Originally Iroquois land, Euroamerican settlement in the Ithaca area began in 1790, when the U.S. Congress began giving land grants to Revolutionary War veterans in lieu of back pay.
The region was known as "The Central Military Tract" and the main settlement was known first as "Ulysses" and then "Odysseus" before it became "Ithaca". Ithaca was also informally called "Sodom-By-The-Lake" for awhile due to the many taverns and houses of ill-fame that served its early mostly male population. It is now the site of Cornell University and Ithaca College.
Famous natives of Ithaca include "Roots" author Alex Haley, astronomer Carl Sagan, television writer Rod Serling, and former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz.