Syracuse, New York facts for kids

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Syracuse, New York
City
A view of the downtown Syracuse skyline
A view of the downtown Syracuse skyline
Nickname(s): The 'Cuse, Salt City, Emerald City, The Heart of New York
Location in Onondaga County and the state of New York.
Location in Onondaga County and the state of New York.
Country  United States
State  New York
County Onondaga
Incorporated 1825 (village)
Incorporated 1847 (city)
Named for Syracuse, Sicily
Area
 • City 26.6 sq mi (66.4 km2)
 • Land 26 sq mi (65 km2)
 • Water 0.6 sq mi (1.4 km2)  2.15%
Elevation 380 ft (116 m)
Population (2013)
 • City 144,669
 • Density 5,583.5/sq mi (2,233.4/km2)
 • Metro 662,577
Demonym(s) Syracusan
Time zone Eastern (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern Daylight Time (UTC−4)
Area code(s) 315, 680
FIPS code 36-73000
GNIS feature ID 0966966
Website www.Syracuse.ny.us

Syracuse (local /ˈsɛrəkjuːs/) is a city in, and the county seat of, Onondaga County, New York, in the United States. It is the largest U.S. city with the name "Syracuse", and is the fifth most populous city in the state of New York following New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, and Yonkers. At the 2010 census, the city population was 145,170, and its metropolitan area had a population of 662,577. It is the economic and educational hub of Central New York, a region with over a million inhabitants. Syracuse is also well-provided with convention sites, with a downtown convention complex. Syracuse was named after the original Greek city Syracuse (Siracusa in Italian), a city on the eastern coast of the Italian island of Sicily.

The city has functioned as a major crossroads over the last two centuries, first between the Erie Canal and its branch canals, then of the railway network. Today, Syracuse is located at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 90, and its airport is the largest in the region. Syracuse is home to Syracuse University, a major research university, as well as Le Moyne College, a nationally-recognized liberal arts college. In 2010, Forbes rated Syracuse 4th in the top 10 places in the U.S. to raise a family.

History

The Syracuse area was first seen by Europeans when French missionaries came to the area in the 1600s. At the invitation of the Onondaga Nation, one of the five constituent members of the Iroquois confederacy, a group of Jesuit priests, soldiers, and coureurs des bois (including Pierre Esprit Radisson) set up a mission, known as Sainte Marie among the Iroquois, or Ste. Marie de Gannentaha, on the northeast shore of Onondaga Lake.

Jesuit missionaries visiting the Syracuse region in the mid 1600s reported salty brine springs around the southern end of "Salt Lake", known today as Onondaga Lake. The 1788 Treaty of Fort Stanwix, and the subsequent designation of the area by the state of New York as the Onondaga Salt Springs Reservation provided the basis for commercial salt production from the late 1700s through the early 1900s; brine from wells that tapped into halite (common salt) beds in the Salina shale near Tully, New York, 15 miles south of the city were developed in the 19th century. It is the north flowing brine from Tully that is the source of salt for the "salty springs" found along the shoreline of Onondaga lake. The rapid development of this industry in the 18th and 19th centuries led to the nicknaming of Syracuse as "The Salt City". In 1847, the city was officially named after Syracuse, Sicily, which at the time was also famous for its salt mining industry.

View of the Boulevard, Syracuse, NY
View of the Boulevard c. 1908

The first Solvay Process Company plant in the United States was erected on the southwestern shore of Onondaga Lake in 1884 and the village was given the name Solvay, New York to commemorate its inventor, Ernest Solvay. In 1861, he developed the ammonia-soda process for the manufacture of soda ash (anhydrous sodium carbonate, a rare chemical called natrite, to distinguish it from natural natron of antiquity) from brine wells dug in the southern end of Tully valley (as a source of sodium chloride) and limestone (as a source of calcium carbonate). The process was an improvement over the earlier Leblanc process. The Syracuse Solvay plant was the incubator for a large chemical industry complex owned by Allied Signal in Syracuse, the result of which made Onondaga Lake the most polluted in the nation.

