Monday, August 1, 2016

A Rant

The best/worst part of the internet is the fact that it has given voice to somewhat underinformed individuals who are then able to discuss issues in which they have no expertise.  A coherent message is generally considered optional.  A perfect example is this site.  With that sentiment in mind:

Nothing gets under the skin of an optimistic Rochesterian like seeing a tiny city in the middle of nowhere have a more vibrant downtown than Rochester.  Ithaca, located in an otherwise rural Finger Lakes region, boasts a population of around 30,000 and is located in a county with a population of perhaps 101,000 residents.  Despite being surrounded by seemingly endless land, Ithaca has a surprising density that clearly values bikers and pedestrians.  In fact, Ithaca Commons, arguably the city's cultural and economic center, is a pedestrian mall that is not open to vehicular traffic (this is an often failed concept, I know.)  The result is a remarkably lively downtown that leaves Rochesterians scratching their heads.  While Ithaca prospers and our Western New York neighbor, Buffalo, suddenly has a highly desirable waterfront, Rochester boasts the following:

  • The longest discussion in the history of mankind about a performing arts center
  • Perhaps one of the most unimpressive waterfronts in the entire Great Lakes region
  • A huge amount of retrospective chatter about a boat that was not economically viable
  • A great arena by 1980's standards
  • A beautiful Main Street shopping district that includes Family Dollar and an abundant choice of lottery tickets  

This rant is not productive, but it is therapeutic.


  1. I just find that an unfair comparison. Ithaca is nowhere near the size of Rochester and doesn't have to deal with anywhere near the problems we do. We were just in Saratoga Springs this past weekend and they also have a very vibrant "downtown" but it is still miniscule in comparison to the Rochester metro. Also in both of these places the main downtown is it, what else do you do outside of there? Just from my house I can easily walk to the South Wedge, Monroe Ave, Park Ave, the East End, etc. While each of these individually may not be as vibrant as a place like Ithaca, I'd rather have plentiful options of things to do rather than live in a much smaller city.

    I also feel like I should point out that is not a knock against places like Saratoga or Ithaca, just different strokes for different folks. There are still a large variety of fun things to do in Rochester despite the negativity others may have towards downtown, and personally I love our downtown and hope to see it continue to add residents over the coming years.

    1. I agree, comparing Ithaca or Saratoga Springs to Rochester is kind of like comparing Denmark or The Netherlands to the U.S - totally different scales. And I also agree that Rochester's downtown is improving and has the bones to be a true gem. That said, every now and then it's hard to not feel the frustration of slow progress and wonder if we couldn't be doing better. After renting the new bikes at the Radisson and riding around for a few hours, it's difficult to not appreciate that we still have a major project on our hands.

      In any event, this type of ranting is not productive at all - just couldn't help myself.

    2. I'm right there with you wishing things would happen faster. The inner loop fill in does actually seem to be going along at a pretty good pace, but then a block away you have Alexander Park which has sat empty for what, 4-5 years? Seems like every year they're going to start construction "this summer" but nothing ever happens. New builds on South Ave, Alexander St, and Charlotte St along with plenty of rehabs do give me hope though.

  2. Replace "performing arts center" with "bridge," "boat" with "subway," and everything after "Family Dollar" with "deserted storefronts" and you've got Buffalo, ca. 2000. :-) Chin up; I think Rochester is headed in the same direction. You just need some trendy Millennials from NYC to decide to move home (my personal opinion of what spurred the Buffalo Renaissance; I'm sure there were a lot of other factors).