive to campus every day, are the campus parking lots near classrooms or way out there -- just like on-campus grad housing? And in residential neighborhoods, is parking a cinch? How much is a parking pass on campus? (Los Angeles sometimes has a ridiculous parking situation: you supposedly must have a car because the city is enormous, but sometimes there is nowhere to put it. At my alma mater, parking meters cost about 0.25 for six minutes, and there was still a tight time limit on them.)
    The campus lots are unfortunately really far from everything, and parking passes are expensive too. Parking is easier in residential areas, but in Collegetown especially it can be a pain; apartments don't necessarily come with parking spaces, although there are private lots that rent out spaces for pretty reasonable rates. Outside of Collegetown parking isn't generally a problem, as far as I could tell.

    Overall, I'd recommend bringing a car but living close enough to campus that you don't need it for everything, which basically means in Collegetown. For one thing, it's very nice to have it to go grocery shopping, since the supermarkets are very inaccessible without a car. Also, and perhaps just as important, it's virtually impossible to get to or from Ithaca without a car. There are buses, but they are expensive and infrequent, and the airport is both very expensive to fly in and out of and far enough from town that it requires a cab ride anyway. Parking can be a problem, but if you live close enough to campus to walk it's not a huge deal. I had a car the last two years I was at Cornell, when I lived off-campus, and while I hardly ever used it (basically just for groceries and to get out of town) it was very nice to have it when I did.

  11. #11
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    cemetery

    I saw the cemetery on the map too. (On a fun but unrelated note, Marilyn Monroe was buried a couple of hundred yards from my college apartment, and her above-ground marble crypt was stained a rust color from the lipstick women wore to kiss it. It's rumored that Hugh Hefner has bought the spot immediately adjacent to hers.) The one at Cornell looks small and old -- most of the burials appear to have taken place in the 19th century, with the earliest ones going back to the late-18th. I understand the cultural thing, but it doesn't look like there are too many houses there at all, though there are some frat houses in that area.

    And from what other people have been throwing out so far, Chapter House on Stewart Ave (the most eastern edge of the cemetery), Buffalo and Seneca (parallel streets totally south of campus) all seem to clear the cemetery entirely. That said, I'm a little gobsmacked by how huge the campus looks on Google Earth. I worry a little about not seeing enough friends every day!

    http://nytompki.org/cemeteries/ithaca_city_cem_a.htm


    And thanks for the responses so far! Because Ithaca is already a little 'in the middle of nowhere', it just seems even more important to plan living situations to not get stuck in no man's land in the middle of nowhere.

  12. #12
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    cars, parking, noise, cemetery, websites

    Cars/Parking:
    As teofilo mentioned, campus parking is undesirable due to location and cost. I believe competition for spaces is high. It seems that the annual parking permit costs about $687 (http://www.transportation.cornell.ed...ermit_info.cfm). As a few other people have suggested, I recommend living somewhere where you can walk/bike to campus (that's what I did and it worked well for me).

    On the other hand, if you save on rent from living further out of town, then you could afford a parking permit, and maybe even save money. However, you then risk being isolated from the college community.

    Again, as teofilo mentioned, finding street parking in collegetown and its surroundings is a horrendous nightmare. I did it for 2 years and my parallel parking skills were stellar afterward, but it does save a lot of headache to rent a parking spot. (Especially when winter comes and you can only park on one side of the street!)

    Noise/Neigborhoods:
    While the center of collegetown is super noisy (College Ave., Dryden, and Eddy St.), moving even a few blocks away in any direction has a noticeable difference. I find even going a few streets down, like North Quarry and Stewart Ave. are a lot quieter. (although you'll have to hike up the hill more!).

    Another quieter option is to try the residential areas surrounding North Campus. Many architecture students choose to live there, as it is a bit of a shorter walk to Sibley than Collegetown... although then you are further away from the restaurants. Parking should be easier in that area, and rent lower as well.

    Cemetery:
    My last year, I lived at the intersection of Stewart Ave. and Edgemoor Ln. and my backyard was next to the cemetery. It is an excellent location in my opinion, I didn't mind at all. I even went jogging through the cemetery... although not during the night.

    Websites/recommendations:
    http://www.housingsolutions.com/

    http://www.westshoreapts.com/
    These were my landlords for my last year, and they were pretty nice and prompt with maintenance. Though the prices are a bit higher, you get nice quality housing. I'm sure they also prefer grad students.

    http://www.beerproperties.com/
    These properties are nice too, though I've never rented from them. It looks like most of their apartments are already rented out for next year (you gotta act fast to get the good deals).

    Those of you interested in Cornell, I hope this helps and good luck!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally posted by judyblume View post
    I'm a little gobsmacked by how huge the campus looks on Google Earth. I worry a little about not seeing enough friends every day!
    It's huge, but you'll never see the vast majority of it (unless you want to). The eastern part is mostly the ag school and the Plantations, so it's all vast areas of fields and orchards and stuff. Planning is, as far as I know, entirely within Sibley, which is very centrally located and convenient to the neighborhoods where most people live. Also a gorgeous building, of course.

