Today in History: Syracuse Celebrates the First Earth Day

Earth Day, Syracuse, 1970 (photo credit Kath Buffington)

On this day in 1970, Syracuse celebrated the first Earth Day with the “Sludge Trudge” by Syracuse Area Committee on Environmental Quality. The trudge began at MONY Plaza and proceeded to Clinton Square. Associate Professor at University of Cincinnati, David Stradling’s book, The Nature of New York: An Environmental History of the Empire State, outlines the events that took place that day.

“Roughly five hundred people participated, marching through downtown and demonstrating their concern for the environment. At the event, Mayor Lee Alexander offered his analysis of how cars were ruining the city with air pollution, parking problems, and traffic. Elsewhere in the city, Students for a Livable Environment, a Syracuse University organization, led boat tours around Onondaga Lake, Pointing out sources of pollution.”

Of those 500 people, Kath Buffington of Rochester, now retired, attended the New York State College of Forestry in 1969-70 and earned a master’s degree from SUNY ESF in 1978, talks about her experiences on that day in this article. 

(Photo Credit Kath Buffington).

To read more about Syracuse’s first Earth day, head to