Hornellsville was the name of a town and a city in Steuben County. Both were named for an early settler, George Hornell. From the 1850s, Hornellsville became a regional rail center with a major repair facility. Prosperity followed; by the 1880s the small city boasted two opera houses (above, the Shattuck Opera House), hosting national freethought conventions and lectures by Mark Twain, Robert Green Ingersoll, and many others. Between 1909 and 1915, the community acquired a third performance venue, the Majestic Theater.
The city changed its name to Hornell in 1906. The surrounding town retained the name Hornellsville.
After a railroad merger in 1960, the Hornell repair facility closed. Arguably, the local economy never recovered. At 8,192 (per 2020 Census), the city retains but half of its 1960 population.