  14. #14
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    Man, sounds like the exact setting I'm looking for.

  15. #15
    Off topic.. but they were just talking about recent suicides at Cornell this morning on NPR. Sad news....

  16. #16
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    Many grad students prefer to life in the Fall Creek / downtown area, away from the undergraduate population in Collegetown. Really just depends on what you want. The bus service in Ithaca is excellent - anywhere downtown, in Fall Creek, or most parts of North Campus / Cayuga Heights are only 10-20 minutes from Sibley, either by foot, bike, or bus.

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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Off topic.. but they were just talking about recent suicides at Cornell this morning on NPR. Sad news....
    Here's the story if anyone is interested: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...ryId=124807724.

    I actually think it shows that Cornell is trying to do a lot to solve this issue.

  18. #18
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    Cornell seems to be proactive. It's terrible that these things happen at all major campuses. I grew up near Caltech and have many friends who attended, and this year it too has been rocked by news of suicide, including one well-known professor and a student body leader. And Tech's class size is just tiny. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2...nother_suicide

  19. #19
    What's the age distribution and diversity like in Ithaca and MCRP specifically?

  20. #20
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    Ithaca's very white and has a pretty typical age distribution for a college town. Lots of young people, along with a smaller but still substantial number of older professor types. The Cornell student body is somewhat more diverse than the town as a whole. I don't know anything about MCRP specifically.

    Edit to add: Here's some Census data on Ithaca. Also the age distribution; lots of young people.
    Last edited by teofilo; 20 Mar 2010 at 2:17 PM. Reason: Added census link.

  21. #21
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    From the big ACSP pdf, Cornell is indeed very white, I think in 08-09, there 2 asian male, 7 asian female out of 97 people, and they were the highest minorities.

    If anyone has any experience with their program, do they have any internship programs? or how good the market around there for fresh grads? international students?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally posted by vxw View post
    From the big ACSP pdf, Cornell is indeed very white, I think in 08-09, there 2 asian male, 7 asian female out of 97 people, and they were the highest minorities.

    If anyone has any experience with their program, do they have any internship programs? or how good the market around there for fresh grads? international students?
    I have the same questions. Any information about their placement?

    btw, I'm Asian too, international student. What does it imply if the program is very white?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally posted by amivita View post
    btw, I'm Asian too, international student. What does it imply if the program is very white?
    Nothing in particular, I would say, at least in the context of other American planning schools. Most of them are very white, as is the profession as a whole.

  24. #24
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    Another perspective...

    Quote Originally posted by vxw View post
    From the big ACSP pdf, Cornell is indeed very white, I think in 08-09, there 2 asian male, 7 asian female out of 97 people, and they were the highest minorities.

    If anyone has any experience with their program, do they have any internship programs? or how good the market around there for fresh grads? international students?
    While many question Planetizen's Rankings, in terms of diversity of students, they can't really make those statistics up. According to their guide, the Cornell graduate CRP department ranks #7 in Most International Students and ranks #10 in Largest Percentage of International Students.

    According to 2007-2008 student demographics:
    20 Asian/Pacific Islanders (25%)
    5 Black/African American (6.25%)
    3 Hispanic/Latino (3.75%)
    49 White (61.25%)
    2 Mixed Race (2.5%)
    1 Other (1.25%)
    --------------
    80 Total

    # of international students: 17 (21.25%)
    Countries represented: India, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Ghana, Columbia


    ACSP Guide 15th Edition is what the previous poster was referring to. According to the 15th Edition, there were 65 white students out of 97 total students, which is about 67%, compared to the total U.S. population being 75% white... although Cornell's numbers could be skewed to look more diverse due to the large number of international students? I'm not too good with statistics...

    From my own personal experience (as an undergrad in architecture that took about 9 classes in CRP), there was sufficient diversity in classes to get various perspectives during discussion sections. I only remember 4 of my grad TAs in those classes... 1 was a white American male, 1 was an African female, and 2 were Asian females. Yes, the program is majority white americans, but I'm sure that is the case for almost any U.S. university out there.

    If diversity is very important to you, it seems like many California schools are very diverse. You can also do your own research for all the schools you applied to, and make decisions based on that.

    -------------------
    Internships/Jobs
    In terms of internship placement, etc., I can again only speak from my undergrad experience in architecture. Cornell has a vast alumni network, which has helped a few of my classmates find jobs/internships. For architecture, they have a day in the spring where the department invites top firms from NYC, and other cities too, to do interviews with students. I'm not sure if CRP does the same, as the two professions are quite different...

  25. #25
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    I have decided to go for Cornell. Anyone going there, too?

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