Encircled by buzzing freeways, bordered by a snake of a creek, and divided by a warren of one-way streets, Armory Square serves as Syracuse’s artistic epicenter. In winter, men in burly jackets and women in short skirts and tall heels brave the blustery cold as they bustle from restaurant to bar to club. And in spring and summer, citizens and students welcome the return of sun and linger at outdoor café tables or attend the series of food, music, and art festivals that arrive at Armory Square.
Recognized as a National Historic District, the area began in 1804 as a manufacturing hub thanks to its proximity to the Erie Canal and railroad lines. The many historic buildings attest to the area’s beginning; most were constructed as factories and warehouses between 1860 and 1890. At the turn of the century, the Jefferson Street Armory, which gives the district its name, was constructed to hold a cavalry and infantry. But by the 1940s, the decline of the railroads prompted most of the areas hotels and industries to relocate or close.
The urban revitalization movement of the 1970s and ‘80s assisted Armory Square’s rebirth. Today it attracts those looking for interesting eats, hip clubs and bars, unique shops, and artistic experiences — all housed in brick behemoths that hold 200 years of stories. For those curious about this vibrant, quirky, cultural area, Armory Squared provides the necessary information to navigate the streets (and find an elusive parking spot), pick a spot to eat, dance, and drink, and find the outdoor sculpture that speaks back to you. Tap through all the area offers — from a man who builds wonders out of toothpicks to a cultish hair salon, a creative window artist, a legendary red sauce, an outdoor art tour, and a bar that features a mechanical bull — and use this app to plan a perfect day at Syracuse’s Armory Square.