Syracuse (pop. approx. 145,000; metro 660,000) is the county seat of Onondaga County. From its founding until after the Civil War, the city’s economy centered on commercial salt production. Even its name (adopted 1847) honored Syracuse, Sicily, also famed for salt. The Erie Canal bisected the city center, fueling both growth and social ferment.
19th-century Syracuse was a hotbed of radical reform. Abolitionists defied the Fugitive Slave Law; freethought and woman’s rights advocates called the city home; Robert Green Ingersoll, Mark Twain, and others declaimed from area stages. Syracuse is also the birthplace of Oz author (and freethinker) L. Frank Baum.