The 7 Horrors of…

It’s never a good time for a post about horrors. Especially not springtime. However, I had wanted to do an inversion of this past popular post, The 7 Wonders of…, for some time but had never gotten around to it. Halloween would have been maybe too facetious a date for it — any responses might have been only jokey and not thoughtful.

The original post was about what you would list as Syracuse’s (or Onondaga County’s, or Upstate’s) Seven Wonders. Horror being the opposite of wonder — and maybe somehow inseparable from it — now I turn the question upside down, and ask about your list of monumentally awful and wrong things about the land where you live. Maybe these could be physical places like that huge tire dump in Oneida County they haven’t cleaned up yet… or a particular blighted neighborhood. Or an unpleasant place in the natural world where you don’t enjoy being. Or they could be certain unresolved injustices or particular manifestations of official dysfunction. As with the Seven Wonders list… the more particular the list, the better (or worse, I guess)… What would you include?

13 thoughts on “The 7 Horrors of…

  1. Josh

    The MDA, Irwin Davis, Bragman and all the quasi-public, private entities that take public money, run it through the tree-house blackbox, and fund either private desires or bank accounts.

    The stadium, the regional transportation center, you name it…it all starts with public money and ends up with a frustrated, deteriorating community, ripe and ready for the likes of Richard Florida.

  2. KAZ

    The spots where our imagined views of Appalachia abut reality–Buffalo Hill or parts of Harford Road in Caroline, the many places in upstate where children still have rickets, live with no running water and dirt floors, and fall through the cracks of our social services system because they’re not as visible as the urban poor.

  3. Phil

    In no particular order: the city’s 1,200 vacant houses, the corner of Fayette and Salina downtown–the bus “common Center”, Carousel Center, Shoppingtown Mall, Erie Blvd. East, Rt. 31 commercial drag, all the 1970’s facades on downtown buildings.

  4. Josh

    I don’t mind the bus “common Center”. It is a more sustainable transportation system than the Cuse Car company we as taxpayers just gave $150,000 to for “marketing” and proving its “sustainability” credentials.

    That “common Center” is one of the few places in Syracuse that, for a second, reminds me of NYC or other urban area. A mass of local humanity using public transit (gasp…because it doesn’t look like a Creative Corridor?!), doing its business locally, without high technology or MDA grants.

    If only our leaders would just let us be (and our pocketbooks), we’d be far, far, far better off.

  5. Ellen

    KAZ, thanks for bringing up the rural poor who fall through the cracks. I don’t know why they get attention in “the real Appalachia” but not here. (Where is Buffalo Hill?)

    One thing I read about over the past few years that I would include as one of NY’s “7 Horrors” would be the depradations of rogue town justices. That NY Times series was an eye-opener. How could such feudal “justice” be going on here?

    The Finger Lakes are a wonder, but historically, the Sullivan Expedition was a horror (and the subsequent starvation, and its cultural and legal aftermath).

    Marcellus Shale hydrofracking – an ongoing horror as we speak?

    I guess until recently I would have included the Rockefeller drug laws but maybe times are changing…

    As for Syracuse itself, Onondaga Lake pollution, of course. A place that I think illustrates the intimate connection between wonder and horror. Though it’s hard to use the word “horror” for these things because I think we have become so dulled to it.

  6. Phil


    Before my current job required me to have a car, I was totally mass transit dependent. For six years I commuted to James St. from Westcott to go to work. This meant I spent an inordinate amount of time at Common Center. It sucks. No, not because it doesn’t have “Connective Corridor” amenities. It sucks because it has no amenities whatsoever. It is filthy. Not just dirty, but public health violation level filth. Bus riders are at the mercy of the weather, often waiting up to an hour for the next bus line up if you happen to be going at non-commute times. Until recently, there wasn’t even any place to sit. Try figuring out the transit map–posted in micro-type on only one of the four corners. Bus routes are a matter of urban legend and oral tradition. Even the freakin’ clock they put in broke after a month–never to be fixed.

    Common Center sucks–and it sucks the worst for the riders taking mass transit. Don’t get me started on the hub and spoke model of transit that dooms southsiders to make an hour long journey to the S.U. hill on the bus–even though they can see the freakin’ place in the distance from in front of their homes.

    If you’d ever been reliant on this ghastly system, you would realize how parochial and condescending your statement about how the system doesn’t need high technology or MDA grants. THEY CAN’T EVEN GET THE FREAKIN’ CLOCK TO WORK!!!!

