Friday, July 21, 2006

Midtown Plaza mall "Clock of the Nations"

Midtown Plaza - 1963

You've seen this mall and its famous clock frequently here at this blog, in pictures, so now how would you like to see it in action, and from right around the time the mall first opened?

I took the original 1963 Jam Handy industrial film short, Rochester: A City of Quality, and edited out all but the Midtown Plaza shopping center footage, leaving only the rich, creamy, nougaty shopping mall center! Hope you dig the few minute's worth of film I ended up with. As a bonus, here's another shot of the "Clock of the Nations", which sits in "America's Town Square", in Midtown...

Rochester, New York - circa 1960s

Back of postcard reads: "The unique 'Clock of the Nations' is the focal point of Midtown Plaza mall. Visitors gather each hour and half-hour to watch animated dolls dance to music of twelve nations. Midtown Plaza, in the heart of downtown Rochester, NY, boasts more than 1,000,000 square feet of stores, shops, services."

Mall history: 1961 - present
Architect: Victor Gruen
Current website: here
Info from Wikipedia
Current aerial view
Previous entries: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Note: Video is Flash format. If you don't see it, you must temporarily disable your ad-blocking programs.


Blogger BIGMallrat said...

How freakin' cool is that? Rochester, City of Quality! It's like a Simpsons episode.
Watching the clock in action was a definite treat.
How is this mall doing now? I checked their Website and they had a lot of service-related shops, rather than national or fashion retailers.

Fri Jul 21, 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the only department store there is Peebles. I live in Syracuse about an hour from Rochester. All of upstate NY is pretty depressed sadly. Watching this movie only gives me hints that it was once prosperous. Now upstate would be excited to get a Starbucks

Fri Jul 21, 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

Somehow this clock always reminds me of those sets of multi-coloured sewing thread. Still, it was nice to see the marionettes in action. Reminds me of the animated window displays a local department store always used to have at Christmas time.

And by the way, the vintage J.C. Penney in the brief clip of the outdoor shopping center was interesting. I don't think I've ever seen a Penney's that looked like that.

Fri Jul 21, 05:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, pure bliss!

Fri Jul 21, 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger L Otto said...

My parents , too moved out of Rochester and into the suburbs in 1963. But, every Christmas, they took us to see the clock at midtown and all of the other activities the holiday would bring to the mall. I have taken my own two daughters to see the clock a few times. thanks for the memories!

(still in the Rochester area)

Fri Jul 21, 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger labelscar said...

Watching this clip was kind of bittersweet, since the mall today is really not doing so well. On my visit in early 2005 (which I posted about recently at it seemed somewhat vacant and was really not a terribly effective "centerpiece" of the city anymore.

On the plus side, it looks exactly the same today as it does in this video, and with a little re-investment could really become a neat place again. I guess it's nice to see that it was once more prosperous.

Sun Jul 23, 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous tkaye said...

The whole time I was watching that, I thought, "My God, that narrator's voice is so familiar." I saw the name Ken Nordine at the end and had to look into his work... turns out he's done thousands of commercial voice-overs since the '50s. And see also for a considerable amount of other material as well.

I miss voices like his in advertising -- friendly and warm but still masculine and authoritative. It seems as if most male voice-over talent these days have very wimpy voices -- I guess they're trying to be hip and sound more like an "everyman," but it just doesn't work for me.

Sun Jul 30, 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous gedward said...

Wow! What a great film from a wonderful era. Rochester should be proud!

Thu Aug 10, 01:02:00 AM  
Anonymous didi said...

This is such an awesome video, Keith. I was out of the country recently for a month and was out of the loop with your site. But this makes for such a warm welcome back. As someone already pointed out the design of that JC Penney seen in this video was unusual. It reminds me of a suburban bank branch not a department store. Any idea who the architect was and if the building is still standing? I love the clock but for some odd reason it creeps me out as well.

Wed Aug 16, 01:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At Christmas in Midtown Plaza, they set up a Mountain and a monorail that drives around the clock and through the mountain. Santa sits on the mountain and listens to Christmas wishes. It was truly one of the best parts of Christmas growing up in Rochester.

Sun Sep 10, 09:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Nan B. said...

