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gorgesThe Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau unveiled its newest permanent display, a retrospective tribute to the late advertising guru, Howard Cogan, who is credited with coining the slogan 'Ithaca is Gorges'. Cogan didn’t just invent the now iconic phrase almost 40 years ago - he literally gave it to the City of Ithaca to use freely by declining any trademark rights. He effectively made 'Ithaca is Gorges' an invitation for tourists and travelers alike to experience the city he loved so much, while at the same time coining a phrase that local residents would come to own and embrace on their own, sometimes unique terms.

In an event to be held at the Convention & Visitors Bureau, 904 East Shore Drive on Wednesday, June 19th at 10am, Cogan’s immediate family will be present as we thank them and their beloved Howard for his iconic contribution. This event will celebrate his genius and his generosity.

The creation of 'Ithaca is Gorges' has a storied history and an interesting incarnation. From bright green t-shirts and bumper stickers to travel mugs and magnets, the 'Ithaca is Gorges' slogan and logo has been recognized as far away as China and Europe. 

In a career that spanned 50 years, much of it working alongside his wife Helen, Cogan left an enduring mark on his community. But the catchy slogan was just part of Cogan’s local legacy. An Ithacan from age 6, Cogan graduated from Cornell in 1950. He opened his namesake ad agency, Cogan and Associates, in 1955. Three years later, he launched “The Town Crier,” a downtown newspaper published through 1968. At age 50, with his agency thriving, he returned to Cornell for a graduate degree, then joined Ithaca College as a professor of advertising. An educator for 17 years, he created the school’s award-winning AdLab and earned the American Advertising Federation’s Distinguished Advertising Educator Award, among other accolades. Throughout his career, Cogan was a tireless promoter of local business and a respected advocate for the Ithaca community. Through extensive radio work and frequent public speaking engagements his voice became synonymous with Ithaca.

“Thanks to Howard’s creativity and generosity, we have a slogan that transcends marketing and essentially serves as a mantra of pride to anyone who has ties to this community,” said Fred Bonn, Director of the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Howard’s impact on Ithaca lives on, and to thank him and commemorate his efforts, we created an exhibit that tells his story. Now, every individual who passes through the Visitors Center will not only be exposed to the slogan, but will have an opportunity to learn the true meaning and heart behind it.”

“It was an honor for my father to work with the community and help increase tourism in Tompkins County,” said Judy Cesari, Howard Cogan’s daughter. “It brings our family great joy to see how ‘Ithaca is Gorges’ has become the defining identity of Ithaca. My father once told me that when he sees an ‘Ithaca is Gorges’ bumper sticker on a car, he feels like the driver is a buddy of his—and he’s right. That’s the effect of the slogan. It makes us all feel a connection to our neighbors and our special hometown.”

A  ribbon cutting ceremony for this framed, wall display promises be a powerful moment as Ithacans and Ithacans-at-heart come together to celebrate the visionary, his gift, and the 'Ithaca is Gorges' story.  The public can view this permanent display year-round at the Ithaca/Tompkins County Visitors Center East shore Drive location in Ithaca, NY. Press and media are encouraged to attend as Howard’s wife of over 55 years, Helen Cogan, and exuberantly supportive daughter, Judy, help honor and thank Howard Cogan, his genius, and his gracious gift, by personally unveiling this tribute to the public.

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