Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘connections’. Syracuse has so much to offer, but the many points of interest don’t feel connected to one another. There are so many “connections” you can make between everything in Syracuse, so how do you get there?
There are some barriers that we need to overcome first; whether it’s a highway or a rundown corridor that looks scary, those elements separate the venues. Syracuse has many wonderful things, but most of them lack good attractive connections to one another. For example, Destiny USA, the Gifford Zoo, Historic Downtown, the Inner Harbor, Syracuse University, and all the beautiful and unique neighborhoods throughout the city are all great places to visit, but they aren’t necessarily connected the way an urban environment would be to serve drawing people from one venue to another.
This can make the difference between having a weeklong vacation city rather than just a day or weekend city. The mall alone can’t achieve this, neither can any of the other points of interest individually, but together with good connections,I think we can make that happen. This type of interconnected marketing occurs all the time by many organizations, attractions, universities, and small to large businesses that compliment and promote each other and provide welcoming, good, safe, walkable, and interesting connections from one to another. This is something called “Place Making”. To illustrate how this works, think about when you go to the mall, you don’t say “I went to Taco Bell and then left there to go to Foot Locker”, you say that you just “went to the mall”. When you go to Armory Square you don’t say “I went to Mr. Shop and then left there to go to The Blue Tusk”, you say that you just “went to Armory Square”. Place Making is the idea that you’ve “arrived” at a destination, but what makes the arrival feasible is how well the “connections” between different places are that determines how accessible each “Place” is. Place Making is about defining the place you are going to, which can be the size of an Armory Square, a Destiny USA mall, or the size of an entire city. The “connections” are the means to keep your interest while going between the places.
Destiny USA for example is going to have many things that Downtown Syracuse cannot offer, but likewise, Destiny cannot claim 150 years’ worth of history and a certain quality of urban character. Done correctly the two can complement each other and do better together than they ever could alone. Assuming I’m from out of town, I want to be able to check in at The Hotel Syracuse, see something at the Civic Center, then at some point wonder through Armory Square for lunch, hop on a kayak that I rent from someone near the Serpent public art sculpture on Onondaga Creek and head down to all the new stuff at the Inner Harbor. I’d then like to bike from there over to the mall for some shopping, entertainment, and maybe grab a bite to eat, and then get on the passenger train so I can get dropped back off at the downtown station. Over the next few days, I wouldn’t mind catching a game up at SU, check out the upside down stoplight in Tipp Hill and have lunch at Coleman’s, visit some artisan studios, shops, and unique businesses in the Salt District and Westcott area, see a concert at the new amphitheater on Onondaga Lake, check out North Salina’s awesome business district, go on some historic property tours of the city, visit the farmers market, the MOST, experience some of the great local music scene and public art such as street performances and interactive pieces around the city, local theaters, the museums, and a bunch of other sites of interest. If I’m alone, with friends, or my wife and kids, I’m sure all of the above would have a really great time.
All while as I’m wandering around Syracuse marveling at what an amazing city this is, I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in a “place” like this. Actually……. I might look into that too!
A few days later I’m home and remember that I have to leave home to go to Target, then leave there to go to Walmart, then on to Price Chopper on the way back home………