Downtown revitalization has been a cornerstone of the City of Binghamton's economic development plan in recent years and as the city moves forward with plans to boost business, it's taking a look back at its history for inspiration. YNN's Chris Whalen has the story.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Sall-Stearns has been a downtown business staple since 1929. When Ron Sall started working there in 1961, he says Court Street was the place to shop.
Sall said, "It was huge, it was booming. I remember as a kid having to, by law, I had to take a half-hour outside the business for dinner hour at night, I couldn't stand on the street it was so busy, I had to stand inside the lobby a little bit."
That's the way it was for the first half of the 20th century in Binghamton. Downtown was home to one of the biggest cigar manufacturers in the country and later to Bundy Time Recording, the company that would become IBM.
However, as the city's population declined, so did the once vibrant economy. Gone are many of the thriving businesses, but not forgotten. Wednesday, local officials unveiled a series of kiosks that highlight the history of Binghamton and its economic hey-day.
"I feel like they add a feeling of community, a sense of community, this is how our city was formed, this is what we have to offer you as a visitor to our downtown, to our city," said Nicole Howard, Gorgeous Washington Street Association.
Three signs were erected on three different corners in downtown and in addition to detailing the history of the area, also serve as a directory to current businesses with the hope of attracting new customers.
"This is really an opportunity, an economic development opportunity that fits in with our idea of beautifying the Court Street gateway, beautifying our whole city so people will want to come here and enjoy what we have to offer," Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan said.
But beautification is just a start. Business people say the next step is finding the right people to take initiative to continue to bring Binghamton back.
Howard said, "There are so many store fronts, so many empty store fronts that are just begging to have somebody come in and revitalize and bring something additional to our city."
It will likely never be a major manufacturing hub like it once was, but business leaders do believe there is potential for another reinvention of downtown