The Town of Alfred lies near the center of the eastern border of Allegany County, and contains 19,200 acres of land with a population of around 10,000, including the students at the three colleges in the village. In April, 1808, the first town meeting was held, after an act of the New York State Legislature created the Town of Alfred earlier that same year. The original settlers were mainly Seventh Day Baptists; many were veterans of the War of 1812, and descendants of soldiers who had fought in the Revolution.

Main Street early viewThe village of Alfred and Alfred Station (formerly known as Baker's Bridge) are the main settlements in the Town of Alfred. Alfred contains three institutions of higher education: Alfred University, founded by the Seventh Day Baptists in 1836, the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, founded in 1900, and the State University of New York College of Technology at Alfred, a two-year technical school founded in 1908 as an agricultural college.

One feature of the Alfred landscape readily noticed by visitors is the prevalence of red terra cotta roofs dotting the village and countryside. During the latter part of the 19th century, two companies specializing in the manufacture of bricks and roofing tile operated in the valley, using the local clay dug from the banks of the Kanakadea Creek. Residents of the town have been involved in an ongoing project to protect and preserve roofs made of these local tiles, with help from the Friends of Terra Cotta, the Alfred Historical Society, and the Baker's Bridge Association, supported by a grant from the J. M. Kaplan Fund.