Sunday, February 11, 2018

She Was Born in a Shopping Center

Today, I am rerunning a post from three years ago.

Imagine being born in a shopping center.  Imagine asking someone to take a picture of your birthplace discovering a history lesson.  This is what happened as the result of a little chat with one of my workmates.  Neither of us come from the area of Binghamton, New York, where we work today.

In the small world department, it turns out we used to live, many years ago, just a handful of miles from each other.  We are going through some similar times in our lives, and have learned so much from each other.

What started as an after dinner Christmas walk several years ago had become a holiday tradition for my spouse and me.  Little did I know that my 2014's walk might be the last one of its kind.  Times change and sometimes, traditions with them.

Here is the post:
In Yonkers, New York, there is an outdoor shopping center. Both my spouse and I shopped there (well, our parents did - we were just along for the ride) when we were small.

Back in the early 1960's this outdoor mall, the first in Weschester County, New York, contained large and small stores, a play area, and even a hospital.

It was called Cross County Center then, and Cross County Shopping Center now.  It opened in 1954 and is still going strong, unlike many other malls of the era. 

My parents would take two buses from our apartment in the Bronx (the northern borough of New York City, which borders Yonkers) to Cross County just to shop there.  I loved those outings.

Several months ago, I was chatting with a co worker where I work in Binghamton, in upstate New York.  I don't remember how we got on the topic of our childhoods, but I discovered that she had been born in the Cross County Hospital, and spent her early childhood in Yonkers, before moving away, eventually to Binghamton.

Small world.

Then, when I shared the fact that I had Christmas dinner every year in walking distance of that same shopping center, she asked me a favor: would I take a picture of the hospital for her?

I had to break the news to her that the hospital had closed in the 1980's.  The good news was, the building was still there.  I told her I would do my best to get a picture.

So, last week, after Christmas dinner, my spouse, my son and I walked to Cross County.

On the way, we saw flowers valiantly trying to stay alive in the cold early winter weather. (You knew I would try to sneak flowers into this post, didn't you?)
Red and white building on the right, once a hospital, is now, in 2017, a motel
 I took the picture she asked for. 

But then, walking further, we saw a rock.  A rock with a  historical plaque.  A rock neither my husband nor I remember from our childhoods.  But it must have been there.

It turns out that the land Cross County is located on has been a trading zone for hundreds of years.  First, Native Americans traded here, by a rock which became known as the "Trading Rock". Later, European settlers carried on the tradition.

My family and my in laws were simply carrying on a tradition already hundreds of years old.

Here is one more picture of Cross County.

Can you imagine, one day visiting the city of your birth and staying in the building where you were born in?  In a small way, I envy her.  (The good news is, since this post was written, that old hospital building is now a Hyatt Hotel.)


  1. Wow, interesting history lesson. I’ll have to remember that next time we drive through Westchester

  2. Great story with so much history for you and your friend.

  3. How interesting to have a hospital and a department store together! Love the pictures and the background story.

  4. The pics are really so good, I almost have the urge to go there right now. Woudl have been cool to have the hospital and shopping centre next to each other 😁

  5. The story was interesting. A mall which includes a hospital and a play area. And just watching at that rock! Wouldn't it be like becoming a part of the history?
    I was born in my grandparents' village home. There were no hospitals around that place. I kept visiting that home and my grandparents frequently until I was 25 years old and whenever my mother used to show and tell me the exact area where I was born, it always filled me with an emotion I was never sure what it was.

  6. Intersting... Indeed it's a small world. Loved reading about the history of the place. It's fun to stumble upon history sometimes.

  7. Interesting how things change. Although, the shopping center has been a trading center for centuries. The more things change...

    Alas, the hospital I was born in is still a hospital. My mom and I were in the area one day, and she had to take me to see it. Apparently, it's the same hospital that Michael Jackson died in. (At the time of my birth, my mother worked at the other hospital in town.)

  8. A close friend of mine was born at that hospital (Cross County Hospital) in 1967. In the late 1980's, he took courses in that building, when it was used as a campus for Mercy College. In the 90's we both took post-grad courses there when it became a training center. Four months ago, as a bit of a goof, for his 51st birthday, he decided to book a room there at Hyatt Place for one night to complete the circuit.... amazing.


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