I just loved this! My family has all left the Rochester area but I was 13 when this film was shot - and remember how proud we all were of our wonderful clock and our mall. I spent many happy hours there and at Pittsford Plaza. Many many thanks - and congrats on your great blog!

Sun Sep 17, 03:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Born and raised in Rochester, but left in 1979. Still go back yearly to visit, and occasionally check out Midtown. It was a pretty cool place as a kid, lots of good stores- it was also surrounded by major retail stores like Sibley's, McCurdy's, and a couple others- some had remote entrances from the mall, but all together, it was quite a retail draw, and I remember Christmas shopping there regularly. I put my Texas-born daughter on the Christmas monorail when she was 4 or 5, so that was 14 years ago, and it was still running? You always saw tons of coins in those fountains, because people would make a wish and toss in a coin. The clocks were probably engineering genius for their day. They're pretty cheesy now (I don't think they've updated them, and some of those countries don't exist anymore!), but a piece of history that should never be allowed to disappear. All those stores are gone, so all that's left is a couple low end retailers- nothing of significance. Don't see how they keep the doors open.

Mon Sep 18, 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was definitely a great place to visit as a kid. The clock was great and every Christmas they erected a kid-sized monorail that went all around the first floor.
I haven't worked downtown in years but when I left it was a shadow of its former self.
Thanks for the memories!

Mon Sep 18, 07:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Russell said...

Sadly, I doubt we'll ever see that sort of atmosphere in Midtown again. The same charming architecture is now reviled by modernists and those who are into the latest and new. Also, the demographics are a challenge. You won't see many well to do white folks from the suburbs coming downtown to shop in urban locations. It's been a challenge for a while now. The talk now is to tear the place down and put apartments in... sooner or later you'd think people would want stores to go with all the new residents downtown (about 5,000 additional or so in the past couple years) But, they still drive back out to Wegmans and Henrietta to shop... then again, when you close yourself in a gated community living in a condo... you're not really experiencing city life very much...

Wed Sep 20, 12:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Shoebox said...

Here's the place now, for "then and now" purposes: (Note that the clock is still there!)

The Pittsford Plaza is still in existence, as well...and the J.C. Penney was there until just a few years ago.

Wed Sep 20, 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

What a great trip down memory lane!
Too bad B. Forman Co. and McCurdy's is no longer in business. They were a class act!
Most retail shopping has been relegated to the suburban malls where it is more accessible both from a standpoint of proximity and ease of parking.

My grandmother used to take me to Midtown when I was a child. I loved the clock of nations. It later became a favorite spot to take my children during the holidays. We rode the monorail and enjoyed the lovely Christmas decorations.

Now I take my grandchildren shopping at specialty stores in suburban neighborhood malls or order gifts online. Times certainly have changed.

Rochester is still a great to do business. It takes a little creative ingenuity.

Again, thanks for the happy memories.

Wed Sep 20, 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've added your video to our website: Across the street from Midtown Plaza a team of smart, well-intentioned, and creative people are putting their shoulders to the wheel in an effort to build a multi-use facility---Renaissance Square. The team includes Monroe County officials, Moshe Safdie, and the Rochester-based architectual foursome entitled,"The Associates". The light being shined on their efforts has also put Midtown Plaza back on the discussion block, and as Jim Russell notes above, the Mall houses strong architectual underpinnings, warts, and a wide range of potentialities. Thanks to the video editors!

Wed Sep 20, 03:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now Chase has decided to reel in their workers from the adjacent Seneca and McCurdy buildings into Chase Tower- there goes a lot of the potential customers for remaining Midtown vendors.

Whatever a "potentiality" is, it's probably appropriate to try it now!

Thu Sep 21, 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved the clip! I spend so much of my youth down town. I have such great memories of that mall. My sister used to take me by bus, we would spend the day down town. Oh and Christmas time.... sigh.
I now live out of state and miss so much of the city! It was just bittersweet to see the clip!

Thu Sep 21, 11:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those 2 young girls on the right of the postcard in blue uniforms, one with a red sweater and one with a trenchcoat are me and a friend. We would get off the bus from Mercy High in Brighton on the east side of Rochester, hang out in Midtown and wait for a bus to Greece on the west side. It took forever to get home!

