The Village of Phoenix is a canal community rich with 19th century history and character. It is located within the Town of Schroeppel in southern Oswego County, New York and covers 1.145 square miles Lock 1 of the Oswego Canal, on the Oswego River, is located within the Village limits. The Village of Phoenix and the Oswego River system (a subsection of the Erie Canal) have significant historical appeal dating back to the 18th Century. From 1750 to 1763, critical events in the French and Indian War can be linked to the Oswego River and surrounding waterways. British troops erected a small fort to protect ammunition and other supplies at the junction of the Oneida, Seneca, and Oswego Rivers, which is known as Three Rivers Point and is south of Phoenix. Eventually, the troops traveled along the Oswego River and past what is now the Village of Phoenix as they made their way to Fort Ontario.
In addition to its role in the French and Indian War, the Oswego River system has always served as a critical connection between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. When the Erie Canal was completed in 1825, commercial shipping opportunities in New York State were limitless. The Oswego River system was then canalized and locks and dams were constructed to allow commercial shipping from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes via the New York State Canal System. With the marked success of the canal system, Hamlets and Villages were created alongside the canal. In 1846, the Village of Phoenix was incorporated. It was primarily an industrial hub, focused on the manufacturing of goods and services to be shipped along the canal to westernmost locations.
The early Canal Waterfront District in the Village of Phoenix consisted of brick buildings in rows, parallel to the canal. Each building could be entered from the front, facing the street, or from the rear, facing the canal. Mills, industry, and retail uses lined the canal, while residential units were placed further inland.
By the late 1800’s, the Village of Phoenix had developed into a community rich in opportunity and cultural experience. In the late 19th century, several major fires reshaped the character and appearance of the Village. The Great Fire in 1916 was the most devastating, destroying 80 buildings. Most of the existing buildings along the Canal Waterfront District were built between 1917 and 1929. Beginning in the early 1920’s, most of the industry left the Village and thus began the trend towards becoming the “bedroom community” that it is today.
—Exerted from A Strategic Plan for the Canal Waterfront District in the Village of Phoenix, NY.