How Did Syracuse Get Its Name? (2023)

How Did Syracuse Get Its Name? (1)

Many of today’s Syracusans, especially those who have lived here for a bit, might recall that our city’s namesake is an ancient town on the Italian seacoast in Sicily. The Italian immigrants that settled in Syracuse, New York, however must have wondered how this upstate locale wound up with the name of that Sicilian town.

In some regards, it is not surprising, but in the case of Syracuse, it has an interesting tale and a bit of a twist.

Today, names of communities like Lysander, Pompey, Cicero, or Marcellus are second nature to local residents. No one usually ponders their origin. But, on occasion, an area student studying ancient history or literature, will be surprised that the name of his or her town was being used by some Roman or Greek citizen centuries ago. In fact, classical history and localities formed the identity for many Onondaga County places.

Central New York was surveyed and divided up for non-Native settlement after the American Revolution. Treaties between New York State and the Iroquois, controversial to this day, removed the Onondaga Nation to a small, defined territory south of Onodnaga Lake. The rest of the surrounding lands were divided into townships, then further divided into. of Each of the townships was to comprise100 lots of 600 acres. Names for the Military Tract’s 25 townships were decided by state officials.

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As populations increased in the late 1790’s and early 1800’s, local civil governments were formed within the Military Tract. Some of these first towns decided to carry on the names of the original survey designations.

The late 18th century was an era when learned citizens were quite enamored with ancient Greek and Roman culture. For example, Thomas Jefferson was inspired in his enthusiastic architectural pursuits by classical Roman buildings. His famous Univeristy of Virgina Library was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, as was his own home, to a degree at Montecello. And Americans, proud of their young democratic republic, readily accepted associations with ancient places in Greece and Italy.

Men like John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, were superb classicists — they could read both Latin and Greek fairly well and knew Greek and Roman literature, history and philosophy rather thoroughly. Just as importantly, from the time they went to school, they saw ancient Greek and Roman statesmen as models to be emulated in their own careers as lawmakers, civic-minded leaders, public figures of responsibility. This influence spread down to local civic leaders, men in Central New York like Joshua Forman, a graduate of Union College in Schenectady who moved to Onondaga Hollow at the age of 22 in 1800, with his young bride, and opened a law practice in this frontier setting, near the Onondaga County seat on Onondaga Hill.

Syracuse owes its origins to a turnpike, the creek, and a mill. Its beginnings were centered near Clinton Square. But the land, at first, was not prized. It was low and dominated by an unhealthy, smelly and discouraging cedar swamp. Places like Manlius, Pompey, and Geddes were well underway before anyone showed much interest in what would become downtown Syracuse.

The catalyst for change became the state’s need to raise money for improving the Seneca Turnpike’s connections to the salt works. In 1804, the legislature authorized selling 250 acres of the salt reservation for revenue. James Geddes surveyed the parcel and included a stretch of Onondaga Creek and its water power potential as an incentive. Residents at Salt Point and Onondaga scoffed at the thought of anyone investing in a swamp. But Abraham Walton, a land speculator and Utica attorney, bought the acreage. By 1805 he had a mill erected where the improved road, today’s Genesee Street, spanned the creek. Another road, now Salina Street, crossed nearby on its way to the salt works..

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Walton laid out a small settlement and sold a lot at the corner of Salina and Genesee to Henry Bogardus. The latter opened a tavern in 1806 and the intersection took on the informal name of, Bogardus Corners. Soon a few simple houses joined the mill and tavern. After a few years, ownership of the inn passed to Sterling Cossitt of Marcellus, and the location was re-named Cossitt’s Corners. The nucleus for Syracuse was being formed. But Plagued by the unhealthy nature of the surrounding low lands, anemic Cossitt’s Corners grew very slowly.

Joshua Forman, the visionary, the entrepreneur and the ambitious, set his sights then on the struggling, swampy surrounded settlement in the middle, at Cossitt’s Corners. Around 1815, Forman and a handful of partners formed a land company to buy out Walton’s remaining interests in the tract surrounding Clinton Square. Forman continued to be a strong advocate for the construction of the Erie Canal and helped guide that revolutionary venture into being through his effective lobbying. Construction of the Grand Canal began at Rome, NY in 1817 and the chosen route was headed for Cossitt’s Corners.

