1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Syracuse (New York)

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SYRACUSE, a city and the county-seat of Onondaga county, New York, U.S.A., situated at the southern end of Onondaga Lake, about 75 m. E. of Rochester and about 150 m. W. of Albany. Pop. (1880), 51,792; (1890), 88,143 (1900), 108,374, of whom 23,757 were foreign-born (including 7865 German, 5717 Irish, 2393 English Canadian and 2383 English) and 1034 were negroes; (1910, census), 137,249. Area (1906), 16.62 sq. m. Syracuse is served by the New York Central & Hudson River, the West Shore, and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railways, by the Erie Canal and the Oswego Canal, which joins the Erie within the city limits, and by several electric inter-urban lines. The city is built on high ground in an amphitheatre of hills surrounding the lake, which is a beautiful body of clear water, 5 m. long by 1½ m. broad at its widest point. Of the residential streets, James Street, in the north-eastern part of the city, is the most attractive. Salina Street is the principal business thoroughfare. The park system comprises more than fifty parks and squares, with a total area of 278 acres. The largest and most noteworthy are Burnet park (about 100 acres), on high land in the western part of the city, Lincoln park, occupying a heavily wooded ridge in the east, and Schiller, Kirk and Frazer parks. A boulevard runs along the shore of the lake. A fine water-supply controlled by the city is obtained from Skaneateles Lake, 18 m. distant, by a gravity system which cost $5,000,000; and the city has an intercepting sewer system.

Among the most noteworthy churches of Syracuse are the Roman Catholic cathedral of the Immaculate Conception—Syracuse became the see of a Roman Catholic bishop in 1887—and St Paul's Protestant Episcopal, the first Presbyterian, first Methodist Episcopal, Dutch Reformed and May Memorial (Unitarian) churches, the last erected in memory of Samuel Joseph May (1797–1871), a famous anti-slavery leader, pastor of the church in 1845–1868, and author of Some Recollections of Our Anti-Slavery Conflict (1873). Among the public buildings are the Federal Building, the Onondaga county courthouse, costing $1,500,000 and containing a law library of 15,000 vols., the city-hall, the Central high school, a fine building erected at a cost of $400,000, the North high school ($300,000), and the public library (Carnegie) with 60,000 volumes in 1908 and housing the Museum of Fine Arts (1897), also.

Among the hospitals and charitable institutions are the Syracuse hospital (1872) for infectious diseases, the Hospital of the Good Shepherd (1373), the Syracuse homoeopathic hospital (1895), the Syracuse hospital for women and children (1887), St Mary's infant and maternity hospital (1900) under the Sisters of Charity, St Joseph's hospital (1869) under Sisters of the Third Order of St Francis, the Syracuse home for aged women (1852), Onondaga county orphan asylum (private; 1841), and two other orphan asylums controlled by the Sisters of Charity, and the state institution for feeble-minded children (1896). The University block (an office building owned by Syracuse University), the Union Building, the Onondaga county savings bank and the Syracuse savings bank are among the most notable business structures; and the Onondaga, the Vanderbilt House and the Yates and St Cloud hotels are the principal hotels. In Jamesville, about 6 m. south, is the Onondaga penitentiary. Adjacent to the city is Oakwood cemetery, overlooking the lake; and north-west of the city are the state fair grounds, with extensive exhibition halls and barns, where the annual fairs of the New York State Agricultural Society are held. Six miles south of the city is the Onondaga Indian reservation, the present capital of the “Six Nations.” The city has an annual carnival and a musical festival.

Syracuse University, whose campus (of 100 acres) in the south-east part of the city commands a fine view of the lake, is a co-educational institution largely under Methodist Episcopal control, but not sectarian, which in 1908–1909 had 239 instructors and 3205 students (1336 in the college of liberal arts; 189 in the summer school; 62 in the library school; 933 in the college of fine arts; 147 in the college of medicine; 179 in the college of law; 401 in the college of applied science; and 78 in the teachers' college). The university was opened in 1871, when the faculty and students of Genesee College (1850) removed from Lima (New York) to Syracuse—a court-ruling made it impossible for the corporation to remove; in 1872 the Geneva medical college (1835) removed to Syracuse and became a college of the university. The courses in library economy (college of liberal arts) are particularly well known. The university library (about 80,000 bound volumes and 40,000 pamphlets) includes (since 1887) the collection of the German historian, Leopold von Ranke. There are seventeen buildings, among which the Holden observatory, the John Crouse memorial college (of fine arts), the hall of languages, the Lyman Smith college of applied science, the Lyman hall of natural history, the Bowne hall of chemistry, and the Carnegie library, are the most notable. There are a large gymnasium and a stadium of re-enforced concrete for athletic contests, capable of seating 20,000 people and one of the largest athletic fields in the world. The plant of the university in 1909 was valued at $3,193,128, and in 1908–1909 its productive funds amounted to about $2,000,000 and its income from all sources was about $784,000.

Other educational institutions are the Syracuse Teachers' training school, Christian Brothers' academy (Roman Catholic), St John's Catholic academy, Travis preparatory school (non-sectarian), and at Manlius (pop. 1910, 1314), a suburb, St John's military academy (Protestant Episcopal, 1869). The Onondaga Historical Association was organized in 1862, and after 21 years of inactivity was reorganized in 1892; it occupies its own building; its committee on natural science developed (1896) into the Onondaga academy of science. Several educational journals are published at Syracuse. There are three daily newspapers, the Post—Standard (Standard, 1829; Post, 1894; consolidated, 1899, Republican), Journal (1839; daily since 1844, Republican, and Evening Herald (1877), Independent).

