Don't quash downtown's growing vitality
Huey Lewis, in his 1985 top-10 single "The Heart of Rock and Roll," had this to say about New York City: "No place that I'd rather be. Where else can you do a half a million things, all at a quarter to three?"
Rochester hasn't quitehit that point just yet, but we've come a long way in the past decade. Today, when people utter the oft-repeated lament, "There's nothing to do downtown," then it's a safe bet that they haven't recently strolled down our city's version of Broadway at 11 p.m. on a Saturday.
Granted, we don't have a skating rink, a jazz club or an all-night deli, but we do have seven downtown bars and a comedy club — which means it was inevitable that some people would begin to complain about noise, rowdy behavior and a supposed decline in the city's image.
And there's no denying that Rochester's downtown renaissance hasn't been without growing pains. The combination of youthful exuberance and alcohol isn't always quiet and peaceful, and neighboring businesses and people who live downtown have experienced some collateral damage and sleepless nights.
But we like the late-night energy that now exists in downtown Rochester. We like seeing busy streets, crowded sidewalks and packed bars and restaurants. We like the idea that downtown has become a destination, a selling point to help attract visitors and big conventions, rather than a punchline. Furthermore, we like the idea that as the University of Minnesota Rochester continues to grow, more alcohol-free entertainment options are likely to arrive and thrive downtown.
This kind of growth comes at a price, but we're confident that the police department, the Downtown Alliance and the bars themselves are working proactively to keep downtown safe, clean and livable.
And who knows? Perhaps someday Rochester might once again live up to the Petullah Clark lyrics: "Don't hang around and let your problems surround you, there are movie shows — downtown."