Utica on the Map

Utica on the Map
Smack in the Center

Monday, June 27, 2011

Opening Day at the Oneida County Public Market

It was overcast, of course, and the numbers small, some venders familiar, some just starting up. But the Utica Coffee was hot and good and the silence soon broken by acoustic guitar. We felt certain that we were witnessing another example of new life and hope for our broken-down Upstate city. We bought a quart of strawberries.


Friday, June 24, 2011

What's Wrong With City Hall

This morning I had to go to City Hall to get a permit for a garage sale. I forgot to take pictures, so I am using a standard photo from Google Image, but I will go back and take photos so you can see the plastic lawn chairs out front in Hanna Park and the uninspired fountain, not to mention the overall, overwhelming ugliness of the building and the parts in need of repair.

As if to provide me with the perfect metaphor, on the bench in front of the building a couple in jeans and dirty tee shirts were smoking and reading the classifieds.

When I went inside, the large lobby was virtually empty and in the city clerks' office several people were standing around expressing their opinions regarding a colleague, I assume.

What is wrong with Utica is exemplified by our current City Hall (see above) and our old City Hall (see below), which the city tore down in the 1960's. Why would any city officials destroy such a magnificent architectural treasure and worse, rebuild in its place this piece of utilitarian nothing that nobody will remember or want to remember. I'm sure they cited heating expenses at the time or parking problems or any excuse to explain why they had no foresight or vision for the city's future.

There would be no London or Paris if the citizens of those cities had torn down every building that became expensive to keep up. The architecture a city preserves will repay it many times over in the future--and that applies not just to great cities but small cities like Saratoga Springs, Cooperstown, and   Skaneateles, NY. to name a few.

But not Utica. My experience in City Hall this morning is what defeats me here, what leaves me, in spite of all the local efforts this blog has been noting of late, feeling hopeless about Utica. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WONDERFUL NEWS: Brand New Downtown Farmers Market

A brand new farmers market in Utica, the Oneida County Public Market, beginning Saturday morning, June 25 through September!

With a goal of being open year round! Nearby newly renovated buildings, such as Doyle Hardware, and new restaurants and cafes!

From the Observer-Dispatch: "About 25 vendors will mark the first Oneida County Public Market on Saturday, setting up fresh produce, artisan foods and crafted local products at Boehlert Center at Union Station.

"The market will take place outside the long-vacant Railway Express Agency wing – the site of a $250,000 county capital project that eventually will allow it to be set up inside and possibly year round. It also will feature live entertainment.

"County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. said he anticipates a healthy crowd for the event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It continues every Saturday.

"He also hopes the event capitalizes on the seeds of transformation that have been planted around the Main Street neighborhood where developers have worked to rehabilitate 421 Broad St., the former Cobblestone Building, and the former Doyle Hardware building.

"The capital project will include new windows, lighting and general upgrades to a small portion of the wing, Picente said. As the market grows, more of the wing could be renovated."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gourmet Utica: Chuck E Cheese

We finally caught up with our grandaughter, Amelia, who has been away for awhile, and her first request was to go to our house. Her priorities are right on. But her second request was to go to Chuck E Cheese, the mouse that roared for little children everywhere!

I had never been to Chuck E Cheese but Amelia knew the place like the back of her hand: all the rides, what to eat, the prizes, the looked-forward-to appearance of Chuck E himself, the little stage where kids can sing or dance or just plain show off. In short, a kid's paradise. Constant noise. Bright lights and colors. Pizza and candy galore. Rides in cars, on horses. Lots of other kids running around.

And that will be $35. please. For a cardboard pizza and tokens for the rides. I'll spare you a photo of the (so-called) pizza.

Not to mention the Flaming Finger and Extreme (has to be EXTREME) Hunting! Where if you look closely you can see the words "life like violence mild." An oxymoron if ever there was one.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Upstate Fashion Dept.: Party Pants

Forever Leather, New Hartford Shopping Center

For those of you who were wondering what to wear clubbing around here--or to make a big statement at back yard picnics--Forever Leather has put forth--literally (like on the sidewalk)--these form-fitting, metallic gold pants! Hurry. They may sell out before you get there.

With thanks to my fellow broken-down Uticans, Caitlin and her mother, Kathy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Catch Up, Plus Good News for Utica via NPR

Little Italy

No, this is not East Utica! But the flavor is similar. It's Little Italy in Manhattan.

Warm greetings and apologies to my many followers, fellow bloggers, and cool people of Utica. My last post was May 17th, and one of the cardinal rules I have learned in the fleeting world of blogging is keep those posts coming or your blog will drop dead from lack of upkeep and interest.

I have been sick as a dog for most of this past winter, culminating in a horrible flu I acquired en route to Brooklyn, NY to visit my daughter. It began as a cough, then a sore throat, until it filled my chest and created a hacking cough and fever. I made it through two great dinners, an Israeli breakfast, a Circle Line cruise (my daughter, a true citizen of NYC, had never gone), and a visit to Little Italy, not to mention several climbs up and down her three-story building, before I collapsed on the way home a week ago Monday. Just got on my feet last weekend and I am more or less up and about today.

Which is when I came upon my neglected blog!!!

So let me begin to pick up the pieces with a piece that appeared in the Observer-Dispatch a few weeks ago regarding a program on National Public Radio (NPR) entitled "State of the Re:Union." Al Letson, the host, is doing a whole series of shows about forgotten and neglected cities and towns in the USA, and he gave Utica a pretty good review.

What really seemed to impress his producers was the acceptance here of the new mosque on Court Street. While the citizens of Manhattan were battling over the creation of a new mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero, the citizens of Utica were welcoming the Bosnian-Muslim community and its mosque.

If you haven't seen it, it's an old church transformed into something new and beautiful, a white mosque with gray accents.

The O-D article notes that people who listen to the NPR report on Utica (http://stateofthereunion.com/) will hear about the mosque as well as Rev. Maria Scates on her work to rehabilitate a drug-infested Cornhill neighborhood. "People outside of the area are noticing things here, and if we are smart enough to capitalize on this they can be trigger points for a much more prosperous future," said Gary Grates, executive with the independent PR firm, Edelman.

The "Re;Union" producers visited last January and spent a lot of time sampling the ethnic food on Bleecker Street in such restaurants as Thuy and the Florentine Bakery.