Fri Sep 22, 07:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was soooo cool to see a video of the Midtown plaza of the past. I went to college at MCC's downtown campus located across the street in Sibley Tower, and would walk over daily for lunch and to check out what remains of the plaza. It is a real treat to see what it actually looked like when my grandparents were my age and it was booming with the businesses like B Forman Co, that are a mere ghost now.

Fri Sep 22, 08:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Jimmy said...

I was in awe of that clock too and marveled at the complexity of it in 1967 when I first meved to Rochester. My son loved the monorail and went every year. One year he was sick, so I took my daughter downtown. She was scared to ride the monorail alone. Dad solved the problem and rode with her in the CRAMPED compartment. I'd do that again in a heartbeat!!

Fri Sep 22, 11:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris K. (former upstate NY'er) said...

Oh, what a treat! It takes me back to the time when my girlfriend Judie and I would ride the bus (with a couple of transfers) to downtown Rochester to shop. The wonderful stores (remember shopping in the basement?) and having lunch out made us feel so grown-up (we were only 14-15 years old at the time). Fortunately, it was a kinder, safer time when going downtown wasn't something to fear....just great memories!

Sun Sep 24, 10:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Captain said...

After being out of the city for about ten years I returned with my wife in '93 to show her the clock. I tried to take a photo and was thrown out of the mall!!!!

Mon Sep 25, 08:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't lived in Rochester since 1970. I was a junior at Eastridge H.S. in Irondequoit in1963 when the mall opened. My friends and I would take the #10 bus downtown to shop and have a bite to eat . The Manhattan rest. served the best pepperpot soup and apple brown betty. I have yet to find any equal to them. My all time 2 favorite Roch. memories are of the Christmas tunnel in Sibleys in the toy department...magical!!!! I was able to take my kids there before it was discontinued, maybe in the early 80's.

The best summer time event was the Republican's picnic in the 18th ward at Webster Park. Pony rides, popcorn, soft drinks, ice cream, hot dogs, etc. And to top it all off knock your socks off fireworks...kid heaven!

Thanks for the memories.


Mon Sep 25, 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember what Midtown Plaza was like during the Holiday season. Every year my parents would take us downtown to do christmas shopping-it was lively and decorated so well. As kids, me and my sister would ride the monorail which was set up going around the clock. They always had an awesome Santa every year. As we got older it was easier to go shopping at Midtown by hopping on the 10 Dewey Bus with a bunch of friends and riding downtown. Those were fun times. It really is a downright shame that the City of Rochester has neglected this old gem and allowed businesses to leave. I guess they thought by getting into the studpid fast ferry business and spending money on soccer stadiums was the way to go to get Rochester back on its feet!

Tue Sep 26, 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

I am a Rochestarian and remember coming home from college to see the new mall and especially the CLOCK! I took my kids and then my grandkids to ride the monorail at holiday time.

Today, the sole reason I have for going to the mall is to get my haircut, been going to Mike at "Midtown Barbers" since 1974. The place feels abandoned most times I go there. The current management does not seem able to encourage any kind of excitement or energy. It is more of a bus transit point than anything else even though it is tied into the city's Skyway System. Even the office tower is almost empty and parking in the garage is very easy these days.

As for ease of parking, Midtown always had it over the suburban malls. Even for a fee it was great enclosed parking away from Rochester's notorious weather and no long walks across exposed acres of mall lot.

I really enjoy seeing the clock in action surrounded by 60's people. It is very different today, although the building and structure have not changed the people certainly have.

Thank you

Thu Sep 28, 02:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Adriane said...

A friend still in Rochester sent me this, and I was just blown away. Felt like I spent my life hanging around that clock--Kept expecting my Mom to pop out of Casual Corner where she worked from the earliest days. I worked the grill at the pharmacy. Christmas was definately the best. I feel really sad that my kid has never had those kinds of memories...

Thu Sep 28, 05:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had forgotten about the monorail! I grew up in Fairport and remember our chorus singing carols at Midtown during the holiday season...probably in the late '80's or very early '90's. At that point it still seemed pretty vital, at least to my eyes. I worked a few blocks from Midtown a few years ago and the clock of the nations looked pretty sad, a physical representation of nostalgia. The whole mall just felt empty.

