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Downtown Hamilton: The Transition From Big City to Small Town

By Caroline Hashagen '19 on March 2, 2016

shots of the village of hamilton showing the exterior of the colgate bookstore

Having grown up and lived in San Francisco my entire life, I am used to being surrounded by a city. Traffic and busy streets are part of my routine. Right as I walk out my door, there are numerous restaurants, stores, and places to visit. Initially, I thought that my urban background would require a college in the midst of a city, that I would want to spend my time adjusting not only to a school, but also to a surrounding city as well. However, as I began touring colleges, my view shifted drastically. I realized that self-contained schools situated in rural areas allow students the opportunity to participate in more on-campus activities, and there aren’t the same distractions that a big city offers.

Despite my realization that I preferred a more isolated school, I was still nervous about adjusting to a different environment. My first time at Colgate, during April Visit Days, the size of the town seemed somewhat limiting. However, my visit was short, and I only had the chance to visit one restaurant.


In August, I got the chance to fully immerse myself in life as a Colgate student and experience all that downtown Hamilton had to offer. One of my favorite weekend activities quickly became going to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday. The village green was transformed by dozens of tables offering fresh produce, vibrant flowers, and homemade snacks. It was a great opportunity to get off-campus and have fun in town while also seeing all the goods that the surrounding area produced.

Despite the small size, Hamilton has quite a few restaurants to dine at. On weekends, and occasionally during the week, I love heading downtown with friends to grab a meal. While I was initially worried that the food offerings wouldn’t be very diverse, there are many cuisines to choose from. La Iguana offers fresh Mexican food, Royal Indian Grill has great Indian food, N13 serves fresh noodles and pho, and Hamilton Whole Foods prepares healthy vegetarian fare. There is also No. 10 Tavern to satisfy burger cravings, and the Hamilton Eatery has an extensive menu of salads and sandwiches.

Downtown Hamilton

In addition to food, there are several boutiques to shop at, and of course the Colgate Bookstore. I’ve had a good time browsing the large selection of Colgate apparel and gifts while stopping in to pick up my textbooks. The Hamilton Movie Theater is also a fun outing and they are constantly screening new movies. They even had a showing of the newest Hunger Games the day before it came out. Colgate also provides entertainment downtown, and I’ve loved heading down to the Palace Theater to watch students perform in the Cabaret and other shows.


Contrary to my initial ideas about attending college in a small town, the size of Hamilton has many benefits. Without the distraction of a big city, and with so many events on campus/in town, people are motivated to stay and experience all that the Colgate campus, and Hamilton, have to offer. This results in a more tight-knit community and town.

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