Rearranging the Grid

As I have endlessly noted here, our city of Rochester adopted the scorched earth policy for automobility at an early moment: streetcars removed in 1941, subway demolished in 1956, expressways as our emerald necklace in the 1950s, a mid-century Inner Loop that strangled our central city, demolition of everything possible downtown in favor of parking, … Continue reading Rearranging the Grid

Make Mine a Double

Recently I have found myself considering an unusual and interesting housing type, one which must exist in other places but has a special character and presence here in Rochester. Here is an example: This is a double house, or duplex house. It looks like a large single-family home, but it is actually two units. We … Continue reading Make Mine a Double

Do I Dare Write About Parcel 5?

There is an empty site in our downtown. It is called Parcel 5. It has resulted from the slow but steady redevelopment of an area once occupied by an enclosed but long gone shopping mall called Midtown Plaza. New buildings are to the west, and an older and ugly existing building is to the east. … Continue reading Do I Dare Write About Parcel 5?

ROC the Riverway (really – that’s what they’re calling it)

Ugh. Somehow, we seem incapable of naming any important planning or design initiative anything other than ROC. ROC is the airport code for Rochester. Must we really persist in this ROC title for our restaurants, bars, carpet cleaners, dry cleaners, home inspectors, car repair shops, bagel shops, theaters, barber shops, moving companies?... And urban design … Continue reading ROC the Riverway (really – that’s what they’re calling it)

TEDx Rochester

We're giving a talk for TEDx Rochester on November 4th. You can go to to learn more. We will be live-streamed around town, so why not take a look and see what's up? You can find the live-stream here: The talks start at 10:00am. And stay tuned for any after-talk video that may pop … Continue reading TEDx Rochester

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

Let’s Pretend

Hong Kong. In the last few months, we have been wandering around, and wondering at, some memorable places in some amazing cities. Here are a few more highlights. Nanjing Road, Shanghai. Nha Trang, Vietnam. Cochin, India. Dubai, UAE. Your author at lunch, in the Botanic Gardens, Wellington, NZ. As I have been reflecting on all that we have seen, … Continue reading Let’s Pretend

Rochester and Sustainability: A Report Card

  Photo by David Mohney, City Hall Photo Lab, from the Monroe County Library Collection, c-0001910. Rochester's green grade: F. F for Fail. Failing. Failed. I went looking around this morning at what cities are doing to become more sustainable. I went to a bunch of .gov web sites from a selection of municipalities to see … Continue reading Rochester and Sustainability: A Report Card

Rearranging Deck Chairs

Downtown Rochester in 2005. Have a parking space. Like most American cities, our city has been very badly damaged by the car. Not only do we have a wickedly unhelpful transit system, but we have the Inner Loop, half of downtown is used for parking lots, we have expressways all over the place throughout the region, … Continue reading Rearranging Deck Chairs