Saturday, March 10, 2012

Onondaga War Memorial, 800 South State Street, Syracuse, New York

Capacity 6230

The War Memorial at Oncenter, originally the Onondaga War Memorial, is a 6,159-seat multi-purpose arena in Downtown Syracuse, New York. It is part of the Oncenter Complex.

Designed by Edgarton and Edgarton and built from 1949 through 1951, the structure is significant as an example of a World War I, World War II and Aroostook War commemorative[1] and as "an early and sophisticated example of single-span thin-shell [concrete roof] construction" [2]. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

For a small glimpse of history, next time you're in here, look up towards the corner rafters and you'll see a Syracuse Nationals 1955 NBA championship banner. The Nationals defeated the Fort Wayne Pistons in a deciding seventh game at home to win the 1954-1955 NBA Championship.

On top of the arena's stage are the words, "In memory of our service veterans."

Around the exterior the names of military conflicts have been incised into the walls in chunky block lettering. Only the US flags over the doorways provide colour against the gray concrete.

Jerry performed here on
11/14/93 with JGB
10/27/71 New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Grateful Dead
9/17/73 Grateful Dead
9/18/73 Grateful Dead
9/28/76 Grateful Dead
..and when it was called War Memorial Auditorium
5/9/78 Grateful Dead
5/17/81 Grateful Dead
4/8/82 Grateful Dead

1.)^ LaFrank, Kathleen (October, 1988). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Onondaga County War Memorial". Retrieved 2009-05-02.and Accompanying 21 photos, exterior and interior, from construction through 1988'2.)^


  1. Further just played here called the "on-center", on 11/11/11 (Veteran’s Day). The show was incredible albeit no Jerry. They broke into The Eleven as an encore with no warm-up or intro.

    At either side of the stage were US Flags, must be that an A/C vent has been placed under the flags, as they played US Blues when they reached the appropriate lyric the flags began to wave in unison, pretty cool.

    More sobering are the renditions of America’s soldiers through-out our Nation’s conflicts and their real person’s history; prime example of Art Deco design I hope some or all of the GD family returns soonest.

    Love the blog, great work, keep it up!


      JGB did play here! 11/14/93 - I was just out of college. We had floor tickets (GA I think), but ran into a friend out on the concourse who was "taking a break from the show". He had nosebleed seats & he was incoherent & his pupils were humongous from the secondhand "smoke" up gathering up there! Memorable!! Saw them on same tour at Knockerbocker Arena (11/3), too!

  2. 11/14/93 was its grand reopening: "The Onondaga County War Memorial was rechristened for big-time concerts by The Jerry Garcia Band on Sunday night, and a capacity crowd of 7,500 enjoyed the new touches of the refurbishment" (Bialczak 1993b).