Midtown Plaza may have killed downtown Rochester.
An interesting article in Atlantic Cities profiles Victor Greun, Midtown’s architect and the inventor of enclosed shopping malls. Greun was a huge advocate of cities and thought malls could help downtowns. Instead, his invention helped create suburbia and kill downtowns:
He hated suburbia. He thought his ideas would revitalize cities. He wanted to bring urban density to the suburbs. And he envisioned shopping malls as our best chance at containing sprawl.
Gruen wanted to create better versions of the American downtown in the suburbs. He wanted these places to be civic centers as much as commercial ones, with day cares, libraries, post offices, community halls and public art. He wanted the shopping mall to be for suburbia what the public square was to old European cities.
But his idea helped set off a chain reaction that recurred in cities everywhere. Suburban malls drew consumers who found shopping and parking in the city too difficult. They contributed to a boom in development that enabled not just shopping dollars, but whole households to relocate to suburbia. Cities, eying this exodus, tore down buildings and tried unsuccessfully to recreate the ease of parking and the shopping experience people found in the suburbs. And this only further hastened their decline.
Midtown opened in 1962. Once the novel concept of an indoor mall spread to the suburbs, the die was cast. Midtown thrived for twenty years before suburbanization took a huge tool. Now it’s been torn down.
The article also pointed out the heyday of the mall is over. In 1990, 19 malls opened in the U.S., including Irondequoit Mall. A new mall hasn’t opened since 2006 and many malls are in decline.
Greun’s legacy is clearly not what he envisioned.
Links of the Day:
– The city parking scandal raises a lot of questions. Why did the city wait so long to remove the director and how on earth did things get so bad? You can read the audit here.
– A missing dog was spotted stranded in the Niagara River near the falls by a Rochester veterinarian. The dog was rescued.
– This is pretty disgusting. Penn State awarded Joe Paterno $5.5 million as the scandal played out.