Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tipperary Hill

Like most cities, Syracuse, NY had many ethnic neighborhoods. Over time most of these neighborhoods have lost their ethnic identity but the Irish flag still flies in the neighborhood of Tipperary Hill. I grew up not far from Tipperary Hill and it's famous traffic light.
I don't know of any other traffic light where the green light is at the top and the red at the bottom. The story of the light has been passed down through the generations and is generally known by anyone from Syracuse.

Back in the mid 1920's, when the city first began installing electric traffic lights, a light was placed at the corner of Tompkins St and Milton Ave. It had the accepted light arrangement of red at the top, yellow in the center and green at the bottom. Some of the local youths associated the color red with the British and were unwilling to have the red over the Irish green. They'd knock out the red lights with stones and the city would come and replace them. As soon as the light was repaired they'd vandalize it again and the city would have to repair it again. Eventually the city gave up and changed the light so that the green was on the top.

The light has remained this way ever since. In the late 1990's the
Tipperary Hill Memorial Park was created at one corner.
Cead Mile Failte - 100,000 Welcomes!

Bricks were sold and inscribed with the donors names.
If you click on the picture to enlarge it you will see many non Irish names.
On Tipperary Hill everyone is Irish!

The Stone Throwers monument was erected depicting a family in the 1930's,
where the father is telling the story of the light to his children.
Was he one of the stone throwers?

From the back of the monument you can see they are facing the light.

And if you look closely at this picture you can see
that the son has a slingshot in his back pocket.

This was written for the 1st edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, Irish Stories. All of the pictures were taken on Nov. 13, 2007.


Patricia Marie said...

Thanks for some truly great information. I enjoyed reading the post along with the links you made available.

Janice said...


I've never heard of this happening anywhere else... a very intriguing story!


Marie Lamb said...

Thank you! I am Irish-American and from this area, and my mom lived on Tipp Hill for a while. I was looking for an explanation about the traffic light and the Stone Throwers for someone new to this area, and this was just what I needed. The pictures add a lot to it, too! ♣♣