What was lost.
You know that spring has sprung when UMass professors start taking their classes outside. Today this English class was discussing the literary arts on the lawn outside Bartlett Hall.
I've been meaning to comment on these classic pictures of the old Forbes and Wallace building formerly located in downtown Springfield. I was alerted to them by Urban Compass who swiped them from here.
It was a shame about the Forbes and Wallace building, which was replaced by the failed skyscraper Monarch Place. A classic government financed boondoggle, the project tanked almost immediately after opening. Monarch Place was eventually bought for pennies on the dollar by Peter Picknelly of Peter Pan buslines for a price so low that the taxpayers ended up losing 100% of their investment. Picknelly then turned around and used his low mortgage to rent the offices in Monarch Place cheap enough to suck up many of the tenants of the surrounding office buildings, resulting in whole streets of downtown office rental properties going vacant and turning to blight. Monarch Place was full, but the downtown as a whole was made more of ghost town than ever before.
But perhaps what was most tragic was what didn't happen. Around the time of the Monarch Place fiasco an old vacant building in Northampton, almost the exact size and age as the Forbes building opened as a mall called Thornes. Their radical new concept was that people might like visiting a mall in an old, historic building, with all its charm, in contrast to the sterility of the modern malls. Thornes sparked an economic revival in Northampton that transformed their downtown, once deader than Springfield's, into the bustling central business district that is the envy of every city and town in the Valley.
Ironically, Springfield had a building perfectly suited to start their own Thornes like downtown mall and begin its own path to renewal, but Springfield's corrupt politicians and economic development poohbahs tore it down to build the disastrous flop known as Monarch Place.
Hey, there's an article in the Valley Advocate this week that has quotes by me. Check it out by clicking here.
Queerfest was in full swing at UMass today.
Many came out to take advantage of the wonderful weather.
Nearby, but not officially related to Queerfest, was this display for the University of Massachusetts Outing Club.
Outing Club? Insert joke here.
The Outing Club has a great motto: "We take people into the woods and do things with them."
Saco Catjakis was a controversial longtime State Representative from Springfield. His career ended under a cloud, but he has surfaced recently in the oddest place - being interviewed by the crackpot activist Joe Fountain. Despite the source, there are things of interest in these videos, beginning with this unflattering opening shot of Saco's girth.
This is a tour of Saco's office.