Your Memories of Midtown

Share your memories of Midtown here as Rochester welcomes the development of a new center city.... a new Midtown. 
After 40 plus years Midtown Plaza is coming down. The first in-door, urban shopping mall was much more than just a shopping experience. It was a multi-use facility combining retaiil, business, hotel and restaurants to form a community space that served Rochester for over 40 years.
Victor Gruen designed Midtown Plaza to be a meeting place for business, retail and community. Everyone remembers Magic Mountain, Santa and the you remember science fairs, dances, political meetings and more? Tell us what you remember. 


My Moments of Midtown Plaza!

Hello There Good People of WXXI;
WOW...Where to begin? Midtown was the place to be at! It's an enormous slice of Manhattan life right here in our beloved city. The memory that I will always cherish when I think back to Midtown, was when I was in the third grade. My catholic grade school was chosen to perform a Christmas Chorus Concert at midday, between the tree and the fountains inside Midtown Plaza. In one of the songs sung that day, I was given a solo role. I had the entire third verse to a unpopular Christmas hymn, and to this day all I can recall of it is the refrain. Anyway what I will never forget at that place in time is when I herd my voice come out over the speakers! Oh My Goodness! It Blew Me Away! The entire mall could hear me sing from what it sounded like that day. That was such an incredible feeling that everyone around herd me, and oh yes I was nervous but I gave it my all, and when I was done, I felt like I could do anything! Then my parents pulled me out of school for the rest of the day, and we all had sandwiches from Rubino's in the food court. The year was 1993, & I was Nine years old.

I also remember eating big half-moon cookies from the McCurdy Bakery before my family and I would depart from Midtown. The bakery was located just after the food court tucked away on your left. I remember so well riding on the monorail with my younger sister, and how everyone in line with us was paired up, and would fight to get the front seat of the car! I'm not going to lie when I say that every seat on that ride was great! How Ironic!

From a kids POV (aka point of view) and experiencing Midtown as one, everything that I saw in that complex was Enormous! Magic Mountain, The Christmas Tree, the fast paced escalators in McCurdy's; watch your step now, Gold covered present boxes from B - Forman's & C.O., The picture labels used to remember where you parked like; A for Ape & B for Bear, Walking the Skyway to see the trains at Lincoln First Tower, the weird smell of rubber erasers when going into Scrantom's, the many dips of the floor on the second floor or tier, All of this I still can recall!

I did have the opportunity of once more walking the grounds of Midtown. As a adult things aren't so big as you thought they were after all. On the other hand I did however pay attention to detail of the complex as far as architecture goes. I love the big ball lights in rows by Rite Aid, and the big neon Burger King sign in the Atrium. I also loved the huge circular ceiling lights rowing the side entrance where Pebbles was just before reaching Main Street; really cool art deco in all aspects of the complex.

In my opinion, I feel that the hole community would benefit the most by having the Midtown Clock placed in the Strong Museum!
Or be placed back where it was, that's if Paytec plans to recreate a revolutionized Midtown Plaza?

The clock is very much for the young and old to enjoy!! Not Few Frequent Flyers in and out of the Roc Airport!
How About That? Plus we aren't that International anyway! Flights connect out of Roc to become international, so really it's just a small Airport.

Thank you WXXI for airing this wonderful documentary of the Many Memories of Midtown, & Thank you again for allowing members such as my family, and non-members to share their untold stories of the many fond memories of Midtown Plaza! Take Care!


Mr. Paul Cuff

Midtown memories

My husband, Paul, was employed by the contractor who poured all the concrete floors at Midtown. A friend was walking by the building when it was still just open steel, saw some men sitting on the edge of the beams eating lunch. As you might guess my husband was one of the men. When he came home that evening I asked him about his lunch. Of course he had no idea my friend had seen him and called me. He said they at their lunches watching the scenery go by ( the pretty girls). The building of Midtown allowed us to buy a larger home for our growing family, which we still live in today. I remember one snowy night we went out to dinner with another employee , we went up on the 13th floor (the building was still under construction) The view was beautiful with the fresh snow and the lights reflecting on it. As years passed we took our children every year to see Santa and ride the monorail and search for ideas for their Christmas lists in all the stores. As time went on we then took our grandchildren to Midtown. One time when the youngest of the 9 was afraid to ride by himself, even tho there were about 5 or 6 other cousins also on the monorail, grandma crunched herself in one of the cars along with him. After that -no problem.! Our youngest son also sang at a Christmas program by the tree when he was in high school. Our children all have many happy memories of Midtown Plaza that we still reminisce about from time to time. While working downtown for 18 years I also spent a lot of time shopping in all the stores that occupied the mall. So as you can see, Midtown was an important part of all our lives.

