Syracuse ( /sɪrəkjuːs/ or local /sɛrəkjuːs/) is a city in and the county seat of Onondaga County, New York, United States, the largest U.S. city with the name "Syracuse", and the fifth most populous city in the state. At the 2010 census, the city population was 145,170, (making it the 170th largest city in the country) and its metropolitan area had a population of 742,603. It is the economic and educational hub of Central New York, a region with over a million inhabitants. Syracuse is also well-provided with convention sites, with a downtown convention complex and, directly west of the city, the Empire Expo Center, which hosts the annual Great New York State Fair. The city derives its name from Siracusa, a city on the eastern coast of the Italian island of Sicily.
The city has functioned as a major crossroads over the last two centuries, first between the Erie Canal and its branch canals, then of the railway network. Today, Syracuse is located at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 90, and its airport is the largest in the region. Syracuse is home to Syracuse University, a major research university, as well as several smaller colleges and professional schools. In 2010 Forbes rated Syracuse 4th in the top 10 places to raise a family.
Around 399 million years ago, during the middle Devonian Period, the land now occupied by the city of Syracuse was south of the equator and covered by a salty sea. Eventually, the sea water evaporated leaving behind layers of halite and seashells which were eventually buried in the earth. From this prehistoric period, two products emerged as major resources in the 19th century; salt and limestone.