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According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.6 square miles (66 km2), of which, 25.1 square miles (65 km2) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) of it (2.15%) is 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.
Onondaga Lake Park in the northern suburbs of Syracuse. Onondaga Lake with the Syracuse skyline in the background. Onondaga Lake Park attracts over one million visitors each year.
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.
Syracuse's main water source is Skaneateles Lake, one of the country's cleanest lakes, located 15 miles (24 km) 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. 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 are plans and aspirations to create a creek walk 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.
Snow shovels – Syracuse Post-Standard, February 6, 1902
Syracuse has a humid continental climate (KöppenDfb) and is known for its snowfall. Boasting 128 inches (330 cm) on average, the Syracuse metro area receives more snow on average than any other large city in the United States. Syracuse continually wins the Golden Snowball Award, among Upstate cities. Its record so far is 192.1 inches (488 cm). The high snowfall is a result of the city receiving both lake effect from nearby Lake Ontario and nor'easter snow. Snow most often falls in small (about 1–3 in or 2.5–7.6 cm), 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 in (109 cm) fell on the city within 48 hours, with 35.6 in (90 cm) 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 in (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 in (66 cm) of snow was measured at Syracuse N.Y. and drifts reached 20 ft (6.1 m) in Oswego County. (See "Thirtieth Publication of the Oswego County Historical Society" (1969); and "The Climate and Snow Climatology of Oswego N.Y." (1971).)
January 2004 was the snowiest month ever in Syracuse, with a record 78.1 in (198 cm). December 2010 became Syracuse's second snowiest December ever on record with 72.8 in (185 cm) and 45.1 inches (114.6 cm) fell in 4 days. In February 1958, Syracuse shivered under a white blanket that averaged 4 ft (1.2 m) 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.
The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 23.6 °F (−4.7 °C) in January to 71.3 °F (21.8 °C) in July. There are 8.6 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs and 8.3 nights of sub-0 °F (−18 °C) lows annually. Extreme temperatures range from 102 °F (39 °C) on July 9, 1936 down to −26 °F (−32 °C) on three occasions, the last being February 18, 1979.
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 2002 were, respectively, the hottest and second-hottest summers on record.
Syracuse is the fourth rainiest city in US, with 171 rainy days a year and fourth among the snowiest cities with 111.6 inches of snow annually. Much like nearby Binghamton, being close to the St. Lawrence storm track and cooler air masses coming in from the west and north, the city has a continuously unsettled weather pattern.
There were 56,445 households out of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 23.6% were married couples living together, 20.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.4% were non-families. 29% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.8% 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 30.4% under the age of 18, 16.8% from 18 to 24, 30.4% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29.7 years.
The median income for a household in the city was $22,715, and the median income for a family was $37,384. Males had a median income of $36,021 versus $30,846 for females. The per capita income was $17,866. About 25.6% of families and 31.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 44.1% of those under age 18 and 12.5% of those age 65 or over.
There are several Jewish synagogues in or nearby Syracuse, including Beth Shalom-Chevra Chas, Temple Adath Yeshurun and the Temple Society of Concord, considered to be the ninth oldest Jewish House of Worship in the United States.
There are two Unitarian Universalist Societies in Syracuse including the May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society and the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse.
Today the Syracuse area has few extremely large employers, but rather many smaller ones. Eight of the area's top eleven employers are in education or the service industry, rather than in manufacturing. Some of the smaller employers in Syracuse are:
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 divided population. Traditionally, Irish, Polish and Ukrainian Americans settled on its westside; Jews on its eastside; German and Italian Americans on the northside; and African-Americans on its southside.
In addition to the dominant Destiny USA shopping area 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. A number of professional firms are also located in Armory Square, including Eric Mower and Associates, O'Brien & Gere, and the Sugarman Law Firm.
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.
Butternut Circle: North Side neighborhood located at the intersection of Butternut Street and Grant Blvd (part of the Court-Woodlawn neighborhood) has several blocks housing a flower shop, drug store, pizza shop, deli, restaurants, beauty and barber shops, dentist and auto dealer.
