10 Things You Might Not Know About Lake Placid


The “Welcome to Lake Placid” signboard in front of the Lake Placid Horse Show Grounds (Photo: Whiteface Mountain)

1. Northwood is actually not in Lake Placid. Most of what we consider “Lake Placid” is actually not in the small lakeside village of Lake Placid, but rather in the surrounding town of North Elba. Northwood School’s property line is a few hundred yards outside the Village line.

2. Lake Placid is Home to a Grammy-Nominated Artist. Singer, songwriter, and producer Elizabeth Grant, known as Lana Del Rey, was raised in Lake Placid, has lived here most of her life and considers it her hometown.

3. Lake Placid is one of only three places to host the Winter Olympic Games twice. Innsbruck, Austria (1964 and 1976) and St. Moritz, Switzerland (1928 and 1948) are the other two.

4. The top local elected officials are Northwood School graduates. The mayor of Lake Placid (Craig H. Randall ‘61) and North Elba Town Supervisor (Robert “Roby” T. Politi ‘68) attended Northwood in the 1960s.

5. Lake Placid has an Abolitionist History. On the outskirts of town, right near the Olympic ski jumps, is the home and grave of abolitionist John Brown. This part of town was originally settled as an iron ore mining operation in the early 19th century. In 1845, social reformer Gerrit Smith arrived at what was a hamlet of six families. He bought lots of land around the village, reformed the local land laws, and gave large tracts of his property to former slaves. Brown, an anti-slavery icon, heard what Smith was doing, and in 1848 he brought his family north from Kansas to buy 244 acres for $244. When Brown was executed in 1859 following the Harpers Ferry Raid, his wife buried him at their Lake Placid home. Today you can pay a visit to the John Brown Farm State Historic Site, now a National Historic Landmark.

6. The Adirondack Mountains are still growing. The mountain range, located in and around Lake Placid, is growing faster than the Himalayas, it has an uplift of 1.5-3 cm per year.

7. The Dewey Decimal System is linked to Lake Placid. Melvil Dewey (December 10, 1851 – December 26, 1931) was an American librarian and educator, inventor of the Dewey Decimal system of library classification, and a founder of the Lake Placid Club, which became America’s first winter resort. Melvil Dewey and his son Godfrey had been active in arranging the Winter Olympics which took place at Lake Placid. He chaired the New York State Winter Olympics Committee. He also advocated for spelling reform, which accounts for the unusual spelling of his name and the use of words like “Loj,” “Kanu,” and “Kobl” in and around Lake Placid today.

8. Lake Placid Has a Twin City in Florida. One day, Melvil Dewey decided that one Lake Placid wasn’t enough, and so in 1925 he proposed to the local commissioners of Florida’s Lake Stearns that it change its name to his favorite place. They agreed, and in 1927 America’s second Lake Placid was born.

9. The local bookstore hands out $2 bills as change. The next time you come into The Bookstore Plus, a super-chill, family-owned bookstore, don’t forget to pay in cash so you, too, can claim your $2 dollar bill – they make a great present in the gift card you just bought!

10. The 1980 Winter Olympics was Almost Known as a Disaster.  If it wasn’t for the “Miracle on Ice” hockey game and Eric Heiden’s five speed skating gold medals at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games, the event might have gone down in history as a disaster. The weather was awful, the transportation system between the venues broke down and the athlete’s Olympic Village was built to be a high-security prison.

Sources: Matador Network, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, John Brown State Historic Site, Mental Floss, and the Lake Placid/North Elba Historical Society.



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