Thu Sep 28, 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How sweet. Brings back memories growing up in Rochester. I moved away 30 years ago but plan to move back. The comment that Rochester is depressed couldn't be more off the mark. It is a beatiful city, sprawling suburbs, picturesque gardens and who could forget LAke Ontario!

Thu Sep 28, 07:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have wonderful memories of watching the clock in Midtown. I even remember riding the rollercoster/train thing at Christmas time. Rochester is a great town and am happy to still live close. Unfortuantaly, I had to leave, I moved to Buffalo for love! But still consider Rochester home and call myself a Rochestarian!

Fri Sep 29, 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous dennis jones said...

Around 1965 or 1966 there was a cool music store on the second level overlooking the clock. This music store only sold Vox musical equipment. I think it might have been called Mid-town Music. They had the teardrop guitars, the Super Beatle amps, the Continental Organs, pretty much the whole line of Vox Equipment. I bought a Vox Fuzztone there but when my brother borrowed it to take to school it was stolen. Remember "Louie" from Mid-town?

Fri Sep 29, 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

I grew up in Rochester when Midtown was being built, and now live in Dayton, Ohio. It was an exciting project when it was first open, and was unique in the nation. I use to go thru Midtown everyday, taking the RTA bus to Aquinas and working downtown after work. I became interested in urban planning, and eventually was the Dowotown Planning Coordinator for Columbus, Ohio during the 1970's. We utilized Midtown as a prototype for a major downtown project, the Columbus City Center, built by the Taubman Company. Underground parking, hotel, bus station, retail, office, walkway connections were all copied so to speak from the Midtown design. Like Midtown, the Columbus project had a very successful run, but has had difficulties due to the proliferation of regional malls around Columbus. Retail centers must eventually "reinvent themselves", like Pittsford Plaza has in recent years. Hopefully, city leaders can come up with a better idea than tearing Midtown down! We never had anything like it here in Dayton.

Mon Oct 02, 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Third born generation of Roch.

We left "Rottenchester's"forgettable climate in 1986 Didn't miss it then and miss it even less now.

Unfortunately greed of the local politicians left the city a mere shadow of its once hopeful future.
Bless you all left behind... holding one of the heaviest tax bags in the nation.

Mon Oct 02, 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just came back from Rochester, my hometown. I ventured downtown and was sickened by what it has become. I used to work in midtown, now it is an empty hole. Good job, Rochester! Thank god I left.

Mon Oct 02, 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't particularly care for the last posted comment. Obviously the person that said that has deeper underlying problems. I've lived in Rochester for almost 15 years now and while it's true that Midtown isn't what it used to be (Even when I first moved here), Rochester is still a great place to live. My job has taken me to many cities across the country and while there's a lot of cool places out there, it's really made me appreciate right where I am. Perhaps that's why I see a lot of people actually RETURN to Rochester. I think I need to go take a look at the clock tomorrow. It's been a while. Maybe I'll even make a video and post it. :)

Mon Oct 02, 11:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too use to live in Rochester, and as a child , we would go downtown , Midtown Plaza was our and sometomes only stop , and the clock was a eye catcher, I remember just standing there just looking @ it , I was spell bound when the music played , as the years went on I started taking my own children there so they could appreciate it ,by the time the 80's rolled around, downtown began to change as well as Midtown , but the clock remain the same ( thank - goodness ), even now when I visit there I still enjoy it

Wed Oct 04, 12:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed looking at the clock as well as it is one of the only items to bring vibrancy to Midtown. I agree with the posting which mentions Rochester going down hill. Every time I come home for a visit, I get depressed at looking at nothing but grey buildings with no life. I have had the pleasure of living abroad and have discovered there are colors and other "Shades of Grey" out there.

Wed Oct 04, 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous GW said...

