Iconic Syracuse is pleased to bring together two images this month that celebrate the rich legacy of creative placemaking and public spaces in Syracuse – particularly fitting as we start the summer season and celebrate outdoor gathering places.
June’s Iconic Syracuse installation at the gateway to Armory Square helps launch summer with a celebration of creative placemaking. The project is a partnership between the Connective Corridor and OHA which pairs a photo from the OHA archives with a painting by a Syracuse University VPA design student.
This installation weaves some interesting connections.
The vintage photo depicts a family standing by the fountain in Leavenworth Park, located just two blocks off the Connective Corridor’s western terminus. It is paired with a contemporary painting by Jesse Handelman, a SU industrial and interaction design student, capturing a family playing in the fountain at Hanover Square.
How are these spaces connected? In some fascinating ways.
Elias Warner Leavenworth, a Syracuse attorney and politician, is considered father of the city’s park system and established some of its first public spaces. Fayette Park was obtained through his efforts. A resolution he introduced procured Vanderbilt Square for the city of Syracuse. Additionally he persuaded the railroad to plant rows of trees on each side of the railroad from Beech Street to the heart of the city.
About 1860, Leavenworth Park was named after him.
Leavenworth was married to the daughter of Judge Joshua Forman, the founder of Syracuse, who is honored at Forman Park. The Connective Corridor rehabilitated Forman Park as part of phase one work, and the community joined in celebrating its grand re-opening, one year ago this week.
Leavenworth was also president of Syracuse village from 1839 to 1841 and in 1846 and 1847, as well as mayor of the town in 1849, 1850, 1859, and 1860.
His connections also tie back to Hanover Square, which was the city’s first commercial district and the site of the original Village of Syracuse well. Now listed on The National Register of Historic Places, the Square features a diversity of 19th century architecture, including some buildings which date back to 1834 when a fire leveled the original Square. The structures on the north side of the Square were originally canal loft “double-enders.” This allowed merchants to hoist goods up into their stores from barges on the Erie Canal and then lower the goods by pulley and tackle into wagons in Hanover Square.
Leavenworth would have presided over canal commerce from Hanover Square during the heyday of the canal, and he was also engaged with the early days of the railroad. In many ways, he was one of Syracuse’s key “connectors.”
Leavenworth’s legacy endures, and the City of Syracuse It’s been said that today’s Hanover Square offers a European lifestyle, based on outdoor spaces and public squares where residents and visitors can enjoy outdoor cafes, live entertainment and festivals – which would have greatly pleased Leavenworth. To learn more about Hanover Square and the Hanover Square Association, visit www.hanoversq.org
Downtown Parks in the City of Syracuse today include Armory Square, Billings Park, Bruce Park, City Place, Clinton Square, Fayette Firefighter’s Memorial Park, Forman Park, Franklin Square Park, Genesee-Townsend Plaza, Hanover Square, Lincoln Plaza, Warren & Fayette Park, Perseverance Park, Pitts Park, Plum Street Circle, Columbus/St. Mary’s Circle, and Vanderbilt Square.
About City of Syracuse Parks:
Parks and open space help define the character of the City and give it a unique range of assets within the county and region. Syracuse has approximately 172 municipally owned and maintained parks, fields, inactive cemeteries, medians/traffic islands (most of which are landscaped and contribute to neighborhood greenspace), and natural areas (click here for definitions). Since Syracuse has about 32% of the County’s population and 61% of the County’s municipal parks, the City is comparatively rich in parks and open space. This abundance of open space is even more apparent in the variety of parks and open space available in the City. These facilities include forested areas, harbors, pools, ball fields, tennis and basketball courts, ice skating rinks, golf courses, picnic areas, playgrounds, monuments, trails and public gathering places.
The parks and open space give structure to the City by introducing complementary green and open spaces into the residential and commercial fabric of the City and by helping to unify and even providing identity to neighborhoods within the City. The existence of an extensive parks and open space system provides city residents access to the natural environment, including opportunities for walking and active/passive recreation. The system also protects unique sites for their natural functions and for public use.