Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Syracuse High Points 3: Morningside Heights Park and Reservoir (& Graffiti Gallery)

Syracuse, NY. Luna ascends the hidden steps in Morningside Heights Park. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2017.

Luna at the summit in front of the Morningside Reservoir. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2017.

Syracuse High Points 3: Morningside Heights Park and Reservoir  (& Graffiti Gallery)
by Samuel D. Gruber

 
Luna and I continue to climb to Syracuse Heights on our morning walks. We recently ascended the "Hidden Stairway" to the summit of Morningside Heights Park, these days a nature area and one of the city's most hidden parks.

The recreational area was established in 1938, when the City purchased a piece of land from the adjacent Morningside Cemetery. The park was then named Comfort Tyler Park after the local 18th-century pioneer, and it was developed into a winter sports center. By 1939, the new Park had a toboggan slide, a skiing and coasting hill, and and skating pond (in the south portion of the park). These were all lighted for night use. It is hard to believe today - the area is mostly overgrown as scrub and woods. But there still remains a massive stairway up the hill as evidence to the park's past glory.


Syracuse, NY. Morningside Heights Park. Unmarked entrance on Mornigside Terrace to hidden stairway. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2017.

Syracuse, NY. Morningside Heights Park. Hidden stairway. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2017.

Syracuse, NY. Morningside Heights Park stairway. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2017.

Syracuse, NY. Morningside Heights Park stairway looking down. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2017.

The stair hard to find. It is unmarked - you have to enter through a grass covered empty lot on Morningside Terrace, not far from Lancaster Avenue. A slight left, past some trees and heading towards the hill, and suddenly the lower level of the stair is revealed. Not until turning entirely left and looking up does one grasp the full length of this massive construction. Today, more than 75 years after its construction it remains in excellent condition. But where does this monumental stair go?

Immediately, the stair goes nowhere. At the top there is nothing but vegetation and a beaten path through the woods that quickly takes one to a paved road - the access road for the water towers of the Morningside Reservoir that top the hill.



These massive holding tanks were built in 1940 and still serve the Eastside of the city. They are also, to my mind, one of the two best graffiti galleries in the city. For decades graffiti artists have made the climb here to decorate the tanks - or just to tag them. The show is ever changing. Here's a selection of this summer's offerings:


Syracuse, NY. Morningside Reservoir. Graffiti. Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2017.


Syracuse, NY. Morningside Reservoir. Graffiti. Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2017.


Syracuse, NY. Morningside Reservoir. Graffiti. Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2017.


Syracuse, NY. Morningside Reservoir. Graffiti. Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2017.


Syracuse, NY. Morningside Reservoir. Graffiti. Photo: Samuel Gruber July 2017.

The park is also home to the Morningside Community Garden. The garden has just about 60 plots that local residents use to grow flowers and vegetables. The Garden is open to everyone.