My sister in law just sent me the link to this. wow being in Rochester my hole life I kinda forgot how great Rochester used to be. I remember when I first went down to midtown as a kid , I was afraid to ride the monorail, you know it is really sad.... not only has the mall disappeared but most people would not even be downtown after 6pm. Least we forget the disappearances of Kodak,Xeorox,Bausch&Lomb, the list can go on.... so sad- thanks for the memories

Wed Oct 04, 06:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. A friend from High school just forwarded this to me. You see, though I live in SF now, I grew up in Rochester, and at one time worked in Mid Town mall. Oh how annoying I thought that clock was then! That was back in the early Eighties when I was doing window design... the very windows shown in the video at B. Forman Co. Unfortunately the city has continued to spread out and Downtown seems to have lost all its luster on my last visit.
All the big department stores are gone, and with them the alot of the charm and reason to go downtown. I have to agree with the other folks who have returned to Rochester only to be saddened at the loss of a vibrant downtown atmosphere.
This is a great vintage clip, thanks again for a moment of real nostalgia.
Where can we see the rest of the film?

Wed Oct 04, 10:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember going to Midtown shooping at Christmas time, traveling by bus from Chili Center with my friends. We would go all throughout the mall and walk across the skyway to Sibleys where they had the "Windows of the World" magic corridor, and Santa Claus at the end. I would buy a gold trumphet, eat lunch, shop down in the basement of McCurdys, ride the monorail thru Magic Mountain, all of us squeezing in together! I miss those innocent times, Thanks for the memories!

Thu Oct 05, 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Angelothepingpongguy said...

Rochester...I used to work at that little resturent in the drug store in the back by the bus terminal with my buddy Joe C. I loved that clock... I think I dated that little girl from Mercey High in the picture...My family ( 5 kids) would take the bus every year to Midtown for Christmas. Then we got a car, moved to greece and never looked back....If you see my buddy Joe, tell him he owns me breakfast...Ang M....

Sun Oct 08, 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Sparky said...

Wow, seeing the Midtown Clock has brought back many wonderful memories. I met a beautiful girl there and is now my wife, Mary C. We have been searching for our friend Ang M and come to find out resides, here in Rochester. It was great getting together with my friend and sharing our marionette collection. Ever since we met at the clock my wife and I have collected marionettes from around the world. Every year at day light savings time my beautiful bride and I dress as marionettes and prance up and down our street ringing each others chimes.

Mon Oct 09, 12:50:00 AM  
Blogger Angelothepingpongguy said...

It's all coming back to me. I do remember this Joe C follow also having a passion to collect shirt pockets, boxes of fish and hamberger patties. And let us not talk about free parking and free drug store items. Hair cut anyone? To this day, I do not eat chili, although I will order chili in hopes of winning a watch or ring or some other treasure. Yes, the clock brings back memories.

Mon Oct 09, 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous candi said...

midtown...and downtown rochester...used to be fabulous! not any more. back in '66 my girlfriend and i were upstairs at midtown. i put my burmuda handbag on the railing and everything in it fell out onto the floor!! all the stores, the tower restaurant in sibley's with the men only section, forman's, manhatten restaurant pot pies, the bar in midtown tower...we didn't know
how good we had it!! there's an authentic wooden totem pole there that should be highlighted too. if you hadn't been there, you'd never realize just how bad downtown now is.

Tue Oct 17, 11:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! What great memories that brings back! We all moved out to Colorado 10 years ago and haven't seen the "timepiece" or Midtown since years prior to that. I used to sell shoes in the Sibley's children's dept. as a high-schooler and remember the gourmet foods dept. you passed through when you came up from the parking garage into Sibleys. Taking the bus from Gates-Chili downtown to meet friends for lunch and shopping was a big deal in the 70's. Thanks so much for the "trip". Makes me sad my kids missed out on this.

Thu Oct 19, 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've worked in downtown Rochester for 25 years. When I first moved here, my husband and I went downtown to see the wonderful mall and its Clock of Nations. My children rode the momorail every Christmas. Downtown is definitely not what it used to be and it's very sad. However, with all the loft apartments and new condos being built in the downtown area, I have hopes that Midtown Plaza will be revitalized and not torn down. It was a treasure and could be again!

Fri Oct 20, 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live right by Midtown mall as an Eastman School student. Eastman students all refer to the mall as "ghetto mall" and only use it for the post office and the occasional necessities at rite aid. The video shocked me that the mall was once a place to be. Let's hope that one day it will be less ghetto.

