Monthly Archives: November 2008

Support Buffalo first?

Burgh Diaspora suggests that Upstate urban boosters should focus their energies on Buffalo’s cause (or at least devote some time to it).

What do you think? Is there any evidence that Buffalo is going to experience meaningful economic growth soon, and what can Syracusans do to help? (Personally, I am still evaluating the Atlantica concept and wondering if Central New York’s economic future lies to the north, not the west.)

Buffalo bloggers do not, in general, write about Syracuse or about how Syracuse would fit in to a Buffalo-centered regional economy. I admit I paid more attention to Buffalo in the early years of this blog, but the cross-posting remains sporadic.

(Burgh Diaspora’s post was prompted by a lengthy NY Times article on Buffalo’s endangered architecture, which dovetails with our discussion this week of Blodgett School. As I said way back when posting about the 10th anniversary of the demolition of the Genesee Theater, we really need a serious list of “10 Most Endangered Local Buildings” and start thinking ahead publicly about vulnerable structures long before they become targets for demolition.)

Blodgett School

The Post-Standard writes on the fate of the run-down Blodgett School on the West Side. My mom tells me that her aunt (who was only just a few years older than her) went to Blodgett School in the early ’50s or so, when it was even back then deemed a “scary old” school “full of juvenile delinquents.” My grandmother did not want her kids to go to such schools, so a couple years later she packed up the family and followed her other relatives out of the city. And that’s how they became suburbanites.

So, this school’s needs have been ignored for over 50 years. How sad is that?

Dreaming in three dimensions

I don’t intend for this to become a transportation blog, but seriously, even such a modest uptick in commercial shipping on the Erie Canal becomes vastly more interesting when you throw Oswego’s future container port into the mix, and then Fault Lines adds Griffiss Park to the vision:

Griffiss IS a port, with the potential to be a very good one. . . . for cargo. It has not only rail and highway connections, but it’s on the Erie canal. Dropping “air” from “airport” allows for the intermodal nature of Griffiss: it can be a rail port, highway port, and canal port all at once. Calling it a “port” also suggests its importance for cargo (which I think is the only niche this airport will successfully fit into) without limiting it to cargo. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents: Griffiss Port. Simple, honest, and a name that can be grown into. . . and bought into by all of Central New York.

The gathering economic clouds don’t have too many silver linings, but one of them may be this: We might start paying a little less attention to Richard Florida-type schemes, which presuppose the existence of easy leisure-spending cash that it’s now clear that most Americans don’t have, and in which college students and others on top of the creative career food chain ride in and save the day while the “uneducated” classes serve them coffee. And we might start paying a little more attention on economic fundamentals, like dignified jobs with living wages that high school graduates might get (and can’t get right now). Granted, that too is a pipe dream (especially the “living wage” part). But as long as we’re pipe-dreaming, we might as well dream comprehensively.

Upstate Girls

A powerful collection of photos of working-class women of Troy, N.Y., by photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally is very much worth viewing. I’ve posted a link to it on my newly relaunched photoblog, Illustrated. (This is a personal photo blog which I’ve now souped up with some slideshow capability via Flickr, and there are some other Syracuse-related collections by other Flickr photographers highlighted there as well, such as Carl Johnson’s massive Carl’s Old Photos collection of the Salt City of the ’70s.)

Erie Canal revival?

This relatively brief story in the NYT about the uptick in commercial shipping on ye olde Erie has aroused a good deal of interest around the blogosphere. You can see some blogger reactions listed here, with a particularly informative post here. It’s part of a realization that you don’t necessarily need to build up a brand-new green-industrial complex in order to improve things and live more sustainably — nor does sustainable living mean “going primitive.” The modern Erie Canal is certainly not primitive, and needs no expensive reconstruction or reconfiguration (although it does need maintenance).

New York was shortsighted in throwing all of its effort into developing the Erie as a recreational waterway, although the two purposes don’t exclude each other. It’s terrible that the state does not have any budget to advertise the Canal’s commercial opportunities in a time when it’s five times cheaper to ship by canal than by truck.

Another missed opportunity: the state could do more to promote the recreational boating (that is, paddling) opportunities of the Old Erie Canal… the especially peaceful and historic abandoned sections running throughout Central New York. You can paddle in Dewitt and Kirkville and Camillus, but my sense is that it isn’t as emphasized as much as biking and walking.

So it’s wonderful to read that Camillus Erie Canal Park (aka the Best Damn Canal Park in the State) is now proceeding with its long-delayed aqueduct project. By next year at this time, you will be able to paddle at least four miles along the tranquil Old Erie, crossing Nine Mile Creek on a fully and accurately restored aqueduct.

Updated: And the Erie Canal shipping continues – a local story about turbines on their way to Pakistan via the Inner Harbor and Albany.