But personal problems arose for Forman in 1818 while the canal was still in its early stages of construction. The Bank of the United States had overextended its credit, called in loans from state banks, which, in turn, called in their loans on the heavily mortgaged lands they had financed. Forman and his land company, apparently, were overextended and faulted on its mortgage and their holdings in what would become downtown. The land was sold in a Sherriff’s auction in October of 1818. Fortunately for Forman, the highest bidder was a partnership that included his brother, William Sabine. The new owners turned around and hired Forman to be their agent, so he was able to maintain his management of the land that would become downtown.

Some residents, meanwhile, had thought it might be good to secure a formal post office designation for the little Cossitt’s Corners settlement and proposed Milan, an Italian city controlled for several centuries by the Roman empire and declared the capital of the Western Roman Empire in 286 AD. However, a settlement named Milan over in Cayuga County already had a Post Office. That settlement changed its name to Locke in 1817, but in 1818, the state legislature created the town of Milan in Dutchess County and it grabbed a post office designation in August of 1818. Milan was just not available for Cossit’s.

Forman was continuing to work tirelessly to promote his adopted community. He definitely felt the little crossroads needed a more formal name, one appropriate to its anticipated future as a great city. Milan was not available, but Forman was the agent for the land company that owned most of the area. Additoinally, Forman was having a survey conducted, and streets laid out in 1819. That year, he also moved from the Hollow to his work in progress. So Forman made an executive decision and chose “Corinth.” Corinth was the name of an ancient city in Greece. In classical times, Corinth rivaled Athens and Thebes in wealth. We may know of it more now from the two books First Corinthians and Second Corinthians in the New Testament.

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Construction on the canal had begun in 1817 and the middle section was completed by 1820. And sure enough, it flowed right past Forman’s doorstep. Surely, now was the time to get that formal post office established. The application was made to the federal government for the name Corinth.

Unfortunately for Mr. Forman, Cossitt’s had missed the boat again. In 1818, a new town at the northern edge of Saratoga County, along the Hudson River, had been created called Cornith and it had a post office

Forman and his cohorts were not trying to create a new political entity. Cossitt’s back then was formally part of the Town of Salina. They just wanted to establish a post office for convenience. A committee was formed to come up with a new name. John Wilkinson, another newcomer from Onondaga Hollow and a lawyer protégé of Forman’s, had agreed to be the postmaster once it was established and it was he that would suggest “Syracuse.” Why that, well

As we know, Americans in the early 1800s were quite enamored with using ancient Greek and Roman names to identify the new towns in their young “democracy.” Siracusa, Sicily was founded in 734 BC by settlers from Greece. It has a rich history, one including the great mathematician, Archimedes, who called it home. It was conquered by the Romans in 212 BC despite a fierce defense put up by the Greeks. In fact, legend that in has it that among other creative edevices, Archimedes built a giant mirror that was used to deflect the powerful Mediterranean sun onto the sails of the Roman ships, setting fire to them.

But, in addition to its association with great Greek and Roman history, it was John Wilkinson’s fascination with its geography, however, that inspired him to make the suggestion.

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Siracusa, or Syracuse in its English version, was a city that faced water. Wilkinson thought of Onondaga Lake. There were hills surrounding it. Same here in Central New York. Nearby there were evaporating flats making salt from seawater, and an adjacent settlement called Salina. Wilkinson could not ignore the similarities.

This is an Original Map of Siracusa, Sicily dated 1839. It gives us some idea of what early Syracusans might have known about the ancient Greek city that inspired the name for their home in upstate New York. This detail shows the “saline” solar evaporating pans or flats located near Siracusa.

In fact, today, salt is still made near the western coast of Sicily has it has for centuries, by Evaporating waters from the Mediterranean Sea by the solar method.

and there even is a Salt Museum located near there.

But what drew Wilkinson’s interest to Siracusa in the first place?

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Would you believe the connection was a 20-year old future prime minister of England titled the 14th Lord of Derby?

While a student at Oxford in 1819, Edward Stanley wrote a lengthy poem, in Latin, about the mythology and history of Siracusa, winning a prize for it at Oxford. In 1819 he was awarded the Chancellor’s Latin verse prize for his poem Syracuse. Wilkinson stumbled upon the poem in a friend’s library in New York City. It caused him to research Siracusa, which was fresh in his mind when the need for our future city’s name arose.

