Rochester’s Liberty Pole is much more than a weird Christmas tree and bus stop. As we celebrate the nation’s independence, it’s worth looking back on this symbol of freedom.
The first Liberty Pole was put up in 1846 to celebrate July Fourth. The pine pole was 118 feet high with a ball on top. It was taken down in 1859 after a windstorm, its wood chopped up and given to a local school.
In 1860, a new pole went up. This one was 102 feet high with a wooden ball and weather vane on top. It became the site of bustling farmers markets and buildings went up all around. It crashed in an 1889 windstorm.
It wasn’t until 1965 that the city built a new Liberty Pole. Blake McKelvey wrote in the Rochester History journal:
“Perhaps no structure on the Avenue, however, stirred more controversy than the new Liberty Pole. Erected on the old Liberty Pole Triangle as part of an urban renewal project, it was designed by James H. Johnson…The stainless steel pole, 198 feet high and supported by a graceful meshwork of wires, has attracted a flood of criticism as well as praise as befits a symbol that marks the close of one era and the opening of another.”
I have a feeling a new chapter in the Liberty Pole’s history will be written. I’ve always thought the Liberty Pole is a beautiful structure and a work of art. But I’ve been frustrated at the city’s treatment of the site, which includes putting up portable toilets and allowing teenagers to skateboard on the stone.
The square could be improved and reconfigured when Winn Development takes over the Sibley Building. I hope so. The Liberty Pole deserves better.
Links of the Day:
– They just graduated from Charlotte High School and enlisted. The 18-year-olds also got married.
– A Syracuse girl sings the national anthem at her graduation ceremony. She almost didn’t make it that far.
– When I ‘m not at work, the best way for friends to get in touch with me is text messaging. If they send me a Facebook message, I don’t read it. I hate checking voicemail. I may be a bit delayed reading email. The Wall Street Journal has a great story of how to get your personal communications on the same page.