Moving to the 'Cuse

For the last month or two, I've been living up in the North Country at Great Camp Sagamore in Raquette Lake. I've had some good times, but summers always come to an end. Next week I will be moving to my new home in Syracuse to attend the graduate anthropology department in the Maxwell School at SU. I've got an apartment lined up in the Westcott neighborhood and I'm very excited to be moving.
However, though I've lived the majority of my life in Johnson City just down Route 81, I'm afraid I don't know much about living in Syracuse. Thus I'm asking for the help of all Syracusians and ex-Syracusians (even people from Solvay, Manlius, East Syracuse, Fayetteville, etc):
What does a brand-new Syracusian need to know about his new home?
Where are the good eats? Entertainment? Neat stores? Excellent events?
What sites need to be visited, what foods tried?
Should I avoid anything?
What is important and unique about Syracuse culture, politics and economics that I should try to understand?
I appreciate any help that you old hands can give and I'm looking forward to immersing myself in a new community, becoming a productive member for the (at least) next 5 years that I'm hanging around. I appreciate all the help you give and if we're lucky, maybe you can learn something from each other about the city that you live in. I look forward to responses.



wild turkey desire! said...

As we may have discussed a little bit through our email correspondence, Im not really from the 'Cuse, but I lived nearby for a number of years and here is what I can say for the city.

The city is consider by many to be the epic center for hardcore vegan straight edge folks, many thanks to the infamous band, "Earth Crisis". I don't mind hardcore vegan straight edge folks, I actually highly respect them, but from what I've heard "Earth Crisis" is a bunch of assholes! and the current harcore scene in Syracuse is no good. I don't even know if "Earth Crisis" is still around, but there is a rather large hardcore scene in Syracuse, most of which seems like tough guy music, talk a lot, and don't do shit (sorry friends).

There is also the Syracuse Cultural Workers, which I don't know much about, but I do know that they make some anti-military propaganda, which recently showed up in Florida after a recruitment center got fucked up, if I remember correctly. Of course, this was not done by them, but they did make the art that accompanied the message.

There is also the Syracuse NYPIRG, which works on some good projects.

On top of that there is the Syracuse Peace Council which is a pretty bad ass group.

And last, but not least, you can read about Aragorn!'s visit to Syracuse here. He is one of the collective members of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed.

Oh yes, you could always visit Oswego, which is around 30/40 minutes and has an obsurd amount of watering holes, but I don't recommend it.

Jennifer said...

Jesse, Welcome to the neighborhood and to SU! I live near the Westcott 'hood and work at SU so let me say that you are moving to a great part of town. I also lived in Johnson City (back in the late '90s) and find that I like the slightly bigger city that is Syracuse. There are great places to eat and I'm discovering more all the time--you can read all that on my blog ;-) But there are some cool shops down at Armory Square, downtown--including one of the best independent music stores I know. There are great trails for running in the area and in town there is a great running community. The Westcott as you may know has a neat little indepedent theatre and some of the best Mexican food in the area--side by side--at Alto Cinco. And of course for food shopping there is the Syracuse Real Food Co-op right in the Westcott neighborhood.

The Everson museum has some interesting exhibits from time to time and everything I've seen at the Syracuse Stage theatre has been wonderful--growing up going to plays and musicals on Broadway, I'm super impressed with the quality of the Syracuse theatre.

Another cool thing about this town is the vibrant and active progressive political community. There are some folks working really hard for positive change, for peace, for racial and economic diversity and the rest. That ethos was one of the reasons I left San Francisco to move here. Its a great place to be. It isn't perfect and God knows we have our issues, but by and large, my husband and I are really glad to be here.

Todd said...

Syracuse is probably my favorite place I've ever lived--Potsdam, Canton, North Creek, Blue Mtn Lake, Buffalo, Amherst, Jamestown. It's not perfect by any stretch, but it has a combination of affordable activities and great restaurants I haven't found elsewhere. The public transportation wasn't great when I was there, especially getting from the SU area to anywhere else, but the driving was also a lot simpler than other cities. It has top-tier college and minor league sports, too, which was always an affordable way for an SU or ESF student to spend some time. I don't know if it's still there, but the Inn Complete on South Campus had the cheapest beer and food known to man when I was a student.

NYCO said...


If you are moving to Westcott you are pretty much moving to the epicenter of the Syracuse "alternative" community. On Sept. 17 there is the annual Westcott Street Fair which is a big celebration of all things Westcotty and should give you a good taste of all that in one big heaping helping. Oh, also you should go to Oren Lyons' talk at Syracuse Stage on Sept. 11 about indigenous people and the UN. He is a most formidable speaker. Don't forget to go to the State Fair, too, which ends on Labor Day. If you live in Syracuse, you have to go to the Fair every year -- it's the law. And Al Gore is coming to speak in downtown Syracuse on Sept. 14 (I have a feeling tickets will go fast for that, though).


Phil said...


Some of my reasons for living in daCuse. Welcome to our humble burg. It's a great place.

