Sunday, February 1, 2015

Five Things We Like about Syracuse in the winter

Syracuse on a winter's dawn.  Photograph courtesy of Wainwright Photography

Syracuse has a reputation for being snowy.  But when we visited last weekend, there were only flurries and we found the city to be a lively place in mid-winter.  Here’s five things we enjoyed:

Albert Bierstadt's painting Nevada Falls
on display at the Everson Museum
Photo courtesy of the Museum
1.      The  Everson Museum of Art: The Everson in downtown Syracuse was designed by I.M. Pei; it was the first museum he designed, opening in 1968.  According to architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable, Pei's success with the Everson likely won him a subsequent commission to expand the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C.
We went to the Everson intending to linger in its superb collection of American paintings.  And the paintings did not disappoint.  The collection includes Edward Hicks’ The Peaceable Kingdom and a stunning landscape by Albert Bierstadt, Nevada Falls. 

The surprise in this museum is its ceramic collection.  I started into the collection to be a polite guest.  But in just a few steps, I was swept away.  The Everson’s ceramics cover a wide range of human experience.  Many pieces are functional, such as a Sumerian bowl from antiquity or Anasazi pottery.  But lots of other pieces are art for art’s sake, often with a sense of fun.  A recently created set of pieces shows a man shot from a cannon, including the cannon with a cloud of smoke, the flying man and his trampoline.
Scarab Vase, 1911 by Adelaide Alsop Robineau
Porcelain, photograph courtesy of the
 Everson Museum of Art

Self-Sufficiency, by Lois Hennessy, 2002
Bisque clay, watercolor, string, wood and knitting needles
photograph courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art
The Museum staff is informative and friendly.  An added treat was hearing a pianist rehearsing some of Chopin’s music in the Museum’s Hosmer Auditorium.
The Residence Inn at Armory Square is a new hotel
on the north edge of the Armory Square district
2.      The Residence Inn at Armory Square: After leaving the Museum, we found traffic like New York at rush hour.  I had checked Syracuse University’s website, to see if a game was scheduled.  It appeared there wasn’t but I was wrong: Syracuse’s men’s basketball team was playing Miami of Ohio.

Amazingly, the Residence Inn at Armory Square had a reservation when I called them a few days before. 

This new hotel shares a building with a Courtyard.  Rooms are bright, offer a full kitchen and feel roomy.

Staff at this Residence Inn are capable and welcoming.  They offered us a room that was likely to be quiet if there was post game revelry and gave us good information about the Armory Square neighborhood. The complimentary breakfast coffee the next day was hot and strong!

3.      KittyHoynes: Armory Square is a redeveloped neighborhood, whose character is influenced by a treasure trove of historic buildings.  In an old hotel building across the street from the Residence Inn is Kitty Hoynes, an Irish pub.  We had delicious fish and chips and a Reuben, along with perfectly made Manhattans and perfectly poured Guinness pints.  The fish and chips included an aircraft carrier-sized piece of perfectly fried haddock.  The Reuben had a perfect mix of sauerkraut, lean corned beef and melted Swiss cheese.
Kitty Hoynes is in a building that used to house the Crown Hotel
4.      Downtown architecture:  Armory Square is a delightfully walkable.  Beyond Armory Square, downtown Syracuse has much fascinating architecture and history.  For example, the Wesleyan Methodist Church, now housing the Mission Mexican Restaurant, is likely to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. 

Before you hit town, contact Downtown Syracuse or the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and ask for a copy of the pamphlet, Historic Downtown Syracuse Walking Tour.  This full colored publication offers sharp color illustrations of nearly 70 historic buildings.  Each building is keyed to a clear, easy to follow map.

5.      Wegman’s Supermarket: On our way home, we made a pilgrimage to Wegman’s.  It’s certainly a fun place to shop. A current favorite is the nearly oil can-sized can of de-caf coffee.  The store’s mini-chocolate chips and pizza are also appealing.

Since first posting this article, I learned from Nikita Jankowski, at the Syracuse Convention and Visitor's Bureau, that there is a website which lists the high points of each season in Syracuse.  The list can be found at . 

This photograph of ice skating at Clinton Square
shows another fun winter activity in Syracuse and it shows the architectural riches found in down town. 
Photograph courtesy of Wainwright Photography

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