Category Archives: Fairmount

Centro, we hardly knew ye

Just a quick note to memorialize the passing of Centro’s 178 Fairmount Hills route, formerly known as the 4G. Since the time of Christ, it served the far-flung upper reaches of the southeast of the Town of Camillus, but fell victim to Centro service cuts effective Monday. I forgot this was going to happen so I didn’t even have a chance to wave goodbye to the convenient (well, sorta) connection to the city that once ran right by my house and provided a direct connection to Syracuse University – no downtown hub wait needed. (The 78 Fairmount bus route, which doesn’t come up here, remains in service.)

In truth, I don’t think there have been any riders on this part of the route for about a decade, so its demise was no shock. It was also an excruciatingly long and boring commute – I rode it for about a year back and forth to work, and it took an hour and fifteen minutes to get to my destination. Still, it’s a little sad that one more connection between Syracuse and its burbs has gone.

Happy birthday, Fairmount Fair

Onondaga County’s second oldest “mallspace” is 50 years old today. It opened on October 28, 1959. It may also be the only area shopping center that has a band named after it. (That’s actually not so weird: back in the ’60s, live bands did play there occasionally.)

Fairmount Fair was originally part of the large estate held by the Geddes family from 1796, but was sold off sometime in the early 20th century to the Terry family. Old topographical maps reveal that a horse racetrack once occupied the spot. By the time housing development began in earnest in the mid-50’s, it was a vacant lot where blackberries grew. In 1956, Eagan began developing the space for an open-air shopping plaza to be anchored by an Acme grocery. This was being done in tandem with their “Terrytown” housing development just above on the hill (where shoppers for the mall would be incubated in “Soylent Green” fashion).

Above is a view of Fairmount Fair in its earliest days. This view looks west toward Onondaga Road (where Target is today) and you can see the Acme grocery, as well as a fountain which later was included in the enclosed version of the mall better known to children of the ’70s and ’80s.

Fairmount Fair (still sporting its original name, though not its original signage) seems to be doing quite well in something like its third or fourth rejiggering since the dark days of the Syracuse area mall crash, (where the older Shoppingtown is currently being ignored by its owner, Macerich). It’s been through some bad times: drug deals sometimes went down in the parking lot, and the old mall building was reported to be sinking during the ’90s.

It’s not a place where someone would think to build a new mall today, but its small footprint (it is hemmed in on all sides by roads, streams and unbuildable topography) has probably contributed more than anything else to its longevity as a retail space. It’s not a space that can be overbuilt into sprawl. Fairmount Fair also benefits from a plum location bang off the Route 5 exit. It’s also one of a vanishing breed – a thriving shopping plaza that many local residents can walk to, on actual sidewalks.

There don’t seem to be any formal plans by current owners Benderson to note the anniversary – but in a way, none are really needed. It’s no secret that of Benderson’s two west surbuban properties (the other is Camillus Commons), Fairmount Fair got the better facelift and the cooler stores. It is certainly entering its sixth decade in style.

The socioeconomic ramifications of Fairmount Fair, of course, are also fascinating and I’ll leave those for another post (and another chapter in my ongoing Compleat History of Fairmount) – in the meantime I recommend SyracuseB4 for further reading.

Who killed Name Brand Deals?

Name Brand Deals, the Oneida-owned enterprise that moved in to the spiritual space of the old Genesee Theater (I refuse to talk about Pep Boys any more), shut its doors recently. I’m not surprised. Even for a discount outlet, the place was a real dump. I went in there once and it made a barn sale look like Neiman Marcus.

Anyhow, I’m mentioning this partly to draw attention to a new comment I’ve received on the old Who killed the Genesee? thread. I’ve reprinted the comment below.

While researching for the Kallet Genesee page at Cinema Treasures, I came across a couple of bits of information not mentioned above that might interest you. The April 1, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine published a rendering of the proposed Genesee Theatre by its architect, Michael J. DeAngelis. Construction began later that year. Albanese Brothers built the building, and it was operated under lease by Kallet Theatres.

I’ve been unable to find the exact opening date for the Genesee, but the March 14 issue of Boxoffice said that the theater had recently opened.

Michael DeAngelis was a Rochester architect who designed many theaters from the 1920s into the 1950s, some as far away as Florida, though I’ve been able to track down the names of only a few. His page at Cinema Treasures currently lists a mere dozen.

I’ve been unable to find out anything about Albanese Brothers, but it’s likely that they were a local firm of builders and developers in Syracuse.

Scans of Boxoffice Magazine and its predecessors are currently available at issuu.com, and there are many articles and brief items about upstate New York theaters, some going back to the mid-1920s. If you’re interested in the subject this is a good place to search for information about it. I’ve found it easier to search through Google than through Issuu’s own search box, though.

–Joe Vogel

If I was leader of the free universe and had a zillion dollars, I would buy the Genesee Theater space, rebuild the theater and show nothing but quality sci-fi from all film eras, starting with Forbidden Planet, maybe doing it Alamo Drafthouse style.

Genesee Theater again

Revisiting an old topic — the late, lamented Genesee Theater: Cinema Sightlines has recently updated its page about the theater with even more amazing old photos of the film-promotional efforts of George Read. One of these photos has the theater’s big glowing clock pictured in it (alas, only from the side). I wonder whatever happened to that clock.

TJ Edwards of Cinema Sightlines is also looking for more old photos of the theater. See his comment at the original post for more.