The Southside Loop

Ithaca's African American Heritage Walking Tour

The Southside Loop

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: The History Center in Tompkins County

Tour Information

The Southside neighborhood has an African­ American heritage that dates back 180 years. From the founding of the St. James A.M.E. Zion Church in 1833, to the Underground Railroad, to the construction of the Southside Community Center in 1938, the Southside was "the place to·be." It has always teemed with interesting people.

This walking tour provides an introduction to the Southside's history for native Ithacans and visitors alike. Some sites have been well docu­mented, while relatively little is known about others; some have been torn down or replaced, while others have been restored. All of them tell stories of a past that neighborhood residents from diverse backgrounds are rediscovering.

This tour was developed by the Cornell-Ithaca Partnership and the History Center of Tompkins County.

Please use discretion when approaching private property. Thank you and we hope you enjoy the tour!


Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

1
The Southside Community Center

Located at 305 South Plain Street. The vision behind the Southside Community Center was founded on the values and ideals of the Frances Harper Women's Club, a group of African American women who were concerned for the unmet needs of their n... Read more
2
Cleveland Avenue

Cleveland Avenue was formerly called Wheat Street. Wheat Street became the center of activity for the earliest African American community in Ithaca. The Ithaca Journal described Wheat street in 1886 as “one of the shortest streets in Itha... Read more
3
Home of Zachariah Tyler

This house at 109 Cleveland Avenue (formerly 1 Wheat Street) was the home of Zachariah Tyler. Tyler's son, John, became known as the "ice cream man." In Dec. 1863 John enlisted in the USCT 26th and in January Zachariah, age 56, joined him. ... Read more
4
Home of Thomas Jackson

Born a slave in 1820, Thomas Jackson escaped from Virginia in 1842, and finally reached Ithaca in 1850. Soon thereafter, the Fugitive Slave Law was passed and he moved to Toronto for a brief time. Upon returning to Ithaca, Jackson worked as... Read more
5
Monument of the 26th Regiment United States Colored Infantry

In this pocket garden, located adjacent to the St. James A.M.E. Zion Church, is a stone placed in memory of the African American men who enlisted in 1863-84 to join the 26th Regiment United States Colored Infantry. Among the names are sev... Read more
6
St. James AME Zion Church

Located at 116 Cleveland Avenue (formerly 116 Wheat St.) The St. James Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was chartered in 1833 by a group of 18 African-Americans. The congregation’s roots began in 1796 when they withdrew from NYC’s John S... Read more
7
Sylvester Suzy Home

This is the home of Sylvester Suzy, located at 119 Cleveland Avenue. Sylvester was born in 1839 in Ontario County, New York. He joined the 8th USCT in 1863 and at the end of the war, came to live in Ithaca where he married and bought a home... Read more
8
Site of Aunt Elsie Brooks' House

Aunt Elsie Brooks, born a slave in Maryland, came to Dryden in 1812.  After New York abolished slavery in 1827, she lived with her husband at 24 Wheat Street, and worked as an herbalist and washerwoman.  She was important to the African A... Read more
9
The Monitor

On the 100th Block of Cleveland Avenue, the Monitor newspaper was developed in 1923. The editors were C. O. Wilson and Eliot Douglas. During its' short, three-year run, it reported on social and cultural activities of the African America... Read more
10
Site of the Ellis-Hailstork House

The grand brick house that formerly stood at 301 Corn Street was built in the 19th century and was first occupied by the Ellis family. It later belonged to Adlophus Hailstork, a cook at a Cornell fraternity house and proprietor of the H... Read more
11
Forest City Lodge

First located at 119 Tioga Street, the Forest City Lodge at 536 W. Green Street was location to the Black Elks Club. They relocated to 536 West Green Street at the corner of South Corn Street in the 1960s.
12
Site of the Cayuga House

Located at 501 West State Street was the leading African American Hotel in the City, first owned by Thomas Russell, and later by Jim Miller. It was also home to Harry B. Parker’s Equal Rights Barber Shop and Ora Spaulding’s hair salon i... Read more
13
Home and Office of Dr. G. Alx Galvin and Dr. Emma Corrine Galvin

Located at 401 West State Street was the residence and office of Dr. Emma Corrine Galvin and Dr. G. Alx Galvin. Dr. Emma Galvin was an accomplished academic and teacher from Richmond, Virginia. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Shaw Un... Read more
14
Macera Family Home

The Macera family purchased this home at 125 West Green Street in the 1930s at the height of the Great Depression. The original owner was noted abolitionist and Quaker, Benjamin Halsey, who never turned away a runaway slave. As a result, th... Read more
15
Home of Levi and Ora Spaulding

This home located at 501 West Green Street was the residence of Levi Spaulding, Ithaca’s first African American policeman. He served from 1919 until 1930. He died in the line of duty in 1930 after apprehending a murder suspect near the f... Read more
16
Cooke Family Home

This house, located at 515 West Green Street, was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The Cooke family came to Ithaca from Virginia in the 1890s and lived here. The home has passed from mother to daughter ever since. African American men wh... Read more

 

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