Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Downtown Rochester the way it used to be

Allow an old woman to relive yesteryear.

My daughter-in-law started it. She posted a picture on facebook taken from her office window. Midtown, as it was called, used to be the hub of a thriving downtown Rochester. It was the first indoor mall in the country, I am told.

Now it is being torn down. . . for what??? First, Paetec, a local company, had signed a contract to build their headquarters there. Only thing is, the damn contract was not binding. Recently, the Paetec owner sold the company to an out of town firm. What will become of the space where Midtown once stood is anyone's guess.

In my day. . . downtown Rochester was a destination. I thought nothing of going down there, even by myself, to shop. Or at night to go to the Rochester Philharmonic at the Eastman Theater, or further down Main Street was the Auditorium Theater where off Broadway plays came. . . Annie. . . The Phantom of the Opera. . . There was the Changing Scene restaurant on a revolving foundation high above the Rochester landscape. And the Top of the Plaza, a restaurant and night club. Great food, great entertainment, and great views of the surrounding area.

Then the climate of downtown changed. A different element inhabited the area. Midtown Plaza became home to rif-raf, hanging out at Midtown Plaza. People turned away. The nicer stores and shops closed. Midtown died a slow, pathetic death.

The downtown Sibleys and McCurdy's stores - both originally owned by well off Rochester families - were a delightful place to shop. The quality and variety of merchandise were much better than the suburban stores. The Christmas decorations in the windows and inside were just fantastic.

The City is trying to revive downtown but, in my opinion, they don't have the vision or the money to do it right.

As I was writing this, I went back and read Marisa's facebook post. How can a thirty-something person truly appreciate what Rochester used to be???


  1. Our town is teeny weeny ..compared to yours.BUT we are suffering the same.Our central business area is so run down ,and if the major banks and post office werent there it would be a deserted area.So sad..the big business dealers are building shopping centres and the people are flocking to them. The once thriving small(family owned ) businesses are dropping like flies.

  2. This reminds me of how for a long time one part of town will be the part you shop in, then all of a sudden, you have to go clear to the other side of town. This happened in Terre Haute where we shop sometimes.


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