Onondaga County: The Heart of New York

This permanent exhibit traces the settlement and the formation of Onondaga County, its 19 towns, and the city of Syracuse from its Native American inhabitants through the end of the 20th century and is divided into five sections.

Section one includes early Native American inhabitants and nascent non-Native settlement, agriculture, and the advent of the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County. Section two highlights different modes of transportation, from pedestrian travel, toll roads, the Erie Canal, railroads, the Franklin automobile, and airplanes. Section three features Onondaga County businesses and industries, such as salt, L.C. Smith typewriters, Easy washing machines, the Brannock foot measuring device, Dietz lanterns, Carrier air conditioning, New Process Gear, candles, Syracuse China, and myriad other businesses that created highly recognizable products found around the world. Section four comprises reform movements with women’s suffrage, education, and the temperance movement. Section five encompasses recreation and entertainment, including the NYS Fair, sports, toys, bicycling, movie theaters, music, and famed Onondaga Lake resorts with their amusements. Section six presents communities of people, architecture, and the military. Featured in this section are the traditional and newly arrived ethnic groups that contribute to the social fabric of Onondaga County’s past and present.

This exhibit offers a glimpse into Onondaga County’s rich and significant past while recognizing the efforts of those forming a different present and future.