The Face Of Trials And Triumphs While Living In Rochester, New York.
Urban Life

The Face Of Trials And Triumphs While Living In Rochester, New York

I was thinking hard about this question, as I asked my friend Keysha to grace the cover of this post, The Face Of Trials And Triumphs Of Rochester, New York.

Keysha was the perfect choice for this article because just like me, is a Rochester, New York resident, that lives and works in the city.

We both know that while the City Of Rochester brings a lot of trials, it can also grant many triumphs.

How Has Rochester, New York Changed Over The Years?

Many decades ago, Rochester, New York was a much different place than it currently is now.

Far away view of roll coating wheel.
Far away view of Kodak film roll coating wheel.

Known as the birthplace of film, Kodak was a huge staple here in good old Rochester, New York.

At one time, Kodak employed thousands of local residents, paying insanely large wages.

The people of Rochester, New York were living extremely well.

Drive down East Avenue, and you will be in awe of the massive houses they once lived in.

On any given day, you’d see Kodak employees driving around in dolled up Cadillacs and Lincoln’s.

These cars were massive and burned a lot of gas, but it didn’t matter, because they could afford it.

Life was good and the residents of Rochester, New York were proud of it.

Afterall, it was a result of all the hard work that they put in to make the city great.

Downtown Rochester, New York Was Booming

When I was a little boy I use to beg my mom to bring me Downtown. At least 2 to 3 Times per week she’d take me Downtown and let me run through the stores with her.

She’d shop at Sibley’s and B. Foreman’s before bringing me over to my favorite store, McCrory’s.

My little legs would dangle from the stool as I ate my grilled cheese sandwich, and drank my hot cocoa.

There were so many people working and shopping in the Downtown Rochester, New York region, you could hardly move.

It was very similar to a mini Manhattan in New York City.

And Then Rochester, New York Started To Suddenly Die

Eastman Kodak started laying employees off by the thousands.

Many of the manufacturing operations were moved across seas.

And buildings started to come down faster than the stock market.

As more operations were relocated, and employees were laid off, Kodak dwindled down to nothing.

What was once a giant in the film industry, was now a company that sadly filed for bankruptcy.

Eventually Xerox followed suit along with Bausch & Lomb.

With the big three gone, and no high paying jobs hardly left, many people started to move out of Rochester, New York in flocks.

Rochester, New York Became A Ghost Town

As more people moved to the suburbs, so did many companies.

This rapid transformation brought birth to what is known as strip malls.

I completely hate these ugly, horrible little malls that makes our city look like garbage.

They are cheap to build and really don’t encourage any kind of social gathering like the old Midtown Plaza use to.

Every year, kids would come to Midtown Plaza to ride the monorail. Hear the clocks of the world chime. And see the big guy, known as Santa Clause.

As the disgusting looking strip malls continued to steal shoppers, Midtown Plaza slowly emptied out.

Midtown Plaza Was Neglected For Years

Over the years, as this amazing marvel of a mall sat almost empty, it was totally neglected.

The exterior and interior were falling apart, due to a lack of repairs. It was even unsafe to lean up against the railings.

But what was really sad, was when the clocks of the world stopped working.

What was once the main attraction to young children during Christmas time, was now a broken down relic.

It was very sad, and almost made you want to cry when you saw the tarnished brass casing.

What finally finished Midtown Plaza of was whan Elliot Spitzer chased all the remaining businesses out, without a solid plan.

He was in such a rush to knock Midtown Plaza down, he forgot to find locations for the businesses he chased out.

Then again, I’m sure he got a good amount of money slipped into his pocket by doing such a poorly planned deal.

What Remained Of Rochester, New York Wasn’t Much

With all the good employment gone, no shopping left, and a bunch of empty buildings, Rochester, New York was in shambles.

Empty store front in downtown Rochester , ny.
Empty store front in downtown Rochester , ny.

Nobody wanted to live here, and all of our college graduates moved to other areas and states for better opportunities.

Instead of investing in small businesses which are the future of our economy, our two last former Mayors, did the opposite.

Mayor Johnson Was The Beginning Of The End

First came Mayor Johnson who did a great job of running the local economy into the ground.

