article with quote from grandpa tobin
. 6 SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD, April 26, 1973 Each City Block Has a Personality By ROBERT W.ANDREWS and JAMES WOOLSEY Fourth of Six-Parti If a man looks hard at Syracuse, both inside and out, and tries to understand it,, he will find each city block has a person- aiity. Try it some time. Walk over to Columbus Circle. The feel is that of the father. Its towering, majestic : cathedrals speak of power, courage and dignity. A few blocks away is the War 1 surrounded by the MONY towers, a ; rise Civic Center and Everson Like an "enfant terrible," the section promises a tomorrow better than the dissonance of today. Fayette Street, with its decay and patient wait for the iron wrecker's ball, is the hoodlum, threatening and wily. But SaJina Street, as anyone who walks it daily can verify, lacks a sense of individual life. It seems more like an awkward, overgrown alley outside some thoroughfare. Salina Street-the Key to Downtown "When I walk down Salina Street, I don't have the feeling I'm walking down the main street in your city," commented a recent As long as most residents can remember, the street's always been like that. In the late 1950s, then - Mayor Anthony Henninger wanted to remedy the situation. He recommended Salina Street be turned into a mall, with grass and trees and walkways. He proposed a nonprofit Community Development Foundation to invest in downtown projects. Merchants were chilly to the idea. "No grass or trees on Salina Street" was their near-unanimous response. Lacking excitement, the street slowly decayed — and with it the city. Shoppers deserted tor the suburbs' con- Two of the streets' three theaters were demolished (RKO Keiths and Paramount). Lorenzo's and The Turf restaurants, two of the most popular in town, closed their doors. The city's night pulse stopped. In a letter to Hie Post-Standard editor, a woman remembered the decline, "Women enjoyed taking the bus (earlier the street car) downtown after lunch to go to a movie, visit a church or to shop, tnen to stop in at the Mohican or A&P ... all this is past." The president of E.W. Edwards Co. Department Store was talking in those days about closing his downtown store and moving out. Others threatened in private. And then a few years ago, Salina Street merchants awoke one morning and saw rusty nails being driven into the coffin that was their street. They reacted. New businesses came in; others expanded. The Mayor's Salina Street Advisory Committee (SSAC) was formed to counter the decay. "Watch our action!" SSAC members promised boldly. Their action soon will be seen. Minor though it may seem, their opening guns will be the planting of an elaborate, serpent-like row of trees and arranging to have days of Confidence of merchants has replaced pessimism ... at least in public. As an example, E.W. Edwards Co. has built a new store, and its president, James Tobin, claimed, "The trend is turning. Customers are coming back and buildings are being revitalized. It's going to be an attractive downtown when it's finished. Malcolm Sutton, SSAC head, agreed, "Soon there will be at least 3,000 more people working downtown. This will spur growth in other areas." Now downtown merchants don't object to trees or grass being planted on Salina Street. Many are proponents of the mall 'If that mall won't be 11 be in trouble," argued can afford the high real estate taxes otherwise?" Sutton, a conservative businessman, sounds like a "Star Trek" scriptwriter when he speaks of the mall. He isn't alone. "Imagine walk-throughs on every other block, two lanes in the center of Salina Street for. buses, European-like market stands along the street and snow scenes flashing in May on upper walls of a building," said Sutton, who is imagining exactly that. Sutton is turned on now, and the visions spurt from him like bullets from a Tommy gun; No cars, except at Salina Street's edges . . . Buses to take shoppers from parking lots to stores . . . escalators on building walls, creeping up like ivy . . . sidewalk sales and displays, . . . more room to move. An unreal vision? Perhaps. But then suppose someone told Henninger in the 1950s that in a decade or two, Salina Street businessmen would be pressing for a transit mall to save their city's soul? Tomorrow; The Mall Proposal.