I’ve lived in the Syracuse area for 36 years, and I have to say that the Armory Square area hasn’t always been, well, nice. As a matter of fact, for decades it was pretty barren, although I’ve always wondered if it was more than what it was by the time I saw it.

I used to work in the Armory Square area, a company called Onondaga Music Co on Clinton Street. The building is still there but the business is long gone. I’m not even sure who owns it now, but the family that owned Onondaga Music also owned the building when I was there.

It was really sparse back then. The Jefferson-Clinton Hotel, for which I can’t remember what it used to be known as, was a dive. However, in the early 80’s their little restaurant served a mean chili. And along Clinton Street there was this little Greek place that served some great salads. Even though I’m not a salad guy, when they put all that meat on it that made for a pretty nice lunch.

When I started working at the store the only other businesses in the building were the sheet music on the 3rd floor, which was strange since we also sold sheet music, and at the other corner behind us was what we used to call the “dirty book store”. However, they were close and they also sold candy bars, and I used to enjoy candy bars a lot.

The only other things I remember back then is that next to our building was this super large parking lot that charged you for parking, but luckily I had a prime spot behind the store. Months before I left a natural foods bakery moved in next to the dirty book store, which soon closed, and the stuff they made smelled wonderful, but I didn’t like it. I don’t remember much else there back then.

Fast forward to today. As you can see in the pictures, there’s been great renovation in Armory Square, to the point where other communities across the country have actually written about it, saying it’s what their cities need. As far as downtown revitalization goes, in one way this is what it’s all about. And one really can’t complain about parking because now there’s this large parking garage that will charge you $5 to park 3 hours 24/7; that’s really not bad when you consider it costs you $5 to park at Crouse Hospital for 30 minutes. A couple of these pictures I took from the garage. One of these buildings isn’t technically in Armory Square, but it didn’t use to be there so I had to put in here.

What a Bohemian area. Beer joints, restaurants, bars, all kinds of shops… it all used to be empty space. One of these shots is of the building on Fayette that’s on the fringe of Armory Square, where my dentist’s office and an office supply shop and a lot of empty space used to be, and now it looks all clean and spiffy and has actual retail inside. I keep wondering if there’s going to be condo’s in there someday, as I’ve heard there’s going to be above some of the shops in Armory Square.

And of course Armory Square now has The MOST (Museum of Science and Technology); man, I wish that had been there years ago.

When you have a place like Armory Square, a place where you’re hard pressed to find on-street parking because there’s just way too many people, yet everything’s within a very short walk, and one of the top restaurants in town in a place like Pastabilities, you know you’ve got something of quality. I need to one day just spend some time in this area to really look around, as it always seems I’m on my way somewhere and thus rarely stop to take it all in.

And yet I’m still amazed at the changes; sometimes all I can say is “wow”.
 

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