Griffiss History

History of Griffiss

Construction for an Air Force installation in Rome began prior to the United States’ entry into World War II, when the current site was chosen as the home for the Rome Air Depot.

Rome was chosen due to its 1800 acres of land in the northeast and a competitive proposal from the Oneida County Board of Supervisors. Still recovering from the Great Depression of the 1930s, and troubled by stagnation in the copper and brass industry, Rome and Oneida County enthusiastically welcomed a new military installation as a source of employment.

During World War II, Rome Air Depot was an extremely active installation; its mission was the repair, modification and maintenance of aircraft, and the storage and shipment of supplies. The depot was renamed Griffiss Air Force Base in 1948 after Lt. Colonel Townsend E. Griffiss. He was the first American airman to die in the European Theater.

Although many aircraft landed at Griffiss during the war, the airfield had no permanently stationed flying units. This changed over the course of the next several years as various Air Force operations and squadrons were assigned to Griffiss during the Cold War. Most notably a Strategic Air Command and B-52 Group was stationed at Griffiss and conducted strategic bombardment readiness, conventional bombardment operations, and air refueling operations on a global scale. The B-52 Bomber at the entrance to the Griffiss Business and Technology Park is an homage to the Park’s storied military history.

After World War II the Air Force installation’s buildings were used as post-war offices and laboratories. In 1950 the Griffiss Air Force Electronics Center was established, and was a catalyst for much of the radar and electronic instrumentation development Central New York saw during this Cold War Era. Over 40 years various military divisions conducted research at The Rome Air Development Center (RADC), pioneering the modern radar systems, communications, and other advanced technologies. The RADC would be renamed to Rome Laboratory in 1991 as a response to its changing role in research and development, and is now part of the Air Force Research Laboratory system.

In 1993, Griffiss was selected for realignment by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). A master plan to rebuild the former air base began to take shape in 1994 and was the foundation for the development of what is now the Griffiss Business and Technology Park.

Since 1995, more than $700 million has been invested at Griffiss. This includes road, infrastructure and airfield improvements, demolition, renovations and new construction. There are approximately 70 different companies and over 6,000 employees on the Park, exceeding the activity of what was “up at the Base.”

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