Fri Nov 17, 10:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea stay in Rochester and become stagnant and old.

Sun Nov 26, 08:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This video brought back memeories. I was born in Rochester, but left when before I saw the mall. I did go back in 1974 and got to see the mall and clock for the first time. Then the mall was still something to see. Its sad to hear its changed so much. Sometimes progress isn't so good for a city. Hopefully the city will clean up and become a show place again.

Fri Dec 01, 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in the Rochester area, and some of my happiest memories are of going downtown during the holiday season. The Midtown Clock was something really special. The magic mountain and monorail at Christmas were amazing. I also remember the Sibley's grocery store that you walked through when you came in from the parking garage. Best lemon pie from that bakery I ever had! And, of course, the Sibley's Toyland and Magic Corridor. the world has changed! Thanks for posting the video - wonderful memories.

Sat Dec 09, 11:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Rochester too. Going to Midtown Plaza was always a favorite holiday activity of ours - the monorail, Santa, the changing-color fountain. It's a shame the MM doesn't have the same draw as it once did. I was hoping to one day bring my son up to Rochester to ride the monorail at Christmas time one year.

Fri Jan 05, 08:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we as a family loved to go downtown to see the mall at christmas time and to go to sibley's to the piggybank shop in there to buy gifts for all the family members it was only for the children to go in and shop and to go to mccurdy's to eat and go to the bakery for our treats it was always so much fun for all of us. i always remember and will never forget

Sat Jan 27, 07:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was also a child during the early 70's and my family and I would always go to Midtown for Christmas. The monorail, magic mountain, Santa Claus, the huge Christmas tree, even the underground parking garage. I can remember how exciting it was after Mom and Dan parked the car and we came up the escalators into the main plaza concourse and the first thing we saw was the back side of magic mountain. It was awesome. The monorail would go right through the mountain. I do miss those days. My wife and I brought our children several years ago when they decided to put the monorail back, but it just wasnt the same, no where near as magical as I remembered. My family and I still reside in the suburbs of Rochester, and while I work in the City, I very rarely if ever bring my family downtown, and for good reason. We really need a casino or a larger draw to revitalize our downtown. It's a shame what's happened to it thus far.

Tue Feb 06, 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger Kangoon said...

They sure were confident about Rochester back then. The narrator cited the good jobs that Rochester people had so they could support the mall. I wonder if he could make the same claim today.

Sat Apr 14, 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great clip. Brought back some great memories of riding the monorail at Christmas time. While its too bad Midtown Mall has fallen on hard times, those naysayers about downtown are so wrong. As someone who moved back to Rochester from a far more "cosmopolitan' city, I couldnt be happier living downtown. You suburbanites who dont come downtown are missing out. Vibrant nightlife in the East End, some really great restaurants. The recent growth in Corn Hill, the addition of so many new living spaces, i.e. lofts and condos. Park Ave is great, wonderful ballpark. Lots of culture, great architechture. Just last weekend I had dinner at 2Vine, took in a movie at the Little Theatre and went for drinks after, great Fri night. But whatever, stay in your strip mall suburbs. More parking for me.

Tue May 01, 02:01:00 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Rochester D&C October 16, 2007

As soon as fall 2011, the largely vacant Midtown Plaza will be gone, replaced by the new world headquarters for one of the area’s fastest growing companies.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced this morning that telecommunications firm PATEC Communications will put up a high-rise where Midtown is now.

Tue Oct 16, 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

There's a group on flickr:

Tue Oct 16, 03:44:00 PM  
OpenID DHutch457 said...

