History of the The University Neighborhood
As Syracuse grew from a small crossroads trading town to a bustling business center fed by the Erie Canal and railroads during the 19th century, the area south and east of the city center reaped the rewards of a rather steady and healthy economy, enlightened political and civic leadership, and enterprising professional and worker population.
In the mid-1800’s vast farmlands covered the area. Situated along early travel and trade routes, these agricultural properties were used primarily for orchards and vineyards and included farmhouses, barns, greenhouses, and stables. In 1872 Judge George F. Comstock purchased the 200-acre Stevens Farm, which was east of Oakwood Cemetery and the newly established Syracuse University, and extended from E. Genesee Street south to the Onondaga Town line. From this large property, Comstock donated a small parcel near the juncture of the Cemetery and University for use as a public park, with the balance of this land probably remaining in active agricultural use through leases Comstock had with local farmers.
Southeast of and contiguous to Comstock’s new holdings, and including land up to the Meadow Brook, where farms of various sizes were owned or managed by the Rose, Haffenden, Hooker and Kimber families. Further east, and south of the well-known Bastable and Stanton Farms (that is, south of Croton [Euclid] Avenue, east of Westcott Street) was farmland owned by the O’Brien and Cathers families.