  7. syrmatthew

    Seven Horrors of Syracuse:

    7. Apathy

    6. Sidewalks in disrepair

    5. Sidewalks not cleared of snow

    4. Decrepit city parks

    3. Crime

    2. Lack of dedicated Bicycle Paths

    1. Litter

    – – –

  8. mary

    Take a counting tour of seven+ sites of horror:

    Take Rt 81 to Whitney Point

    Make a right turn at exit
    Rt 79N Lisle —
    1. count the abandoned houses
    2. count the outdoor wood burners within close distance of a neighbor
    3. count the number of port a potties on main street (bet you can’t!)

    Turn around and go south

    Rt 79S
    1. Notice the large gravel pit in the middle of the scenic river. This was what the former farmers did when their farm was no longer worth farming. It would be easy to count the number of working farms in the county. (40 est)

    Rt 79 chenango forks
    1. count the number of abandoned houses
    2. count the number of abandoned businesses
    3. count the number of cars in front of the main business — the bar

    make a right turn on Rt 12S/Upper Front Street, Binghamton
    1. count the number of parking lots
    2. count the number of signs
    3. count the number of people walking on the newer sidewalks.

    Make a left on main, changing to Court St, Binghamton
    1. count the number of historical buildings in disrepair
    2. count the number of empty lots that were once historical buildings
    3. count the number of empty stores
    4. count the number of people that appear to be shopping

    And don’t forget to tour Johnson City and Endicott — see the former EJ Shoe Company buildings, the former IBM factory buildings and the parks they created — CFJ Park (soon to be walmart) and the IBM Country Club (an assortment of town houses, catering center and private golf course , and unused buildings)

    Anyone want to come along?

  9. joebass123

    my 7 horrors are…

    7) there is no mets (or chiefs) bar in central new york. actually, there is no mets or chiefs anything. anywhere.

    6) the lack of an original and vibrant music scene

    5) terrible general maintenance of civic infrastructure and streets (litter, potholes, sidewalks, lights)

    4) i-81 and 690 obtrusively running through the city limits

    3) the urban vs suburban separation (with its race, crime, social, and class undertones)

    2) no accountability or learning from bad urban planning mistakes (is this too much to ask?)

    1) wait for it… no pedestrian-friendly, downtown baseball stadium

  10. KAZ

    Ellen–Professor Gossa Tsegaye of Ithaca College did a documentary called “Dream Street on Buffalo Hill” about that neighborhood and its people on upper Buffalo Road in the Town of Caroline. Sadly, it’s not exactly a Netflix choice, so it’s hard to find, but it’s a pretty good explanation of what happens in our tiny upstate towns when new people move in with a regulatory bent (only 2 busted vehicles per lawn, hunting only in season, noise variances, etc.) and face the products of generational poverty with a libertarian streak. The history of the place (which may be mythical) has to do with Ezra Cornell’s giving land to anyone who would homestead it. Now the great great great grandchildren go to school with the children of professors, and sometimes their teachers wash their hair before school starts. Few of our local politicians have been up there–why bother? Those folks don’t vote.

  11. Josh

    Calling my post parochial and condescending on the basis of your personal experience, Phil, is worthy of a Colbert moment.

    If anything, you supported my point: that the system does not require high technologies, sustainable innovations, or MDA grants. Just some old fashioned cleaning and new signs, to start.

    Regarding its alleged hopelessness of urban legend and mythical routes, it seems that enough in the community find it useful to continue using it. Yes, certainly as their only and last choice, I’m sure…but your bad experience is another’s gratitude.

    I think most of our environmental ails today to be traced to very simple causes, like expecting to not be subjected to the weather when you’re outside. Reading Sean Kirst’s columns about earlier generations of Syracuse residents, many seemed to walk, frequently…

    Could it be cleaner, more efficient, with shelters to protect against the worst of CNY winters? You bet, without a doubt. But also, and I would guess you’d agree Phil, that the push to clean out the “common center” is predominately one of urban pre-cleansing for the so-called Creatives, necessary before they’ll recolonize the area with creative coffee houses, apartments, and art galleries.

    There’s no disputing that even in its dilapidated and downtrodden condition, that the common center is one of the few things in downtown Syracuse that the community actually uses, especially those closer to or well below median income levels.

  12. Phil

    no Josh, your attitude is parochial and condescending. Let them walk like their forebears did? A little weather never hurt anyone? Let them take a limo, Josh Antoinette!

  13. Josh

    Not really Phil…you’re just enjoying your mischaracterization of my basic points.

    Last I knew, stuff like the Golden Snowball, Winterfest, and the skating rink downtown embodied exactly that message, that a little weather never hurt anyone.

    Neither do ad hominem arguments!

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