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. 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 WXXI’s latest documentary Memories of Midtown.
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.
3 Memories from Midtown:
In this segment: Former Eastman School of Music student, Glenn Call, now conductor of Tuba Christmas, remembers visiting Midtown as a student. Rochester citizen, Richard Swereda, talking about Midtown being the place to go for shopping… everything you would ever want was available… especially at Christmas. Rochester citizen, Joe McDonough, talking about moving to Rochester in 1962, construction still finishing up, exciting to think of his new home as a vibrant place to live.
In this segment: Rochester citizen, Martha Bush, remembers “meeting by the clock” as a child.
In this segment: Rochester citizen and artist, Edith Lunt Small, remembers the high-end, first class shopping at Midtown Plaza.