Armory Square traces its beginnings to 1804 when Abraham Walton purchased a 50-acre plot that became known as the “Walton Tract.” The area’s proximity to the Erie Canal and major rail lines made it an ideal location for industrial operations. Most of the neighborhood’s historic buildings were constructed between 1860 and 1890 as factories and warehouses. At the turn of the century, the area was densely built up and bustling with activity. There were more than 20 hotels in the neighborhood. With the closing of the Erie Canal in 1917 and the decline of the railroads in the 1930s, businesses relocated or ceased operation and the area also declined. Between 1940 and 1960, many buildings were vacated and left to deteriorate, others were torn down. A decade later, with national emphasis on revitalizing the urban environment, the rebirth of Armory Square began. Today, Armory Square has blossomed into one of Upstate New York’s brightest examples of urban renaissance.
Buildings currently located in the Armory Square area
Illustration of part of Amory Square
From its modest beginnings, Armory Square played an important part in the city’s industrial life, starting with a millpond and later solar salt-evaporation vats covering most of the area. Soon the millpond and swamp were filled in, and the first armory, home of the Fifty-first Regiment, was built.
The Armory Square area in 1867
Stables lined the streets. When the railroads came to down, two railroad companies built their terminals here. With these came hotels, boardinghouses, flophouses, shops, warehouses, factories, and people, as well as the many fires that destroyed and damaged buildings. In the 1930s when the railroads were removed from the streets of Syracuse, many of Armory Square’s activities were removed as well. Buildings began to deteriorate and crumble, and people left.
NYC Railroad Station
DL&W Railroad Station
There were those who saw beyond the crumbling buildings, and starting in the 1970’s buildings in Armory Square began to be renovated into retail, offices, studios, apartments, and restaurants.