Schiller Park Narrative
HISTORICAL INFORMATION: Prior to the development of Schiller Park, this site was a forested hilltop with an open clearing around a drumlin like landform believed to be an ancient burial ground. In 1901, the City purchased 23.5 acres for a public park, originally called Round Top Park due to the large drumlin that is its defining feature. In 1911, landscape architect David Campbell implemented his design. Unique to the park, honoring the German neighborhood population, is a monument to Goethe and Schiller. Some of the park’s built elements retain vestiges of the arts and crafts movement. At the park’s highest point, one can view a great panorama of downtown Syracuse.
Schiller Park is many parks in one. It’s a nature park of 37 green acres, dominated by a drumlin with a panoramic view of Syracuse, Onondaga Lake and the surrounding countryside. Its an historical park that celebrates, among other things, the city’s turn-of-the-century German citizens, who erected the Goethe-Schiller statue that stands guard over a pedestrian entrance to the park. The park is also very popular with youngsters of all ages because of its Olympic-sized swimming pool, softball fields, playground and recreation center.
The electrotyped copper monument at the northern end of the park honors a long friendship between two German writers prominent in the late 18th century. It was erected in Schiller Park by the Syracuse’s German/German-American community in 1911. It was dedicated to Syracusans of German ancestry on 5 October of that year. It is a copy of a monument created in 1857 by sculptor Ernst Reitschel (1804-1861) of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) and Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), regarded as Germany’s greatest poets/playwrights. The original monument was erected in 1857 in Weimar, Thuringia, and has since become a national landmark in Germany. Schiller and Goethe were greatly admired in the United States as well. There are similar copies of this monument in San Francisco, California’s Golden Gate Park (erected in 1901), in the German Cultural Gardens in Cleveland, Ohio (erected 1907), and in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Washington Park (dedicated in 1908). Schiller was very popular in the U.S. as a literary figure in 1905, the 100th anniversary of his death. Schiller Park (previously known as Round Top Park and encompassing what was previously St. Cecelia’s Catholic Cemetery) received its name officially on 3 July 1905.
Welcome to the Syracuse Parks Conservancy website. We thank you for stopping by. The Syracuse Parks Conservancy is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We are made up of a group of volunteers some of whom also serve as Trustees. We work with both public and private citizens to care for the parks and green spaces in Syracuse. Please take some time to get to know us and we hope, get involved. Neither government officials nor private citizens alone can properly care for our parks but working together, we can. Please get involved. Help make Syracuse a greener, healthier and better place to live!
The mission of the Syracuse Parks Conservancy is to ensure that all Syracuse parks, public lands and the habitats therein are sustainably protected, restored, enhanced and developed for the educational, recreational and wellness uses of our citizens and their guests; we will accomplish this by directing and managing these lands and facilities in a public-private partnership with the City of Syracuse.
- The idea for the Syracuse Parks Conservancy (SPC) began in 2008 when members from various T-N-T groups and Park Associations throughout the city began discussing the need for a citizen-based organization to coordinate activities in the parks, raise funds for needed projects/repairs/improvements, recruit volunteers for events and act as a liaison with city government.
- Throughout 2008-09, concerned citizens continued to meet both formally and informally to develop a “blueprint’ for the organization.
- A committee was formed to draft a Constitution and begin formal dialogues with the City of Syracuse. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was drafted. Representatives and lawyers from the City and the SPC met to finalize details.
- Members from the SPC and Pat Driscoll, Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs, testified before the Common Council as to the need for this organization and how it would work with and support City government.
- The City of Syracuse Common Council passed a resolution and then Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll signed the MOU creating a formal relationship between the City of Syracuse and the SPC.
- In September 2009, the first Annual Meeting was held. A slate of Trustees presented by the Nominating Committee (Pat Driscoll, Chris Wiles and Mike Behnke) was put forth. Trustees and officers, all of whom have an interest in Syracuse’s parks as volunteers or professionals were elected.
- As of 2017, trustees are: Mike Behnke, Neil Falcone, Sally Curran, David Harding, Kathleen Joy, Joe Masella, Leo Crandall, Kevin McClelland, Paul Pflanz, Carl Sharak, Kathleen Joy, Christopher Wiles, and Tim Rudd.
- Ex-officio trustee is: Lazarus Sims.
- Officers are President Chris Wiles, Secretary Carl Sharak, Treasurer Sally Curran.
- The Board of Trustees meets at least six times a year, and our Committees meet as needed.
- Established Committees: Environment & Ecology, Planning, Design & Preservation, Events & Tourism, Finance & Administration, Fundraising & Development, Volunteers, Historical, and Nominating.
You Can Help Make a Difference
There are several great opportunities for you to help the Conservancy improve and expand Syracuse parks and green spaces. Become a financial sponsor or get involved hands on by becoming a volunteer.