City looks forward and back
Syracuse, also known as the
"Salt City," is at the center of a region full of history.
Tuesday, August 21, 2001
By Renee K. Gadoua
In the 1920's, city planners proposed building a 25-story city hall in
A 1950's proposal suggested a 30-story office building.
At one time, planners considered building a municipal football field on
the city's North Side.
Those ambitious plans for the mid-sized city never came to pass. Today,
the city's tallest building, the State Tower Building, is 23 stories. But
the city has plenty of landmarks.
Buildings such as the Landmark Theatre; Syracuse University's Crouse
College and Hall of
Languages; the Onondaga County Courthouse; the state Armory, now the
Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology; and the I.M. Pei-designed
Everson Museum of Art reflect the city's grand past and its enduring
The city is home to the SkyChiefs, a minor league baseball team; a Jesuit
college, LeMoyne; Syracuse University; a zoo; outstanding teaching hospitals
and numerous city parks.
Syracuse is at the center of a region full of history and beautiful land.
Madison County, for example, was home to Gerritt Smith, the 19th-century
abolitionist. Oswego County was home to Fort Ontario, America's only camp
for Holocaust survivors. To the west, Seneca Falls hosted the first Women's
Rights Convention in 1848.
The same year as that historic convention, the villages of Salina and
Syracuse merged to form Syracuse, the city at the crossroads of the state
and the heart of Central New York. Salt, known as white gold, near Onondaga
Lake spurred the city's early development and became the source of
Syracuse's nickname as The Salt City.
In its early days, Clinton Square was the heart of downtown Syracuse. Its
role as the city's business center grew after the Erie Canal was built there
and passenger boats docked along the city's main thoroughfare. A courthouse,
banks, hotels and a theater surrounded the square and made the area the
center of government as well as the center of commerce.
The city underwent a major change when the Erie Canal was filled in in
the 1920s. Modern roads replaced the canal, first traveled by trolley cars,
and later by cars.
Local and state officials pledge to bring more high-tech industry to the
area. And while residents would welcome the economic benefits of such
growth, many local businesses have been around more than 100 years and
reflect the region's history and character.
Cathedral Candle Co.:
The nation's oldest manufacturer of religious
candles continually owned and operated by the same family, was founded in
Crouse Hinds Electric Co.:
An electrical manufacturer, was also founded
in 1897. Its first product was a changeable headlight for trolley cars.
Edward Joy: The plumbing and lighting supplier was founded in 1875 by
Irish immigrant Edward Joy.
Started in 1880, the manufacturer introduced one of
the first movie cameras, automatic looms, time recorders and machines to
roll cigars and wind brooms.
F.H. Ebeling: Started by the Ebeling family in 1868 as a farm-supply
store, the store remained in the Ebeling family until 1946. Today Ebeling
Pet Center, said to be one of the oldest established pet centers in the
country, operates several stores in Central and Northern New York.
John Marsellus Mfg. Co. Ltd.: The casket company, started in 1872, has
created caskets for celebrities including the late John F. Kennedy,
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Cardinal John O'Connor of New York City.
Syracuse China: The tableware maker started in 1841 when W.H. Farrar
founded Empire Pottery Co. on West Genesee Street to make whiskey jugs,
butter crocks and pottery bowls. Now owned by Libbey, Inc., Syracuse China
developed fully vitrified china, a product that was stronger than the
porcelains of Europe.
Gustav Stickley Co.: Gustav Stickley, considered one of the nation's
leading craftsmen, began making furniture in Auburn near the turn of the
century. The furniture company is now run by Alfred and Aminy Audi and
operates in a plant in the village of Manlius.
On September 2, the city is scheduled to rededicate a renovated Clinton
Square. The site will include a reflecting pool in the general shape and
location of the original Erie Canal, fountains to recall the role of water
in the city, night lighting to illuminate the facades of the nearby historic
buildings, cleaning and restoration of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and
a path echoing the original towpath.
And who knows, some day there may be a 30-story office building downtown.
© 2001 The Syracuse Newspapers