Cities contain us. Cities hold our stories, our dreams, what we wanted to be, what we failed to become, the way we lived, what we built and why. A good city has swarms of stories, and a best city is a city in which the most narratives remain legible for the longest possible time. Stories … Continue reading Carthage


In a hundred years in any city, change is pervasive. We constantly reshape our urban places to suit our sense of what is most important, most desirable, most necessary. And so here, on Scio Street just north of East Avenue, in Rochester, we can see what that refocusing has created, thanks to Mr. Stone. Scio … Continue reading Convenience

The Main Street Bridge

Reader David Steele has asked what the street side of the Main Street bridge was like. Reader Jason Haremza told him: just like any other street, really. You'd never know the river was there. Herewith, proof. Here's the bridge from the south, looking downriver, in 1919, on a day when the river was very high. … Continue reading The Main Street Bridge

Around Brown’s Square

I found myself wandering around in my map files the other day, and I was struck by this 1820 map of the city. I noticed two things of particular importance. In the lower right of the map, there is an open space labeled "Public Square." I know this place quite well - it's Washington Square … Continue reading Around Brown’s Square

60 North Street

Block by block, I am slowly piecing together a lost city. The more I unearth, the more I am fascinated by what was once Rochester. The fineness of urban texture, the richness of that urban life a century ago, is long gone now. But the traces are beguiling, sometimes sad, and always suggestive. As I sift through the … Continue reading 60 North Street

Confronted by Insurmountable Opportunity

  Downtown Rochester today, from Google Earth. The Rochester Regional Community Design Center's (RRCDC's) Vision Plan for downtown, 2008. Pogo, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Talk about a city that is shovel-ready - yikes! As a counterweight to the desolation and destruction of downtown, the RRCDC here has created a Vision Plan, a kind of … Continue reading Confronted by Insurmountable Opportunity