Syracuse Parks Centennial: The history of Lincoln Park

Once known as “Williams Hill,” Lincoln Park was created when the city of Syracuse purchased 20 acres of land east of Teall Avenue, nestled between James Street and Burnet Avenue in 1898.

The 20 acres is dominated by a large hilltop terrain that boasts what one might consider the best view and best kept secret in the greater Syracuse region.

Before the park was created, the area consisted of fifty acres of mountain scenery and included a catholic cemetery. In 1879, L.G. Sherwood constructed a roadway up the hill for people to travel to the top via carriages. That same year, 20 years prior to the city possessing the land, it was written in the Syracuse Journal that: “Its possession by the city would rejoice the hearts of thousands of our citizens, who would there find a place of perfect rest and quiet,” adding that the area contained, “The finest view to be obtained in this locality.”

Since being acquired by the city, the park has been home to various sporting fields, playgrounds and walking trails. Most notably, the park is home to one of the city’s popular in-ground pools.

The first pool at the park was constructed in the early 20th century, quickly becoming a prize feature. Soon after, a recreation house resembling a Japanese pagoda was built next to a small lake, which sat where the current baseball field is.

As the years marched on, the pool began to leak and was difficult to maintain as the pagoda deteriorated and no longer offered the modern amenities needed. In the 1960s, both residents and local politicians grappled with what to do. Some individuals wished for the pool to be replaced, while others felt the land was being wasted and hoped for a complete overhaul.

In 1968, local columnist Mario Rossi wrote that he would rather see the pagoda removed and the hills leveled off and converted into diamonds. Others called for construction of an olympic sized hockey rink, complete with a warming room and a one hundred car parking lot.

In 1972, the city secured a federal grant for park development. Before dedicating the funding to Lincoln Park, the city proposed building a new park nearby on Hawley Avenue. The idea was quickly opposed.

Ultimately, the city officials approved the funding to complete park renovations at Lincoln that included a new pool and bathhouse.

Today the park maintains its historic feel as the old brick paths can still be seen through the grass. The park also includes a baseball field, playground, swing set, tennis court, gazebo, and more.

The Lincoln Park Pool is located at 140 Robinson Street at Sherwood Avenue. It is a 25 yard, six lane outdoor pool. The water depth ranges from 3 feet 6 inches to 12 feet, with a 3 feet 10 inches minimum height requirement at the shoulders for children. The pool also has a children’s spray fountain.

In the summer, the pool is open daily to all ages, from noon to 6:00pm, for no fee.

When you’re there, make sure you check out the unforgettable view.