Thursday, June 19, 2008

Uptown Utica, NY "Change For Better or Worse"

White Tower, Utica, NY (torn down mid-late 90's)

Walking around the Uptown area recently, I couldn't help but notice the way new businesses like Price Chopper and the hodgepodge of drug/convenience stores have "shoe horned" themselves into their locations. Little thought is placed on trying to retain the character and quaintness of the community, unless the community has the foresight and stringent controls to maintain them. We moved to Emerson Ave when I was a kid in the the 70's , and remember many of the small businesses that were local institutions then. Few of these businesses survive today. This seems all too typical in not just Utica but surrounding communities as well. Local government seems to sell out and give in all too quickly to attract a tax paying business without concern for maintaining the character, history and charm of an area. Planning is an afterthought.
The things that make an area special are often the first things given up when things get tough and the lure of immediate tax revenue outweighs long term planning and development.
Although Uptown South Utica will probably never be remembered for its landmark historic buildings, it nevertheless is remembered for the businesses that shaped this area for many years, and became landmarks for area residents as Utica annexed this area from New Hartford and grew in the early 1900's. Businesses like Dan Dee Donuts, Hemstoughts, Dave Hayes, Brian Barr, Uptown Theatre, Jean's Beans, Uptown Grill, White Tower, Last Unicorn and so many more, are names that most Uticans over 30 easily remember and can recount their own favorable experiences there. I doubt that many people years from now will reminisce about going to the Chopper or Rite Aid. My own great grand father even had a butcher business in between where the China Wok and Uptown Liquors is now sometime around the 1920-30's (if any body has anything they can share w/me about him..would appreciate it) .
I walk past a quaint aromatic coffee shop with tables in front of it. This is where the Village Toy Shop used to be I think to myself as I look across Genesee Street and see that the Uptown Theatre across the street seems to be holding it's own. I jump into my car and as I drive off, I look at a couple sitting at one of the tables in front of the coffee shop, and I think that this is what Utica needs to plan around, and encourage more of.

6 comments:

J.Frogger said...

the Uptown area screams for better
planning and development, alas it is difficult to undue or ungrandfather what has already been done-thank God for photos
so at least we can see and then reminisce about what it used to be like

J Seelman said...

Do you have any pictures of the one downtown? I used to go there a lot for a really good cup of coffee.

clipper said...

I remember the both White Tower locations. The Uptown White Tower location was a favorite of mine when I drove the Syracuse bus for Central NY Coach Lines in the 70's. I would stop in the street with the 4-ways on, and run in for a coffee to-go, to sip on my trip to Syracuse, early in the morning.

Utica NY, the Mohawk Valley, and the Adirondack Mountains, are still my favorite places in the whole world. I look forward to the day when I can return to the area.

I love your blog. Keep on blogging, and I will keep on stopping by often, and with gratitude for your efforts.

Clipper

clipper said...

I remember the both White Tower locations. The Uptown White Tower location was a favorite of mine when I drove the Syracuse bus for Central NY Coach Lines in the 70's. I would stop in the street with the 4-ways on, and run in for a coffee to-go, to sip on my trip to Syracuse, early in the morning.

Utica NY, the Mohawk Valley, and the Adirondack Mountains, are still my favorite places in the whole world. I look forward to the day when I can return to the area.

I love your blog. Keep on blogging, and I will keep on stopping by often, and with gratitude for your efforts.

Clipper

Pat Huther said...

It's the little things that make
a house a home (thanks to John Denver) most of the comments you hear about how great this area was, and still tenaciously holds onto, is the special people and the small businesses that made this area so special for so many.It sadly through the graying out of the population and the exodus of so many wonderful people is exacting a heavy toll, which is reflected in the struggle so many are having, dealing with out of control costs of living and poor governmental planning in the valley and New York State.
Lots of luck-hope you can make it back!

Scott Adams said...


This is in response to the original post. We have something in common as we also lived in Emerson Ave (5 Emerson Ave) and only 2 house away from Goldbergs Taylor. We moved their in 1966 from NYC and lived there until 1973 whebn we moved to Buffalo, NY. Do you remember the Dan Dee Donuts right across the street next to t he Uptown theater? And right around the corner was National Auto where my parent's friend managed it. Remember Glazier Isle? I went to a Hebrew school called Hille Day School. I have incredible memories and it was great to grow up there back in the day