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Old 01-09-2008, 01:42 PM
 
3,234 posts, read 7,610,581 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by louroclou View Post
Check out this amazing film from 1963: Rochester: A City of Quality. Note the great voice of Ken Nordine.

One thing particularly interesting is an allusion to what became the reason for the downfall of Midtown Plaza and downtown Rochester - the fact that Monroe Co. moved its soul, money, and moral responsibility out to the suburbs very early, and that Midtown was an attempt to replicate suburban aesthetics in the city. Just 30 years later, McCurdy's and B. Foreman were gone and Midtown was a zombie. Monroe County was doomed to be a doughnut. Rochester never wanted to be a city.

Let's hope Paetec gets some new spirit in town with their project. But I continue to be pessimistic because of the ingrained suburban mentality - and the legal restrictions - of Monroe Co.
That is something that pretty much happened to every city in the northeast during that period, not just Rochester. And what do you mean "rochester never wanted to be a city" . That just makes no sense at all.

 
Old 01-09-2008, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
209 posts, read 644,207 times
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Yes, declines of downtowns happened all over the country, and cities tried all kinds of ways to revive them, many, if not most, failed till recently. I admit that. But I found Rochester's allegiences to the various suburbs was an entrenched and cancerous attitude that predated such declines. No, Rochester never had a true attachment to the idea of cities - or even centers. Look at all the bodies of water it has, each one of which could have been a kind of center: Lake Ontario, the falls, the river, the canal, the bay... any other city in the country would have developed housing and retail - quality stuff - around any one of them. But it's a Don and Bob's suburban mentality, and there's almost no class in any of those places - except when they go through a suburb. In the city, well, there may be black people, so we'll stay away. No, I'll stick to my statement: "Rochester (at least since Kodak was built) never wanted to be a city."

Look back at what I wrote a while back.
 
Old 01-09-2008, 02:33 PM
 
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I have seen your other posts and they are filled with unbased claims. Rochester could not build centers around places such as the falls since there was industry there. There are now plans to build retail and housing in high falls since you mention it. The lake is nowhere near downtown so a center would not work there. The bay is not in the city, nor is it near downtown. Not to mention it is surrounded by large cliffs which would make it hard to build a center around. The river is the only thing that goes downtown and would be hard to build around since long ago it had industry along side of it. Hard to build retail and housing along that (though they have started to build housing with the corn hill landing project).
Have you ever been to the east end? The st. paul quarter? These are places downtown with much going on. There are restaurants, nightspots, music, festivals, performing arts, housing, etc in these areas. The only thing thats missing is retail.
 
Old 01-09-2008, 03:31 PM
 
Location: Lighthouse Point, FL
5 posts, read 12,094 times
Reputation: 14
Tinman - Where are you in Florida? They opened an Abbott's in Vero Beach (East Coast) that also sells Zweigles. Go to the website Abbott`s Frozen Custard - Home for other Florida locations.

I live in Fort Lauderdale and made my husband drive with me to Vero for an Abbott's. He thought I was nuts for driving 1 1/2 hours for ice cream!
 
Old 01-09-2008, 04:26 PM
 
5,265 posts, read 14,874,976 times
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Rochester never wanted to be a city? The city doesn't center around bodies of water? Funny, I thought downtown Rochester was bi-sected by the Genesee RIVER. And I could have sworn the Charlotte neighborhood was built up around Lake Ontario and Ontario beach Park with big plans for a residential/commerical development at the port. I guess I was wrong?
 
Old 01-09-2008, 04:41 PM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
897 posts, read 2,249,128 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by louroclou View Post
Yes, declines of downtowns happened all over the country, and cities tried all kinds of ways to revive them, many, if not most, failed till recently. I admit that. But I found Rochester's allegiences to the various suburbs was an entrenched and cancerous attitude that predated such declines. No, Rochester never had a true attachment to the idea of cities - or even centers. Look at all the bodies of water it has, each one of which could have been a kind of center: Lake Ontario, the falls, the river, the canal, the bay... any other city in the country would have developed housing and retail - quality stuff - around any one of them. But it's a Don and Bob's suburban mentality, and there's almost no class in any of those places - except when they go through a suburb. In the city, well, there may be black people, so we'll stay away. No, I'll stick to my statement: "Rochester (at least since Kodak was built) never wanted to be a city."

Look back at what I wrote a while back.

Most city's in America stopped growing near the time the automobile was mass produce and people could buy them or after ww2. Rochester was one of those cities. Rochester had a downtown that was vibrant years ago but not recently. Mid-town plaza was one of the first of its kind in America. Rochester 60-100 years ago was one of the largest cities in America.
 
Old 01-09-2008, 08:29 PM
 
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
209 posts, read 644,207 times
Reputation: 136
Thanks, guys. I finally got a response. When I first posted, I wanted to see if there would be some thoughtful, inward looking on the part of Rochesterians and ex-Rochesterians. I then realized that 'Memories of Rochester' was going to be a place more for nostalgia than urban studies, but there weren't that many threads that fit. I was new, but I should have started a separate thread. The link to the film was a chance to try one more time here. And try with some pointed - or blunt - jabs.

