Near Westside, Syracuse

Near Westside, Syracuse
Near Westside
Alternative name: (none)

Population (2000) 8,431
Median age male 24.8 - female 27.3
Median household income $17,417
ZIP codes 13202, 13204

The Near Westside is one of the oldest Syracuse neighborhoods. In the early 1900s there were many wealthy families, including the Mayor of Syracuse, living along West Onondaga Street in many very large homes. A beautiful fountain with many statues was located at Onondaga Circle, the junction of West Onondaga Street and Delaware Street. Streets like Delaware Street were lined with large elm trees and stately homes.



Onondaga Street c.1910

The Near Westside neighborhood is bounded by Erie Boulevard on the north, Bellevue Avenue on the south, South Geddes Street on the west and Midland Avenue on the east.

Early settlers

In 1850, the district south of West Fayette Street and west of Oswego Street to Tully and Geddes streets, at that time farmland, was known as The Patch for the patchwork of farms that were scattered over the landscape. The patchwork grew large and soon spread over the whole territory, however, the neighborhood in the Near Westside never outgrew the name for many years.[1]


Along the western border of the neighborhood, there were a multitude of factories that employed local residents such as Franklin Automobile Company, which produced luxury air cooled cars from 1904 to 1934 and Lipe-Rollway Company, a manufacturer of gears. The main hub of industry started at South Geddes Street, not far from where the George Fowler High School and City Hardware of Calley's United Appliance reside today. Additionally, at the turn of the 19th century, there were typewriter factories, machinery factories and a large railroad yard along West Fayette Street that provided jobs to the residents of the neighborhood.


Irish families who settled in the neighborhood were attracted to St. Lucy's Catholic Church.

Catholic parish

In August, 1872, a committee from the parishes of St. John the Evangelist and St. Mary's Church called on the Rt. Rev. John J. Conroy, bishop of Albany, New York and secured his consent to form a new parish west of Onondaga Creek.[2]

The committee consisted of John J. Lynch, Francis Connelly, Lawrence Ryan, Hugh A. Duffy, Thomas F. Delany, Charles McFall, Nicholas Joy, Patrick Slattery, William Michels, Thomas Kendricks, John Heimick and Francis Murphy. They were authorized to begin the work of organization and proceeded to purchase land and contracted Patrick Cummins to build the church.[2]

The Rev. John J. Kennedy (born September 4, 1844) was the first pastor of the new church. He was sent there in September, 1872 and chose the name for the church after, St. Lucy, the virgin martyr of Syracuse, Sicily. The church was designed by famous Syracuse architect, Archimedes Russell.

The first trustees of the church were Rt. Rev. John J. Conroy, Rt. Rev. Francis McNierney, Rev. John J. Kennedy, Francis Connelly and John Heimick. Later, John C. Keefe and Patrick Halloran were added to the list.[2]

Rev. Kennedy celebrated the first mass of St. Lucy parish on Sunday, September 17, 1872 in the "first store of the Cook block on the west bank of the Onondaga Creek in Gifford Street. The growth of the congregation soon necessitated the use of the second floor of the same building for a chapel.[2]

The cornerstone of the church was laid in June, 1873 and the first mass in the church was celebrated in the basement of the unfinished structure on November 1, 1873. The church was completed two years later and the first mass was celebrated on December 25, 1875. At that time, the parish consisted of about 230 families, mostly of Irish birth and descent.[2]

The pastoral residence, a brick structure, was erected after the church was completed.[2]

On Labor Day, 1998, a devastating storm swept through Central New York and severe wind gusts knocked St. Lucy's Catholic Church main spire, over 80 feet in height, onto the street. The 4,000 pound bronze bell crashed through the sanctuary roof, through the main floor to the basement below. The church was stabilized and partily reconstructed, minus the felled steeple.[2][2]

Catholic school

Onondaga Circle on West Onondaga Ave. c.1910

St. Lucy's Academy was constructed in 1892 on the east side of St. Lucy's Catholic Church. The building was three-stories high and "furnished in accordance with the modern requirements." The school had a large assembly hall on the third floor.[2]

When the school opened, it had 150 students in "all grades of the grammar and High school courses." By 1904, daily attendance had grown to 425.[2]

Later, property was acquired east of the church for the convent. By 1904, the property owned by the parish was the most valuable in the diocese of Syracuse, however, in 2000, the school was located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.[2]

Recent years

Today, the Near Westside is home to Syracuse's growing Latino community with high numbers of Puerto Rican and Cuban families. St Lucy's Catholic Church continues to serve the area and its growing Latino population, offering services for immigrants and refugees at the West Side Learning Center,[3] as well as hosting events such as Latino Town Hall meetings at the St Lucy's Auditorium.[4]

The area is described as one of America's poorest neighborhoods by United Way of Central New York,[5] with high levels of child poverty.[6] Fowler High School, located on the western end of the neighborhood, has experienced a high percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch among other topics of concern within the community. The area is also served by many non-profit organizations. Several organizations based in this neighborhood provide services for the Latino community, such as the Spanish Action League and Syracuse Area Latinos United against Disparities (SALUD) Inc.



  1. ^ "Every Section of Syracuse Has Its Name". The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York). June 2, 1901. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "History of St. Lucy's Parish". Syracuse Journal (Syracuse, New York). December 12, 1904. 
  3. ^ We welcomed 70 new American citizens Thursday - Metro Voices on
  4. ^ Latino Town Hall Meeting
  5. ^ United Way of CNY
  6. ^ Howie Hawkins Poverty in Syracuse

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