In my last post, I introduced the topic of labeling city districts and how that solidifies identity and pride within a community.
Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow with the Urban Land Institute said, according to the article on alabama.com, that splintering a city to create more districts is actually a smart move that fits the idea of mass customization and taking competitive advantage over other areas.
“The creation of districts turns the focus inward to what exists versus the external focus on what is missing,” said McMahan to alabama.com. He said economic development today is about asset-based economic development. We must play up our strengths.
So in Syracuse…what do we have? What are our strengths?
The City of Syracuse website names eight distinct districts in town. In downtown we have Hanover Square, Armory Square, Columbus Circle and the soon-to-be entertainment and business district on Salina Street with the completion of the City Center.
In the Near Westside are the Salt District and Tipperary Hill. The Southside houses the Greater Strathmore neighborhood. University Hill and the Westcott Nation make up some of the Eastside. In the Northside there is Sedgewick, Hawley-Green and Lincoln Hill to name a few. Eastwood, Lakefront and the Valley also form other Syracuse districts.
Let’s take just one of these districts – Little Italy in the Northside. NorthsideUp Program Director Jonathan Logan says that the Northside’s “Little Italy” identity allows residents and business owners to capitalize on their history and market their neighborhood as a cultural district.
“We’re a diverse neighborhood serving many immigrants and refugees in the Syracuse area,” he said. “But our roots are Italian and we’ve marketed our restaurants and businesses to boost moral and bring people in interested in our identity.”
Many restaurants and bakeries in the area speak to this Italian cultural history like Francesca’s Cucina, Frankie’s Piccolo Bistro, Di Lauro’s Bakery and Pizza, Attilio’s, Nino’s and Biscotti Cafe and Gelateria.
Little Italy is now also considered the “gateway to many nations,” not only serving a community of Italians, but of many different multi-national cultures. The food-scope easily shows this as well with vietnamese, african and middle eastern cuisine.
Logan and his team at NorthsideUP joke that you could “quite literally eat your way from one end to the other on the Northside.”
Why not start with a big blend of cultures in Little Italy?
In the next post, we’ll focus on another part of the Northside’s unique mixed-identity with the Hawley-Green district.
The Northside is comprised of many subsectors like Little Italy and HG. It hosts the regional farmer’s market and is home to St. Joseph’s Hospital, the iconic Flat Iron building, the Franciscan Church of the Assumption and Schiller Park. Little Italy’s main street, North Salina, is listed on the National Register of Historic Districts.