'One Great Irish Spot': Syracuse's Tipp Hill - Where Green Goes on Top

After the Erie Canal was finished, many Irish people settled west of Syracuse on a hill overlooking the canal. This area became known as Tipperary Hill. When the city first installed traffic signal lights in 1925, they placed one at a major intersection in the main business district on Tipperary Hill, at the corner of Tompkins Street and Milton Avenue. Local Irish youths, incensed that the “British" red appeared above the "Irish" green, threw stones at the signal and broke the red light. John "Huckle" Ryan, then alderman of the Tipperary Hill section, requested that the traffic signal be hung with the green above the red in deference to the Irish residents. This was done, but soon New York State stepped in, and city officials reversed the colors.

The red lights were again broken regularly. Members of a group called Tipperary Hill Protective Association addressed the town rulers. On March 17, 1928, Commissioner Bradley met with Tipp Hill residents, who told him that the light would continue to be vandalized. The city leaders relented, and green was again above the red light, where it remains. It is said to be the only traffic light in the U.S. where the green light is on top. At the site is a statue commemorating the StoneThrowers.

 

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Tags: New York, Syracuse, Tipperary, United States

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on March 14, 2014 at 5:03am

I had heard of this particular traffic light, but you filled in the details and the background.  Thanks for this, Jim!

Comment by Jim Curley on March 14, 2014 at 5:51am

Thank you, Ryan. Can't imagine too many memorials to stone throwers exist.

We owe a lot to the pre-famine Irish who worked on projects such as the Erie Canal. Their backbreaking work led to the phenomenal growth of Great Lakes cities like Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit, providing opportunities for future generations of Irish immigrants.

We do indeed stand on the shoulders of giants!!

Comment by Tom McGrath on March 14, 2014 at 8:01pm
Greetings Jim,
Great job with the pix & back story. I mentioned the Syracuse monument to the Stonethrowers in a Tipperary discussion a while back. I would only add to your great coverage that without the legendary pub owner and Lord Mayor of Tipperary Hill, Pete Coleman and his Clan, there would be no park or monument. The pub is still thriving as is his sister's Irish shop on the other corner called Cashel House.
Slan,
Tom McGrath
Brunswick, NY
Comment by Jim Curley on March 14, 2014 at 8:43pm

Cashel - there's another great Tipp name. And Tipperary also boasts those three brothers who teamed up with a man from the North and made it pretty big in the music business. Proud heritage.


Founding Member
Comment by Nollaig 2016 on March 17, 2014 at 3:53pm

Nibsy's is the oldest Irish pub in Syracuse.

Comment by Tom McGrath on March 17, 2014 at 4:14pm
Good On You Belinda & Happy St. Patrick's Day to you......
In my mis-spent youth, my HQ was in the "Salt City", beautiful sunless Syracuse. To us you started your evening on top of Tipperary Hill at Coleman's. That made it easier for some to slide to the bottom of the hill to Nibsy's. Same hill just a different perspective.
Tom McGrath

Founding Member
Comment by Nollaig 2016 on March 17, 2014 at 10:21pm

Traffic signals


Tipperary Hill's green-over-red traffic light
By 1918, the company had shortened their name to Crouse-Hinds Company and produced traffic lights, controllers and accessories.
The company manufactured the first traffic signal in Syracuse which was installed in 1924 at the corner of James and State Streets. Crouse-Hinds produced traffic signals locally for many years, including the famous Tipperary Hill upside down light on the city's Far Westside. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crouse-Hinds_Company

Comment by Jim Curley on March 18, 2014 at 6:53am
Hi Tom: Your comment on Salt City reminded me of the salt potatoes we ate at barbecues. Probably deadly health-wise but oh so good topped off with a Genny beer. One of my brothers married a Syracuse girl; another taught at LeMoyne for 30+ years.
Comment by Tom McGrath on March 18, 2014 at 9:30am
Jim...
Our clan inhabits the eastern quarter of NYS, The Capital area. The firm who sheltered me for 30+ yrs had div hqs in Albany & Buffalo with Syracuse being the Ctr of all knowledge. there were periods when I had more hrs on the NYThruway than at my job..over those years I was treated to every Irish purveyor of suds and spuds in Central NY. My friendship with the Coleman's of Tip Hill continues to the present. Their Irish Import shop is the finest in that region. I am happy to hold the same opinion for our families similar operation, Tipperary at Tara Ltd, (see www.eirish.com) founded by my wife Nancy 35yrs ago and currently involving 3 generations. Your brother may have visited another great, long closed, Irish watering oasis in salt city, Mc Carthy's downtown.
Slan, must get back to work....
Tom

Founding Member
Comment by Nollaig 2016 on March 18, 2014 at 8:20pm

Where in Syracuse?

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