The government is that of all cities of the second class in New York state, with an elective mayor and other important officers and a single-chambered city council.

Power from Niagara Falls is used by factories in the city, and the manufactures are extensive and greatly diversified. In 1905 the aggregate capital of the city's manufacturing industries was $38,740,651, and the value of its factory products was $34,823,751, 31.2% more than in 1900. The principal products in 1905 were: men's and women's clothing ($3,527,494, of which $3,082,052 represented men's clothing), foundry and machine-shop products, of which agricultural implements and machinery constituted the greater part ($2,415,466), iron and steel products ($2,117,585), chemicals, malt liquors ($1,960,466), typewriters and typewriting supplies ($1,553,113), and boots and shoes ($1,253,982). Other important products were automobiles and sewing machines, hosiery and knit goods, candles, furniture, flour, crockery, and canned goods (especially mince-meat).

Syracuse was long the principal seat of the salt industry in America. The Onondaga salt deposits were mentioned in the journal of the French Jesuit Lemoyne as early as 1653, and before the War of Independence the Indians marketed Onondaga salt at Albany and Quebec. In 1788 the state undertook, by treaty with the Onondaga Indians, to care for the salt springs and manage them for the benefit of both the whites and the Indians. In 1795, by another treaty, the state acquired for $1000, to be supplemented by an annual payment of $700 and 150 bushels of salt, the salt springs and land about them covering about 10 sq. m. In 1797 the state leased the lands, the lessees paying a royalty of 4 cents per bushel and being forbidden to charge more than 60 cents per bushel. The state sank wells and built and maintained tanks from which brine was delivered to lessees. During 1812-1834 a royalty of 12½ cents was charged to raise funds for building canals (a rebate being granted in the last three years covering the entire amount of the royalty for these years). During 1834-1846 the royalty was 6 cents, and between 1846 and 1898 it remained stationary at one cent. In 1898 the state ordered the sale of the salt lands, because the revenues were less than the expense of keeping up the works; but state ownership was maintained until 1908, when the last of the lands were sold and the office of superintendent of salt lands, created in 1797, was abolished. Until 1840 only boiled salt was manufactured; in that year the solar process was introduced. The annual production, which amounted to 100,000 bushels in 1804, reached its highest point in 1862 (9,053,874 bushels, of which 1,983,022 bushels were solar, and 7,070,852 boiled). The development of the Michigan salt deposits and (after 1880) of the deposits in Wyoming, Genesee and Livingston counties in New York caused a rapid decline in the Onondaga product. In 1876 both processes yielded together only 5,392,677 bushels, and in 1896 only 2,806,600 bushels. The salt deposits at Syracuse had, however, laid the basis for another industry, the manufacture of soda-ash, which has grown to important proportions. At the village of Solvay (pop. 1905, 5196), adjoining Syracuse on the lake shore, are the largest works for the production of soda-ash in the world, giving employment to more than 3000 hands.

The Syracuse region became known to Europeans through its salt deposits. Until several years after the close of the War of Independence, however, there was no settlement. Ephraim Webster, who built a trading-post near the mouth of Onondaga Creek in 1786, was the first white settler. About 1788-1789 small companies began to visit the place every summer to work the salt deposits. In 1796-1797 there was a permanent settlement known as Webster's Landing, and in 1797 a settlement was begun at Salina, a short distance to the north on the lake shore. Geddes, another “salt settlement,” was founded in 1803. In 1800 “the landing” received the name “Bogardus's Corners,” from the proprietor of a local inn. Between 1800 and 1805 a dozen families settled here, and in the latter year a grist mill, the first manufacturing establishment, was built on Onondaga Creek. A sawmill was built in the following year. In 1804 the state government, which had assumed control of the salt fields, sold to Abraham Walton of Albany, for $6550, some 250 acres, embracing the district now occupied by Syracuse's business centre, to secure money for the construction of a public road. During the succeeding years the name of the place was frequently changed. It was called Milan in 1809, South Salina in 1809-1814, Cossitt's Corners in 1814-1817, and Cossitt in 1817-1824. In 1824 a post office was established, and as there was another office of that same name in the state, the name was again changed, the present name being adopted. The village was incorporated in 1825, Salina being incorporated independently at the same time. In the meantime the settlement had been growing rapidly. In 1818 Joshua Forman bought an interest in the Walton tract, had the village platted, and became the “founder” of the city. The first newspaper, the Onondaga Gazette, was established in 1823; and in 1825 the completion of the Erie Canal opened a new era of prosperity. In 1827 Syracuse became the county-seat of Onondaga county. In 1847 Salina was united to Syracuse, and the city was chartered. Geddes was annexed in 1886. Syracuse has been the meeting-place of some historically important political conventions; that of 1847, in which occurred the split between the “Barnburner” and “Hunker” factions of the Democratic party, began the Free Soil movement in the state. The strong anti-slavery sentiment here manifested itself in 1851 in the famous “Jerry rescue,” one of the most significant episodes following the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850; Samuel J. May, pastor of the Unitarian church, and seventeen others, arrested for assisting in the rescue, were never brought to trial, although May and two others publicly admitted that they had taken part in the rescue, and announced that they would contest the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Law, if they were tried.

See Carroll E. Smith, Pioneer Times in Onondaga County (Syracuse, 1904).