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Bogardus Corner?!

Our kids take us on journeys we do not expect or plan, including to a place called Bogardus Corner.

Let's start with Syracuse.

Being associated with Syracuse was never in the cards for us, but here we are, looking at a nine-year relationship with the city. When Josh came to medical school here, I didn't invest time in learning the history of the city thinking he will move on. Now that he will be here for five more years, it's get-to-know-you-better time.

Queen Anne style Victorian architecture abounds in the city. A bright and sunny day coupled with a vibrant sky made a perfect backdrop for pictures of old buildings in downtown Syracuse.

Syracuse, incorporated in 1825, sits on land claimed from the Onondaga Nation. For this reason, the city, the surroundings, and the lakes have names rooted in the Iroquois tradition. Onondaga means "keepers of the Central Fire" and it is the capital of Haudenosaunee people.

Keeping the central fire has special meaning for us because it is aligned with the great Vedic tradition of fire being the eternal witness.

Syracuse has undergone several name changes since the Jesuits made their way here in the 1600s - Salt Point, Webster's Landing, Bogardus Corner, Milan, South Salina, Crossit's Corner, and Corinth. The nearby village of Salina and the salt industry give it the tinge of Syracuse in Italy after which the city was eventually named.

Needless to say, I prefer Syracuse over Bogardus Corner, which frankly...sounds weird.

The Jesuits traded brine which was mined in the salt lake later known as Onondaga Lake. It is from this lake that the city derives its monikers - "The City That Salt Built" and "Salt City". Syracuse’s growth did not just depend on salt. Over time, it became a major manufacturing and transportation hub.

In 1825, the opening of the Erie Canal connected Onondaga Lake and Lake Erie and this precipitated explosive growth. The farmers in the area rapidly switched from wheat production to pork farming which required salt for curing. Sadly, the trajectory of the salt industry coincided with increased pollution. A process to create soda ash using salt resulted in Onondaga Lake becoming the most polluted lake in the nation! The process to clean up the lake continues to this day.

During the civil war, Syracuse became an important depot of the underground railroad. Locals from the anti-slavery Liberty Party and others sparred frequently and this conflict resulted in the historic rescue of a slave named William Henry ("Jerry") in an event known as "Jerry's Rescue".

In the latter half of the 1800s and most of the 1900s, Syracuse witnessed the rise of industries related to automotive, air-conditioning, custom machining, and education. It was home to the Carrier Corporation, General Electric, General Motors among other corporate powerhouses. It continues to be the home of Syracuse University, President Biden's alma mater.

Geneva Medical College was founded here in 1834 and then it became part of Syracuse University. When the State of NY took it over, it was rechristened as SUNY Upstate Medical University, Josh's alma mater and now his home for the next five years as he trains to be an otolaryngologist.

In the 1970s, Syracuse was impacted by the departure of major corporations in favor of more cost-effective manufacturing locations. This led to an exodus and economic decline seen in many cities across the manufacturing belt. Now the city is finding its legs and is home to several hospitals and universities and numerous breweries, wineries, restaurants, and tourist activities related to the gorgeous Finger Lakes region.

Right before the pandemic hit, Syracuse was growing faster than other New York metros in the upstate area, with a growth rate twice that of the state. I have no doubt that the pandemic has caused a setback to the city, just as it has impacted many other cities across this region and the nation.

Between the influence of the Onondaga, brews of all kinds, and enviable summer weather, Josh has much to look forward to in the next five years.

(Yes, I Insist on ignoring the devil called winter that dumps ten feet of snow each season.)

I am glad Josh is here. His contribution as a doctor in this region which is recovering from the downturn of past decades is going to be more meaningful than life in a more thriving, bustling economy.

Plus, the view from his home ain't bad at all!



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