The video shown brought back tons of memories for this native Rochesterian. I was five years old when Midtown opened back in 1962 and I can remember riding the monorail back when I was little (it's been going that long!). I always loved to watch the Clock of Nations though I must admit the Japanese Kabuki dancer with his long red hair and pasty white face scared me a bit. Those with really good memories might remember Bozo's Playland on the Terrace level or Cramer's located in the back of the mall or the toy store next to Wegman's. I even worked in the McCurdy's that was in the video and as I currently work across the street from Midtown, I park in the Midtown garage.
Sadly, as of this writing, Midtown will soon be closing down for good. Only a few stores remain. The Clock of Nations was removed and is going to be cleaned and repaired. It will be temporararily placed on display at the Rochester International Airport for a few years. Eventually the clock will take up residence at it's final home at the Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Sat Jul 12, 12:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course things have changed, but I cherish my memories. Yes, we all remember the Clock and the Monorail, but,as an Eastman Preppie, I recall getting my 1st record album (Beatles White)at Midtown Records, a cool metal lace ring at Paraphernalia Boutique on the 2nd floor (and there was another boutique next to that...), a chocolate malted at the lunch counter between Sibley's and Wegmans. There was a post office there, too. Penny wishes at the fountains and getting shooed away from the rails by security. My mind is fuzzy on the eastside area by McCurdy's that had the Leather store and Hershberg's Jewelers or the other side that led to the bus terminal. Can anyone recommend any Downtown Rochester sites that might further stir my fond memories of McGillicutty's, Eddie's Chop House, Cathay Pagoda restaurants Scrantoms, Music Lover's (Main Street)..? EA

Sun Aug 03, 06:43:00 PM  
Anonymous digitaljunkie said...

Sadly, Midtown Plaza closed to the public for good on July 25, 2008. I posted video clips of this event on YouTube and a photo album is on my website. An auction of assets left inside of the mall will be held at Midtown on August 14, 2008. Unfortunately, our Monorail will not be up for bids. City Hall decided to store it until God knows when. Our Clock of Nations is supposed to make its debut at the Greater Rochester International Airport this month. Funny, it was supposed to go up last month as well. Does anybody know why there is a delay? I would hate to see this clock remain in storage until 2012. As for our Totem Pole and Freedom Eagle, I believe the Seneca Park Zoo has yet to display them. I could be wrong. Other various historical items have disappeared from Midtown Plaza without a trace! City Hall did not even mention their new home(s). These items include two brass plaques from B. Forman Co., a Midtown Plaza 15th anniversary brass plaque, a 25th anniversary Edith Lunt Small painting, and a sculpture that was in Midtown since 1962. They have not gone up on the auction block either.

Mon Aug 11, 07:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

August 2008 - Sadly Midtown Plaza is about to be demolished to make way for a corporate HQ. But the Clock has been saved! It's just been unveiled in a new location - the Rochester Monroe County Airport.

Rochester is making efforts to revitalize it's downtown area with new residential building. I hope it succeeds.

Mon Aug 18, 06:40:00 PM  
Anonymous vonholdk said...

Born, lived and still here in Rochester seeing this clip brought back great times in the downtown area. Not only was it fun to shop, the Mall was a meeting place for family and freinds.

At Christmas time it was also a delight. The monorail, the largest Christmas tree found in the Rochester area, and Santa on snow mountain. What I really miss is the stores and how they decorated at Christmas time. The animated dolls that told different stories about the meaning of Christmas. The dolls were at least as tall as a two year old! Breakfast and photos with Santa, and the Salvation Army bells everywhere you went. Sibley's & Mc Curdy's added to the delightful Christmas air. The Nutcracker Suite at the Eastman was the start of the holiday season. All ages enjoyed the holiday spirit! I can remember the stores being so packed there were times you could hardly turn around. Buses were jammed pack, and parents did not have to worry about their kids and safety issues like we do today.

During the year various schools and orchestras and dance recitals would perform in front of the clock. There was always something going on for all different ages. Midtown was also chosen by many high schools to hold their school proms. Stores in the downtown area were always generous to donate their decorations for such events.

The update is the clock is now refurbished (by Optimation) and is at the Rochester International Airport for the next four years (2012). Then it will find a permanent home at Strong Hospital in the beautiful Galisano Children's Ward. Many children suffering with cancer will be delighted and just for a few moments forget the hard time they are going through. Personally I would like to see the clock go straight to the children's ward and forget the airport. But hey, know one asked me! :)

Midtown Mall was recently torn down and PATEC will build it's headquarters there.

Thanks for the memories!

Mon Aug 25, 10:32:00 PM  
Anonymous digitaljunkie said...

