I grew up just a short two-hour drive from the city of Syracuse, New York, which meant I had the chance to visit this great American city on more than one occasion. For me, a visit to Syracuse was (mostly) the result of a strong Canadian dollar, and the fabulous shopping deals to be found at places like Destiny USA.
But there is so much more to Syracuse than just fabulous shopping.
This past week we were invited to come and experience a whole other side of Syracuse, New York, one that I had never experienced before. Syracuse is a great place for a getaway with your girlfriends, the guys, your whole family, or in our case, just the two of us.
That’s right, this was our chance for a romantic getaway for two. In Syracuse we found romance, we found fun…and we also found out there were a whole lot of things we didn’t know about “the Salt City”.
Think you know Syracuse? Think again! I have no doubt some of these fascinating facts will leave you saying “WOW!”…
- Is it Seera-cuse or Sarah-cuse? I have long pondered this question as I have often heard it pronounced both ways. We can now lay this one to rest. It’s “Seera-cuse” according to Nikita from Visit Syracuse. Good, because personally, I’ve always said “Seera-cuse”…what do you say?
- How did I not know this? Tom Cruise was born in Syracuse. Richard Gere attended school at North Syracuse Central High. The Baldwin brothers (Alec, Stephen, William, and Daniel) have family ties to the area. Their mother is from Syracuse. She and their sisters live in Syracuse. Rumour has it that Bill & Hilary used to own a home in nearby Skaneateles. Word on the street is that Derek Jeter recently purchased a home in this beautiful lakeside town. Speaking of Tom Cruise, does anyone else besides me wonder how he came up with the name of his daughter – Suri Cruise?
- Speaking of Skaneateles (pronounced “Skinny-Atlas”), Skaneateles Lake , located a short drive west of Syracuse, is one of the cleanest lakes in the United States. The city of Syracuse pipes this lake’s unfiltered drinking water 23 miles for use as the city’s source of drinking water.
- The Syracuse area is home to three “meromictic” lakes, Green Lake, Round Lake, and Glacier Lake. Meromictic lakes are lakes whose surface layers, and deep water layers of the lake, never mix. Meromictic lakes are usually blue-green in colour. If any of you are familiar with Pink Lake in Gatineau Provincial Park, another meromictic lake, you will understand what I mean.
- Think you get a lot of snow where you live? According to Weather.com, Syracuse, New York receives more snowfall than any other major city in the United States. The average yearly snowfall amount in Syracuse? 126.3 inches!
- Syracuse is a “city of inventions”. The Franklin Roadster was invented in Syracuse. The Brannock Device was invented here (that metal tool used to measure your foot size). Take note basketball fans. Did you know that the 24 second shot clock was invented in the ‘Cuse (nickname for the Syracuse University Orangmen btw). The next time you are at the dentist, think about this. Even the dental chair was invented in Syracuse.
- Many proud Irish descendants call Syracuse home. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Syracuse are epic. The Syracuse St. Patrick’s Day parade has been named as one of the Top 10 parades in the United States. So if you bleed green, you may want to mark this on your calendar. Even if you don’t bleed green, you are sure to have fun by the sound of it!
- Thanks to the proud Syracuse residents of Irish descent, the city has the distinction of having the only upside-down traffic light in the world. According to locals, Irish immigrants who settled in Syracuse couldn’t stand to see “British Red” over top of “Irish Green” on the local traffic light. After numerous traffic lights were damaged by residents, the city of Syracuse decided to allow for this one traffic light to hang upside-down, with the green light on top.
- Syracuse is the site of the United States’ first state fair – The Great New York State Fair, which still brings thousands of visitors to the area each year.
- Ever heard of the famous “Finger Lakes”? These beautiful lakes lie west of the city of Syracuse. Skaneateles Lake is one of the Finger Lakes. There are 10 more. You heard me right. There are 11 Finger Lakes in total: Skaneateles, Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice, Honeoye, Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasco, Otisco. You may want to refer to the link to the video at the end of this post for help with the pronunciation of some of these Finger Lakes!
- The Onondaga Creekwalk provides residents and visitors with a taste of nature, right in the middle of the city. This 2.6 mile stretch of trail runs from Armory Square in downtown Syracuse, all the way to the southern shore of Onondaga Lake. On any given day, you will find people enjoying a hike, walk or bike ride along this scenic pathway.
- Syracuse’s Carrier Dome is the only domed stadium in the northeast, and the largest structure of its kind, on a college campus, in the United States.
- Bird enthusiasts will delight in this fact. Syracuse’s tallest building, the State Tower Building, is home to a nesting box where Peregrine Falcons make their home. Thanks to a successful restoration program that started in the 1980’s, the Peregrine Falcon is once again a familiar sight in this region. Nesting at the top of this 23-storey building, Peregrine Falcons have a safe and secure place to raise their young.
- The Cathedral Candle Company of Syracuse, which has been in business since 1897, produces the candles for the Vatican in Rome, Italy. These special candles are made from 51% beeswax, producing candles with the longest-burning flame, in the purest form.
- Syracuse is well-known for its industries, old and new, and best known for its salt, glass and china production, on the shores of Onondaga Lake. Salt potatoes are a local favourite delicacy. Glass and china regularly wash up on the shore of Onondaga Lake, remnants of bustling industry from years past. Rumour has it that lake glass enthusiasts can find treasures along the shoreline. Tip: follow the Onondaga Creekwalk to where it meets Onondaga Lake. According to locals, the beach at this junction is one of best places to gather lake glass.
- Does the lower half of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City look oddly familiar? Think you’ve seen it somewhere before? Maybe you have. George B. Post & Sons, the architectural firm behind both the Syracuse Hotel (1924) and the Waldorf Astoria (1931), took the blue prints from Hotel Syracuse (now known as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown), and incorporated them into the design of the Waldorf Astoria.
- Syracuse University alumni, Ernie Davis, was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.
- L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was born in Chittenango (a town located just east of Syracuse). He married the daughter of well-known Syracuse abolitionist, and suffragist, Matilda Joslyn Gage.
- Dog lovers will love the fact that Syracuse is considered a “dog-friendly” destination. Syracuse residents love their dogs. There are a number of hotels in the Syracuse area that welcome dogs, as do many retail establishments. Despite all the concrete and asphalt, downtown Syracuse is a great place to walk your dog. You’ll find many small “green spots” for dogs to “do their business”. In the hot summer, many downtown businesses will place bowls of water outside their shops to help keep “hot” dogs cooled off.
So it’s “Skinny-Atlas”? Really? Yes, according to these Syracuse residents, that’s the correct way to say this town’s name. Apparently I’ve been pronouncing Skaneateles wrong for 40+ years! So much for my “Skay-nee-a-tell-les”!
Stay tuned to the blog for more on our getaway to Syracuse!
Have YOU ever been to Syracuse? What do YOU love about “the Salt City”?
**A huge thank you to Visit Syracuse for inviting us to visit their beautiful city! Special thanks to Nikita for being such a wonderful host and tour guide!