The Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad Station was built in 1941.  Architect Frederick B. O’Connor’s modern, streamlined design was symbolic of speed and transportation.  Constructed with a polished granite base, buff colored brick and limestone trim, the building was touted as “completely fireproof.”  Trains ran on elevated tracks behind the building that were built in the 1930s when new regulations prohibited rail lines from running at street level through the city.  The Station served passengers until 1958.  The front extension was added around 1961. 

Early trains in the streets of Syracuse

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Syracuse had trains running across and along its downtown streets as early as 1839.  One line became part of the great New York Central system.  A second railroad, the Delaware, Lackawanna, & Western or DL&W, snaked along the west side of downtown. 

A Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western train on the streets of Syracuse

By the 1920s, there were dozens of passenger trains, night and day, making their way through downtown at street level.  This proved a great inconvenience and both lines were eventually elevated by 1940.  But prior to that, street level trains gave Syracuse an infamous reputation.

A train on Washington Street

One businessman, traveling on a railroad overnighter, had retired to his room in the sleeping car.  As he was getting undressed, before getting into bed, he thought he would open the window shade, just to see how far he had traveled before going to sleep.  He was somewhat shocked, as he stood there in his underwear, to see dozens of faces staring back at him from the windows of a passing city streetcar.  But he immediately knew just where he was – the train was slowly traveling through downtown Syracuse, its tracks at that moment, paralleling those of a local trolley line.

An electric street car in Syracuse