The Southside Loop

Ithaca's African American Heritage Walking Tour

The Southside Loop

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Ithaca Heritage

Tour Information

The Southside neighborhood has an African­ American heritage that dates back 180 years. From the founding of the St. James AME Zion Church in 1833 to the construction of the Southside Community Center in 1938 and beyond, the Southside has been a significant center of African American community life in Ithaca.

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 originally developed by the Cornell-Ithaca Partnership in May 2003.

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

Located at 305 South Plain Street. 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 about the unmet needs of their neighborhood comm... Read more
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
This house at 109 Cleveland Avenue (formerly 1 Wheat Street) was the home of Reverend Zachariah Tyler (1819-1896). Tyler's son, John Henry Tyler (1845-1909), became known as the "ice cream man." In December 1863 John enlisted in the U.S. Co... Read more
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
In this pocket garden, located adjacent to the St. James AME 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 sever... Read more
Located at 116 Cleveland Avenue (formerly 116 Wheat St.) The St. James American Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church was chartered in 1833 by a group of 18 African Americans. The AME Zion denomination's roots began in 1796, when some mem... Read more
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 U.S. Colored Troops in 1863 and, at the end of the war, came to live in Ithaca where he married ... Read more
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 Am... Read more
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
The grand brick house that formerly stood at 301 Corn Street was built in the nineteenth century and was first occupied by the Ellis family. It later belonged to Adolphus C. Hailstork Sr., a cook at a Cornell fraternity house and propr... Read more
First located at 119 Tioga Street, the Forest City Lodge at 536 West Green Street was the location of the Black Elks Club. They relocated to 536 West Green Street at the corner of South Corn Street in the 1960s.
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 (1862-1944) ... Read more
Located at 401 West State Street was the residence and office of Dr. Emma Corinne Galvin (1909-1988) and Dr. G. Alx Galvin (1905-1989). Dr. Emma Galvin was an accomplished academic and teacher from Richmond, Virginia. She received her Bache... Read more
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
This home located at 501 West Green Street was the residence of Levi Spaulding (1872-1930), 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 suspec... Read more
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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