Have you been to downtown Binghamton lately? That was the question that was asked to a group of people I was with on Sunday.

This past Sunday, Chris and I played a round of golf with three other couples from our Monday Night Golf League at Conklin Players Club. After we were all done golfing, we went to the one couple's house in Conklin for a cookout.

As we sat around talking, Mary, the woman hosting the barbecue along with her husband Ken, asked the group if any of us have been in downtown Binghamton lately. She went on to say that she hasn't been in downtown Binghamton in a couple of years. She said she was surprised by how much it has changed since the last time she was there. She made reference to the fresh coat of blacktop, which they just did about a month ago, and all the new businesses that have opened on Court Street since the last time she was there.

She said the last time she was on Court Street she noticed all the vacant storefronts on both sides of the street and how many of the buildings looked empty even on the top floors. One of the other members of our league said “thank you Binghamton University”. How true is that statement?

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Once Binghamton University announced they were opening up the down town center next to the arena, that's when downtown Binghamton started it's revitalization. Investors bought buildings, clean them up, and rented out the downstairs for businesses, and the upstairs for apartments. A lot of those became student housing apartments.

Then another person at the barbecue said “I hope B.U. does the same for Johnson City. That's what I spoke up and said it's already happening. A lot of the buildings on Main Street in Johnson City, as well as in the area around the Binghamton University Nursing School, have already started receiving face lifts.

I think that's a beautiful thing because Johnson City was starting to look a lot like Binghamton did just a few short years ago with a lot of vacant store fronts and a lot of empty buildings.

I would love to see Johnson City's downtown revitalized just like the positive changes in downtown Binghamton, due in large part to Binghamton University.

THEN AND NOW: See the Evolution of the Southern Tier

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