When downtown Rochester was a destination

Younger people may not realize it, but downtown Rochester was once the place to go, whether to shop or just visit. It still was when I came to Rochester in 1975. We knew that there were malls in Greece and out in Victor but they were far away and didn’t seem to offer anything we couldn’t find at Sibley’s, McCurdy’s or in Midtown.

But once the malls in Henrietta and Irondequoit were built starting in the 80s, downtown lost its charm and ability to draw visitors from the suburbs. By the 90s both stores had been sold, renamed and the downtown stores closed forever. By the time my job took me to downtown, Midtown was a shadow of its former self, with empty stores outnumbering the open ones. I haven’t been in a department store in years, and visits to a mall are limited to the Apple Store.

Midtown and McCurdy’s has been mostly torn down and replaced with some nondescript buildings housing some generic company. There are plans to renovate the tower section, which was stripped down to its steel girders. I’m sure it will be nice, as such things go, but it won’t be like it was and perhaps could have been.

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