FAQs

How did Syracuse get its name? ›

Syracuse was named after the classical Greek city Syracuse (Siracusa in Italian), a city on the eastern coast of the Italian island of Sicily. Historically, the city has functioned as a major crossroads over the last two centuries, first between the Erie Canal and its branch canals, then of the railway network.

What does Syracuse name mean? ›

In Biblical Names the meaning of the name Syracuse is: That draws violently.

What was Syracuse known for? ›

Syracuse is a regional hub for entertainment and is home to museums, art galleries, performance spaces and more. The city hosts multiple events each year, including The Great New York State Fair —a student favorite.

What is the nickname for Syracuse NY? ›

Syracuse earned the nickname of “Salt City” because of its salt mines.

Is Syracuse a Nike? ›

Nike - The official store for Syracuse University apparel, hats, t-shirts and more.

Is Syracuse a Nike school? ›

The Orange football team began wearing Nike footwear in 1991. In the mid-1990s, Syracuse men's basketball, football and men's lacrosse teams transitioned to Nike uniforms. The remainder of Syracuse's teams started wearing Nike footwear, uniforms and apparel beginning in 2002-03.

What does the last name Bleeker mean? ›

Bleeker is a Dutch occupational surname. Bleeker is an old spelling of (linnen)bleker ("linen bleacher"). People with the surname include: Alex Bleeker (born 1986), American musician and guitarist.

What is Stu a nickname for? ›

Stu is the shortened British name for Stuart or Stewart. The name comes from the meaning of “household guardian.” Because of this, choosing the name Stu for baby means they'll always have a guardian by their side.

Is Syracuse a nice place to live? ›

The low cost of living and low housing costs are major positives. Many people are also attracted to Syracuse because of the generally low crime rate. An A- grade means Syracuse is safer than 80% of metro areas. Another major perk of living in Syracuse is the wide variety of entertainment, attractions and activities.

Is Syracuse University Ivy League? ›

SU now joins Ivy League schools, including Brown University or Yale University, with an expected total cost of attendance of more than $70,000.

Is Syracuse a top tier school? ›

Syracuse University is a top-tier, R-1 research institution, the highest designation made by the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education.

Is Syracuse a good school? ›

Syracuse University's 2022-2023 Rankings

Syracuse University is ranked #62 out of 443 National Universities. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.

What's a nickname for a girl? ›

Pumpkin, peanut, bubby, baby, babe, bae, honey, darling, sugar, sweetie, honeybunch… English is packed full of fun, creative, and cute nicknames to call your loved ones.

Why do they call it upstate? ›

Most official dictionaries will define the term “Upstate” as the northern part or sections of a state. Therefore it literally means what is north of you. And what is north of you is relative to where you are standing.

Is Syracuse a Rust Belt city? ›

Rust Belt cities such as New York's Buffalo, Syracuse and Utica, which have suffered population declines for decades, have seen those trends reverse in the latest census.

Who is Syracuse biggest rival football? ›

Boston College

What percent of Syracuse is Hispanic? ›

9.46% of the people in Syracuse, NY are hispanic (13.5k people).

Is Syracuse an elite University? ›

Ranked #62 among the Best National Universities and #42 for Best Undergraduate Teaching by U.S News & World Report, Syracuse University offers many highly ranked programs and co-curricular opportunities: #1 Best Public Affairs School, 2023 U.S. News & World Report.

Is Syracuse a Coke or Pepsi school? ›

You Haven't Seen Any Coca Cola

With six dinning halls and plenty of other food options, you wouldn't think it would be so hard to get your hands on a Diet Coke on campus. But for whatever reason, 'Cuse has pledged its loyalty to Pepsi products, which can only mean one thing for students: Jack and Pepsi it is.

Is Syracuse a pretty campus? ›

Syracuse has a very picturesque campus. The historic buildings and beautiful quad make you feel like you've stepped on to a movie set while at the same time you have modern facilities, like the Life Sciences Complex, that provide state-of-the-art resources.

What does man at the end of a last name mean? ›

A name ending in –man or –er usually reflects an occupation, as in Chapman (a shopkeeper), Bowman, Dauber (a plasterer), or Turner (someone who ran a lathe). English name suffixes that end in –ley indicate that the original bearer lived near a woodland clearing.

Why is it called Bleecker Street? ›

The street is named after the family name of Anthony Lispenard Bleecker, a banker, the father of Anthony Bleecker, a 19th-century writer, through whose family farm the street ran.

