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Greater Syracuse is a nexus for the movement of goods and people along the north-south and east-west axes of many transportation routes in the Northeast. Located in the center of New York on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, the Syracuse Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is a 3,083-square-mile land area composed of four counties Cayuga, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego.
The City of Syracuse, located in Onondaga County, is the region's major metropolitan center. It has been appropriately called the Crossroads of New York State, due to its central location and the fact the State's two major interstate routes the east-west New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) and north-south Interstate 81 intersect here. In addition to Syracuse, the principal population centers of the MSA are cities of Oswego and Fulton in Oswego County, Oneida in Madison County and Auburn in Cayuga County.
The Greater Syracuse area is a region of rolling hills, flat plains, lakes and streams. The City of Syracuse is located on a rise at the southern end of Onondaga Lake. The gently rolling terrain stretches north of the city for 30 miles, where it meets Lake Ontario. The Finger Lakes begin 20 miles to the southwest and Oneida Lake is eight miles northeast.
City altitude ranges from 364 to 681 feet, while approximately five miles south of Syracuse, the hills mount to about 1,500 feet. Immediately to the west, the terrain is rolling and elevated 500 to 800 feet above mean sea level.
Natural resources in the area include hardwoods used in furniture making and abundant water of high quality used by local corporations such as Anheuser-Busch and Bristol-Myers Company.
A strategic central location and a well-developed transportation network have made Syracuse a major distribution center. The 1999 Rand McNally Places Rated Almanac declared Syracuse 41st of the 354 metropolitan areas examined in regard to transportation facilities. The ranking was based on daily commuting time, public transportation availability, interstate highway convenience, and air service and passenger service. This reflects Syracuse's success in regulating traffic flows, maintaining high-quality infrastructure standards and encouraging facility expansion.
Approximately 136 million people live within a 750-mile radius of Syracuse. This radius includes the populations of Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Montreal. Within a 750-mile radius of the Greater Syracuse area, companies have access to over 50% of all United States business establishments, United States and Canadian manufacturing facilities and United States wholesale sales.
More than 150 motor carriers and small package carriers service the Syracuse area. Air and rail terminals are just 15 minutes from downtown. Seven major airlines, along with affiliated commuter service, offer approximately 250 daily arrivals and departures. Over two million travelers pass through Hancock International Airport each year. The region is also serviced by six major air cargo carriers. CSX operates an intermodal center in Dewitt/Manlius for transfer of trailers and containers between railcars and trucks with storage available for 345 trailers or containers. Amtrak services rail passenger needs.
The deep water port of Oswego and the New York State Barge Canal System provide access to the Great Lakes and overseas.
The Syracuse area enjoys a four-season continental climate with marked seasonal changes. Due to geographical location, cyclonic system.