1) Walking the trails around Green Lake and Round Lake (Fayetteville) on a crisp fall day. The color of the water rivals that of the leaves.

2) Syracuse has several restaurants that rival anything I’ve been to in big cities like NY and Chicago: Dinosaur (BBQ), Eva’s (Polish--Solvay), Munjed’s (Middle East--Westcott), Alto Cinco (Mex--right next door to the prior), Heid’s (dogs--Liverpool) (my old college roommates’ first request whenever he visits).

3) The poppy seed strudel at Harrison Bakery (W. Genesee St.), my reward for sitting through the Polish language mass with my wife and her grandmother at Sacred Heart across the street. The only word I know is amen!

4) Living in one of the lacrosse capitals of the world. Great games from grade school through college.

5) The memories I have of The Works, The Kingsnakes, Little Georgie & The Shuffling Hungarians and Too Hectic are being replicated RIGHT NOW by some younger kid, about some band I’ve never heard of, in some bar I’ve never been to. (Check out the New Times for exhaustive band listings)

6) So much great swimming that my skin is pruning up as I type this--the diving boards at Green Lakes, the frigid cold of Cayuga Lake, sneaking our dogs onto the far end of Southwick Beach on Lake Ontario, lap swimming in the early morning at Thorden Park pool in the summer, walking our dogs up the water trail to the falls at Taughannock.

7) The church of democracy--the benches that look just like pews in the Common Council chambers of City Hall.

8) I live in a conservative, Republican town--a town with scores of progressive groups and people fighting for peace, justice and freedom.

9) The Post Standard newspaper. Honest, look at some of the supermarket circulars masquerading as papers in other upstate cities.

10) Feeding the ducks at Webster Pond (Valley) on a warm summer night while enjoying a Gannon’s ice cream cone. (homemade on site Valley at Seneca Tpke)

11) Walking our dogs up the hill of the Jewish cemetery off Jamesville Ave. for the view of the city and Onondaga Lake.

12) Walking our dogs around the trails in Barry Park (end of Westcott St. head away from biz district)) formed by the natural stormwater retaining basin. On Sundays you can bike around the park with no car traffic.

13) Lunch at The Welcome Inn, across the street from Skiddy Park (near-west side). Ukrainian pyrohy, holubchi and borscht in the back room behind the bar.

14) Our community group’s annual picnic at the pavilion overlooking the gazebo and pond in Upper Onondaga Park.

15) My CNY senses: The smell of burning leaves in fall, the sight of a full house at the Carrier Dome, the sound of absolute silence on an early morning after a lake effect snowstorm, the taste of a sausage sandwich at the State Fair, the feel of the sun on my face during a summer afternoon on the beach at Lake Ontario.

wild turkey desire! said...

Phil, you Said...

"10) Feeding the ducks at Webster Pond (Valley) on a warm summer night while enjoying a Gannon’s ice cream cone. (homemade on site Valley at Seneca Tpke"

Nothing against Ice Cream, but I've always thought that human beings should not feed the ducks because it makes them domesticated and unhealthly.

If I were a duck, I want to "dive straight to the bottom" and be able to find my own food.

Natalie said...

I know this might be an unpopular view to a Gannon's fan, but I was glad when that giant ice cream cone on the roof with the scary face came down (I think it blew off in the labor day storm!)

WTD, I don't think he meant he was feeling the ducks the ice cream ;o)

Phil said...

The ice cream cone with the scary face lives! It is inside the store, near the window facing Valley Drive.

The folks at Webster Pond sell you handfuls of cracked corn etc. to feed the birds--it helps finance the youth fishing club.

wild turkey desire said...


Well, if they sell it to you, it must be the truth....

No, but really, I'm no expert on ducks, but I would like to think that when a duck becomes relient upon food that is given to it day in and day out, then this duck becomes dependent upon human beings, rather than upon it's instincts.

Don't get me wrong, I love ducks (and if I was one, I'd dive straight to the bottom, and never come up*), but I do not think that we, as human beings, should promote feeding wild ducks. It might sound kind of silly, but I must say that although, it is often wonderful to come into close contact with other animals (outside of ourselves), it seems to make them dependent upon us.

I'd lived with domesticated animals my entire life, on a farm, in the country. I've often imagined what life would be like without these domesticated animals, to say the least.

*an old drinking song, perhaps Irish....

Jesse said...

Well, I wish I was a mole in the ground. I wish I was a mole in the ground. A mole in the ground, I'd tear that mountain down. Oh, I wish I was a mole in the ground.

that's from an old folk song which perhaps you can drink to.

Thanks for all of your comments everyone, I'm sure they will be most helpful. Right now, I'm bogged down in TA orientation, college orientation, fellowship orientation and departmental orientation and I'm a bit too drained to go out exploring the city much. That said, I have walked up Westcott and joined the Real Food Co-Op.

Stefanie Noble said...

One more suggestion: pick up a copy of Syracuse Landmarks to learn more about some of the amazing architecture and depth of history in the area.