The photo above is downtown Hornell as I remember it as a teenager. The view is Broadway looking North. That's the old Cameo store
at the north end of the street. I can tell you the exact year of this photo by the movie playing at the Steuben Theatre. The movie
marquee says "Gidget Goes Hawaiian" which according to my movie guide was released in 1961. I was 13. My friends and I spent many
a day watching the movies at the Steuben and the Majestic theatre down the street from the Steuben. The Majestic was the "B" movie
house while the Steuben showed the "A" movies. This of course meant that my friends and I spent a lot of time at the "B" theatre watching
gladiator and monster movies and overdosing on the 37 cartoon Saturdays! I remember seeing my first "adult" movie (not that kind of
adult) at the Steuben theatre; it was James Bond in "Goldfinger" (1964).
I remember the Woolworth's (left side of photo). It was one
of my favorite stores (what kid doesn't like five and dimes). They had the old style lunch counter on the north wall of the store
as did the JJ Newberry store on Main Street. Both these stores are long gone. Many of the stores from my youth are gone, as would
be expected. The five and dimes of my time have been replaced by the super five and dime of the 21st century--Walmart.
The city offices
have succesfully moved out of the old public safety building, and into the new location in the old Steuben Trust building on Main
Street. Mayor Hogan has a nice view of Burger King from his office window (you know I can't resist Shawn ). The old Public Safety
Building has been renovated and is providing better facilities for the fire and police departments. All kidding aside, the new city
offices are very nice, and mayor Hogan and his staff may break from the affairs of state momentarily to say hi and show you around.
Main Street bridges have been replaced since this photo. Although the new ones are well constructed, they are purely functional and
lack the panache of the old ones, with all their graceful and stylish exposed iron. The bridge at the east end of Main Street spans
the Canisteo River. As kids we would wade into the river below this bridge and hunt for crayfish and carp, and the occasional snake.
The bridge at the west end of Main Street spanned the Erie tracks and was constructed of iron grating that hummed when you drove over
it--and it could get slippery. If you travelled at the right speed, the bridge seemed to dissapear and you could see the ground below
the bridge. A fascinating event for us kids.
Probably the biggest change to occur since I left Hornell was the construction of a major
4-lane thoroughfare (state route 36) that cuts right through the center of town. The combination of this construction and urban renewal
pretty much destroyed Union Park, the Hornell town square as it were. Union Park was a fair-sized piece of grass and trees right in
the center of the downtown area; bordered by the High School and the County Courthouse on the west, houses on the south, and businesses
on the north and east side. In the center were the obligatory town war monuments surrounded by a wrought iron fence. All the big happenings
in town, happened right here. All that's left of Union Park is a small strip of grass with a few trees. To the town's credit, the
city has built James Street Park near the old Erie Yards on the south side of town. This is a large expanse of grass and trees with
various recreational facilities available for the citizens of Hornell which greatly surpasses any amenities that the old Union Park
I can't leave without mentioning the old "Shop-O-Rama" celebrations that the Hornell Chamber of Commerce used to throw every summer.
To a 12-year old from Hornell, Shop-O-Rama and it's attendant hoopla was about the ultimate in coolness. The main events all took
place at Union Park where a stage would be constructed, and the park would be filled with booths and activities. My friends and I
would sell balloons for some guy who paid us pennies and pocketed the rest, all the while he would sit on a park bench just enjoying
himself. Evenings would find part of Main street barricaded for a block party. I remember the time they brought in a DJ from a Buffalo
radio station which was exciting, because up until then this guy was just a voice on the radio from far away Buffalo, and now here
he was--right in front of us! One year a small traveling amusement park set up on land near the airport on what used to be the city
dump. Just more excitement than one could handle. But the best event, by far, was the airplane drop. A small airplane would fly over
town and periodically dump a load of balloons each of which contained a gift certificate--or nothing. The object of course was to
chase down the balloons, capture them and then reap the rewards. It must have been quite hilarious watching the bunch of us on our
bicycles, racing through town trying to judge just where the balloons would touch down, and then trying to be the first to get there,
which was also the objective of other converging packs of kids on bicycles! Thirty five years later and these memories are still quite
vivid. Childhood in Hornell simply can not be beat.
In spite of the inevitable changes, I am still transported back to the time of
the photo above every time I visit.
Genealogical Searchers: Many have asked for assistance in tracing family geneology, but
I regret that I don't have any time to assist in these searches. I might recommend checking the web site at rootsweb.com
the page at resources.rootsweb.com/USA/NY/Steuben
. You may also browse the World Genealogical Web Ring
for suitable material. Start
This was a fun project. It started out as just a homepage for June's Ice Cream Company
, and then grew to include
the June family website
, and a short piece on the history of Hornell. I learned a lot and had a good time too. When I first started
surfing the web in the late 80's you could do a search on "Hornell" and come back with nothing. That's why I put this together, so
someone else wouldn't "find nothing". Now of course a "Hornell" search will come up with dozens of pages. What a difference fifteen
years make! I hope you enjoyed it, and thanks for visiting. (Don't forget to sign the Guestbook
This website was created and is maintained by
Philip J. June, H.H.S. class of 1966,
as a public service.
Some Rights Reserved 2007
This site was first published February 1999
Last update was April 23, 2008
If I were an internet billionaire, I would buy the Burger King that sits in whats left of Union Park, and then bulldoze the damn thing. I would then find an old locomotive and restore it, and then I would plop it down on the spot where Burger King used to sit. That old locomotive just might persuade some traveller into stopping for a visit. Tie it all in with the museum being built at the old Erie depot. Anyone interested in the old railroad days might just make Hornell a trip destination.Well, it's a pretty outrageous idea. Just musing what might be. Unfortunately, I passed up the chance to invest in Microsoft, instead investing my money in BetaMax. So I will leave the fullfillment of this dream to someone wiser. And with a lot more money.
Philip J. June
Senior Electrical & Computing Engineer
Hornell High School Class of 1966
University of Arizona Class of 1971, B.S.E.E., C.E.T.