Memories of Midtown

Tue, 06/02/2009 - 8:00pm

The Clock of the Nations

If you grew up in Rochester between the late 1950s and the early 1980s then you remember how vibrant Midtown Plaza was. You remember when the holiday season meant a trip downtown to see the festive window displays, when McCurdy’s was the place to shop, and when Wegmans filled the corner store and everyone met at The Clock of the Nations. WXXI’s latest documentary Memories of Midtown airs Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) and WXXI-HD (cable 1011 and DT 21.1).

Chet Walker remembers working at Midtown Plaza, and how the Clock of the Nations always let him know if he was on time or late for work. Ken McCurdy remembers being able to miss school to attend the opening of Midtown Plaza. The Maggios remember meeting for the first time at Midtown, and fittingly, had their wedding reception at Top of the Plaza. These individuals and many others share their memories in Memories of Midtown. Mr. Walker and Mr. Maggio are just a few special guests that will be in studio to answer the phones during our membership campaign, and share more stories.

In the late 1950s, the retail marketplace was changing. As people moved to the suburbs, businesses followed, which had a huge impact on downtown. It took the vision of two Rochester business leaders to rise to the occasion and reinvigorate downtown, and Rochester itself. Gilbert J.C. McCurdy and Maurice Forman joined together to build the first urban, in-door mall in America that would change retail and downtown. Midtown Plaza opened on April 10, 1962, and for the two decades that followed it kept the heart of downtown beating. But the times changed, and Midtown began to struggle in the 1980s when it couldn’t compete with the suburban shopping malls.

On October 16, 2007 the City of Rochester announced that Midtown Plaza would be torn down to make room for the new PAETEC headquarters. Today, a new generation of business leaders is working to reinvent downtown, giving it a new heartbeat of activity.

Before looking ahead, WXXI asks that you take a look back. Tune in for this special presentation and recall your memories of Midtown Plaza. Narrated by 13 WHAM-TV’s Don Alhart, Memories of Midtown features never-before-seen footage, both archival and personal, along with anecdotal interviews with noted personalities.

During the broadcast you’ll have the chance to purchase your own copy of Memories of Midtown.



Memories of Midtown

I first recall going to Midtown Plaza with my grandmother. We would ride the bus downtown on a Saturday morning. We then would go shopping. Before we came home we would stop at the bakery in McCurdy's. We also would stop into Wegmans.

I loved the Clock of All Nations. I thought it was so facinating. And the Christmas tree was the biggest tree I ever had seen. It was decorated so beautifully. The monorail and seeing Santa was also exciting. My kids also got a chance to ride the monorail and see Santa.

I also worked downtown at 2 different banks. I enjoyed working downtown. I would always get my Christmas shopping done on my lunch hour. I loved all the variety of stores, such as Casual Corner, B.Formans, McCurdy's, the record store and Brad's Cookie Nook.

Thanks for creating this special DVD on Midtown Plaza.

I was disappointed to see

I was disappointed to see this program aired during pledge break !! There were frequent interruptions to pledge. I would have liked to have seen the documentary in it's entirety without all that. As for the personal interviews they could have been shown after the documentary was aired.