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, an independent bookstore, a consignment shop, The Westcott Theater, and other businesses.
Two institutions of higher education are based in the Syracuse suburbs: Le Moyne College in the Town of DeWitt and Onondaga Community College in the Town of Onondaga. Le Moyne is a Jesuit college founded in 1946 and named after the 17th century missionary and diplomat Simon Le Moyne who first discovered the value of the Onondaga salt springs (see "French contact" above). It was also the first Jesuit college to be founded as coeducational. Its baseball team has had several players who went on to become professionals. Onondaga Community College has its main campus in the adjacent town of Onondaga and has two smaller campuses downtown and in Liverpool.
Syracuse was home to the 79-member Syracuse Symphony Orchestra (SSO), founded in 1961. In early April 2011, the orchestra announced plans to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, a chapter of the U.S. bankruptcy code that indicates that the organization plans to liquidate itself and go out of operation. Unfunded pension obligations were blamed. The SSO's last Music Director was Daniel Hege; former Music Directors include Frederik Prausnitz and Kazuyoshi Akiyama. At its peak, the orchestra performed over 200 concerts annually for an audience of over 250,000.
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 until its dissolution in early 2011.
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 www.syrsf.org 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 every August at the Thornden Park Amphitheatre that has attracted more than 25,000 people since its inception. SSF also produces four other major programs including Shakespeare-Under-A-Roof, (indoor shows at SU's Cantor Warehouse Theatre and NYS Fairgrounds' Empire Theatre) Kids Doing Shakespeare (Summer one-week, vacation theatre intensive for students in grades 5–12), Avon Repertory Theatre (one hour versions of Shakespeare classics touring at schools and businesses in CNY) and Shakespeare-On-The-Grass the last two weekends in June (outdoor shows on the grass at Thornden Park Amphitheatre) that collectively have played to an additional 19,000 Central New Yorkers and out-of-town visitors.
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 Timothy Bond.
The Red House Arts Center is one of Syracuse's newest cultural venues. Opened in 2004, Redhouse 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.
The Metal 'Cuse fundraising concert is held every November in Syracuse. Showcasing local, regional and national hard rock and heavy metal acts, the event benefits local charities such as the Syracuse Rescue Mission and raises cancer awareness. Past headliners have included The Rods, from Cortland and original New Jersey metal band Sleepy Hollow. The first Metal 'Cuse concert in 2010 also featured 50 Syracuse area musicians known as "Lock Up the Wolves" doing a special tribute to Ronnie James Dio; they performed songs from many different parts of his career.
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.
Light Work is located at 316 Waverly Avenue, in the Robert B. Menschel Media Center at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. Founded in 1973, Light Work a non-profit photography organization that supports artists with exhibitions, publications, a world-renowned residency program, and a public-access lab facility for photography.
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.
Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, New York – Former weighlock building, built in 1850
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. The gallery is being refashioned into an Art Shop Complex known as "The Art Shops at Delavan Center". Delavan Gallery has 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. Its shows have typically opened the first Thursday of the month. Showcases have featured a wide variety of work, from multi-media sculpture to hyperealism.
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.
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, James Pass Arboretum and the joined Onondaga Park and Kirk Parks. 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 km) drive-through light show.
In 2005, local millionaire Tom McDonald proposed an aerial tramway system, called Salt City Aerial Transit (S.C.A.T.), to link the university to the transportation center. The first segment from Syracuse University to downtown has been estimated to cost $5 million, which McDonald plans to raise himself. Due to the perceived low operating costs, the system could run continuously. As of late 2006, the project remains in the planning stage.
The Maple Leaf follows the path of the Empire Service train, but continues to Toronto. This train completes one round-trip daily.
Also completing one round-trip a day, the Lake Shore Limited connects Syracuse to the same cities as above (except Niagara Falls), but continues westward from Buffalo to Chicago via Cleveland and Toledo, and eastward to Boston, with a branch extending south to New York.