His first genius idea was to put a bunch of bars and nightclubs in the High Falls District.

We all know how that plan went, because all the bars and nightclubs that were in the area are long gone.

Fortunately, the High Falls District is full of businesses, something that should have happened right from the start.

High Falls welcome sign.
High Falls welcome sign.

Then came his Fast Ferry idea, which was an even worse idea yet.

Every week something was either breaking down on this hunk of junk, or it was in an accident.

The Fast Ferry never did get a chance to get started due to lousy promotion, and horrible money management, with a large amount suspiciously disappearing without a trace.

When the Fast Ferry finally was sold, the City Of Rochester suffered a huge loss with the poor Rochester residents paying the cost.

Then Came Along Mayor Duffy

I’ll give Mayor Duffy credit for getting rid of the oversized, poorly ran Fast Ferry.

But the way he handled the demolition of Midtown Plaza was horrible.

He went along with Elliot Spitzer’s poorly executed plan to demolish Midtown Plaza in a hurry.

Instead of fixing up the Sibley Building and moving the remaining businesses over there, he helped chase them away.

Now, the Sibley Building has been left struggling to find retail to fill all the space.

Spectra leasing office at Sibley Square.
Spectra leasing office at Sibley Square.

Maybe he needed to spend less time worrying about clean sweep, that doesn’t make much difference because city residents don’t know how to use a garbage can.

And instead should have put more time working on keeping small businesses in the area.

Now we have a huge empty lot where Midtown plaza use to stand, that the City of Rochester has no idea about what to do with it.

Finally, Rochester, New York Is Coming Back To Life

Finally, many of the old abandoned building in Rochester are being refurbished, and filled with businesses.

Charlotte square.
Charlotte square.

New apartments and houses are springing up everywhere such as Charlotte Square, with more planned where the inner loop was filled in.

We have the RTS Transit Center, that even though it’s not perfect, its way better than the old bus system we use to have.

Plus the RTS Transit Center is getting better all the time.

You combine this with the Pace Bike Rental, and Uber, and we’re well on our way to making public transportation way more friendlier.

Rochester, New York Still Has It’s Problems

Rochester, New York has come a long way since it’s ghost town days.

People are gradually moving back, and new housing is being developed to accommodate them.

Companies are starting to see the value of a mid-sized city such as Rochester, New York, with it’s highly qualified work force.

With all these great triumphs that I just mentioned, Rochester, New York still has a way to go.

Rochester, New York Needs More High Paying Jobs

There’s still not enough high paying jobs with opportunities for advancement.

Many Rochester residents are working low paying service jobs that only offer part-time.

Rochester, New York Needs Better Bus Service

While the RTS Transit Center is better than the old bus system we use to have, it still needs work.

Bus Pass Machines at RTS Transit Center
Bus Pass Machines at RTS Transit Center

We need better bus service for areas outside the city, and they need to run more often.

Downtown Rochester, New York Needs More Retail

I’d also like to see more retail, grocery stores and pharmacies, directly in the Downtown area.

These would be great conveniences  for the people who live and work in the Downtown Rochester region.

A Message To Our Politicians And Leaders

The next time you make any decisions, think about how they affect the residents of Rochester, New York.

I know that budgets can be tight, and funds are sometimes low.

But when you make decisions that result in thousands of dollars in your pockets, while people who are counting on you are struggling, there’s a problem.

Think bout the working class citizens who are struggling to find transportation, to get to work.

Don’t forget about the working class people, who are working low paying service jobs to feed their families.

And have a little compassion for the working class people who can barely afford to live, after paying bills and high taxes.

Keysha might be the face of this post, but remember that there are thousands of more faces that exist in this city.

You might be the face of politics or business, but the residents are the real faces of Rochester, New York.

Let’s Do A Little Recap Here

  • Rochester, New York has declined.
  • Was once booming.
  • Had lots of high paying jobs.
  • Needs more high paying jobs.
  • Is gradually coming back.
  • Needs better bus system.
  • Has lots of empty buildings still.
  • Starting to refurbish old buildings.
  • Rochester, New York residents have suffered.

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