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One of the more discoveries we made on our visit to New York’s Finger Lakes Region was all things, a set of traffic lights in Syracuse. Of course, traffic lights are a common sight in this city but these are upside-down – green on the top and red at the bottom!

When the city of Syracuse started to put in traffic lights the put some at the intersection of Tompkins St. and Milton Ave, deep in the part of town where most of the Irish community were based. This community didn’t like the fact that the red light, which they associated with the British sat over the green light – the colour of their homeland, Ireland.

The story goes that the young folks within the Irish community were so incensed that they started to through rocks at the red light, smashing it! The City of course, replaced the red lamps, but once again they were smashed. Eventually, the City gave in and inverted the lights, so the green light appears above the red.

Now the green-over-red stoplight is a cultural touchstone for the Tipperary Hill community. On the intersection there is a small memorial park with a Dexter Benedict statue of an Irish-immigrant family to memorialize the original group of stone throwers: Jocko Behan, Richie Britt, James “Duke” Coffey, Patrick “Packy” Corbett, Kenny Davis, George Dorsey, Mikis Murphy, Stubbs Shortt and Eugene Thompson.

If you happen to be passing through Syracuse then is worth a short detour to see this unusual piece of local history.

The upside-down traffic lights in Syracuse
Slightly bizzare but you have too look twice to realise something unusal is happening - Upside-down traffic lights at Tipperary Hill,
The small but perfectly formed Tipperary Hill Memorial Park (right at the intersection with the traffic lights)

Planning your visit to Tipperary Hill traffic lights

Address:106-14 Burnet Park Dr, Syracuse, NY 13204
DirectionsWest side of the city, in a residential neighborhood, at the intersection of Tompkins St. and Milton Ave. The “Stonethrowers” statue is on the northeast corner.

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