Interstate 690 runs east-west through the city, and provides access to Interstate 90, as well as to Syracuse's northwestern and eastern suburbs. A spur off I-690 directly west of the city, NY 695, provides freeway access to the southwestern suburbs. It meets Interstate 81 in downtown Syracuse in a highly complex and incomplete intersection. Most of its routing through the city directly replaced elevated rail lines, a fact quite notable by the city's former main rail terminal, where the freeway spans the width between the terminal and its outermost platform. In 1981 artist Duke Epolito erected sculptures of "passengers" on the far platform. The piece is entitled "Waiting for a Night Train."
New York State Route 690 – Was built as an extension of Interstate 690 in the northwest suburbs of Syracuse. The route is a four-lane divided highway from its southern end at I-690, where it meets Interstate 90 (NYS Thruway), to its end northwest of Baldwinsville in Lysander at NY 48 and NY 631.
The city is headed by an elected mayor who is limited to two four-year terms. The incumbent is Stephanie Miner, elected mayor on November 3, 2009. The previous mayor was former Syracuse Common Council President Matthew Driscoll, who first assumed the position in 2001, after the former mayor, Roy Bernardi, resigned to take a position with the federal government. After completing the original term, Driscoll was re-elected that year and again in 2005.
Founded in 1877, the Syracuse Fire Department is one of two ISO Class 1-rated fire departments. The Syracuse Fire Department is currently the fifth largest fire department in New York, after the New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, and Yonkers.
In 2013, the city government, under the direction of Mayor Stephanie Miner and Chief of Staff William Ryan, began discussing the possibility of closing Fire Station # 7, the quarters of Engine 7 and Mini 7. The city faces a $30 million budget shortfall for 2013, and Station No. 7 is in need of $1 million to $1.5 million in repairs.
The Onondaga County Supreme and County Court is the trial court of general jurisdiction for Syracuse. It is also the administrative court for the Fifth District of the New York State Unified Court System. Judges for these courts are elected at-large.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York also holds court in downtown Syracuse at the James Hanley Federal Building.
Syracuse has one major daily morning newspaper, The Post-Standard. Until 2001, Syracuse also had an evening paper, The Herald-Journal. Besides a Syracuse/Onondaga County edition, The Post-Standard publishes three additional editions: Cayuga, Madison, and Oswego for the other three counties of the metropolitan area, plus an additional edition on Sundays. It has six news bureaus throughout Central New York, as well as one in Albany (state capital) and Washington, DC.
Before the merger with the evening paper, The Post-Standard was named among the "10 best newspapers in America with a circulation of under 100,000" by Al Neuharth of USA Today (run by a competing organization). Since the merger, circulation has increased to over 120,000. Even outside of its four-county delivery area, the paper is available in many convenience stores and supermarkets from the Canadian to the Pennsylvanian border. The newspaper partly caters to this audience as well, covering many stories from the Ithaca, Utica, and Watertown areas. Since opening a new printing press in 2002, the paper calls itself "America's Most Colorful Newspaper," as almost every page contains color.
Syracuse New Times is a weekly, free, ad-supported arts and entertainment newspaper. Owned by Zimmer Ltd, Syracuse New Times is published in Syracuse, New York by Arthur Zimmer and distributed throughout the central New York region. The publication is released every Wednesday, with over 137,600 readers, and is distributed to over 950 locations in Central New York. Launched in 1969, it is one of the oldest alternative weekly newspapers in the country.
Tom Cruise – an actor and producer who has been nominated for three Academy Awards and has won three Golden Globe Awards, he achieved (a lasting level of) fame after his leading role in the film Risky Business (1983)
Vanessa Williams – model, actress, former Miss America; attended Syracuse University, College of Visual & Performing Arts
Tobias Wolff – author, known for his memoirs, particularly This Boy's Life (later made into a film), as well as his short stories; taught at Syracuse University from 1980 to 1997 as an instructor in the graduate writing program
^Official records for Syracuse kept at downtown from August 1902 to April 1938, Syracuse Municipal Airport from May 1938 to 17 September 1949, and at Syracuse Hancock Int'l since 18 September 1949.