Central New York, Community, Food, History

The History of the Polish Community in Syracuse

By Jose Cuevas Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) – Dating back more than 150 years, Polish immigrants first settled in Syracuse’s North Side next to Assumption Church and the Village of Geddes near Tipperary Hill.

In 1892, the Polish community built the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that towers over West Genesee Street, and it soon became the religious hub of the community.

Built by a contractor, Maciej Buława, a Polish-centric neighborhood emerged between Geddes Street and I-690 that is now called “Maciejowa.” Soon after, the Polish community needed a cultural home — place where they could meet and support each other.

In 1919, the community founded the Syracuse Polish Home or “Dom Polski.” The venue has hosted weddings, family events, and community parties. Since the 1950s the Polish population has been dwindling as people have began moving to other metropolitan areas in the east coast. However those still in the community preserve Polish culture through activities at the Polish Home, the annual Polish Festival, and through an appreciation for Polish food.

Eva Zaczynski emigrated from Poland thirty years ago and began helping out at a convent, after the nuns tried her food they recommended she open a Polish restaurant. In 1997 she opened Eva’s European Sweets in 1997 and has received acclaim for her authentic Polish cuisine.

For Eva it’s not just about serving delicious food. “Our food is also our culture,” said Zaczynski.

She also is a frequent sponsor of the Polish Festival and of the Polish scholarship that is awarded annually. ” I want to support students, so they can go and educate themselves,” said Zaczynski.

Eva will also be providing on of her most famous dishes for the Pierogi eating contest “I provided them last year, they asked me again and I said yes.”

She is excited to continue bringing Polish cuisine to central New York. “The people love it and like they say if it’s not broken don’t fix it.”