Though only incorporated in 1825, the city's history dates back to the 1600s, when French missionaries were invited by the Onondaga Tribe to establish a mission on the site that would become Syracuse. The city has seen many changes since that time, including a brief manufacturing boom during and after the Second World War, when the Big Three automobile manufacturers as well as other business working with raw materials and producing component parts set up shop in the area. Heavy industry has declined since the 1970s, and today education is the city's main business. The State University of New York Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University are the city's two top employers. A third institution, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, is also located in Syracuse. The three schools share the University Hill neighborhood, making it the economic center of the city.

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Located near the geographical center of New York State, Syracuse is home to 145,000 residents. The city proper comprises 26 distinct neighborhoods, each with its own charm and attraction, from the densely packed neighborhood of University hill, where 80% of residents are college students, to the upscale yet bohemian Strathmore neighborhood located in the southwest of the town and filled with historic homes from the 1920s and '30s. Homes in Syracuse range from million-dollar Tudor mansions to affordable single family homes, with lofts and apartments available in neighborhoods throughout the city.

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