What does Heimer mean in German? ›

North German: from the personal name Heimbert composed of the ancient Germanic elements heim '(farm) house home' + berht 'bright illustrious'. Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022.

Is Stu a real word? ›

a male given name, form of Stewart or Stuart.

What can Tito be short for? ›

Etymology. Borrowed from Spanish tito, diminutive of tío (“uncle”).

Is Dylan short for anything? ›

Dylan is a male given name and surname of Welsh origin. It means "son of the sea” or "born from the ocean".
...
Dylan (name)
PronunciationWelsh: [ˈdəlan] /ˈdɪlən/ 0:03 Original pronunciation of Dylan 0:03 Anglicised pronunciation of Dylan
GenderMasculine
Origin
Word/namedy- + llanw
Meaningson of the sea
4 more rows

How many people are homeless in Syracuse? ›

Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) – According to the Housing and Homelessness Coalition of Central New York's Annual State of Homelessness for 2021, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Onondaga County has decreased nearly 32% from 3603 people in 2018, to 2460 people in 2020.

Where are top earners in Syracuse area? ›

With all the million-dollar homes getting sold there, you might think Skaneateles is where you'd find the top earners in the Syracuse metro area, but it's not. The highest-earning ZIP code in the area is 13104 in Manlius, according to a recent analysis from Stacker.

What is the #1 University in the world? ›

Harvard University

Is Syracuse hard to get into? ›

How Hard Is It to Get Into Syracuse? Syracuse is a challenging school to gain admission to. It received a record-setting 39,342 applications to its Class of 2025—a 24% increase over the prior year. Syracuse doesn't publish its acceptance numbers, but its overall acceptance rate generally hovers around 70%.

What is the hardest college to get into? ›

  1. Harvard University — 3.19% Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 61,220. ...
  2. Columbia University — 3.73% Total Number of Applicants (Class of 2026): 60,377. ...
  3. 3. California Institute of Technology — 3.92% ...
  4. Stanford University — 3.95% ...
  5. MIT — 3.96% ...
  6. Princeton University — 4.38% ...
  7. Yale University — 4.47% ...
  8. Brown University — 5.03%

What is the most prestigious state school? ›

Here are the best public universities in the U.S.
  • University of California, Berkeley.
  • University of California, Los Angeles.
  • University of Michigan--Ann Arbor.
  • University of Virginia.
  • University of Florida.
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • University of California, Irvine.

What GPA do you need to get into Syracuse? ›

Applicants require a good GPA in high school to increase their Syracuse acceptance rate. Although there is no minimum requirement of GPA to apply for admission, students need to meet the average GPA requirement of 3.67.

What percent of Syracuse is Greek? ›

Greek Life at Syracuse

With 13 sororities and 13 fraternities on campus, Greek life accounts for more than 30% of the students at Syracuse. Greek life at Syracuse follows a deferred recruitment system, meaning that students cannot rush until the spring semester of their freshmen year.

Does Syracuse give a lot of money? ›

During the 2021-22 academic year, 83 percent of Syracuse University students received some form of financial support totaling more than $447 million. The single largest form of financial aid was more than $328 million awarded to students in the form of Syracuse University grants and scholarships.

Does Syracuse have Greek life? ›

Our first sorority, Alpha Phi followed in 1872, and our multicultural chapters are some of the oldest in New York State. Today, over 50+ organizations make up the Greek community on our campus, and they are as diverse as its members.

Why is Syracuse acceptance rate so high? ›

The rise in the acceptance rate can be attributed to the amount of students that transferred out of the university over the past year, in part due to the school's COVID-19 restrictions and the strain of having online classes last year.

What is a flirty nickname for a girl? ›

Some guys go the "classic" route with names like "angel," "darling," and "sweetheart"; some prefer food-inspired nicknames, like "cookie" and "cupcake"; and some straight-up worship their partners with loving names like "queen," "goddess," and "light of my life."

What name can I call my wife? ›

Sweetie: A common nickname when you want her to pamper you. Sweetheart: A classic nickname that will never go out of style. Wifey: This is a popular and sweet nickname for the wife. Bumblebee: Perfect nickname for someone who is always busy and the life of the party.

What is the best town to live in Upstate New York? ›

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo is undoubtedly one of the best cities to live in when considering the Upstate New York region as a whole.

