Working Downtown: A Whole New World

I started a new job back in November (hence the blogging hiatus for a few months) and one of the many perks of said new job is the opportunity to work downtown for a few days each week. Having worked on a college campus for four years while also working on a passion project about the city of Rochester, I longed to spend more time in the downtown area and less on an island of a campus. That’s why I’m overjoyed that I now get to spend significantly more time in downtown #ROC!

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The view from my office window during the golden hour.

My office is located in the historic Sibley Building, which used to be a department store in the heart of downtown. It has recently rebranded as Sibley Square and is going through some serious changes. Currently, the only tenants are a store called Rainbow, the Damon campus of Monroe Community College, and the nonprofit I work at, but the developer is working on bringing numerous new tenants on board. I’m excited to be there as the place evolves!

So what’s so cool about working downtown? For one thing, the food! When I worked on a college campus, you could eat at one of the dining halls pretty easily, and the food was pretty respectable. However, if you wanted to go off campus for a bite to eat, it was a long haul. You had to schlep to your car (usually parked about 15 minutes from your office building), drive somewhere (about 10-15 minutes away), eat super quickly, drive back, park, and hike in again. It was a pain in the butt. Now, I can walk to tons of awesome eateries! It’s so exciting.

I’m always a big fan of delicious and diverse food, but I’m perhaps an even bigger fan of excellent coffee. And working in the Sibley Building means Fuego Coffee is only a short walk away, just across Parcel 5! If you’ve never been, you should get your booty to Fuego ASAP.

Okay, so there’s coffee and food, but what ELSE is great about working downtown? Walkability is a big factor too. I can leave my car in a parking garage all day and still get around easily. I even learned about a system of tunnels connecting various buildings downtown thanks to my Twitter buddy, @MimZWay! As a kid growing up in the suburbs, I never spent much time downtown. It’s been fun getting to know the area more as a result of working right in Center City.

Last but not least, I’m lucky that in my job, I have the opportunity to get some sneak peeks at historic parts of Sibley. It’s so cool to see glimpses of a bygone era, and to have a hand in shaping what the future of downtown ROC will look like.

If you ever have a chance to take a job in downtown ROC, I’d highly recommend it! A nice walk or some good food nearby is a great way to maintain your work-life balance. Plus you really feel like you’re a part of things when you’re right in the heart of the downtown area. It’s pretty darn cool!

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Philharmonic Fun

Given the recent heat, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about some of our other favorite seasons here in Rochester. You know, fall…spring…and even (shocker) winter. And throughout that time, I saw a few really great performances down at Eastman. I’ve come to realize that the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Eastman School do a really great job cultivating interesting and diverse programs and getting out into the community to perform for folks who might not otherwise come hear their phenomenal music in the theatre.

Last fall, we went to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain as part of the “Eastman Presents” concert series put on by the Eastman School. It was absolutely fantastic. It was almost a comedy show as much as a live music performance. Those brilliant Brits played all kinds of hits, including everything from Nirvana to Amy Winehouse, The Who to Lady Gaga. You really need to watch their “Smells Like Teen Spirit” cover. Their selection was eclectic, their humor was quirky, and their talent was clear. I was thrilled we went.

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Weird British people with ukuleles. Solid choice.

The next show we saw was on Valentine’s Day weekend. There was snow. It was cold (I almost remember what that feels like…glorious!). A former American Idol contestant, Michael Lynche, sang in front of the RPO for a concert called “Heart and Soul.” So many great R&B classics, including Ray Charles, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and more! Lynche was incredibly talented- and it was his first time performing in front of a full philharmonic orchestra! How cool!

I find that going downtown to see a show in Kodak Hall always feels very special- the lights at night, the huge, beautiful chandelier, the painted walls and the plush seats- it all makes for an experience that feels extra-meaningful. It’s almost like visiting another era. Going to see the orchestra sounds archaic in 2016 (but it’s not, I swear!). You step slightly outside the norm of your day to day and get to immerse yourself in music. I love it!

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Love seeing it all lit up! World-class music right here, folks.

As a college student at U of R, I used to take the bus over to Eastman for lessons. Going to Java’s quickly became tradition, as I’m sure it is for music nerds and Rochesterians alike. Best hot chocolate in the city- I doubt anyone would even fight me on that! It’s pretty much a fact. I also enjoy spending time around Eastman during Fringe Festival, since so many eccentric performers can be found all over the area seemingly anytime during the festival. Gibbs Street is a pretty great place to be.

The cool thing about the RPO, though, is that they don’t just stay put. They’re pretty active in the community, and even put on a summer concert series where they play in public parks! How lucky are we that we get to experience that?! For free?!

They’re called “RPO Around the Town” concerts, and they’re quite excellent. Locations range far and wide, everything from Susan B. Anthony Square to Mt. Hope Cemetery, ending the series at the Maplewood Rose Garden. We attended the wind quintet concert at Mt. Hope Cemetery on a lovely summer evening and really enjoyed the selections! It was a diverse array of things- Sousa and Grieg and Bach (if I remember correctly), and more, of course. I played in a wind quintet in high school, so I especially enjoyed it! Sadly this concert series is over for the summer (probably for the best for the performers at this point, so they don’t melt), but make a mental note to check it out next year.

As a young adult living in this awesome city, I appreciate all the RPO and the Eastman School do to cater to our diverse population and to serve the community in a variety of ways. The RPO even has a blog where you can follow along with what the musicians are up to! A blogging orchestra? That’s pretty cool!

If I’ve piqued your interest, you can check out the RPO concert calendar here! They’re playing the Zelda music this fall (so cool!) and Yo-Yo Ma is coming in December (sadly, it’s already sold out). For more information about the Eastman Presents series for 2016, head over here. Go listen to some world-class music, right here in our hometown! You won’t regret it.