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I walked from Corn Hill to the East End early this afternoon.

Downtown was a ghost town. I realize it was New Year’s Day. But every time I make this trip on Saturdays or Sundays, it’s downright spooky. There were very few cars and people. It’s like that on weekends no matter the season.

I felt like Will Smith in I Am Legend – minus the zombies.

Absent an event at the Blue Cross Arena or the library having Saturday hours, it’s so quiet. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on Court St. always has people outside in the summer waiting for tables. But there are big swaths of pure loneliness along the way. The Midtown block is particularly unsettling.

Speaking of the arena, are the missing letters on its sign victims of metal thieves or wear and tear?

When your downtown functions mostly as a corporate business district, with restaurants all closed up at night and on weekends, the emptiness is to be expected.

There were signs of life in the East End. A couple families ice skated at Manhattan Square Park. Spot Coffee was open, but sadly out of the brownies I’d been craving. (I wish Corn Hill had a coffee shop!) The Little Theatre was in business.

If and when Midtown is rebuilt, it’s important to connect it to the East End, which is only a stone’s throw away.

7 Responses to My Sunday Stroll

  1. Have there been large scale studies to figure out what would bring people back? I hate to say it but I think a little laziness is part of it. People want to park in front of their destination. PR is part of it too. I hear people say things like “all the murders” but that’s not true. I know that the loitering kids waiting for buses is part of the problem too. Lots of contributing factors.

  2. January 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm Douglas responds:

    We r so lucky to have some one like you pointing out those things I have missed in 80+ years live’g in the hood

  3. Don’t think you need studies to figure out why it’s empty on the weekends. Ninety-five percent of the real estate is office space, and the other five percent is coffee shops and lunch spots that cater to the office workers. All of that’s closed on the weekend.

    There are no murders downtown… when was the last time there was a murder inside the inner loop? I work downtown and I’m often there on weekends and late nights. The perception of downtown being unsafe isn’t based on reality.

  4. Sean, that was my point. Crime (other than car break ins) is almost non-existent. So what do people want there for a destination? My wife and I come downtown for Geva, lawyers, BCA events, occasional banquets, overnights at hotels and thats about it. We would see Broadway theatre if the theatre was newer and more comfortable.
    I think that “event” tyoe destinations are not enough. We need an eclectic mix of shops, eateries, kids stuff and so on. Right now there is nothing to make us walk around the area after said events.

  5. I fondly recall the busy weekend activity in downtown Rochester (department stores, movie theaters, restaurants, coffee shops, having a delicious piece of warm apple pie at East Avenue’s Manhattan Restaurant, etc). I agree that connecting new Midtown facilities with the East End is vital. Also, if the Rochester Philharmonic continues to gain momentum, perhaps they could have Sunday matinee concerts, in addition to their Thursday & Saturday night schedules. (The New York Philharmonic does this.)

  6. January 2, 2012 at 10:09 am Mark Tichenor responds:

    Downtown’s weekend emptiness is typical of cities. Boston’s office district and Toronto’s financial core are the same way, albeit on a larger scale. No one likes to play among the office towers.

    That said, we need vibrant city districts as well, and we kinda have that in the East End and somewhat in Corn Hill Landing. Maybe not so much on the afternoon of the New Year’s Eve holiday, but in general, our entertainment areas are appropriate for our mid-sized city.

    • I should be able to get a cup of coffee, sit and read my iPad on. Sunday afternoon without leaving my downtown neighborhood.

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