The salt industry declined after the Civil War, but a new manufacturing industry arose in its place.

Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, numerous businesses and stores were established, including the Franklin Automobile Company, which produced the first air-cooled engine in the world; the Century Motor Vehicle Company; and the Craftsman Workshops, the center of Gustav Stickley's handmade furniture empire.

The Geneva Medical College was founded in 1834. It is now known as Upstate Medical University, one of only four medical colleges in the State University of New York system, and one of only five medical schools in the state north of New York City.

The first New York State Fair was held in Syracuse in 1841. Between 1842 and 1889 the Fair traveled among 11 New York cities before finding a permanent home in Syracuse, where it has been an annual event except between 1942 and 1947, when the grounds became a military base during World War II.

World War II sparked significant industrial expansion in the area: specialty steel, fasteners, custom machining. After the war, two of the Big Three automobile manufacturers (General Motors & Chrysler) had major operations in the area. Syracuse was headquarters for Carrier Corporation, and Crouse-Hinds manufactured traffic signals in Syracuse. General Electric had its main television manufacturing plant at Electronics Parkway in Syracuse.

The manufacturing industry in Syracuse began to falter in the 1970s. Many small businesses failed during this time, which contributed to an already increasing unemployment rate. Rockwell International moved their factory outside New York state. General Electric moved its television manufacturing operations to Suffolk, Virginia, and later to Asia. The Carrier Corporation moved its headquarters out of Syracuse, relocated its manufacturing operations out of state, and outsourced some of its production to Asian facilities. Nevertheless, although city population has declined since 1950, the Syracuse metropolitan area population has remained fairly stable, even growing by 2.5 percent since 1970. While this growth rate is greater than much of Upstate New York, it is far below the national average during that period.

Geography and climate

Geography

Syracuse High View
A view of Downtown Syracuse from University Hill

Syracuse is located at 43°2′49″N 76°8′40″W / 43.04694°N 76.14444°W / 43.04694; -76.14444 (43.046899, -76.144423).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.6 square miles (66 square kilometres), of which 25.1 square miles (65 square kilometres) is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 square kilometres) (2.15%) water.

The city stands at the northeast corner of the Finger Lakes region. The city has many neighborhoods which were originally various villages that joined the city over the years. Although the central part of Syracuse is flat, many of its neighborhoods are located on small hills such as University Hill and Tipperary Hill. Land to the north of Syracuse is generally flat while land to the south is hilly.

About 27 percent of Syracuse's land area is covered by 890,000 trees — a higher percentage than in Albany, Rochester or Buffalo. This is despite the Labor Day Storm of 1998, a derecho which destroyed approximately 30,000 trees. The sugar maple accounts for 14.2 percent of Syracuse's trees, followed by the Northern white cedar (9.8 percent) and the European buckthorn (6.8 percent). The most common street tree is the Norway maple (24.3 percent) followed by the honey locust (9.3 percent). The densest tree cover in Syracuse is in the two Valley neighborhoods, with 46.6 percent of their land covered by trees. The lowest tree cover percentage is found downtown, which consists of only 4.6 percent trees.

Onondagacreekfranklin
Onondaga Creek as it flows near Franklin Square

Syracuse's main water source is Skaneateles Lake, one of the country's cleanest lakes, located 15 miles (24 kilometres) southwest of the city. Water from nearby Onondaga Lake is not drinkable due to industrial dumping that spanned many decades, leaving the lake heavily polluted. Incoming water is left unfiltered, and chlorine is added to prevent bacterial growth. Most of the lake cleanup is scheduled to be completed by 2016; the county is scheduled to finish its work by 2018. For periods of drought, there is also a backup line which uses water from Lake Ontario.

