McCurdy's was a retail giant and pioneer in Rochester for nearly a century and the last of the locally owned family department stores. Though perhaps overshadowed by Sibley's — which was profiled in an earlier "Whatever Happened To…" installment — McCurdy's certainly made its own enormous impact in Rochester. Foremost was the development of Midtown Plaza, the first downtown shopping mall in the country and a project that revitalized the city shopping scene. McCurdy's also was the first Rochester department store to branch to the suburbs when it opened in Greece's Northgate Plaza in 1953. The business started as McCurdy and Norwell Co. in 1901 before changing its name to McCurdy & Co. 18 years later. Founder John Cooke McCurdy was a transplanted Philadelphian who was born in Ireland. The flagship store opened at East Main and Elm streets. Arch-rival Sibley's was further west on Main Street at the time but moved a few years later directly across from McCurdy's. That … [Read more...] about Whatever Happened To … McCurdy’s?
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With summer here, we turn our thoughts this week to a way that Rochesterians kept cool in past years. The swimmobile was, as its name indicates, a mobile swimming pool that city workers brought to neighborhoods. Kids who otherwise couldn’t get to a pool or beach splashed about in the contraption, which looked like a semi-trailer cut in half and filled with water. City Recreation employees carted the swimmobile by truck to various locations, used water from hydrants to fill it, then hauled it away at day’s end. The city also had porta-pools that were set up for longer periods of time at various sites. Other cities, like New York City and Detroit, also used swimmobiles for a time. The longtime TV series The Simpsons even featured one in an episode. Rochester’s swimmobile debuted around 1967. A Democrat and Chronicle story that year said it was developed by then-Recreation Bureau director Joseph Caverly and copied by other agencies across the country. (Other news stories … [Read more...] about Whatever Happened to … Rochester’s swimmobile?
The Red Lion was a downtown restaurant where Rochester’s movers and shakers met to eat, drink and frequently hash out business and political deals. The business began in one of Rochester’s best-known buildings and later moved – begrudgingly – to a brand-new skyscraper just a half-mile east. The original restaurant was run by a group that included a former boxer who later became a town supervisor in Wayne County. Squabbles that forced the Red Lion to move filled news accounts for months. Two separate farewell parties were held after the initial closing date was “postponed.” A suburban version of the restaurant was on Monroe Avenue in Brighton, but this story is about the better-known downtown spot. Opened in 1968 in the Powers Building The Red Lion opened in 1968 in the Powers Building at 36. W. Main St., which had been renamed the Executive Office Building. The landmark building was Rochester’s tallest for years and was noted for engineering … [Read more...] about Whatever Happened to … the Red Lion?
A father and son wrote a book about U.P. bars. Little did they know it would take on a life of its own. THE UPPER PENINSULA – Randy Kluck liked to drink. If he wasn’t drinking wine on his front porch at his house he was drinking liquor on a barstool at some dive bar in Sault Ste. Marie, where he moved to be close to his son Kevin, who came here to attend college. The two were such buddies that Kevin refers to his dad by his first name. “He really was always my best friend,” said Kevin, 36. “So I just think of him as ‘Randy.’ ” Six years ago, they were drinking on the porch, and Randy came up with an idea — how about they spend the summer together on an epic road trip through the Upper Peninsula and write a book about all the amazing bars they’d stop at along the way? There would be so many nights they’d get to spend side-by-side on barstools, so many long drives along the empty highways, so much … [Read more...] about Father, son bond writing U.P. bars book and it becomes a cult classic
Flint, Michigan (CNN)The concrete slab stretches for miles, faded parking lines barely visible under tangled weeds. Officer Wordie Johnson drives his black Chevy Tahoe patrol car slowly along the mangled chain-link fence. "We used to watch the new cars roll off the line here," Johnson says. The 22-year veteran of the force grew up in Flint, and can still picture this place in its prime. "You had first, second and third shift of thousands and thousands of people who were working on a daily basis." The massive property at the corner of Industrial Avenue and East Stewart Avenue once housed General Motors' Buick City. The last car, a LeSabre, rolled off the line in 1999. When GM declared bankruptcy, the property was put in the hands of a trust. It would be worth millions -- if anyone wanted to buy land in one of the nation's most troubled cities. "The city that poisoned its people," Bryn Mickle, editor of The Flint Journal, wryly quotes Flint's unofficial new tagline. Good luck trying … [Read more...] about Flint: It’s not just about the water