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Zillow This

May 22, 2015

Zillow is a real estate website that allows you to search MLS listings by region. We used it recently to check out the neighborhoods where our parents and grandparents grew up in Schenectady, Johnson City, Rochester and Buffalo.

Our relations weren’t rich, but they worked hard. They had good jobs and they could afford nice homes.

We took a virtual tour of some of these homes using this website. Our jaws dropped open. These homes have cornerstones and parlors with stained glass windows. The staircase railings are carved from mahogany. Roof tiles are made of slate.

You can buy one of these homes today for about 200k. The only problem is that the home may not be in the best of shape and the neighborhood where it’s located might not be the best.

This is true in each of the places we looked at. Keep in mind that our kin weren’t magnates. They were engineers, assistant VPs and foremen.

Our folks lived just outside the really exclusive neighborhoods in each city.

In Schenectady, they lived near the “GE tract.” This was home to GE execs almost a century ago.

In Johnson City, they lived near Grand Avenue, which was home to the people who ran the Endicott Johnson shoe factories.

In Rochester, they lived a couple of blocks from East Avenue, where George Eastman built his mansion.

In Buffalo, they lived around the corner from Delaware Ave, with its Gilded Age millionaire’s row.

If you have time this holiday weekend, take a moment and use Zillow to search homes on these famous streets. If you do, you’re going to say “Wow” and then you’ll say: “They just don’t build them like that anymore!”

And then it’s going to hit you that our state isn’t the great place it once was.

And this brings us to the latest census figures which show that Schenectady, Johnson City, Rochester and Buffalo continue to lose population. Rochester, in fact, dropped out of the nation’s top 100 cities. It was once in the top 20.

Not to be ideological about it, but when you think about what once was and what now is, something else occurs to you:  Prosperity requires industry and commerce. It really does.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 22, 2015 2:30 PM

    Well done! Personalizing specificly what everyone has generally known (and has been bemoaning) for decades: Upstate New York is quietly dying. The population is aging, young people are leaving, cities are being abandoned and the rural areas are all but empty of people. Attempts at revitilization are at best lame and half-baked and at worst costly boondoggles “creating” jobs at a cost in the hundreds of thousands per, it not more. All the while, taxes remain prohibitively high and school districts have shrinking enrollment while fixed costs skyrocket.

    What made Upstate thrive in the past decades and centuries? Industry of course, but something more: cutting edge transportation. From the steamboat and the Erie Canal, to modern railroads and the NYS Thruway (conceived and started before the nation’s Interstate Highway System) NY has always led the nation and world when it came to transportation. Until the past 40 years…..

    Politically, the loss of Congressional seats puts the size of New York’s Congressional delegation where it was in the 1830’s. This is a direct result of the Upstate population drain. As we lose clout in Congress, we fall further behind other states, losing our preeminence as the Empire State. This can change.

    New York Citizens for High Speed Rail (NYCHSR) is presently forming a new, and growing coalition of citizens and businesses dedicated to bringing true HSR – from New York City to Buffalo within the next 12 years. The rest of the world has leapfrogged ahead, spending billions to build new lines. Its time to bring NY into the 21st century. NYC to Albany in 1 hour 40 minutes and to Buffalo in another 2 1/2 to 3 hours is doable with present technology.

    This is the answer to save Upstate and bring the economic vitality of Downstate to Upstate New York.

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