Syracuse’s Historic Brewing Legacy

Project Summary

The Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) is dedicated to exploring, communicating, and celebrating Onondaga County’s rich cultural history. Partnering with OHA, students in the Spring 2015 Community Geography course developed creative materials that narrate Syracuse’s historical ties to beer brewing and hops production. Syracuse was once a major producer of beer, benefiting from its proximity to Central New York hops cultivation. From the 1850s up until national Prohibition in the 1920s, breweries and brew pubs dotted the urban landscape along the Erie Canal. Through archival research and digital composite photography, Community Geography students created a “story map” that connects the landscapes of modern Syracuse to its industrial past, bringing to life the German brewers, “hop digs,” beer advertising, technological advancements, temperance tensions, and brewery architecture of the late 19th and early 20th century. In light of the re-emergence of breweries and hops growing in Syracuse and Central New York, OHA will use the project’s materials to showcase Syracuse’s historical significance in beer making.