Last night (actually early this morning) I was watching the History Channel's Modern Marvels. This episode dealt with mega-stores, including the Mall of America located in Bloomington, MN and this reminded me of Rochester, NY's famous indoor shopping mall, Midtown Plaza. This downtown plaza was opened in 1962 and has been touted as "first urban indoor mall in the United States." I question this but we'll look at this in a bit. The only part of Midtown Plaza that I can recall when I lived there and worked downtown was the Clock of the Nations.
At Christmas time it was somewhat chaotic but then any shopping mall is at that time. After about forty-six years or so Midtown closed and the last tenant closed shop in 2009. Last year in September demolition began. It had a pretty good run but like all good things it had to end.
But do all good things really have to end? As we noted above the Midtown Plaza has been called the "first" indoor shopping plaza in the United States but was it really? I believe that that honor may go to another location that is also in Rochester. And the honor may go to the Reynolds Arcade on West Main Street.
The Reynolds Arcade was built in 1932 to replace and earlier version on the same site built in 1828. This arcade, similar to the original built by Rochester pioneer Abelard Reynolds, has shops and stores on the first floor and professional offices on the upper floors. The original Reynolds Arcade was the site of original Western Union offices and Bausch & Lomb along with the Post Office. The "first" urban indoor mall. My vote goes for the Reynolds Arcade.