Sterling is a town in Cayuga County, New York, United States. The population was 3,040 at the 2010 census. Located on the shore of Lake Ontario, the town is named after William Alexander, Lord Stirling, an American general of the Revolutionary War. Sterling is the most northerly town in the county and lies northwest of Syracuse.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 47.1 square miles (122.0 km), of which 45.4 square miles (117.7 km) is land and 1.7 square miles (4.3 km), or 3.53%, is water.
The north boundary of Sterling is Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes. Sterling is the only town in Cayuga County with access to the Great Lakes.
The western terminus of New York State Route 3 and northern terminus of New York State Route 38 are in the town. New York State Route 104 passes across the south part of Sterling, and New York State Route 104A passes across the north.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,432 people, 1,337 households, and 962 families residing in the town. The population density was 75.2 people per square mile (29.0/km²). There were 1,922 housing units at an average density of 42.1 per square mile (16.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.46% White, 0.09% African American, 0.44% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 0.23% from other races, and 0.73% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.50% of the population.
There were 1,337 households out of which 31.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.0% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.0% were non-families. 22.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the town, the population was spread out with 26.5% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 26.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 104.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $35,061, and the median income for a family was $38,125. Males had a median income of $34,205 versus $24,917 for females. The per capita income for the town was $15,912. About 7.4% of families and 11.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.6% of those under age 18 and 14.2% of those age 65 or over.