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Ernie's Elmira Legacy - Part 1

1961 Heisman Trophy Winner Ernie Davis

Editors Note: This is part one of a four part series on the legacy of Ernie Davis in his hometown of Elmira, New York. This is to show the very prominent position Ernie Davis still has in Elmira today, as well as lead up to the world premier of The Express in Syracuse, New York on Friday September 12th.

Ernie Davis came to Elmira, New York at the age of 12, but it was always what he considered his hometown. Everyday in Elmira he built a reputation of not only being a good athlete, but a great person as well. For the purposes of this series however, I am going to assume that you are a true fan and already know most of the Ernie Davis story. This article is about the legacy he has left in the town he grew up in, as well as my hometown. This is about the legacy he has left in Elmira and how Elmira remembers him.

In this first part, we take a look at a fixture now in Elmira, New York. This is something that most strangers visiting the area for the firs time encounter. The “Welcome To Elmira” sign is something that all travelers to Elmira get a chance to see when they first enter town taking Exit 56 off of Interstate 86, formerly Route 17. Former Elmira Mayor Stephen Hughes had it erected in 2003 after a slogan contest. The city slogan, which is present on the sign, now reads “Honoring the Past, Building the Future”. The sign certainly honors the past. Present left to right on the sign are famous people that are either originally from Elmira, or called Elmira their home for a significant portion of their life. They are Brian Williams (Anchor of NBC’s Nightly News), Hal Roach (A film pioneer), Ernie Davis, Mark Twain (Famous American writer and humorist), Eileen Collins (First female space shuttle pilot and Syracuse Alumnae), John Jones (Former slave and abolitionist), and Tommy Hilfiger (Clothing designer). Of course, Ernie Davis was included among some of the most beloved Elmirans.

Because of this sign, it is instantly recoganizable that Ernie Davis is from Elmira. I myself saw him every morning on the way to work this summer, as many locals do. It is one of the most recoganizeable and renound signs in the area and it is a point of pride for the City.


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2 Responses to “Ernie's Elmira Legacy - Part 1”

  1. # Anonymous Anonymous

    If i had to reference a point of pride for the city it would have to be the Danny G's era.
    Those were some crazy nights.  

  2. # Blogger Brian Harrison

    Anonymous,
    I sadly remember exactly what you are talking about. I never frequented the establishment but I remember the situation completely.  

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