Arsenal Street

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Heavy traffic exiting Arsenal Street onto Public Square.
Arsenal Street is the busiest street in Watertown, and has a multitude of businesses and eateries, as well as the Salmon Run Mall.

Arsenal Street begins at Public Square, and stretches to the city limits and beyond. Arsenal Street comprises State Route 3, and Interstate 81 intersects the street just past the city limits.

Arsenal Street was originally known as Columbia Street. It soon acquired its current name when an Armory (a military station used for arms and ammunition storage) was built.

Lower Arsenal 1915
Lower Arsenal 1915
Arsenal Street soon became an important business district, and many business occupied the street almost from the beginning. In 1849, much of Arsenal Street was destroyed by fire, but was quickly rebuilt. Since the 1860's, Arsenal has been the center of Jefferson County business and government, with the building of the county courthouse and county office buildings, as well Watertown's first Post Office building.

The expansion of outer Arsenal Street began in the mid to late 19th century, with the arrival of Irish, then Italian immigrants, who settled on a section of Arsenal and Coffeen Streets known as the Sand Flats. Arsenal Street at this time comprised two sections. Lower Arsenal from Public Square to Massey Street remained a business and government center, while outer Arsenal comprised a residential district. This configuration lasted for more than a century.

Things began to change for Arsenal Street in the early 1960's with the arrival of Interstate 81. Businesses started being built to accomodate road traffic, notably small shopping centers and two new hotels. In the late 1960's, many of lower Arsenal Street's historic buildings were demolished during the city's Urban Renewal program.

Arial View I-81 and Salmon Run Mall
Arial View I-81 and Salmon Run Mall
The expansion of Fort Drum in the 1980's saw the biggest change to Arsenal Street, with the building of numerous eateries, hotels and the Salmon Run Mall. What once comprised Arsenal's historically residential area soon became Watertown's main shopping destination. The road itself was reconstructed with additional traffic lanes to accomodate the influx of cars, while lower Arsenal, traditionally a one way thouroughfare from Massey Street to Public Square, was converted to two lanes to accomodate the increase in traffic.

In the 2000's, another expansion at Fort Drum caused development to push farther out Arsenal Street as never before. New shopping plazas, restaurants and hotels were added to the already congested street, while the bridge that spanned over Interstate 81 was torn down and rebuilt, adding an additional 3 lanes to accomodate ever increasing traffic.

Notable Structures on Arsenal Street

Jefferson County Office Building
Jefferson County Courthouse
Watertown Post Office
The Avon Theater
The Flat Iron Building
The American Hotel
The Otis House
The Salmon Run Mall
The Armory
Arsenal Street School
United Methodist Church
St. Anthony's Church

Outer Arsenal Street
Going towards Outer Arsenal

See Also

Watertown Streets