The junction of Routes 34B and 34 is the site of a concentration of commercial and government buildings. Students in most of Lansing attend Lansing Central Schools, but some (including all village residents) go down the hill to Ithaca city schools. There is a large salt mine that extends under the lake from Lansing.
Once called “Dark Forest” by the Cayuga people who lived there, the town of Lansing (originally part of the military tract township called Milton) was established on April 17, 1817. It was named for John Lansing, who was a state controller responsible for land grants.
The first white settlers, Silas, Henry and Thomas Ludlow, arrived at the northern end of Cayuga Lake in 1791. They headed north up the lake on the ice until they reached Salmon Creek, which they traveled up until they encountered the falls. Here they built a sawmill and gristmill.
Also at about this time, several “Pennsylvania Dutch” families came to the southern part of Lansing and settled in that area.
The next year Andrew Myers of Maryland built a cabin at the mouth of the creek, and his son built another sawmill and gristmill. Many others began settling here over the next few years.
Nine churches were established beginning in 1796. Ludlowville would grow to be the largest village in the town. Lansingville (originally called Teetertown) consisted of several cabins and a tavern.
Alcohol distillation was a booming business in Lansing's early days; the town once had eight distilleries.
Other businesses also thrived. The Central Exchange Hotel was built between 1830 and 1836. The building still stands, now called the Rogues Harbor Inn. Abraham Lincoln's secretary of state William Seward once stayed at the inn, as did the county's most famous murderer, Edward Rulloff.
The railroad was another industry that was strong in Lansing's early days. Chartered in 1867, the Cayuga Lake Railroad, which later became part of the Lehigh Valley rail system, still runs trains along Cayuga Lake down into Pennsylvania.