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.