Syracuse, a city in Central New York, has thrived as a major crossroads for the last 200 years. With a population of approximately 147,306 (2000 U.S. Census) and an estimated regional population of 732,117 the city is also an economic and educational hub. This is all due in part to the presence of a succession of efficient transportation systems from river and canal traffic to railroads and interstate highways.
The first Europeans to settle in the area were Jesuit priests in the early 1600's who visited the Onondaga Nation and attempted to establish a permanent mission in the area. Soon after the Jesuits arrived, the Mohawk Nation (both part of the Great Iroquois Confederacy) objected to their presence and requested that their brother nation sever ties and ask them to leave the area. There were threats to the mission members so they left under cover of darkness to parts unknown. The original mission and it's history can now be viewed at a living history museum in the neighborhood of Liverpool. The next group of settlers came shortly after the Revolutionary War to trade with the Onondaga. Named after Syracuse, Italy, the village was officially incorporated in 1825.
Some of Syracuse's economic development also came with the discovery of large deposits of salt in the area. Coupled with salt production and the completion of the Erie Canal, local farmers began to switch from growing wheat and potatoes to raising pigs because of the easy access to the salt needed for curing the end pork product. Syracuse is also well-known for its role in the abolitionist movement and as an important part of the Underground Railroad, due in part to the influence of the Unitarian Church and the Quaker community in nearby Skaneateles.
Present day Syracuse is known for its educational facilities, as the academic community has a great deal of influence on the culture and activities of the area. Syracuse University was chartered in 1870, Le Moyne College in 1946 and Onondaga Community College in 1962. The area over the years has been settled largely by German, Irish, Italian, Polish and African Americans that provides the city with its unique cultural backdrop. This contributes to world-class dining and retail shops in almost every area of the city.
Economic stability is in large part due to the numerous small businesses operating in the city. A few major employers located in Syracuse are Oneida Nation and Oneida Nation Enterprises, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, National Grid, Wegmans Food Markets, St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center, Verizon Wireless and Penn Traffic Company.
Syracuse is home to the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, The Clinton String Quartet, The Syracuse Opera Company, The Everson Museum of Art, The Erie Canal Museum, The International Mask and Puppet Museum, The Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology, The Onondaga Historical Association Museum & Research Center, The Warehouse Gallery, The Spark Contemporary Art Space and The Delavan Art Gallery. Along with art and science, Syracuse is known for its outdoor conservation and recreation areas like Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Thornden Park, Schiller Park, Sunnycrest Park, and Onondaga Lake Park.