Onondaga Creek, a waterway that runs through downtown, flows northward through the city. There is a creek walk and plans that will connect the Lakefront and Inner Harbor to Franklin Square, Armory Square, The Valley, and ultimately the Onondaga Nation. The creek is navigable, yet can be quite a challenge as its channelized nature speeds up its flow, particularly in the spring, when it may be dangerous. Drownings of youngsters resulted in fencing of the creek through some residential areas.

Climate

Syracuse Weather Statistics
Syracuse's weather averages

Syracuse has a humid continental climate and is known for its snowfall. Boasting 115.6 inches (294 centimetres) on average, Syracuse receives the most annual average snow of any metropolitan area in the United States. Syracuse usually wins the Golden Snowball Award, among Upstate cities. Its record so far is 192.1 inches (488 centimetres). The high snowfall is a result of the fact that the city receives both lake effect from nearby Lake Ontario and nor'easter snow. Snow most often falls in small (about 1–3 inches or 2.5–7.6 centimetres), almost daily doses, over a period of several days. Larger snowfalls do occur occasionally, and even more so in the northern suburbs.

One notable blizzard was the Blizzard of 1993, during which 42.9 inches (109 centimetres) fell on the city within 48 hours, with 35.6 inches (90 centimetres) falling within the first 24 hours. Syracuse received more snow than any other city in the country during this storm, which shattered a total of eight local records, including the most snow in a single snowstorm. A second notable snowfall was the Blizzard of 1966, with 42.3 inches (107 cm). The Blizzard of '58 occurred in February (16-17th) across Oswego and Onondaga counties. This storm was an actual blizzard due to the high winds, blowing snow and cold. 26.1 inches (66 cm) of snow was measured at Syracuse and drifts reached 20 feet (600 cm) in Oswego County. (See Thirtieth Publication of the Oswego County Historical Society, (1969) and The Climate and Snow Climatology of Oswego N.Y., (1971)) February 1958 was the snowiest month ever in Syracuse, with a record 72.6 inches (184 cm) recorded in 28 days. Syracuse shivered under a white blanket that averaged 4 feet (120 cm) on February 19. Syracuse declared a snow emergency under a new law that allowed municipalities to demand that streets be cleared of vehicles to help with plowing operations.

Syracuse receives an annual rainfall of 41.54 inches (105.51 centimeters).

Syracuse's hottest month is historically July, with an average high temperature of 82 °F (28 °C), while its coldest month is historically January, with an average high temperature of 31 °F (−1 °C). The record high of 102 °F (39 °C) was recorded on July 9, 1936, and the record low of −26 °F (−32 °C) has occurred three times since 1922, the last being February 18, 1979.

While the average high during summer is around the low 80s, when adding humidity, the apparent temperature highs extend upward in the range of mid-80s to mid-90s in the city. Days just shy of 100 °F (38 °C), such as 96 or 97 °F (36 °C), are not uncommon in and around the city with the humidity factored in. However, days above 100 °F (38 °C) are more rare, even with humidity taken into account.

A few recent summers in Syracuse have been warmer than previous ones in the city and, like in some other places in the nation, previous records have been broken. For example, the summers of 2005 and 2012 are, respectively, the hottest and fourth-hottest summers on record.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 22,271
1860 28,119 26.3%
1870 43,051 53.1%
1880 51,792 20.3%
1890 88,143 70.2%
1900 108,374 23.0%
1910 137,249 26.6%
1920 171,717 25.1%
1930 209,326 21.9%
1940 205,967 −1.6%
1950 220,583 7.1%
1960 216,038 −2.1%
1970 197,208 −8.7%
1980 170,105 −13.7%
1990 163,855 −3.7%
2000 146,070 −10.9%
2010 145,170 −0.6%
Est. 2015 144,142 −0.7%
Historical Population Figures

As of the census of 2010, there were 145,170 people, 57,355 households, and 28,455 families residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 56.0% White, 29.5% African American, 1.1% Native American, 5.5% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.7% from other races, and 5.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.3% of the population. The largest ancestries include Irish (12.4%), Italian (12.3%), German (9.6%), English (4.5%), and Polish (3.6%). Non-Hispanic Whites were 52.8% of the population in 2010, down from 87.2% in 1970.

