Sunday, August 14, 2016

Upstate Union

Has your city or village ever disbanded?

I had intended this post for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, but decided to leave it for another time.

For almost the past thirty years, my spouse and I have lived just outside the village of Johnson City, in the Town of Union, in Upstate New York.

Years ago, Johnson City was prosperous. People emigrated to the United States and many ended up here.  The ideal was to get a job at one of two of the best employers in the United States, IBM (which started in nearby Binghamton), or Endicott-Johnson, a manufacturer of shoes owned by the Johnson family.

Those glory day are long over.  Some of the greatness remain but there is a lot you really don't want to see.  Our population has dropped, too - from nearly 20,000 in 1950 to just under 15,000 today.  And, in 2009, Johnson City almost disbanded.  A close vote of the people saved this village.  Before absentee ballots were counted, the margin that saved Johnson City vote.

Imagine - the village or city where you live being saved by one vote.

But some of the past remains and today, I'd like to show you a small sample of it.

Our post office dates from 1934, and features murals painted as part of a government program called the New Deal.

Another mural.
This, at one time, was an Endicott-Johnson (EJ) recreation building.  Endicott-Johnson provided many facilities to its workers, including farmers markets, hospitals, swimming pools, parks, carousels and more.
Main and Arch, downtown Johnson City.  Like many urban downtowns, this one is in serious decline despite sometimes beautiful architecture.  My son was born in Wilson Hospital, on the edge of this downtown, once an EJ facility.
Sadly, this is only one of the many empty Endicott-Johnson factory buildings that litter the landscape of what we call the Triple Cities.

Even Wal-Mart could not pull Johnson City out of its decline.

About 16% of our population is below the poverty line.

I like to keep on the positive side of things but one thing that irritates me, as someone who did not grow up here but has lived here much of my adult life is how so many people still seem to want to live in the past of when Endicott-Johnson and IBM brought prosperity to our area, rather than looking to the future.

Those who live in the past will stay in the past - and, without looking to the future, we will continue to decline.  Perhaps one day, we will rise again.  The latest effort comes from Binghamton University and a School of Pharmacy - groundbreaking will be soon.

People must be ready for the unexpected,  It will be interesting to see what the latest twist in Johnson City's history will be.

And, another lesson learned.  Your votes count.  Without that vote, Johnson City would not exist today.  And, if you live in the United States, it is more important than ever to exercise your right to vote in the upcoming Presidential election.

Do you take advantage of your right to vote?  Or, do you even have that right?


  1. Wow every vote counts. Truly amazing

  2. Thanks for sharing those amazing ictures. Truly every vote counts. I do have the right to vote and make sure that I do it. Power in the wrong hands is disastrous.

  3. I like the message you shared. Your city becomes what leader you choose for it. So very important to vote.

  4. One vote? Wow. (All the cities I've lived in have been cities, and no where near such a vote.)


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