Community Events - Walking Tours

Creek Crawl
Creekwalk Crawl: The Unexplored History of Downtown Syracuse’s Forgotten Waterway (Read participant comments)
A tour by OHA Curator of History Dennis Connors -

For 200 years, Downtown Syracuse has sat astride a waterway that most residents would have a hard time finding.  Yet it has long been a factor in shaping our local history.  Many industries were once located along its banks and it still is spanned by three historic, 19th century stone bridges.  Onondaga Creek is about to be made more accessible with the Dennis Connorsconstruction of a pathway called the Creekwalk, running from Armory Square to Franklin Square.  Get a sneak preview of the Creek’s heritageon a guided walk with OHA curator of history Dennis Connors. 

Creek CrawlThe Onondaga Historical Association is a private, non-profit organization that operates both a public museum and research center on Montgomery Street in downtown Syracuse.  The museum features two floors with seven different exhibition galleries focusing on Onondaga County and Syracuse history. 

Dennis: Thank you for a truly excellent Creek Walk(ing tour) of that six blocks of history. You obviously did a tremendous amount of research to come up with all the interesting historical notes, pictures, and facts cultural, business, industrial, personal, educational, and transportation (did I leave anything out?) of our historic downtown area. It was well-planned and executed, informative, and really interesting. It would be fascinating to do it again ten years (perhaps that is too long, and five years would be preferable, though not likely, I suppose) from now. Anyhow, again our thanks for a wonderful two hours.
Sincerely, Lida and Peter B

Exploring an Industrial Legacy:
A Tour of Syracuse's Historic Franklin Square

Join OHA Curator of History, Dennis Connors for an informative stroll through one of Syracuse's distinctive historic districts. Participants will discover a fascinating enclave of industrial architecture and innovation. Franklin Square's roots are in the local salt industry. But by the beginning of the 20th century, as salt production waned, it transformed into a diverse manufacturing quarter whose products were shipped around the world. Goods made in Franklin Square were as diverse as knitted underwear, typewriters, forging hammers, electric streetcar parts and railroad windows. And they could ultimately be found in a variety of places around the globe from Manchuria to Central America.

One hundred years later, Franklin Square is transforming into a dynamic urban neighborhood boasting an appealing mix of residential, office and restaurant uses. The historic character of its mills and factories has become a vital asset to the community as developers have rescued these buildings and rehabilitated them for new uses.

Tour participants will learn about the various industries that once called the Square home, discover some historic bridges still spanning Onondaga Creek and hear about the evolution of Franklin Square's architecture.
An Abolitionist Amble

In recognition of the upcoming 154th anniversary of Syracuse’s Jerry Rescue, the Onondaga Historical Association Museum & Research Center will offer a 90-minute walking tour of sites in the downtown area associated with the city’s Underground Railroad heritage.  This Abolitionist Amble will be led by OHA curator of history Dennis Connors and begin at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 25, 2005, departing from the OHA Museum. This tour is also offered in conjunction with the Onondaga Historical Association Museum’s current exhibit on the Underground Railroad in Syracuse, Freedom Bound: The Story of Syracuse and the Underground Railroad.

Tour participants will walk from the Columbus Circle/Fayette Park area to Clinton Square.  Along the way, they will learn about leading personalities, events and places that figured prominently in the often-bitter debate in antebellum America over the issue of slavery. Stops will include the spot where Frederick Douglass first spoke in Syracuse, the location of the dramatic 1839 escape of Mississippi slave Harriet Powell and the building that housed the office of New York State’s first black attorney.  Events and locations of the 1851 Jerry Rescue episode will also be included.  That forced rescue by local abolitionists of fugitive Missouri slave William “Jerry” Henry is considered one of the more dramatic stories of America’s Underground Railroad era. 

Mr. Connors notes that many unfortunate demolitions over the years have robbed present and future generations of several structures where these historic events occurred.  He will, however, point out where opportunities exist to explore and commemorate some of these lost sites through archeology or interpretive signs.  The Jerry Rescue took place on what is now a current parking lot just east of the Amos Building.  A proposed development of that building is supposed to include some historical signage on the spot of the Rescue.

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Onondaga Historical Association Museum & Research Center
321 Montgomery St.,  Syracuse, NY. 13202
Phone 315-428-1864, Fax: 315-471-2133