There were 57,355 households out of which 29% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 9.3% were married couples living together, 20.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.4% were non-families. 38.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the city, the population was spread out with 19% under the age of 15, 23% from 15 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29.6 years. For every 100 females there were 91 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.89 males.

According to the 2014 estimates from the American Community Survey, the median income for a household in the city was $31,566, and the median income for a family was $38,794. Males had a median income of $39,537 versus $33,983 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,283. About 28.2% of families and 35.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 50% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 and over.

As of July 2015, the United States Census Bureau indicated an estimated population of 144,142.

According to the 2010 United States Census, the population ages 16 and older commuted to work as follows:

  • 64.1% drive alone
  • 9.7% carpool
  • 11.4% walk
  • 8.6% use public buses (CENTRO)
  • 1.2% bike
  • 1.6% use a taxicab

Syracuse currently ranks 50th in the United States for high transit ridership and 12th for most pedestrian commuters. Each day, 38,332 people commute into Onondaga County from the four adjoining counties (2006).

Work Area Profile Report

Worker Age

Count Share(%)
Age 29 or younger 22,597 22.6
Age 30 to 54 53,867 53.8
Age 55 or older 23,694 23.7

Earnings

per month Count Share(%)
$1,250 or less 23,734 23.7
$1,251 to $3,333 30,833 30.8
More than $3,333 45,591 45.5

Religion

Religion % of Population
Percent religious 55.57%
Catholicism 35.90%
Christianity 16.2%
Judaism 0.87%
Eastern religion (Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism) 1.20%
Islam 1.14%

Christianity: Syracuse has two cathedrals, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the Episcopal St. Paul's Cathedral. Both are located at Columbus Circle. Both are home to their respective dioceses, the Diocese of Syracuse (Roman Catholic) and the Diocese of Central New York (Episcopal). The Assembly of God, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Church of Christ have their state offices in the Greater Syracuse area. Syracuse is also home to the novitiate center of the Jesuit New York Province, as well as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Roman Catholic, with Mass offered in English and Polish). In addition there are dozens of churches in Syracuse of nearly every Christian denomination, including Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah's Witness, Christian Science, Reformed Presbyterian and Metaphysical Christian.

Buddhism: Buddhism has its presence in Syracuse too with the Zen Center of Syracuse on the Seneca Turnpike; as well as a center on Park Street, on the city's north side.

Hinduism: Hindu houses of worship include the Hindu Mandir of Central New York in Liverpool.

Islam: Islam also has a presence in Syracuse, with the Islamic Society of Central New York Mosque on Comstock Avenue and Muhammad's Study Group on West Kennedy Street.

Judaism: There are several synagogues in the Syracuse metropolitan area, including Beth Shalom-Chevra Chas, Temple Adath Yeshurun, and the Temple Society of Concord, which is considered to be the ninth oldest Jewish House of Worship in the United States.

Sikhism: Sikh The house of worship, or Gurdawara, is the Sikh Foundation of Syracuse, in Liverpool.

Unitarian Universalism: There are two Unitarian Universalist Societies in Syracuse including May Memorial Unitarian Society and First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse.

Neighborhoods

Syracuse Neighborhoods Labeled
The 26 Syracuse neighborhoods

The City of Syracuse officially recognizes 26 neighborhoods within its boundaries. Some of these have small additional neighborhoods and districts inside of them. In addition, Syracuse also owns and operates Syracuse Hancock International Airport, located on the territory of four towns north of the city.

Syracuse's neighborhoods reflect the historically ethnic and multicultural population. Traditionally, Irish, Polish and Ukrainian Americans settled on its westside; Jewish Americans on its eastside; German and Italian Americans on the northside; and African-Americans on its southside.