Midtown Plaza will not be demolished until June of 2009. I actually went to the Greater Rochester International Airport to see our Clock of Nations on August 13, 2008. A security guard told me I needed a boarding pass to get near it! Monroe County officials want to make it so we can only see this clock during the holiday season. It sure makes me want to vote for Maggie Brooks a second time around...

Sat Aug 30, 01:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Mall, the first one in the US has closed as of the end of July, 2008. It will be torn down to make way for Paetec's new headquarters.

Sun Sep 07, 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sad to see this mall close it's doors. Great video..

Fri Sep 12, 07:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Born and raised in Charlotte ('60-'78) the photo of the Mall Clock gave me that claustrophobic, suffocating feeling I get when visiting my childhood home and old high school. A sort of return to Lilliput feeling. Beautiful though ain't she?

Fri Sep 19, 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We loved Midtown Plaza! We lived in the 10th ward and rode the bus every week to shop there! The day after Thanksgivng was always a treat for children when they saw Santa and rode the monorail and Sibley's Christms tunnel. Also all the great displays in the outdoor windows! Will it ever get that nice again?

Fri Sep 19, 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger slfisher said...

I'm here in Rochester sorting through my parents' effects after the death of my dad. I was born in the 19th Ward in 1959, and I remember the clock (I can't remember the monorail though). We used to go every year the day after Thanksgiving to see the decorations, though my recollection is that often the clock wasn't functioning correctly -- not all the little domes would open up, etc.

Also remember going shopping downtown with my mom; we'd take the bus and we'd have lunch at Sibley's, which seemed the height of elegance to me then. They also had the *best* cheesecake ever -- baked, not refrigerated. It's so hard to find that kind of cheesecake these days.

Thanks so much, and I'll ditto the request for the entire film.

Tue Nov 11, 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sad. Midtown Plaza is no more. As a child I would go and ride the monorail and as an adult, since I work downtown, I would go there every day and have lunch, walk around, meet friends...but all that has come to a close. The plan is to tear Midtown Plaza down and make room for an office building. Granted, they may add some retail stores at some point, but I don't think that you can ever replace the first urban enclosed mall in the US. The Clock of Nations has been moved to the Rochester International Airport, so at least they have kept that part of Rochester history alive.

Mon Dec 08, 04:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Rochester and have so many memories of Mid-town Mall from early childhood to teenhood when I started riding there on a city bus from E. Irondequiot with my cousins when we were about 12 years old or so. Sad that's it's no longer. I have lived in southern CA for 18 years now and there is nothing like it here!

Tue Dec 15, 02:30:00 AM  
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Sat Oct 02, 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger George A. said...

This is a great video. Midtown Mall was demolished in late 2010. Downtown retail is near dead. Sibley's and McCurdy's no longer exist. The clock is at the Rochester airport. Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch & Lomb are mere shadows of what they were in 1963 and thru the 1980s.


Fri Feb 11, 07:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in East Rochester :-) and went into Rochester for lessons, shopping, and more, sometimes riding the buses on my own. My family followed the development of Midtown Plaza and enjoyed the awesome finished building. Sibley's had the best pecan pie in its restaurant, the clock was a fascination, and the special events held at the center included Easter Sunrise services. I'm sorry to hear it is all gone.

Does anyone remember the RKO Palace theatre? I wish someone had videos or photos of that remarkable showplace. We always thought Rochester was being shortsighted to tear down the very best items that would draw people to the center of the city. If only it were still there!

Sat Feb 26, 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Moldville said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wed Jul 13, 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Moldville said...

Does anyone remember the MOLD-A-RAMA souvenir machine at the CLOCK OF NATIONS around 1963? I recently located and bought the original mold set for my machine! THE original molds from 1963! For 25c, it took 33 seconds to mold a hot plastic 5" replica of the Clock of Nations. Anyone interested in a REISSUED souvenir figure of the Clock of Nations, from the original vintage molds made in 1963, should please visit and join the fun.

If anyone has ANY information, or even one of the vintage hollow wax plastic souvenirs from the machine, I would LOVE to hear from you! Please email me at

Wed Jul 13, 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger richard susskindseo said...

good one..for property related searches also visit

Midtown Shops

Thu Oct 30, 05:53:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Keene said...

Can't wait to sue historical Style

Fri Jul 01, 01:20:00 PM  

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