With all of the talk about vaccines and needles lately, I’ve been infected with a vague memory about downtown Rochester. I swear there was once a giant needle used for some sort of public event in downtown Rochester. I think this happened in maybe 1985 or so. Can you cure me of this memory or confirm that it is true and I’m not needle-crazy. -- The Vaccine Queen
Wow. There’s a lot happening in this letter. I needed a shot after reading it.
First, while I certainly have the depth of academic and practical education equal to most flavors of doctors (excluding medical doctors), I cannot claim the right to use that title. However, czar, guru or even viceroy are titles that would be appropriate.
My crack research team, led by Susan Hanson at the Rochester Public Library, was able to track down this errant recollection of yours with pinpoint accuracy.
Intrepid PB reporter Ron Freeberg packed a lot of info into a short story in the Aug. 21, 1981, edition of the Post Bulletin about the event that you almost remember.
Northwest Bank and Rauenhorst Corp. hosted a celebratory kick-off to the construction of the new $6 million bank and office building at 21 First St. SW. It later evolved into Norwest and then Wells Fargo.
Instead of the usual groundbreaking, the developers decided to have a 35-foot syringe made for the event. The developers and city leaders pushed down the plunger to start the project. Then they served quiche Lorraine and champagne.
“Bank president John Cochran explained it symbolized ‘a booster shot’ for downtown development. He said the festive occasion was an effort to ‘let our hair down’ after getting started with a project that represented a record of complexity in real estate transactions,” according to Freeburg’s article.
It was the conclusion of a two-year debate. The original proposal included demolishing the then-unused Chateau Theatre. Protests by “preservationists” eventually pushed the plans to the west, which is why the Wells Fargo building creates that odd skyway over First Avenue.
The article ended with Freeberg taking a jab at the whole community.
“Today’s ground breaking hoopla with the mammoth hypodermic needle could thus become the ‘shot heard around the city.'”
He earned several Answer Man bonus points for including the words “hoopla,” “mammoth” and “thus” in one sentence. I expect it is a feat that has not been replicated since the heady days of 1981.
The upshot is this: Send questions for the Answer Man to email@example.com.