Business districts

In addition to the dominant Destiny USA shopping mall in the Syracuse's Lakefront neighborhood, many of the city's more traditional neighborhoods continue to have active business districts:

  • Downtown: Armory Square has replaced South Salina Street as the main retail and dining area of Downtown Syracuse. Armory Square has around 30 dining establishments, around 20 pubs, bars and clubs, and over 50 other retail stores. Similarly, but on a smaller scale, there is the Hanover Square area.
  • Eastwood: Calling itself "the village within the city", this former village still has a retail corridor along James Street.
  • Little Italy: A neighborhood with Italian origins, Little Italy (part of the Near Northeast neighborhood) has several blocks of bakeries, restaurants, pizzerias, shops, and services.
  • University Hill: Marshall Street, along with its terminus South Crouse Avenue, is lined with stores, bars, and restaurants, primarily catering to the student population on "The Hill", as well as the over 25,000 people who work there daily. East Genesee Street at the northwestern corner of the neighborhood has several retail establishments, as well.
  • Westcott: This neighborhood, located east of University Hill, is inhabited by a wide variety of people, increasingly including some college students as the university grows but still primarily local families and residents. Single-family homes and two-unit apartments comprise the majority of housing. Westcott is known as a bohemian and liberal quarter, and each September hosts the Westcott Street Cultural Fair. The main business district is on Westcott Street between Beech and Dell streets and includes restaurants, bars, a consignment shop, and other businesses.

Arts and culture

Niagara Mohawk Bldg (Syracuse, NY)
The Niagara Mohawk Building (now owned by National Grid USA), an example of art deco.

Performing arts

Live jazz music is the centerpiece of two annual outdoor festivals in Syracuse, the Syracuse Jazz Festival, Polish Festival as well as the CNY Jazz Arts Foundation's Jazz In The Square Festival. Performers in the last five years have included Chuck Mangione, Joshua Redman, Smokey Robinson, Branford Marsalis, The Bad Plus, Randy Brecker, Stanley Clarke, Jimmy Heath, Terrence Blanchard, Slide Hampton, Bobby Watson, Dr. John, and Aretha Franklin. The Polish Festival hosted Grammy winners Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra, Polish music legend Stan Borys and Irena Jarocka, Grammy nominee Lenny Goumulka, LynnMarie, Dennis Polisky & The Maestro's Men, Jerry Darlak and the Buffalo Touch & The John Gora Band.

Syracuse was home to the 75-member Syracuse Symphony Orchestra (SSO), founded in 1961. The SSO's former Music Directors include Daniel Hege, Frederik Prausnitz and Kazuyoshi Akiyama. The orchestra performed over 200 concerts annually for an audience of over 250,000. The SSO filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in 2011 and was replaced by the Syracuse Symphoria in 2013.

The Clinton String Quartet has been active for over 15 years and is based in the Syracuse area. All four members were also members of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.

The Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music for more than a half century have presented a series of concerts by various chamber ensembles.

The Society for New Music, founded in 1982, is the oldest new music organization in the state outside of New York City, and the only year-round new music group in upstate New York. The Society commissions at least one new work each year from a regional composer, awards the annual Brian Israel Prize to a promising composer under 30 years of age, and produces the weekly "Fresh Ink" radio broadcast for WCNY-FM.

The Syracuse Opera Company is a professional company that generally performs three operas each season. It was founded in 1963 as the Opera Chorus of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and became independent in 1973. In addition to full performances, it offers several free outdoor concerts each year in Armory Square, Thornden Park, and elsewhere. The company has an annual budget of US$1 million and is the only professional opera company in upstate New York.

The Syracuse Shakespeare Festival is a charitable, educational, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to performing the works of William Shakespeare. It was founded in 2002 and is best known for its annual free Shakespeare-in-the-Park program at the Thornden Park Amphitheatre that has attracted more than 12,000 people since its inception.

