The City of Corning was named for Erastus Corning, an Albany entrepreneur who probably never visited the city. His business interests were in iron works, railroads, merchandising, insurance, banking, and land development across the young United States. He very skillfully integrated his various businesses to create prosperous enterprises and great wealth. He was also involved in politics at every level which helped to leverage his business opportunities.
In 1835 he formed the Corning Company with 8 men to develop 2000 acres of land at the juncture of the Erie Canal and the Corning-Blossburg Railroad, both of which were Erastus Corning investments. The area south of the Chemung River was named for Erastus Corning as a tribute to his stature and influence in 1836. The Village of Corning was incorporated in 1847.
Upon his death, Erastus Corning still owned $200,000 worth of land in the Corning region.
Erastus Corning is most known for leading the merger of 8 railroads to form the New York Central Railroad in 1853. For 12 years he was president of the railroad which was eventually purchased by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1867.
Erastus Corning (1794-1872), an Industrious Man