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Wear to Where #5 … Lock 33

March 17th, 2015

It is almost impossible to imagine a project like the canal ever being built in today’s political climate and maybe that is not such a good thing. In this edition of Wear to Where we stop by Lock 33 and ask, 'What’s the big idea?' [PHOTO: Clarke Condé]
By Clarke Condé

At a cost to the New York taxpayer of just about half that of the Louisiana Purchase fourteen years earlier, “Clinton’s Ditch” faced the ageless and indestructible rancor of the New York State Legislature and the animosity of the press statewide. It is hard to overstate the impact the investment taxpayers made in building the canal had on the development of Rochester and New York State. Now, it is almost impossible to imagine a project like the canal ever being built in today’s political climate and maybe that is not such a good thing. In this edition of Wear to Where we stop by Lock 33 and ask, “What’s the big idea?”…

Going through the political history of the canal, one thing becomes immediately clear – the canal was built at a time in New York where bold leaders had big ideas and were not afraid to spend money to see that idea happen.  [PHOTO: Clarke Condé]
Over the past decade, I have been fortunate to be involved with some great projects that never got off the ground because a handful of politicians thought we shouldn’t spend taxpayer’s money on the general principle that spending taxpayer’s money is a bad thing. Going through the political history of the canal, one thing becomes immediately clear – the canal was built at a time in New York where bold leaders had big ideas and were not afraid to spend money to see that idea happen.

Too often now it seems that preventing a political rival from executing their idea is just as good as having your own. And that the easiest way to block an idea is to simply say it will cost taxpayer’s money. [PHOTO: Clarke Condé]
It is not that spending tax money was easier in a New York State of DeWitt Clinton external link, Martin Van Buren external link and Tammany Hall external link cronyism, but the notion that big ideas cost money and that big ideas were what New York State needed, was, at that time, something that even bitter rivals could agree on. Too often now it seems that preventing a political rival from executing their idea is just as good as having your own. And that the easiest way to block an idea is to simply say it will cost taxpayer’s money.

Even DeWitt Clinton’s bitter rivals had to admit that instantly cutting grain shipping prices to a tenth of overland transit made the canal a wise investment and populated Western New York. [PHOTO: Clarke Condé]
To me, the canal is a reminder that we are a better people when we have big ideas. Not considering an idea because it costs money is not really a reason in itself. Even Clinton’s bitter rivals had to admit that instantly cutting grain shipping prices to a tenth of overland transit made the canal a wise investment and populated Western New York. Now, as the state continues to loose population (myself included) to places with warmer climates yet far less developed infrastructure, I want to suggest that it is time to consider investing some real money into big ideas Upstate.

Now, as the state continues to loose population to places with warmer climates yet far less developed infrastructure, I want to suggest that it is time to consider investing some real money into big ideas Upstate.  [PHOTO: Clarke Condé]
Another nuclear power plant (we have the transmission lines)? High speed rail that connects Rochester to Manhattan in 2 hours (the right-of-way is already there)? How about the five best public high schools in the country? Anybody?

Big ideas change places in ways thrift never can and bold leaders have big ideas. Let’s remember, just like the canal, Rochester, was not created by cheap, visionless New Yorkers. Excelsior external link.

• • •

Model: Natasha Elaine external link
Clothing: Thread external link
Bow: Wrapp’d external link

• • •

If you are a local boutique, maker or model that is interested in participating in the Wear to Where series, please contact Clarke Condé at clarke{at}condephotography.com

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 10:16 pm and is filed under Art + Culture, Rochester Destinations, Rochester Images, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Responses to “Wear to Where #5 … Lock 33”

  1. Scott K says:

    The problems of isolating the Right-Of-Way for safety reasons aside, is there really enough potential ridership between upstate and downstate to justify the expense of high speed rail? I ask in all seriousness, I really don’t know if the market is there.

    New nuclear? In today’s political climate? If only. I just read recently of Ginna’s upcoming shutdown and decomissioning. I can’t see any new permits being issued for construction for a long time, if ever. I realize the whole point of the article was to say that we need bold ideas again, but…

    Now if only we could get the tax burden reduced, and attract real, productive industries and businesses (NOT casinos!) to come back to New York, and Upstate in particular, THAT would be something!

  2. John L says:

    Something other than a casino would be great! Casinos are not sustainable business interested in making the area better.

    A big idea is what we need, though. Put the thinking caps on, folks!

  3. I think high speed rail could be easily justified, and I’ve frequently opined on just how to do it. Squeeze the airlines. Jetblue doesn’t want to fly a combine 20+ flights a day from JFK to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany. Nor do Delta and US Airways or anyone else. Those JFK and LGA slots are worth a fortune to be flying somewhere else (Europe perhaps). Just offer to open all those slots up if they float the high speed rail project. You could even sweeten the pot and drop the short flight rules from LGA if you free up enough spots there, which further increases the utility. On top of that, the capacity of a high speed train matches up decently with the planes already flying, and the timing is incredibly competitive when you consider that the train goes downtown to downtown without the security hassle. Just for reference, the average Shinkansen train goes 200mph. It’s 440 mi following the thruway exactly which means about 2:15 from Penn Station to downtown Buffalo. I’ve sat that long in traffic just to get to JFK, but even counting just the recommended hour early arrival and the flight, it’s about the same travel time. Anyway, that’s my two cents on the HSR thing.

  4. Kevin Yost says:

    The reasons why the beneficial Empire State Summer Games were cut is because they mostly benefitted Upstate and did not kick back campaign funds.


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