Syracuse Stage presents experimental and creative theater; a number of its productions have been world premieres and have moved to Broadway. The venue was designed by its most famous former artistic director Arthur Storch. Its current artistic director is Robert Hupp.

The Red House Arts Center, which opened in 2004, is a small theatre housed in a converted hotel that offers performances by local, national, and international artists, and hosts regular exhibits in its art gallery, and screenings of independent films.

Syracuse is also known for a large contemporary music scene, particularly in the heavy metal, hardcore, ska, and punk rock genres.

Museums and art galleries

  • Everson Museum of Art, which opened in 1968 in a building designed by I.M. Pei, features one of the most extensive pottery collections in the United States along with works of American art, dating from the 18th century to the present. This collection includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, photography, and video.
  • Erie Canal Museum is a museum dedicated to preserving the history of the Erie Canal and its role in Syracuse's growth.
  • International Mask and Puppet Museum is a museum in Little Italy focusing on masks and puppets, the later of which are also used in educational performances for children.
  • Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology is a museum located in the Armory Square neighborhood that features exhibits in science and technology.
  • Onondaga Historical Association Museum & Research Center, located at 321 Montgomery Street downtown, features exhibits on the past of the Syracuse region, and contains historical archives relating to the area's history. Its exhibits include a presentation of the history of the Underground Railroad.
  • The Warehouse Gallery is located at 350 West Fayette Street in The Warehouse. It is a part of the Coalition of Museum And Art Centers (CMAC). This new contemporary art center exhibits, commissions, and promotes work by emerging and accomplished artists in a variety of media. The programming attempts to engage the community in a dialogue regarding the role the arts can play in illuminating the critical issues of our times.
  • Spark Contemporary Art Space is located at 1005 E. Fayette St. in the Downtown area. Spark is run by Syracuse University graduate art students, but is a venue for a diversity of non-university affiliated events. The gallery's directors curate and organize art and music related events, while local artists can rent the space to hold their own events. With the initiation of a monthly video screening series in 2001, Spark became one of the leading venues for video art in Syracuse. Spark Video provides the community an opportunity to see video work from local and international artists.
  • Delavan Art Gallery is located at 501 West Fayette Street in an old farm equipment factory. It has a 3,800 square feet (350 m2) of exhibit space, and, on several other floors in the building, houses the studios of a number of area artists. It has shows which usually open on the first Thursday of the month. It showcases a wide variety of work, from multi-media sculpture to hyperrealism.
  • Point of Contact Gallery is located at 914 East Genesee Street. The newest member of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers at Syracuse University, it is a space dedicated to the exploration of the verbal and visual arts and home of the Point of Contact Art Collection. It is a cross-disciplinary open forum for the essential discussion of contemporary art. A showcase for contemporary artists from around the world, with a strong prevalence from Latin America. The Point of Contact collection comprises over 200 original pieces created especially for "Point of Contact", the book series, since 1975. Photography, collage, drawings, paintings and three-dimensional works form this rare collection.

Parks and recreation

Syracuse Onondaga Park
Upper Onondaga Park in Strathmore

The City of Syracuse maintains over 170 parks, fields, and recreation areas, totaling over 1,000 acres (4.0 km2). Burnet Park includes the first public golf course in the United States (1901) and Rosamond Gifford Zoo. Other major parks include Thornden Park, Schiller Park, Sunnycrest Park, Onondaga Park and Kirk Park. There are 12 public pools, two public ice rinks, and two public nine-hole golf courses in the city.

Right outside the city proper, along the east side and north end of Onondaga Lake, is Onondaga Lake Park. The adjacent Onondaga Lake Parkway is closed to vehicular traffic several hours on Sundays during the summer months, so it can be used for walking, running, biking, and rollerblading. During the holiday season, the park hosts Lights on the Lake, a two-mile (3.2 km) drive-through light show.

Sister cities

Syracuse's sister cities are:

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