Look, I'm not trying to kick Rochester around. I'm trying to work out - for myself, really - why, when I left Rochester after 35 years and moved back here to Louisville that I felt like I was in place that was more alive, more connected, more... like a city. When we moved to Rochester in 1970 Louisville and Rochester were almost identical. Greater Louisville now is only about 300,000 more people than Greater Rochester, but it feels much bigger. We've had friends visit us from Rochester and they can't believe the difference. I'm just feeling around trying to figure out what makes that difference.

I've stated before - and I don't think my firsthand experience in schools for 33 years is 'unbased claims' - that Rochester children suffer from the political and moral separation of the city from the suburbs. That claim I won't give up.

That separation is mirrored in the fragmentation of Monroe County as a whole. People are more concerned about the narrow desires of tiny areas than in the concept of 'Rochester' as a whole. Such is just not the case here. As some kind of proof, I invite you to visit the many threads devoted to Louisville here in city-data. It is possible to act locally and think globally - to act for your neighborhood and care about your city. Is this an unbased claim - that Rochester fragments at the expense of the bigger picture? I'm willing to listen.

I dashed off the 'city and centers' thing too quickly. I admit I was unclear. What I meant in my riff on water spots and 'centers' is that each one of the water locations in Rochester is something of a missed opportunity. Charlotte Beach is potentially a great area, but there has not been really attractive use of it. (I didn't know about the development. That's cool. I'll have to look into it) The bottom of Irondequoit Bay should be a lovely spot. It's a hodgepodge of ... wha...? What's missing in water spots is imaginative, tasteful, risky enterprise - places that reveal the natural beauty and use them as gathering places, shopping places, eating places. Yes, there is some of that, but I seldom saw anything inspired. Come to Louisville and you can see how nature, architecture and play can be woven together. I'd love to be proven wrong about Rochester. Show me some pictures.

The water thing leads to my next general observation and conjecture (yep, unbased claim, but one in search of some proof - or at least discussion). Rochester had, in the twentieth century, two risk-taking, imaginative beneficiaries - George Eastman and Dannie Wegman. But the Kodak George created, as well as the Xerox that came later, created a mentality that did not foster true risk, the true weirdness that a city needs to have an identity. Remember the one important book about Rochester was called Smugtown. Louisville has a mayor, business people, artists, rich people and weirdos that give it a face, a funkiness, an oddness. It is the home of Hunter S. Thompson and Mohammed Ali. Strange and unique. The place fosters that. Look at Baltimore - a messed up but real place: H. L. Mencken, Edgar Allan Poe, John Waters. Risk, strangeness. I can't emphasis it enough. Strangeness makes a city. Discover Rochester's big weirdos. Foster them. Tell me about them.

Back to 'pieces.' Louisville has unique and named neighborhoods, and pride in them. But they connect and communicate with each other. The parts of Monroe pride themselves in not listening (unbased claim... but go back and listen to Jack Doyle speeches). That statement from Kevin Williams (... I moved to the suburbs to build a wall...) I didn't make up. When this subject came up when I lived in Rochester, I always used the University as an example. Here is this excellent school surrounded by sick people, dead people, and a lot of poor people it just wants to protect itself from. How does the university connect with the city? What does it do for the city aside from the School of Music? Why does it have none of the peripheral bars, book stores, music shops, hip clothing stores that any good college has around it... (oh, I answered that) The parts of Monroe don't talk to each other. Prove me wrong. Give me some examples.

I don't want Rochester to languish. I owe it my life, really. But Rochester often angered me, and it particularly angered me when I tried to talk to folks about its weaknesses, even before I moved back down here, and Rochesterians just said, 'What problems?'

Last edited by louroclou; 01-09-2008 at 08:47 PM..
 
Old 01-09-2008, 09:20 PM
 
3,234 posts, read 7,610,581 times
Reputation: 2693
With the exception of your teaching experience, which only represents a narrow view, that entire rant was unbased. Everything from "My area is more of a city than yours" to "My area is more unique than yours". Not trying to be a jerk here.

