Geneva Tower’s lobby offers history lesson

man in lobby

Anthony Adamitis, office manager, stands with the historic prints recently added to the lobby of Geneva Tower.

Last August, Upstate opened Geneva Tower, a high-rise residence hall for students and medical residents. Located  at the corner of Harrison and Townsend streets in downtown Syracuse, the new residence hall was  once known as Townsend Tower. After a $28 million renovation, the tower was renamed  in honor  of Geneva Medical College, the first home of  the medical school now at Upstate Medical University.

To further honor the history of  Upstate Medical University and the tower’s location, three framed historical prints have been added  to the lobby. Images are from the historical collection at Upstate’s Health Sciences Library, the Onondaga Historical Association and the family of the late renowned photographer, Marjory Wilkins.

The print on the left shows Geneva Medical College, home of the  medical school  from 1834 to 1871. The center piece shows Elizabeth Blackwell MD, the first woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree and an 1849 graduate of the medical school at Geneva, now part of Upstate Medical University. The original portrait of Dr. Blackwell hangs in the Health Sciences Library.

Images of people who once lived in the Geneva Tower neighborhood.

The print on the right is a collage of images showing people who once lived, shopped, worked and worshiped in the neighborhood where Geneva Tower now stands.

The accompanying  text reads:

Geneva Tower rises out of Syracuse’s legendary 15th Ward, a bygone neighborhood that has captured the attention of historians and urban planners alike. In the late 19th century, small businesses and big families thrived on this block. Moses Meyer’s butcher shop and Enos Gallagher’s grocery once stood near where Geneva Tower now stands. Asa Moss’ cigar manufactory, Berman’s delicatessen, a rag and junk dealer, and flower and candy shops were also on this block. Immigrants named Wolf Lavner, Frances Foody and Regina Straus Stolz lived in modest homes on these streets. By the 1940s, this neighborhood had become a mix of African American and Jewish families who frequented businesses like Rifkin’s grocery. Urban renewal of the 1960s changed the 15th Ward into an area populated with large public buildings, including Upstate University Hospital, which opened in 1964, and today is just a short walk or bike ride east for the people who live in Geneva Tower.

Please note: Access to Geneva Tower is limited to those who live or work there.

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About susankeeter

Occasional contributor Upstate’s Susan Keeter has written about and painted Upstate’s Dr. Sarah Loguen, one of the first African American women physicians. Keeter created the horse sculpture in front of the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and illustrated a children’s book on autism, “Waiting for Benjamin.” She’s written for Physician Practice, Upstate Alumni Journal, Cancer Care and Upstate Health magazines. Reach her by email at keeters@upstate.edu or by phone at 315-464-4834.
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