My Midtown memories

My parents and I always went on a yearly holiday pilgrimage to Midtown Plaza even after its the bustling years of it and all of downtown in the were over in the early 1990’s with the closing of Sibley’s department store across the street and the opening of Irondequoit Mall (now Medley Center) in 1990 and the 1994 closings of McCurdy’s and B. Foreman’s and merger and expansion of Long Ridge and Greece Towne malls into The Mall at Greece Ridge Center. Midtown and all of downtown were especially bustling throughout the 1970’s and ‘80’s.

We always enjoyed shopping at most of the stores and crossing the Skyway bridge over Clinton Avenue to the Chase Tower to see the model train displays and shops there. The bridge was always filled with the soothing sounds of radio station WEZO and the voice of their announcer, Jerry Warner, over its speakers. I went on Santa’s lap and the monorail until I grew too big. Favorite shops at the holidays at Midtown were McCurdy’s, B. Foreman’s, Wegman’s and its successor, Record Theater, and Scrantom’s and its successor.

On Christmas Eve of 1991, a young, homeless man greeted my mother and I as we were entering the Wegman’s store, saying “Merry Christmas! God wanted me to say that to you.” The last two years, my mother took me to lunch at Top of the Plaza, with its great food, service, and breathtaking surrounding city views. At the top of the escalator from the underground parking garage below, a “Happy Hanukkah” banner, complete with a menorah, would greet us entering Midtown.

I had always thought that Midtown was not worth visiting any other time of year until we took field trips there with the summer school of the special ed school that I was attending in the mid-1980’s. I was disappointed when the teachers relayed a question and answer between myself and a clerk that there were no toy stores in Midotwn of surrounding area at the time. On one such field trip, we went there solely to visit the studio of the former WVOR 100.5 FM to see how a radio station worked and were awed by the spectacular views from the window that extended as far as Lake Ontario. In the summer of 1989, my mother, godmother, and I once came to Midtown, when downtown and the now-dormant Cornerstone Park, were still thriving, with the park’s water fountain was still running and we enjoyed marveling at the “loud” and colorful summer fashions of the day at McCurdy’s.

My elderly father remembers being shook from his bed while staying at the former Ritchford Hotel (now 50 Chestnut Plaza) by the blasting for Midtown and the parking garage and seeing the large construction trucks look like little, tiny ants in the hole.

My last memories of Midtown were participating in discussions at both forums and in the local media on what to do with the future of Midtown, now that it was mostly vacant, with the food court at lunchtime, the only time and place that it was ever “bustling” anymore in the mid-2000’s. I remember listening to the Urban Land Institute making recommendations for the Center City at a breakfast forum sponsored by the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation in June, 2005, with demolishing Midtown to make way for other uses among the recommendations. I did not know what to think of it at first, but agreed with it later. My last memory of Midtown was participating in the Downtown Design Charrette in January, 2007 on what to do with the future of Midtown Plaza and all of downtown Rochester.

Midtown Plaza

My very first memory of Midtown is going there with my best friend Corrine from 7th grade. We took the bus downtown after school, and I was just entranced ! I remember riding the escalator up to the 2nd floor where the view was even better ! As a young teen I would meet my friends there every Saturday. It was a great place to hang out. I still am in touch with some of those friends, all these years later. One snowy day in February of 1965, a photographer came to the mall to take pictures of all of us. He said he was from LOOK magazine. It was definitely the place to be!
Sibleys was a place where I spent alot of time shopping and eating at the bakery. I was never as impressed by McCurdy's as I was by Sibleys. I was very sad when both closed. Forman's was kind of out of my reach, but I used to just love to look at all that they had to offer. Later when I worked in the downtown area, I would roam that whole area, just to look, and once I remember meeting some friends at a Chinese restaurant down on East Ave.-don't remnember the name of it now...But Midtown was the starting point for all of our adventures, the place we all got together.



my memories of midtown plaza

my memories of midtown plaza are of good ones, I remeber going there with my grandmother as a child for christmas shopping and going on the momarail at christmas time. i always loved those memories. later in yearswhen I pased through downtown for my job, in the aftenoon i would meet with friends there to vist with them while waiting for the bus ride home, there was always places to go for coffee and or food while the wait. what a great loss it is that a land mark si now gone