Lets start with your assumption that people only care about their small little area over "Rochester" as a whole. Did you poll people? Where are you getting this from? I don't know very many people who only care about their little suburb. People venture out everywhere. Countless amounts of people care for their neighborhoods, contrary to what you claim.
Though I have not viewed the threads on louisville, I have researched this city in the past, viewed other forms and spoken to people that spent time there. They paint a much different picture than what you give. The others tell me that its a very segregated city with much racism. That goes against what you have said in other postings. Postings in other forums paint the Louisville area as boring with no real entertainment (I usually dismiss these claims as internet people much of the time are bitter for no good reason). Just pointing out that not everybody sees your home as the utopia as you make it out to be.
I don't know what you want from the water spots. There is currently a development in Charlotte that is in the planning stages (there used to be an amusement park there).
As for the other water areas, what do you expect? The bay has some restaurants on empire blvd but you can't do much else with it. Its surrounded by wetlands and ellison park. I say a nice protected park captures more beauty than shopping and retail. At the front of the bay you have some restaurants but you can't do much else since you have giant cliffs surrounding the area. You got the river going through downtown, but you can't build much along that since its surrounded by old buildings, though there is a nice park area by the federal building. There is the high falls area, which for a while had some entertainment, but is now being turned into a retail/housing area.
There are "weirdos" in the area. Everybody knows the "festival guy" that gives a nice touch to area festivals. There are artists that give certain neighborhoods a unique touch. There are even unique homeless people that everybody knows. This is not the 50s and the smugtown book is irrelevant.
Rochester has plenty of unique neighborhoods. The corn hill area is different from the 19th ward which is different from the park ave area and so forth. I don't know where you are getting that the college is so isolated. Lots of students live in the surrounding areas of the 19th ward and south wedge. Even though its not a college neighborhood, you see the "hip" clothing stores, bars and restaurants in the south wedge. You also see this in the park ave area. The students are mixing with the residents. You don't see much of the college type stuff in the surrounding 19th ward area because its mostly an owner occupied housing neighborhood. Rochester is not a college town so you are not going to get a college atmosphere.
People probably blew you off when you tried to bring up the "problems" because what you say does not hold true for the most part. Yes many of the things mentioned above can use some improvement, but they are in no shape the way you describe them. There are many exciting things about the area that makes it very unique. It sounds like you missed out on some of these things.
 
Old 01-10-2008, 07:04 AM
 
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
209 posts, read 644,207 times
Reputation: 136
Look, I have handled this whole thing rather poorly. I've been wanting to discuss for a long time - with someone - the status of Rochester and my perceived notion that it is somehow stagnating... and that the core reason for that stagnation is the unfair and divisive nature of annexation and tax laws, laws that prop up the 18 small municipalities at the expense of the city proper. I see Louisville's metro system as the prime reason for its current boom.

But my tone has been too aggressive, I confess. I am also a little more trusting of hunches and perception than you are. When I was an English teacher, I was hard-nosed in my insistence on substantiating evidence in certain kinds of papers. But in some kinds of papers and in discussion I encouraged more open-ended intuitions as a heuristic leading to more concrete conclusions. That's all I trying to do here: wheedle out more concrete evidence one way or another.

I have been gone from Rochester for two and a half years. I went back briefly twice - for a funeral and a wedding. I was encouraged on those visits by housing downtown (Both times we stayed with friends who live in downtown condos - one in the Sagamore, one on Grove St.). Your mention of the South Wedge is also encouraging. That area was just beginning to show signs of growth, but it was unclear if it would work or not. Nice to hear that it is. The Strong Museum is a big, exciting development. I hope things begin to grow up around it. I heard a lot about the jazz festival, which sounds truly spectacular. The High Falls Film Festival makes me envious. I'm trying to get more interest in film down here.

I'm really not trying to draw an us-you, good-bad line in the sand. There are things Louisville can learn from Rochester (If you go to the Louisville general site and look at the thread I started, Louisville is booming... What do we need next?", you'll see I begin with ideas from Rochester. I'm not a hater. I'm trying to talk to Louisvillians and Rochesterians about making their towns more interesting)... and there are things for Rochesterians to learn.

In this respect, (just a perception!) Louisvillians, though often hometown cheerleaders, are often begging people (I've heard it characterized as 'little brother syndrome') to tell them if they like their town and ask what is wrong with it. Rochesterians (just a perception!) are less likely to invite criticism from outside, though glumly negative when they talk to themselves. And the metro government thing is never on the table, as Mayor Johnson learned butting his head again and again.

I encourage you to look at the Louisville conversations ... conversations and pictures (scroll down for plans and cg pics)... more conversations and pictures . When I was in Rochester last, I told my wife the city seemed about 5 years behind Louisville - closer than I thought, and moving. My wife wasn't quite as optimistic, but she never is! This was before the PAETEC Midtown thing, which is your (more modest - sorry!) version of our Museum Plaza.

I'd love to hear more about things going on, but I'd also really like to hear people address the metro thing and the urban/suburban divide - or is it really the elephant in the room no one talks about?

I apologize to folks coming here to talk about Abbott's and Genny and white hots and rightfully being peeved with this line of discussion. My comandeering of things is really inappropriate. I just don't know how to move the thing en masse to a new thread.

Last edited by louroclou; 01-10-2008 at 07:34 AM..
 
Old 01-10-2008, 09:24 AM
 
3,234 posts, read 7,610,581 times
Reputation: 2693
The metro government is interesting and works in many places. But I would hate to lose the identity of some of these older towns. If they can do it in a way that some of these older towns can still keep an identity, I would support it. When I got to places such as Fairfax county VA, or the Charlotte area, I find them very boring and homogeneous. I don't want that to happen here. If they could keep the town lines but have things such as county schools and police, it would help out the tax situation. For example, I'm in Irondequoit. We do not need two separate school districts. The two districts create uneeded administrators which keep the taxes higher. We do not need our own police force either when we pay for monroe county sheriffs. Get rid of the town police force and set up sub stations around the county.
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