Friday, July 14, 2006

Midtown Plaza

Rochester, New York - circa 1968

Fresh in the mail yesterday was this great postcard! Another very moody shot, just dripping with cool retro ambience.

In this one we see Midtown Plaza mall bathed in a warm, romanitc glow. And yes, this is the actual lighting and coloring of the original photo. I did a little color-correction and balancing on it to ensure the finished scanned image would match the original as closely as possible. And it does. Obviously, this warm orangish tinting was done intentionally for atmospheric effect, and was not quite the normal lighting in Midtown Plaza, even at night (in fact, you can see it's actually daytime in this photo, I believe, if you look in the upper-left cieling windows).

I thought the kids gazing into the fountain was a nice little moment in time, too, so I scanned a blowup of it (at right) for a closer look. It was worth it.

I remember doing the same thing in our local malls with my brothers and sister growing up. Getting hypnotized by the whole thing: the relaxing sounds of the gurggling fountains, the shimmering ripples on the surface, the glistening coins blinking up at you from the fountain's tiled bottom, all mixed with the murmuring din of busy shoppers and lulling muzak echoing throughout the mall in the background. Gazing into those fountains of youth was one of my favorite things to do as a kid. Maybe I should do it more often now? Haven't in a long time.

Oh, and want an eyeful of architecture? Of course you do. Be sure and click on the "Bird's eye" view on the aerial link below. "Midtown" Plaza is right--this mall is wedged right in the middle of it all!

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


Blogger Simon Templar said...

The lighting feels incredibly surreal, almost like in a dream. Must have helped shoppers getting lost in there four hours dreaming away.

Fri Jul 14, 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have done several photo expeditions of my own at Midtown(which is basically unchanged since its creation) and I will send you some jpg. files. You can still capture the original mood because it's still the same. I know you probably won't post any of the pictures I send (because they are recent) but I think you might enjoy them...

Fri Jul 14, 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Scott Parsons said...

Classic sounds of the mall: water running, children crying, and birds screetching.
What happened? Now we just have children crying. Bird cages are gone; fountains are gone. I loved the surreal aspect of the Seventies mall!

Fri Jul 14, 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

The mood lighting makes this place look much nicer than in the bright daylight photos you posted earlier. Though I recognized it at once by that clock thing in the background.

Fri Jul 14, 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Livemalls said...

I love the funky glow. Seems like all pictures were oversaturated back in the day.

Fri Jul 14, 07:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinda looks like a shot from Bladerunner. One of my fave flicks. :)

Sat Jul 15, 08:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Midtown Plaza 1962-2008. I say that because America┬┤s very first downtown indoor shopping mall will close its doors forever on August 1, 2008. After that, it will be prepared for demolition. I have also taken some recent pictures of Midtown without the Clock of Nations and that beautiful fountain was drained in March. If anyone wants to see my photos or my YouTube footage, please visit and add me or search for hondolespaul on YouTube under channels. A Midtown Memories website is currently under way and that web address is Please sign my guestbook and share your memories.

Thu Jun 05, 04:31:00 AM  
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