Nestled in a triangle between Lodi Street, James Street, and Burnet Avenue, the Hawley-Green Historic District houses some of the earliest — and finest — residential Victorian architecture is Syracuse. This is a real neighborhood with a strong sense of community where you can walk to shops, markets, services, and amenities… the way we used to. Our first homeowners came to the area in the 1840s. They were silversmiths, wagon makers, and carpenters. They were musicians and sculptors and painters. In the 1850s the Erie Canal turned Central New York into a hub of activity and Syracuse into a boomtown. Located astride the commercially prominent Canal, Hawley-Green was considered a desirable place to live. As upper-class types began to replace the craftspeople and artists many of the original structures were replaced by gracious Second Empire, Queen Anne, and Stick Style homes. The doctors, lawyers, dentists, politicians, and preachers who built these houses were attracted by the area’s proximity to downtown, a virtue that was vastly increased by the arrival of the streetcar in the late 1800s. Central location (minutes to downtown, a scant mile to Syracuse University) is a key factor in The District’s current resurgence.
By World War II the area was a comfortable, safe working-to-middle-class neighborhood peopled by the children of Italian, German, and Greek immigrants. Twenty years later white flight to the suburbs had taken its toll and this once grand enclave became host to a laundry list of urban woes. Yet even in the worst of times the neighborhood continued to attract creative types and urban dwellers. Several attempts at revival brought substantial investment but repeated disappointment; the District became mired in unfulfilled promise. Today the area is undergoing a remarkable resurgence. Young professionals, gay people, creative types, and savvy retirees along with varied ethnic groups are breathing new life into old Hawley-Green. Drawn by architectural significance and urban convenience, these newcomers are revitalizing the area through unprecedented investment, restoration, activism, beautification, and improvement. Trendy, diverse, and economically vibrant, Hawley-Green has never looked better or been livelier. Welcome to the District!
The District is a “walking” neighborhood and a pleasant stroll is the best way to take in its charms. Our porches and doorsteps nurture community. Gardens of all sizes adorn and enchant. The romance of the past is everywhere. Architectural details define our houses. Hitching posts stand near stone steps that long ago helped passengers board horse-drawn carriages. Stained glass sparkles by lamplight. Carved porch posts cast shadows in the sunshine. Victorians painted in multiple hues have become icons. These homes are “Painted Ladies,” named after the colorist fad that swept San Francisco in the 1960s.
The housing stock in Hawley-Green is predominantly Victorian, yet fetchingly eclectic. Green Street, the main residential artery, is lined with flowering fruit trees and beautifully restored 19th-century mansions. Row houses, a rarity in Syracuse, are a neighborhood staple, best seen on Howard Street, on Hawley Avenue, and Catherine. An Art Deco apartment house crowns the Five Corners where Hawley, Catherine, and Green cross. Hi-rises on James Street provide a modern city backdrop for our Victorian homes.
Hawley-Green is a neighborhood borne of local history. No better example survives than 204-206 Catherine Street, the only homes owned before the Civil War by African-Americans in Syracuse. First purchased by Mary, a laundress from Schenectady, these modest wooden structures retain their original architectural integrity.
Commerce thrives in Hawley-Green where new venues opened by local craftsmen and entrepreneurs complement established restaurants, shops, and businesses. External economic development on the rim of the area, including Syracuse University’s Center of Excellence, offers profound opportunity. This is an area defined by glorious contradictions. Centrally located yet secluded, one discovers The District with delight as the Victorian buildings pop into view, clustered in cozy proximity. Here enclaves of commerce offset tranquil residential streets. Here forgotten architectural gems wait for new owners to restore lost luster. Here, finally, is a historic district for the 21st century.
We're having a wonderful Renaissance! Wish you were here!