What was New York called before it got its name? ›

Following its capture, New Amsterdam's name was changed to New York, in honor of the Duke of York, who organized the mission. The colony of New Netherland was established by the Dutch West India Company in 1624 and grew to encompass all of present-day New York City and parts of Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Why do New Yorkers say upstate? ›

A cheeky joke among Manhattanites is that anything north of 14th Street is "upstate". Another usage locates the Upstate/Downstate boundary farther north, at the point where New York City's suburbs segue into its exurbs, as the exurbs do not generally fall within the Census Bureau-defined New York–Newark Urban Area.

Who is the richest person in New York? ›

1 – Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg's money comes from Bloomberg LP. Leon Black and Chase Coleman III were among the 10 richest in New York in 2021, but were edged out in 2022. To view the full list from Forbes, click here.

Who started the NY accent? ›

The variations of New York City English are a result of the waves of immigrants that settled in the city, from the earliest settlement by the Dutch and English, followed in the 19th century by the Irish and western Europeans (typically of French, German, and Scandinavian descent).

Where do most celebs live in NY? ›

Living on the Upper West Side can be quite relaxing compared to the rest of the city. The residential feel, the many exceptional Upper West Side restaurants and bars, and plus it borders Central Park. So, it comes as no surprise that it's one of the most popular neighborhoods for celebrities living in NYC.

Why did Syracuse change its name? ›

Orange - Syracuse used to be known as the Orangemen prior to a Nike-led change in 2004. Syracuse officials made the switch from Orangemen to Orange in 2004 after two years of consulting with Nike regarding the school's desire to re-brand its athletic teams.

What is Syracuse in ancient history? ›

It was the chief Greek city of ancient Sicily. Syracuse was settled about 734 bce by Corinthians led by the aristocrat Archias, and the city soon dominated the coastal plain and hill country beyond.

Why is Syracuse called the Orangemen? ›

After a winning athletics meet with Hamilton College, Syracuse students wanted colors as bold as they were. They considered orange, with blue as a secondary color, but orange alone was not claimed by any other school, and thus, was Syracuse's for the taking.

How did Skunk city in Syracuse get its name? ›

The neighborhood owes its name to the unusually high number of skunks that roam the area at night.

How much does Jim Boeheim make a year at Syracuse? ›

Syracuse
YearSchoolTotal Pay
2019Syracuse$2,695,375
2018Syracuse$2,151,736
2017Syracuse$2,043,670
2016Syracuse$2,144,384
7 more rows
15 Mar 2022

What sport is Syracuse known for? ›

Football

The sport of football for Syracuse was first formed in 1889. The lacrosse team has been given great achievements and honors such as in the past having 2 undefeated seasons, 5 conference championships since the year 1991, and has even had 18 members be inducted into the college football hall of fame.

What was the patron god of Syracuse? ›

Syracuse, like Athens, worshipped Athena. Reference to Athena can be seen on their city-state banner.

How old is Siracusa? ›

Historical Facts. Syracuse was founded by the Corinthians in 734 BC and became one of the richest and most powerful cities on the island and of the entire Greek civilization.

Where is Syracuse in Greek? ›

Definition. The city of Syracuse is located on the east coast of Sicily and was originally a Greek colony founded by Corinth in 734 BCE.

Is Syracuse a Protestant university? ›

Established in 1870 with roots in the Methodist Episcopal Church, the university has been nonsectarian since 1920.

What do Orangemen stand for? ›

: a member of a secret society organized in the north of Ireland in 1795 to defend the British sovereign and to support the Protestant religion. : a Protestant Irishman especially of Ulster.

Is Syracuse an Italian last name? ›

Italian (Sicily): habitational name from the city of Siracusa (Syracuse) in southeastern Sicily.

What is the nicest area in Syracuse? ›

Downtown. The neighborhood of Downtown Syracuse is considered to be one of the safest neighborhoods in the city. Not only do over 30,000 people commute Downtown every day for work, but thousands of visitors are attracted to the area every year.

Is Syracuse NY A nice place to live? ›

Considered to be one of the best places to live in New York State, the city of Syracuse is most famous for its snowfall, affordability, high quality of life, and lower crime rates.

Is Syracuse a walkable city? ›

Simply put, Downtown Syracuse is the perfect city to walk (or bike) around. Scope out the many shops, restaurants and bars as your stroll through each unique district.

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