Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Onondaga Park History Tour on Sunday, September 9th

Paul Pflanz Leads Onondaga Park History Tour on Sunday, September 9th

The Preservation Association of Central New York continues its walking tour series on Sunday, September 9th, when PACNY Board member and Onondaga Park Association Vice President Paul Pflanz will lead a tour of the history and development of Onondaga Park.

The tour begins at the corner of Clairmonte Avenue and Crossett Avenue in the Strathmore neighborhood at 2:00 p.m. and will continue through upper Onondaga Park.  Depending on time and interest, it may extend to lower Onondaga Park as well.  The tour will proceed rain or shine.  Tour participation is free but donations gratefully accepted.

Onondaga Park was given birth by the 1894 opening of the Woodland Reservoir on South Geddes Street, three blocks to the west. Woodland made the area's old Wilkinson Reservoir obsolete and in 1898, the 71 acres surrounding the latter was acquired by the city to form Onondaga Park. The reservoir, with rip-rapped stone sides, and adjoining oak and hickory grove were used for swimming and picnicking with little change for a few years. In 1903, a large wooded area known as the Olmstead Grove was added, expanding the Park and creating a popular picnic area at its southeast corner that is still in use today. Wilkinson Reservoir was reconfigured in 1911 and renamed Hiawatha Lake, the landscaped centerpiece of today's Onondaga Park. 

From 1915 to the mid-1950's, Onondaga Park was known for its major flower beds and the entire Lake was used for swimming in the summer and ice-skating in winter. It lost some of its luster in the 1960's and early 70's as the landscaping aged and maintenance costs escalated for the city. A renewed effort to improve and enhance the historic landscape of the Park began in the late 1970's and early 80's. It became a joint public-private effort, with the Onondaga Park Association working together with the city to raise funds and focus volunteer efforts toward the Park. A high point occurred in 1987 when the Syracuse City Council dedicated the entire Park as an official Syracuse Historic Preservation District. It has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places.  Since then, the Park Association has raised over $1M for improvements in the park.

Please support PACNY by becoming a member to create a larger voice for preservation in Central New York. Membership forms will be available.

The member-based Preservation Association of Central New York has been the area’s citizen voice for historic preservation for over 35 years. Founded as a reaction to the widespread neglect and demolition of historic buildings and neighborhoods in the 1960’s, PACNY has led the successful effort to transform our community’s perception and care of its historic resources so that now the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County now have more than a dozen historic districts which contribute to the region’s cultural and economic vitality. For further information about PACNY, see the PACNY website at

For further information on the tour contact Paul Pflanz at 315-424-1297 or

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